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Saturday, November 16, 2013

NASA VIEW OF RIO TINTO BORAX MINE

http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=82365&src=eoa-iotd

USS GEORGE WASHINGTON PROVIDES RELIEF TO TYPHOON VICTIMS IN THE PHILIPPINES




FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
A C-2A Greyhound carrying relief supplies for Operation Damayan prepares to make an arrested landing on the flight deck of the USS George Washington, in the Leyte Gulf, Philippines, Nov. 15, 2013. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Paolo Bayas.




Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington move a palate of drinking water across the flight deck in support of Operation Damayan, in the Leyte Gulf, Philippines, Nov. 15, 2013. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Paolo Baya.

President Obama Speaks on Manufacturing and the Economy

SECRETARY OF STATE KERRY EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER RECENT CLASHES AND DEATHS IN TRIPOLI, LIBYA

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
Violence in Tripoli, Libya
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
November 16, 2013

We are deeply concerned by the death and injury of many Libyans in recent clashes in Tripoli. We condemn the use of violence in all its forms and urge all sides to exercise restraint and restore calm.

Libyans did not risk their lives in their 2011 revolution for this violence to continue. Libyans fought their revolution to establish a democratic system in which the voices of the Libyan people could be heard through peaceful means, which all Libyan people have a right to do.

If a free people are going to succeed in forging a peaceful, secure, and prosperous country with a government based on the rule of law and respect for human rights, then there can be no place for this kind of violence in the new Libya.

We encourage all Libyans to break the cycle of violence through respectful dialogue and reconciliation.

The United States will continue to work with the Libyan authorities to build its capacity to deliver security and good governance to its people.

We recognize that the Libyan authorities and Libyan people are facing significant challenges in their democratic transition, but too much blood has been spilled and too many lives sacrificed to go backwards. The United States will continue to support the Libyan people in this difficult time.

PRESIDENT OBAMA'S WEEKLY ADDRESS FOR NOVEMBER 16, 2013

FROM:  THE WHITE HOUSE

Weekly Address: Taking Control of America’s Energy Future

WASHINGTON, DC—In his weekly address, President Obama discussed progress in American energy and highlighted that we are now producing more oil at home than we buy from other countries for the first time in nearly two decades.  We reached this milestone in part not only because we’re producing more energy, but because we’re wasting less energy, and as a result, we are also reducing our carbon emissions while growing the economy.
The audio of the address and video of the address will be available online at www.whitehouse.gov at 6:00 a.m. ET, November 16, 2013.
Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
November 16, 2013
Hi, everybody.  On Thursday, I visited a steel plant in Cleveland, Ohio to talk about what we’re doing to rebuild our economy on a new foundation for stronger, more durable economic growth. 
One area where we’ve made great progress is American energy.  After years of talk about reducing our dependence on foreign oil, we are actually poised to control our own energy future. 
Shortly after I took office, we invested in new American technologies to reverse our dependence on foreign oil and double our wind and solar power.  And today, we generate more renewable energy than ever – with tens of thousands of good, American jobs to show for it.  We produce more natural gas than anyone – and nearly everyone’s energy bill is lower because of it.  And just this week, we learned that for the first time in nearly two decades, the United States of America now produces more of our own oil here at home than we buy from other countries. 
That’s a big deal.  That’s a tremendous step towards American energy independence. 
But this is important, too: we reached this milestone in part not only because we’re producing more energy, but because we’re wasting less energy.  We set new fuel standards for our cars and trucks so that they’ll go twice as far on a gallon of gas by the middle of the next decade.  That’s going to save an average driver more than $8,000 at the pump over the life of a new car.  We also launched initiatives to put people to work upgrading our homes, businesses, and factories so that they waste less energy.  That’s going to save our businesses money on their energy bills – that's money they can use to hire more workers.
Here’s another thing.  Between more clean energy, and less wasted energy, our emissions of dangerous carbon pollution are actually falling.  That’s good news for anyone who cares about the world we leave to our kids. 
And while our carbon emissions have been dropping, our economy has been growing.  Our businesses have created 7.8 million new jobs in the past 44 months.  It proves that the old argument that we can’t strengthen the economy and be good stewards of our planet at the same time is a false choice.  We can do both.  And we have to do both.
More good jobs.  Cheaper and cleaner sources of energy.  A secure energy future.  Thanks to the grit and resilience of American businesses and the American people, that’s where we’re heading.  And as long as I’m President, that’s where we’re going to keep heading – to leave our children a stronger economy, and a safer planet. 
Thanks, and have a great weekend.

FDA APPROVES DRUG TO TREAT AGGRESSIVE TYPE OF BLOOD CANCER

FROM:  U.S. FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION 
FDA approves Imbruvica for rare blood cancer
Second drug with breakthrough therapy designation to receive FDA approval

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Imbruvica (ibrutinib) to treat patients with mantle cell lymphoma (MCL), a rare and aggressive type of blood cancer.

MCL is a rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and represents about 6 percent of all non-Hodgkin lymphoma cases in the United States. By the time MCL is diagnosed, it usually has already spread to the lymph nodes, bone marrow and other organs.

Imbruvica is intended for patients with MCL who have received at least one prior therapy. It works by inhibiting the enzyme needed by the cancer to multiply and spread. Imbruvica is the third drug approved to treat MCL. Velcade (2006) and Revlimid (2013) are also approved to treat the disease.

“Imbruvica’s approval demonstrates the FDA’s commitment to making treatments available to patients with rare diseases,” said Richard Pazdur, M.D., director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “The agency worked cooperatively with the companies to expedite the drug’s development, review and approval, reflecting the promise of the Breakthrough Therapy Designation program.”

Imbruvica is the second drug with breakthrough therapy designation to receive FDA approval. The Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act, passed in July 2012, gave the FDA the ability to designate a drug a breakthrough therapy at the request of the sponsor if preliminary clinical evidence indicates the drug may offer a substantial improvement over available therapies for patients with serious or life-threatening diseases.

The FDA is approving Imbruvica under the agency's accelerated approval program, which allows the FDA to approve a drug to treat a serious disease based on clinical data showing that the drug has an effect on a surrogate endpoint that is reasonably likely to predict a clinical benefit to patients. This program provides earlier patient access to promising new drugs while the company conducts confirmatory clinical trials. The FDA also granted Imbruvica priority review and orphan-product designation because the drug demonstrated the potential to be a significant improvement in safety or effectiveness in the treatment of a serious condition and is intended to treat a rare disease, respectively.

Imbruvica’s accelerated approval for MCL is based on a study where 111 participants were given Imbruvica daily until their disease progressed or side effects became intolerable. Results showed nearly 66 percent of participants had their cancer shrink or disappear after treatment (overall response rate). An improvement in survival or disease-related symptoms has not been established.

The most common side effects reported in participants receiving Imbruvica are low levels of platelets in the blood (thrombocytopenia), diarrhea, a decrease in infection-fighting white blood cells (neutropenia), anemia, fatigue, musculoskeletal pain, swelling (edema), upper respiratory infection, nausea, bruising, shortness of breath (dyspnea), constipation, rash, abdominal pain, vomiting, and decreased appetite. Other clinically significant side effects include bleeding, infections, kidney problems and the development of other types of cancers.

Imbruvica is co-marketed by Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Pharmacyclics and Raritan, N.J.-based Janssen Biotech, Inc. Velcade (bortezomib) is marketed by Millennium Pharmaceuticals, based in Cambridge, Mass. Revlimid (lenalidomide) is marketed by Summit, N.J.-based Celgene.

CDC SAYS E-CIGARETTES, HOOKAHS GAINING POPULARITY WITH STUDENTS

FROM:  CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION
Press Release Emerging tobacco products gaining popularity among youth
Increases in e-cigarette and hookah use show need for increased monitoring and prevention

Emerging tobacco products such as e-cigarettes and hookahs are quickly gaining popularity among middle- and high-school students, according to a report in this week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

While use of these newer products increased, there was no significant decline in students’ cigarette smoking or overall tobacco use. Data from the 2012 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) show that recent electronic cigarette use rose among middle school students from 0.6 percent in 2011 to 1.1 percent in 2012 and among high school students from 1.5 percent to 2.8 percent. Hookah use among high school students rose from 4.1 percent to 5.4 percent from 2011 to 2012.

The report notes that the increase in the use of electronic cigarettes and hookahs could be due to an increase in marketing, availability, and visibility of these tobacco products and the perception that they may be safer alternatives to cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes, hookahs, cigars and certain other new types of tobacco products are not currently subject to FDA regulation. FDA has stated it intends to issue a proposed rule that would deem products meeting the statutory definition of a "tobacco product" to be subject to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

Another area of concern in the report is the increase in cigar use among certain groups of middle and high school students. During 2011-2012, cigar use increased dramatically among non-Hispanic black high school students from 11.7 percent to 16.7 percent, and has more than doubled since 2009. Further, cigar use among high school males in 2012 was 16.7 percent, similar to cigarette use among high school males (16.3 percent).

“This report raises a red flag about newer tobacco products,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Cigars and hookah tobacco are smoked tobacco – addictive and deadly. We need effective action to protect our kids from addiction to nicotine.”

ASSISTANT AG, ASSISTANT FBI DIRECTOR TESTIFY ON CARTEL MISCONDUCT BEFORE SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT 
Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer and Assistant Director of the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division Ronald T. Hosko Testify Before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights on Cartel Prosecution

~ Thursday, November 14, 2013

Chairman Klobuchar, Ranking Member Lee, and distinguished members of the Subcommittee, thank you for inviting us to appear before you today to discuss how cartels steal money from American consumers and why criminal enforcement against cartels is a cornerstone of the work of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. The FBI is a key and long-standing partner in virtually all Antitrust Division cartel investigations. Working together we are making a difference for American consumers.

The subcommittee is right to spotlight cartel misconduct. This criminal misbehavior, whether international, national or local, harms both American consumers and businesses. The courts agree. They unanimously condemn cartel offenses “because of their pernicious effect on competition and lack of any redeeming virtue,” N. Pac. Ry. Co. v. United States, 356 U.S. 1, 5 (1958), and describe criminal antitrust offenses as “the supreme evil of antitrust,” Verizon v. Trinko, 540 U.S. 398, 408 (2004). Judicial precedent and common sense tell us the same thing: price fixing, bid rigging, and other criminal antitrust crimes cause direct and unambiguous antitrust harm.

Our efforts to uncover and prosecute cartel behavior are, and need to be, robust. We target domestic and international cartels and prosecute those who rob consumers of their hard-earned dollars—both corporations and individuals, whether foreign or domestic. The Antitrust Division and the FBI use all available investigative tools to detect and prosecute violators of U.S. antitrust laws.

The Department of Justice applies resources and expertise from its Fraud Section, Antitrust Division, Civil Division, Public Integrity Section, Office of International Affairs, and the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, as well as U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the country to support prosecutions relating to these criminal cases. The FBI assists the Antitrust Division through its International Corruption Unit (ICU), which, in addition to antitrust offenses, investigates allegations of corruption of U.S. public officials and fraud against the U.S. Government (among others). The FBI found conceptual and analytical synergy in grouping these activities since investigations in any one of these areas has the potential to lead to operational intelligence in another, and its robust liaison relationships with foreign law enforcement and regulatory officials often aid the investigations. Moreover, the FBI’s assistance in Antitrust Division investigations benefit ICU personnel, who gain expertise in conducting multinational criminal investigations and navigating judicial processes supporting those matters.

Aggressively pursuing criminal price fixers and bid riggers benefits us in many ways. Enforcement ensures that the specific bad conduct is eliminated. At the same time, other wrongdoers are put on notice and are dissuaded from continuing their illegal conduct. Finally, those contemplating price fixing realize the serious adverse consequences and are deterred from committing the crime in the first instance. At the end of the day, our enforcement actions result in lower prices for consumer goods and services, including computers, televisions, automobiles, shipping, hospital services, and financial services.

Let us start with our most recent cartel enforcement statistics. During Fiscal Year 2013 the Antitrust Division filed 50 criminal cases, and obtained $1.02 billion in criminal fines. The criminal antitrust fines imposed in these cases reflect the harm that cartels inflict on consumers; under the Sentencing Guidelines they take into account the total value of sales affected by the defendant’s participation in the cartel. In those 12 months we charged 21 corporations and 34 individuals and courts imposed 28 prison terms with an average sentence of just over two years per defendant.

American taxpayers are well-served by effective cartel enforcement. In the last ten fiscal years, the Antitrust Division has obtained criminal fines averaging nearly $675 million per year. That is more than 10 times its average annual appropriation of $60 million (net of the division’s share of offsetting collections of Hart-Scott-Rodino fees collected by the FTC). In just the last five fiscal years the division averaged nearly $850 million in criminal fines versus an average appropriation of about $85 million (again, net of HSR fees). These fines do not go to the Antitrust Division, but rather are contributed to the Crime Victims Fund, which helps victims of all types of crime throughout the country. They are provided assistance with medical and counseling expenses, assistance in the form of shelter, crisis intervention, and justice advocacy, and money for state and local services to crime victims.

The Evolution of Cartel Enforcement at the Antitrust Division
The Antitrust Division’s cartel enforcement successes are the result of many years of building and implementing an enforcement strategy that couples strong sanctions with incentives for voluntary disclosure and timely cooperation. The Antitrust Division’s Corporate Leniency Program is a particularly effective investigative tool for detecting large-scale international price-fixing cartels. But, it is not the only tool. The division and the FBI uncover cartel behavior using a variety of tools, including internal investigative efforts, customer complaints and submissions to our Citizen Complaint Center, outreach efforts with law enforcement agents, information from auditors, trade groups, business and law students, suspicious documents uncovered in civil investigations, and everyday news stories. Collaboration with federal and state agencies is also key to detecting and investigating cartels.

Our progress in detecting and prosecuting cartels can be traced to a deliberate change in strategy and approach implemented over the last two decades. In the early 1990’s, recognizing the harm that international cartels pose to American businesses and consumers, the division made investigating and prosecuting international cartels a top priority. What did we do?

·          We adopted a corporate leniency program that provides incentives for companies, both domestic and foreign, to investigate and self-report to the Antitrust Division their involvement in antitrust crimes. This dramatically increased the rate of self-disclosure by corporations.
·          We strengthened our ties with the FBI to partner better on investigations, make more use of FBI covert techniques and financial expertise, and expedite our investigation and prosecutions.
·          We engaged bilaterally and multilaterally with competition authorities around the world to achieve a general consensus on attacking cartels and coordinating our approach to detection, investigation and prosecution.

These strategies have resulted in a dramatic increase in exposing the world’s largest price-fixing cartels. In recent years we prosecuted cartels involving air transportation (more than $1.8 billion in criminal fines obtained), liquid crystal displays (more than $1.39 billion in criminal fines obtained), and auto parts. Attorney General Holder recently described the auto parts investigation as the largest criminal investigation the Antitrust Division has ever pursued, both in terms of its scope and the potential volume of commerce affected by the alleged illegal conduct. The investigation is far from over. Thus far we have obtained more than $1.6 billion in fines. In each of these matters, the FBI is a strong partner with the Antitrust Division, providing invaluable contributions to our investigations, including in interviews, searches, and forensic work.

Criminal fines cannot and do not tell the whole story. Large criminal penalties make cartel behavior less attractive. But the threat of jail time for the company officials responsible for injuring consumers is itself a powerful deterrent. The Antitrust Division has pursued stiff penalties against individuals. Today more individuals involved in cartel activity are being sent to jail and are being jailed for longer periods of time than ever before. In the 1990’s, jail sentences for Antitrust Division defendants averaged eight months. Today the average prison sentence for Antitrust Division defendants is 25 months. Culpable foreign nationals who injure American consumers do not escape our grasp either. In the last four years, courts have sentenced an average of 11 foreign nationals to jail per year. That compares with a total of three foreign nationals sentenced to jail in the ten years from 1990 through 1999.

Specific Cartel Enforcement
Our ongoing and recent activities demonstrate how effective cartel enforcement makes an enormous, measurable difference to consumers and the economy. I will start with large-scale international cartels that affect wide swaths of the economy and then I will turn to more local cartels that also have demonstrable adverse effects.

Investigations of large international cartels pose significant challenges—with documents, witnesses, and wrongdoers often located outside the U.S. We have developed over time a shared commitment with enforcers around the world to fighting international cartels. We work closely in addressing these challenges.

This has significantly increased our ability to effectively investigate and prosecute these cartels. Cooperation with our sister agencies around the world allows for coordinated raids in cross-border cartel investigations, helping to preserve crucial evidence, increases access to foreign-located evidence, and induces cooperation from foreign subjects of investigations that previously had been lacking.
Our ongoing auto parts investigation exemplifies how the Antitrust Division and the FBI cooperate with our foreign counterparts. The investigation included FBI search warrants executed on the very same day and conducted at the very same time as searches by enforcers in other countries. During the ongoing investigation the department has coordinated with antitrust agencies of Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Australia, and the European Commission.

What has this effort thus far produced? To date the division has charged a total of 21 companies and 21 executives. All 21 companies have either pleaded guilty or have agreed to plead guilty. The immediate victims of these conspiracies include such automotive manufacturers as Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Subaru, Mazda and Mitsubishi. The parts involved included safety systems such as seatbelts, airbags, and antilock brake systems, making it costlier for car makers to provide many safety features. Many car models were fitted with multiple parts that were fixed by the auto parts suppliers. In September, Attorney General Holder announced nine corporate guilty pleas involving more than $740 million in criminal fines. Those September charges involved more than a dozen separate conspiracies spanning over a decade and involving numerous auto parts suppliers from around the globe that targeted U.S. manufacturing, U.S. businesses and U.S. consumers. The cases filed to date involve conduct affecting over $8 billion in auto parts sold to car manufacturers in the U.S. and parts used in more than 25 million cars purchased by American consumers. The multiple conspiracies charged in September affected U.S. automobile plants in 14 states: Alabama, California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin. And as the Attorney General said in the recent announcement, our work in this area is not finished.

Cartels involving components of finished products are not unique to the auto industry. For example, the joint Antitrust Division/FBI investigation into LCD panels uncovered long-running price-fixing conspiracies that affected some of the largest computer manufacturers in the world, including Hewlett Packard, Dell and Apple. These conspiracies injured every family, school, business, charity and government agency that paid more for notebook computers, computer monitors and LCD televisions during the conspiracy. The conspirators fixed the prices of at least $23.5 billion in panels that came into the United States, either as raw panels or incorporated in finished products. At last year’s trial of AUO, one of the cartel ringleaders, the division’s economic expert testified that the conspirators increased their margin by an average of $53 for each and every flat panel the conspirators made over the course of four years. This figure demonstrates concretely the very real costs this price-fixing conspiracy imposed on American businesses and consumers. The division has obtained more than $1.39 billion in criminal fines in this investigation.

In recent years we detected and prosecuted of number of cartels affecting shipping services. An increase in shipping prices can influence the prices of a wide array of goods. The division, with the assistance of the FBI, uncovered a number of conspiracies involving air cargo services affecting over $20 billion in commerce, and the air cargo investigation led to the discovery of conspiracies involving freight forwarding services affecting over $350 million in commerce, and air passenger transportation involving over $4 billion in commerce. In the air cargo and freight forwarding conspiracies, various fees and surcharges were imposed on customers for shipments of goods to and from the U.S., including agreements on the amount and timing of surcharges in the period before the Christmas holiday shopping season. We obtained total fines of over $1.9 billion in the air transportation and freight forwarding investigations, coordinating with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the European Commission, the New Zealand Commerce Commission, the U.K. Office of Fair Trading, the Japan Fair Trade Commission, the Brazilian competition agency, and other agencies. And, the division has an ongoing investigation into price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in the coastal water freight transportation industry. So far, three companies and six individuals have pleaded guilty or have been convicted at trial, and have been ordered to pay more than $46 million in criminal fines in a price-fixing conspiracy involving coastal freight services between the continental United States and Puerto Rico.

In addition, the division’s investigation into bid rigging in municipal bonds markets has been conducted with the assistance of the FBI and Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, and also coordinated with other federal and state law enforcement agencies that have parallel investigations, including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and a working group of 20 State Attorneys General. This investigation, like others, demonstrates how coordination of parallel investigations enhances our ability to identify and prosecute significant crimes. To date, a total of 20 individuals have been charged as a result of the department’s ongoing municipal bonds investigation and 19 have been convicted or pleaded guilty, and one company has pleaded guilty. Those implicated have agreed to pay a total of nearly $745 million in restitution, penalties, and disgorgement to federal and state agencies. Conspirators went to great lengths to defraud municipalities across the country, from soliciting intentionally losing bids for investment agreements to paying out kickbacks to manipulate the competitive bidding process. These actions deprived American towns and cities of competitive interest rates for the investment of tax-exempt bond proceeds used by municipalities for various public works projects, such as building or repairing schools, hospitals and roads, water pollution abatement projects, and low-cost housing, and to refinance outstanding debt. These complex, seemingly uninteresting backroom deals have a real impact on taxpayers, who should benefit from a municipal bond issue and are ultimately responsible for paying it off. In addition, corrupt bidding schemes serve to weaken the public’s trust in the municipal bond market and prevent public entities from enjoying the benefits of a true competitive bidding process.

While large-scale international cartels can involve significant volumes of commerce, the FBI and the Antitrust Division are acutely aware that local or regional cartels also have the potential to significantly harm consumers. In local communities the division continues to uncover collusive schemes among real estate speculators aimed at eliminating competition at real estate foreclosure auctions. The division continues to investigate with the FBI and HUD inspectors general bid rigging and fraud in local real estate markets in Alabama, California, Georgia, and North Carolina. The division and FBI have uncovered patterns of misconduct through which conspirators worked together to keep public auction prices artificially low by making agreements not to bid against one another, instead designating a winning bidder to obtain selected properties at public real estate foreclosure auctions. Conspirators also conducted their own unofficial “knockoff” auctions open only to members of the conspiracy—often taking place at or near the courthouse steps where the public auctions were held—paying each other off and diverting money to co-conspirators that otherwise would have gone to pay off the mortgage and other holders of debt secured by the properties, and, in some cases, the defaulting homeowner. The division’s real estate foreclosure auction investigations have resulted in recent cases against 64 individuals and 3 companies. Altogether, these investigations have uncovered bid rigging and fraud on auctions involving more than 3,400 foreclosed homes, and have caused more than $23 million in loss, primarily to mortgage holders. The division also has uncovered similar schemes involving public tax lien auctions, including an ongoing investigation of tax lien auctions in New Jersey that has resulted in guilty pleas from 11 individuals and three companies.

Conclusion
Together, the FBI’s and the Antitrust Division’s dedicated public servants are working hard to hold both corporations and individuals responsible for cartel behavior. American consumers are the beneficiaries of that dedication. We are honored to be part of this hard-working team and to be associated with a law enforcement mission that is delivering real benefits to American consumers.

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION EXPLAINS FORECASTING THE PATH OF A WILDFIRE

Credit:  NASA
FROM:  NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION 
Scientists nearing forecasts of long-lived wildfires' paths

Scientists have developed a new computer modeling technique that for the first time offers the promise of continually-updated daylong predictions of wildfire growth through the lifetimes of long-lived blazes.

The technique, devised by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., and the University of Maryland, combines cutting-edge simulations of the interaction of weather and fire with newly available satellite observations of active wildfires.

The breakthrough is described in a paper published today in the online edition of the American Geophysical Union journal Geophysical Research Letters.

The National Science Foundation (NSF), which is NCAR's sponsor, funded the research, along with NASA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"These scientists have developed a unique mechanism that will predict even a long-lived fire's lifecycle, which has the potential to save lives and property from large wildfires in the future," said Gannet Hallar, program director in NSF's Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences, which supported the study.

Updated with new observations every 12 hours, the computer model forecasts critical details such as the extent of a blaze and changes in its behavior.

"With this technique, we believe it's possible to continually issue good forecasts throughout a fire's lifetime, even if it burns for weeks or months," said NCAR scientist Janice Coen, the lead paper author and model developer.

"This model, which combines interactive weather prediction and wildfire behavior, could greatly improve forecasting--particularly for large, intense wildfire events where the current prediction tools are weakest."

Firefighters use tools that can estimate the speed of the leading edge of a fire, but are too simple to capture critical effects caused by the complex interactions of fire and weather.

The researchers successfully tested the new technique by using it retrospectively on the 2012 Little Bear Fire in New Mexico, which burned for almost three weeks and destroyed more buildings than any other wildfire in the state's history.

To generate an accurate forecast of a wildfire, researchers need a computer model that can incorporate current data about the fire and simulate what it will do in the near future.

Over the last decade, Coen has developed a tool, known as the Coupled Atmosphere-Wildland Fire Environment (CAWFE) computer model, that connects how weather drives fires and, in turn, how fires create their own weather.

Using CAWFE, she successfully simulated the details of how large fires grow.

But without the most updated data about a fire's current state, CAWFE could not reliably produce a longer-term prediction of an ongoing fire.

That's because the accuracy of all fine-scale weather simulations declines significantly after a day or two, affecting the simulation of the blaze.

An accurate forecast would also need to include updates on the effects of firefighting and of such processes as spotting, in which embers from a fire are lofted in the fire plume and dropped ahead of a fire, igniting new flames.

Until now, it was not possible to update the model.

Satellite instruments offered only coarse observations of fires, providing images in which each pixel represented an area a little more than a half mile across.

These images might show several places burning, but could not distinguish the boundaries between burning and non-burning areas, except for the largest wildfires.

To solve the problem, Coen's co-author, Wilfrid Schroeder of the University of Maryland, produced higher-resolution fire detection data from a new satellite instrument, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), jointly operated by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The new tool provides coverage of the entire globe at intervals of 12 hours or less, with pixels about 1,200 feet across. The higher resolution enabled the two researchers to outline the active fire perimeter in much greater detail.

Coen and Schroeder then fed the VIIRS fire observations into the CAWFE model. By restarting the model every 12 hours with the latest observations of the fire extent--a process known as cycling--they could accurately predict the course of the Little Bear Fire in 12- to 24-hour increments during five days of the historic blaze.

By continuing that way, it's possible to simulate even a very long-lived fire's entire lifetime, from ignition through extinction.

"The transformative event has been the arrival of this new satellite data," said Schroeder.

"The enhanced capability of the VIIRS data favors detection of newly ignited fires before they erupt into major conflagrations. The satellite data has tremendous potential to supplement fire management and decision support systems, sharpening the local, regional and continental monitoring of wildfires."

The researchers said that forecasts using the new technique could be particularly useful in anticipating sudden blowups and shifts in the direction of the flames, such as what happened when 19 firefighters perished in Arizona last summer.

In addition, they could enable decision makers to look at several newly ignited fires and determine which pose the greatest threat.

"Lives and homes are at stake and depend on these decisions," Coen said. "The interaction of fuels, terrain and changing weather is so complicated that even seasoned managers can't always anticipate rapidly changing conditions.

"Many people have resigned themselves to believing that wildfires are unpredictable. We're showing that's not true."

-NSF-

SECRETARY OF STATE KERRY'S REMARKS ON WOMEN IN AFGHANISTAN

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
Remarks at the Georgetown University Symposium "Advancing Afghan Women"
Remarks
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Georgetown University
Washington, DC
November 15, 2013

Thank you. Thank you, Hillary. Thank you very much. Thank you very much, Hillary, for a very, very generous introduction. And thank you most of all for the remarkable work that you have done. I think you’re over here, Hillary. Here we go. (Laughter.) Get you over there. That’s my job, seat the former First Lady/Secretary. (Laughter.)

What a pleasure to be here, and distinguished members of the diplomatic corps, President DeGioia, thank you for this. Unbelievable, one of my favorite venues in the world. Madam Secretary/Senator/First Lady/everything – (laughter) – and former First Lady Bush, it’s great to be here with you, Laura. To our ambassadors and everybody else, I’m really happy to be here. For all the men studying here at Georgetown who sat in or sit in classrooms where Bill Clinton sat so many years ago, my advice to you is this: Study hard, go to Oxford, become governor of your state – (laughter) – and then maybe you can marry one of the country’s remarkable Secretaries of State. (Laughter and applause.)

I think everybody here knows that nobody has done more to advance the cause of women and the cause of Afghan women, together with Laura Bush, in our foreign policy directly than Secretary Clinton. And she took the helm of the State Department at a particularly challenging time, a critical moment in the history of the war, and she has worked tirelessly to remind all of us that this fight is not just waged on the battlefield. It’s a fight for the lives of Afghanistan’s people and their future, and it is a fight, above all, for universal values and aspirations, and I think we all owe her a tremendous debt of gratitude for the work that she has done. Thank you, Hillary, appreciate it. (Applause.)

I want to thank Georgetown’s Institute for Women, Peace, and Security; I want to thank the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council; the George W. Bush Institute; and the Alliance in Support of the Afghan People for co-hosting and coming together to bring this remarkable event together here today. I particularly want to thank all of you. You are a remarkable group of women, absolutely extraordinary, and I was pleased to meet a couple of you in Afghanistan. Thank you for coming here, and I know people will really enjoy hearing the program later.

I want to express my gratitude also to former First Lady Laura Bush, as Hillary did in her comments and her introduction. She really helped lead the effort to advance opportunities for women in Afghanistan. And if you haven’t seen it yet today, she has a terrific op-ed in today’s Washington Post. And Madam First Lady, we thank you very much for your leadership also. (Applause.) And as Hillary did, I want to pay particular tribute and thanks to our nation’s first Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer and her successor, Cathy Russell, who has just returned from Afghanistan. This is very special for me to be able to be here today, particularly with these extraordinary women who have lived their lives every single day to make sure that all women can pursue their potential and live free of violence.

And we all know that creating opportunities for women is not just the right thing to do. It’s also a strategic necessity. Societies where women are safe, where women are empowered to exercise their rights and to move their communities forward – these societies are more prosperous and more stable – not occasionally, but always. And nowhere is the pursuit of this vision more important, and in many ways more compelling and immediate and possible than in Afghanistan.

If I had to walk blind into a district in Afghanistan and I could only ask one question to determine how secure it was and how much progress it was making, I would ask, “What proportion of the girls here are able to go to school?” There’s no question in my mind that investing in Afghan women is the surest way to guarantee that Afghanistan will sustain the gains of the last decade and never again become a safe haven for international terrorists. On my many trips to Afghanistan as a senator and as Secretary of State, I have met with an array of Afghan Government officials. I’ve met with businesspeople, development experts, diplomats. I’ve met with our brave troops, as well as our brave -- shared responsibility, participation by the international community, the international troops who are there, our counterparts – all of whom have sacrificed for the promise of a safe and secure and a sovereign Afghanistan.

But I actually come back time and again to my very first trip to Kabul as Secretary of State, when I met a remarkable woman who is changing Afghanistan. Her name is Roya Mahboob. Now, Roya is chief executive of a software development firm called Citadel. And the local authorities did absolutely everything they could in order to stop her dead in her tracks. They even pressured her family to close her company. But she, like a lot of the women sitting here and like so many women across Afghanistan, absolutely refused to be intimidated. And the first time that she competed for an Afghan Government project, guess what? She went up against six businesses led by men and she won. And it’s a good thing she won because Roya has invested almost all of her profits to provide internet access to 35,000 girls in Herat. And believe me, she’s just getting started. Today, she has plans to help five times as many girls across Afghanistan.

Now I’m sure you’ll hear this in the discussion in a little while – it is hard enough to start your own business anywhere else in the world, but to start it in Afghanistan, to balance the books, build a revenue stream, fight against incredible outrage in the local community, is sheer guts and courage and determination. She never backed down. Instead, she’s using her talents and her money in order to connect Afghans of all ages – men and women, boys and girls – to a global community and a global economy where all of us are connected to each other. That’s the world we live in today, and that’s the world that women in Afghanistan want to share in too.

As Roya said to me, she doesn’t want to be the only woman who’s an entrepreneur in Afghanistan. She wants all women to have that opportunity. And she believes nothing should stop any of them. Now, I’m serious when I tell you that I think of Roya and the women like her that I’ve met in Afghanistan. Every time I hear the amazing numbers that illustrate how far this country has come since 2001 and that underscore what Secretary Clinton was saying a few minutes ago about how critical our choices are with respect to the future – in 2001, back then, there were only 900,000 Afghan children in school, and all of them were boys. Today, nearly 8 million students are in school, and more than a third of them are girls. Think about what that means for the future.

In 2001, maternal mortality was 1,600 per 100,000 births; today, it’s down by 80 percent. In 2001, life expectancy for the average Afghan was 42 years; today, it’s 62 years and rising. In 2001, 9 percent of Afghans had access to basic healthcare; today, 60 percent of Afghans live within an hour of basic health services. In 2001, there was only one television station and it was owned by the government; today, there are 75 stations and only two – and all of those but two are privately owned. And in 2001, there were virtually no cellphones in the country; today, there are 18 million covering about 90 percent of residential areas. 80 percent of Afghan women now have access to a cellphone, meaning that they are connected to their families, their friends, and most importantly, they’re connected to the world and to their futures.

Thanks to entrepreneurs like Roya, Afghan women will also now be connected to the internet too. Ten years ago, it just would have been unfathomable to imagine this. But because of so many individual acts of courage, this is the future that we are now watching Afghan women build. And as Secretary Clinton and Laura Bush and Ambassadors Verveer and Russell powerfully remind us, when Afghan women live longer and go to school in greater numbers, all Afghan families and their communities will grow stronger. When Afghan women run their own businesses, all Afghans profit from a more diverse, dynamic, and inclusive economy. And when Afghan women hold public office at the local and national levels, all Afghans gain a stronger voice in their communities.

That is the vision behind the United States National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, which President Obama directed to be implemented two years ago and which Hillary spoke about just a few minutes ago. And that’s why we are committed to bringing the perspectives of women and their full participation to bear on these opportunities and challenges in Afghanistan going forward.

Now what has moved me – and I mean moved me – in my meetings with an impressive group of Afghan women entrepreneurs is that when Afghan women move forward, believe me, they never want to go back. Not to the days when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan. Not to the days before the Taliban when the country was torn apart by violence. And that is why it is so important that we keep investing in and defending the progress that empowers Afghan women, as well as men, to be able to have their voices heard and to buy into their future and shape their future. What has been achieved is nothing less than remarkable, and it would have been more than a tragedy if the world ever allowed this progress to be threatened or, worse yet, to be abandoned.

So the question now is: Where do we go from here? Because as we think about the future, we are mindful of the challenges that Afghan women continue to face. This is a critical moment. Many of the women that I’ve met share very legitimate concerns that the gains of the past decade could be lost. All that I talked about could be wiped out. And the truth is their anxiety that I hear when I visit Afghanistan, or you’ll hear today, it’s palpable. Despite the significant achievements of Afghan women and girls, many challenges still remain. And we remember too well the difficulties, the difficult history that led to the decades of war in Afghanistan. We know the costs of walking away. Believe me, Afghan women know the costs because they have always paid the steepest price.

So I say to you today: As Afghanistan sees women standing up in Afghanistan to take control of their country’s future – not only for themselves, but for all Afghans – we have to be determined that they will not stand alone. America will stand up with them as they shape a strong and united Afghanistan that secures the rightful place in the community of nations. And that is why President Obama and President Karzai signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement last year that lays out our mutual commitments. And that’s why America’s relationship with Afghans is changing; it’s not ending.

There’s a lot to do, so much to do, and obviously the road ahead is not easy. The violence that has plagued Afghanistan for decades has left very deep wounds, and it is going to take time to heal. We also know that security is going to be a real challenge. We know that Afghans have to strengthen the rule of law. They have to improve access to justice. We also know that discrimination and violence against women continue to be major problems.

But I know every one of these women and the women in Afghanistan today will remain determined, and we have an obligation to remain determined and stand by them. We intend to make clear that securing the rights of Afghan women and girls is not just a challenge for this moment; it’s a generational challenge. In fact, we’ve already made a significant down payment, but make no mistake – finishing this job is going to take courage, and not just the courage of women in Afghanistan.

As a proud father of two daughters, I have many times been reinforced in the fact that this job will require the courage of men, too. In Afghanistan, it will take the courage of every man who defends his daughter’s right to an equal education; it will take the courage of every brother who challenges a law that keeps his sister from owning property or opening a business; and every husband who not only promises that the cycle of domestic violence can stop with him, but who actually proves it. We have spent a great blood and treasure in Afghanistan, and that makes even greater our obligation to get this right.

Yes, there are challenges ahead. For sure, the transition is going to be difficult. But without question, there’s a world of possibilities staring us in the face. In fact, the transition that we are talking about and now working on is really about three transitions: a political transition, a security transition, and an economic transition. And no surprise, Afghan women are playing an integral role in all of them.

Just look at the political transition. We all know that the single most important milestone over the next year is the peaceful transfer of power from President Karzai to a democratically elected successor. The elections have to be on time. They have to be accountable and transparent and free and fair and accessible. They have to be inclusive and result in an outcome that is perceived as legitimate by all segments of Afghan society above all, but also by the international community. Above all, though elections obviously always entail competition and debate, they’ve got to be a unifying moment for the country, not a divisive one.

As we speak, as we are here, Afghan women are leading the charge to ensure that the elections next year are credible, inclusive, and transparent. You have – Gulalay Achekzai is one of those women. Gulalay is a teacher by profession, but she’s always had this passion for public service. She used to work as a human rights commissioner in Kandahar. Today, she’s serving on the Independent Election Commission. She told President Karzai she has only one character flaw – that she fears no one. (Laughter.)

Now we are deeply encouraged by the Gulalays and others who are taking part in this, by the hundreds of women from all over the country, who are running for positions on provincial councils. And we are very pleased to lend our support, in partnership with the United Nations, to train female volunteers as they facilitate secure access for women at the polls. There is no question that lasting security and prosperity in a unified Afghanistan will take root only when women have as loud a voice as men – not just on election day, but every day.

The success of the political transition is essential. It’s the prerequisite to the future stability of Afghanistan. But make no mistake – it’s not enough, it’s not sufficient, it won’t do the job alone. That’s why the United States firmly supports and will continue to support an Afghan-led peace and reconciliation effort as the surest way to end the violence and bring lasting stability to Afghanistan and the region.

But peace is only possible if it respects the historic achievements that Afghanistan has made over the past decade, all those things I listed and talked about, including above all the protection of the rights of all Afghans – both men and women. And as part of the outcome of any process, the Taliban and other armed opposition groups have to end the violence, break ties with al-Qaida, accept Afghanistan’s constitution, including its provisions on women’s rights. Those are the standards which will lead us in this effort. There can be no compromise on these points. And there can be no peace without respecting the rights of all Afghans, and Afghan women have to have a seat at the table.

Afghan women are also at the forefront of the second part of the transition – the security transition. This is one of the most stunning things. You saw it in the video. These folks in uniform – unprecedented. They’re joining the army and the police, and they’re serving as judges, prosecutors in some of the most conservative parts of the country. It’s an extraordinary transformation. My team recently met with a female police officer from Kabul. For those of you who have been to Afghanistan, you’ll know there aren’t too many female police officers, and even fewer of them are willing to step forward and tell their story.

But on her way home from work one evening, this particular police officer heard another woman screaming inside a house. And when she heard the cries, she didn’t run away. She didn’t call someone else to come and do the job. She went right up to the house, knocked down the door in order to help. Police officer went inside and she saw a woman inside badly beaten on the ground and her husband was standing over her. Without any hesitation – she was not intimidated, not an ounce of fear – she pushed the husband aside and took the victim to her own house in order to record her statement and make a report. Believe me – believe me – that’s courage.

And it’s an example that all Afghans can be proud of and follow. They can be proud that their security and law enforcement forces are growing stronger by the day, more capable by the day. And of course, they can be proud that this past summer, the Afghan National Security Forces took over the lead responsibility in providing security all across the country.

Now, as you know, we have made a commitment along with our NATO partners to continue to advise, train, and support the Afghan forces beyond 2014, should Afghans approve in the next – within the next two weeks the Bilateral Security Agreement. And make no mistake – bringing women into the force and supporting their safe and meaningful participation is going to be a key part of this transition.

I’m pleased to report to you now that we are closer than ever to completing this task of defining our new partnership with Afghanistan, going well into the future. The Bilateral Security Agreement, when it is completed, will help both countries to fulfill the longstanding commitment that we made to a security partnership after 2014. But I want to underscore again that nothing – neither this agreement when completed, nor the assistance that we provide – will replace the role that the Afghan people themselves will play determining the future of their country.

Afghan women are also taking enormous risk to support Afghanistan’s third transition. That’s the economic transition. And women like Hassina Sayed are leading the charge.

I met Hassina in March. She started a trucking company, I think, about 10 years ago. She started it with $500. Now, she has 500 trucks. Of her 650 employees, 300 are women who not so long ago would absolutely never have had the opportunity they have today. She told me that she always knew she wanted to be a businesswoman when she grew up. And I asked why, and she said simply, “Because then I’ll get to be my own boss.” (Laughter.) Now, obviously, that’s not just an Afghan trait; that’s a universal aspiration. (Laughter.)

But Afghan women like Hassina are forming connections not just within Afghanistan, but all across the region. Actually, her trucking company is doing a great deal of work in “the ’Stans” and outside of Afghanistan in order to bring supplies and things, food and so forth, into the country. And what I found is that all of the Afghans understand they may be landlocked, but they’re not trapped, and they refuse to be trapped.

Afghanistan is linked everywhere by roads, railways, products, markets. And the reality is that Afghanistan’s fortunes are tied to the whole region, just as the future of the region is tied to the stability of Afghanistan. We call this the New Silk Road vision, which Secretary Clinton launched in July of 2011. It’s a vision we believe in, and it’s a vision we’re going to continue to work hard to implement.

Hassina knows that the benefits of investing in women and girls are not limited to one village, one province, or one country alone. They ripple out across the borders. You all remember that great quote of Robert Kennedy’s about rippling and creating a huge current that sweeps down the mightiest walls of oppression. That’s what’s happening. And that’s why investing in the training and mentoring of Afghan women entrepreneurs is so important. That’s why we launched the regional economic women’s initiative in Bishkek and in Dhaka in order to link female entrepreneurs to markets in South and Central Asia. And that strengthens those women to have those connections to those other parts of the region. That’s why we’re investing in the education of Afghan girls, so they can break the cycle of poverty and become community leaders and engaged citizens in ways that inspire and actually strengthen their neighbors’ willingness to join them.

That is the future that, even here in Gaston Hall today, we are all building together. And that’s the story that I want to leave you with today. As I was flying back from Kabul in March, my staff handed me a letter from a young Afghan girl who had earned a scholarship from the State Department to study at the American University of Afghanistan. And this young girl has exactly the same courage as women like Roya, Hassina, Gulalaya, who are marching forward to define this new future for Afghanistan. She has the same vision as leaders like Hillary Rodham Clinton and Laura Bush, who know that no country can succeed if it leaves half of its people behind. The phrase that Hillary and I both loved as we heard it about the bird with two wings can’t fly with one wing.

One line in that girl’s letter stood out to me. She wrote about the importance of education and how her goal is not just to help herself, but to lift her community, her society, and her country, just like Roya, Gulalay, and Hassina are doing today. You know what she wrote, very simply? She said, “I want to be one of them.” That’s the power of example. That’s the ripple fanning out to create the current. Think about that for a minute. She feels ownership over the future that she is creating in Afghanistan, and that’s not something that her sisters or her mother could say even a decade ago. But girls all over Afghanistan – believe me, I promise you – they are saying it today and they are living that dream thanks to the courage and the leadership of women themselves in Afghanistan.

Our responsibility is clear. We need to make sure that they succeed. Because this is one of those benchmark moments – not just for them, but for all of us – in what we care about, what we fight for, and who we are. As we move forward, just keep thinking about that young girl who wrote that letter and the inspiration that she draws from women like Roya, Gulalay, and Hassina. She just wants to be one of them. And making that happen is going to take every single one of us. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much. Now we get to the really exciting part of the program. I want to invite Secretary Clinton, Mrs. Bush, Anita Haidary, and her extraordinary colleagues to all come up on stage so we have an opportunity to listen to Anita for a moment, and then I think we’re going to go out and they’re going to set up the chairs and the program will continue. Can I invite all of you up here, please? (Applause.)


Friday, November 15, 2013

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE WEEKLY CLAIMS REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING NOVEMBER 9, 2013

FROM:  U.S. LABOR DEPARTMENT
SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending November 9, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 339,000, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 341,000. The 4-week moving average was 344,000, a decrease of 5,750 from the previous week's revised average of 349,750.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.2 percent for the week ending November 2, unchanged from the prior week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending November 2 was 2,874,000, unchanged from the preceding week's revised level of 2,874,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,866,250, a decrease of 2,000 from the preceding week's revised average of 2,868,250.

UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 357,836 in the week ending November 9, an increase of 26,485 from the previous week. There were 478,543 initial claims in the comparable week in 2012.

The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.0 percent during the week ending November 2, an increase of 0.1 percentage point from the prior week. The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 2,560,359, an increase of 59,748 from the preceding week. A year earlier, the rate was 2.3 percent and the volume was 2,963,198.
The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending October 26 was 3,907,671, a decrease of 53,536 from the previous week. There were 4,997,171 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 26.

Initial claims for UI benefits filed by former Federal civilian employees totaled 1,893 in the week ending November 2, a decrease of 2,122 from the prior week. There were 2,287 initial claims filed by newly discharged veterans, a decrease of 146 from the preceding week.

There were 21,843 former Federal civilian employees claiming UI benefits for the week ending October 26, a decrease of 6,031 from the previous week. Newly discharged veterans claiming benefits totaled 32,243, an increase of 346 from the prior week.

States reported 1,333,709 persons claiming Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits for the week ending October 26, a decrease of 37,065 from the prior week. There were 2,095,605 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 November 2 were in Alaska (4.3), Puerto Rico (4.0), Virgin Islands (3.5), New Jersey (3.0), California (2.9), Connecticut (2.7), Pennsylvania (2.6), District of Columbia (2.4), Illinois (2.4), and Oregon (2.4).

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending November 2 were in Michigan (+2,720), Ohio (+2,289), New Jersey (+1,371), Massachusetts (+1,051), and Kansas (+919), while the largest decreases were in Oregon (-3,011), California (-2,468), Tennessee (-989), Puerto Rico (-859), and South Carolina (-718).


U.S. DEFENSE CONTRACTS FOR NOVEMBER 15, 2013

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 
CONTRACTS

ARMY

Booz Allen Hamilton, McLean, Va., (W15P7T-14-D-A210); CACI Technologies Inc., Chantilly, Va., (W15P7T-14-D-A211); Science Applications International Corp., McLean, Va., (W15P7T-14-D-A212); D & S Consultants Inc, Eatontown, N.J., (W15P7T-14-D-A213); Scientific Research Corp., Atlanta, Ga., (W15P7T-14-D-A214); Dynamics Research Corp., Andover, Mass., (W15P7T-14-D-A215); BAE Systems Information And Electronic Systems Integration Inc., Wayne, N.J., (W15P7T-14-D-A216); Systems Technologies Inc. West Long Branch, N.J., (W15P7T-14-D-A217), were awarded a $497,000,000 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for technical, administrative, and operation support services.  Estimated completion date is Nov. 15, 2018.  Work location and funding will be determined by each order.  Bids were solicited via the Internet with eight received.  Army Contracting Command, Division B, Aberdeen, Md., is the contracting agency.

BAE Systems Technology Solutions & Services Inc., Rockville, Md., ( W9113M-14-D-0001); Dynetics Inc., Huntsville, Ala., (W9113M-14-D-0002); ITT Exelis Inc., Herndon, Va., (W9113M-14-D-0003); Science Applications International Corp., McLean, Va., (W9113M-14-D-0004); Teledyne Brown Engineering Inc., Huntsville, Ala., (W9113M-14-D-0005), were awarded a $220,000,000 multi-year, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for test execution services and launch augmentation.  Estimated completion date is Nov. 14, 2016.  Work location and funding will be determined by each order.  Bids were solicited via the Internet with 10 received.  Army Space and Missile Defense Command, Huntsville, Ala., is the contracting agency.

Conti Enterprises Inc., Lincoln Highway, Edison, N.J., was awarded a $44,828,475 firm-fixed-price contract for a resilient features, west bank and vicinity, hurricane and storm damage risk reduction system for Mississippi River levee, English Turn Bend to Belle Chasse, WBV-MRL 4.2, Plaquemines Parish, La.  Estimated completion date is Dec. 2, 2015.  Work location is Belle Chasse, La.  Fiscal 2014 procurement funds were obligated at the time of the award.  Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans, La., is the contracting agency (W912P8-14-C-0006).

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Grand Prairie, Texas, was awarded $17,658,738 firm-fixed-price contract for life cycle launcher support for Multiple Launch Rocket System High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) Launcher Module and HIMARS/m270a1 launcher fire control systems.  Estimated completion date is June 30, 2014.  There are 35 work locations throughout the United States and funding will be determined by location.  One bid was solicited and one received.  Fiscal 2014 procurement funds in the amount of $852,600 were obligated at the time of the award.  Army Contracting Command-Redstone Arsenal (Missile) Ala., is the contracting agency (W31P4Q-14-C-0057).

Mahaffey Tent & Awning Co., Inc., Memphis, Tenn., was awarded a $17,198,048 firm-fixed-price contract to provides life support services and equipment (generators, tentage, light sets, handwash stations, shower trailers, etc.), to support rotation training units in meeting their training requirements at the Joint Readiness Training Center and tenant unit training events.  Estimated completion date is Dec. 14, 2014.  Work location is Fort Polk, La.  Bids were solicited via the Internet with 10 received.  Funding will be determined by each order.  Army Contracting Command Fort Polk, La., is the contracting agency (W9124J-11-D-0006).

Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, Bethesda, Md., was awarded a $6,505,355 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to provide services, equipment, and facilities for traumatic brain injury patients with pre-deployment training, post deployment testing, tele-medicine services, care coordination, clinical investigations, care, education, inpatient/outpatient rehabilitation, and surveillance to military, reserve, veterans, and their beneficiaries.  Estimated completion date is May 16, 2014.  Work location is Silver Spring, Md.  One bid was solicited and one received.  Fiscal 2014 operations and maintenance, Army funds were obligated at the time of the award.  Army Medical Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting agency (W91YTZ-14-C-M111).

MISSILE DEFENSE AGENCY

The Boeing Co., Huntsville, Ala., is being awarded a maximum $325,000,000 sole-source, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract to perform diverse and highly complex systems engineering and integration requirements related to the Ballistic Missile Defense System, primarily on a cost-plus-award-fee basis.  The ordering period for this contract is from Nov. 15, 2013 through Nov. 14, 2018.  The work will be performed in Huntsville Ala.  Two initial task orders will be issued and will obligate $8,536,469 of fiscal 2014 research, development, test and evaluation incremental funding.  Missile Defense Agency, Huntsville Ala., is the contracting activity (HQ0147-14-D-0001).

NAVY

L-3 Communications Integrated Systems, Waco, Texas, is being awarded a $96,370,902 modification to a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (N00019-11-D-0017) to exercise an option for services in support of the P-3, EP-3 and NP-3 Sustainment Modification and Installation program.  This effort includes planned maintenance interval, structural replacement and fabrication efforts pertaining to special structural inspection kits, center wing assemblies, zone five kits, and outer wing installations and refurbishments.  Work will be performed in Waco, Texas, and is expected to be completed in September 2014.  No contract funds will be obligated at time of award.  The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

Electric Boat Corp., Groton, Conn., is being awarded a $28,894,385 cost-plus-fixed-fee modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-13-C-2128) for procurement of missile tube integrated tube and hull weldment fabrication, missile tube assembly fixture design and manufacture, and missile tube material procurement.  This contract combines purchases for the United States (71 percent) and the United Kingdom (29 percent) under the Foreign Military Sales program.  Work will be performed in Groton, Conn., and is scheduled to be completed by November 2016.  Fiscal 2014 research, development, test and evaluation and FMS contract funds in the amount of $28,894,385 will be obligated at the time of award, and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year.  The Supervisor of Shipbuilding Conversion and Repair, Groton, Conn., is the contracting activity.

General Dynamics NASSCO-Earl Industries, Portsmouth, Va., is being awarded an $11,398,788 cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for the USS San Antonio (LPD 17) phased maintenance availability.  This contract will support miscellaneous structural and mechanical repairs.  Work will be performed in Norfolk, Va., and is expected to be completed by May 2014.  Fiscal 2014 operations and maintenance, Navy contract funds in the amount of $11,398,788 will be obligated at time of award and will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.  This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online website, with three offers received.  The Norfolk Ship Support Activity, Norfolk, Va., is the contracting activity (N50054-14-C-1401).

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

Hamilton Medical Inc.*, Reno, Nev., has been awarded a maximum $37,463,325 fixed-price with economic-price-adjustment, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract being made under the medical electronic catalogue program and includes a catalogue of 118 ventilation systems and related accessories.  This contract is a competitive acquisition, and 33 offers were received.  Location of performance is Nevada with a Nov. 14, 2018, performance completion date.  This contract is a five-year base with no option year periods.  Using military services are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, 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., (SPM2D1-14-D-8201).

ExxonMobile Fuels Marketing Co., Fairfax, Va., has been awarded a maximum $29,276,108 modification (P00003) adding line items to contract (SP0600-13-D-0451) for Navy distillate fuel.  This is a fixed-price with economic-price-adjustment, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract.  Location of performance is Virginia with a Dec. 31, 2013, performance completion date.  Using service is DLA Energy.  Type of appropriation is fiscal 2014 defense working capital funds.  The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Energy, Fort Belvoir, Va.

AIR FORCE

Phacil Inc., Arlington, Va., has been awarded a $28,827,647 order (FA8806-13-F-0001) under GSA’s Alliant Small Business Government-wide Acquisition Contract (GS-06F-0651Z) for the Modernization Eastern Range Network program.  This primarily fixed-price-incentive (firm target) effort upgrades the mission communications core at the Eastern Range from asynchronous transfer mode to internet protocol v4 (IPv4) (IPv6 capable).  Work will be performed at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Melbourne Beach Optical Tracking Annex, Fla., Jonathan Dickinson Missile Tracking Annex, Fla., Wallops Flight Facility, Va., New Boston Tracking Station, N.H., and British territories Antigua Air Station and Ascension Auxiliary Airfield, and is expected to be complete by Jan. 31, 2019.  This award is the result of a competitive acquisition, and 69 offers were solicited, and five offers were received.  Fiscal 2012 procurement funds in the amount of $28,827,647 are being obligated at time of award.  The Range and Network Division, Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., is the contracting activity.

Raytheon Company Missile Systems Division, Tucson, Ariz., has been awarded an $18,795,695 firm-fixed-price modification (P00008) on an existing contract (FA8675-12-C-0001) for High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) Targeting System (HTS) contractor logistics support services.  The contract modification provides for the final HTS CLS option to repair HTS pods beginning Dec. 1, 2013.  Work will be performed at Tucson, Ariz., and is expected to be completed by Nov. 30, 2014.  Fiscal 2014 operations and maintenance funds in the amount of $4,699,000 are being obligated at the time of award.  Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/EBAS, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

*Small Business

West Wing Week: 11/15/13 or "We Will Stand By Your Side" | The White House

West Wing Week: 11/15/13 or "We Will Stand By Your Side" | The White House

HHS SECRETARY SEBELIUS MAKES STATEMENT ON DIABETES DAN AND MONTH RECOGNITION

FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES 
2013 World Diabetes Day and National Diabetes Month
A statement by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

On November 14, World Diabetes Day—and during National Diabetes Month-- we join with individuals living with diabetes, their families, advocates, and health care professionals to raise awareness of this devastating disease around the world.

Combating diabetes is a serious public health issue. More than 340 million people worldwide have diabetes. Recognizing the urgency of this public health problem globally, this May the World Health Assembly adopted a global target to stop the rise in diabetes by 2025.

As the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, diabetes affects nearly 26 million Americans of all ages. Another 79 million adults are estimated to have prediabetes, a condition that places them at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

While we have made progress in research leading to improved treatment of diabetes, the burden of this complex disease continues to rise. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, lower-limb amputations not caused by injury, and new cases of blindness among adults in the United States. Diabetes also is a major cause of heart disease and stroke.

Preventing type 2 diabetes and its complications can improve the quality of life for millions of people and save billions of dollars. The direct and indirect costs of diabetes in 2007 were as much as $174 billion.

Yet, while type 2 diabetes is often preventable, more and more people – including young people -- are at risk for type 2 diabetes due partly to the obesity epidemic and aging of the U.S. population.

Currently there is no way to prevent type 1 diabetes, which is most commonly diagnosed in children and young adults. However, researchers continue their work to identify risk factors and explore preventive measures.

It is important to keep in mind the theme of HHS’s National Diabetes Education Program for National Diabetes Month this year: Diabetes is a family affair. Diabetes strikes not only individuals, but families, communities, and our Nation.

Encouraging research shows that taking small steps, such as adding vegetables and fruits to your diet and getting 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five days a week, can help manage type 2 diabetes and improve health. These lifestyle changes can support weight loss, which can go a long way in helping a person at high risk for type 2 diabetes delay or prevent its onset.

Involve your entire family. Cook a balanced meal. Share a brisk walk, talk with your family about your health and your family’s diabetes risk. Schools, work sites, and places of worship can also be part of the diabetes prevention and management solution.

Preventive care is critical to improving health and identifying early signs of disease or risk-factors. That is why the Affordable Care Act ensures that, in non-grandfathered health plans, Americans at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes can receive diabetes screening, diet counseling and obesity screening with no out-of-pocket cost. Additionally, screening for gestational diabetes is available at no additional charge for pregnant women. In 2014, Americans cannot be denied health coverage because they have diabetes or any other pre-existing condition.

Initiatives such as First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s National Diabetes Prevention Program and the National Diabetes Education Program (a partnership of the National Institutes of Health and CDC) are helping Americans of all ages take action to improve their health and that of the nation.

CHIEF OF SECURITY FOR DRUG TRAFFICKER TARGETED AS SPECIALLY DESIGNATED NARCOTICS TRAFFICKER

FROM:  U.S. TREASURY DEPARTMENT
Action Targets Cartel Enforcer and Security Firm Linked to the Beltran Leyva Organization


WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury today designated Arnoldo Villa Sanchez as a specially designated narcotics trafficker (SDNT) pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act).  Arnoldo Villa Sanchez, a.k.a. Erick Rene Calderon Sanchez, is the chief of security for Hector Beltran Leyva, the leader of the Beltran Leyva drug trafficking organization.  Villa Sanchez has carried out numerous acts of violence on behalf of his cartel bosses.  In addition to the action against Villa Sanchez, the Treasury Department also designated Sistemas Elite De Seguridad Privada, S.A. de C.V., a private security firm, for being owned and controlled by Arnoldo Villa Sanchez.  Treasury also designated Miguel Loza Hernandez for his links to Arnoldo Villa Sanchez and Sistemas Elite De Seguridad Privada, S.A. de C.V.  Today's action, pursuant to the Kingpin Act, generally prohibits U.S. persons from conducting financial or commercial transactions with these designees, and also freezes any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction.

"We have been closely monitoring the resurgence of the Beltran Leyva Organization as it battles for a larger share of the narcotics trade in Mexico.  We are determined to target all sides in this cartel war and will continue to use our authorities to disrupt these violent organizations,” said Treasury’s Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) Adam J. Szubin.

Arnoldo Villa Sanchez is a top associate of Hector Beltran Leyva and serves as his security chief.  OFAC designated Hector Beltran Leyva as a SDNT in December 2009.  Arnoldo Villa Sanchez is the largest shareholder of Sistemas Elite De Seguridad Privada, S.A. de C.V., a Guadalajara, Mexico based security services firm with more than 150 employees.  Sistemas Elite De Seguridad Privada, S.A. de C.V. specializes in personnel protection and alarm services. Miguel Loza Hernandez manages, and is a shareholder of, Sistemas Elite De Seguridad Privada, S.A. de C.V.  Since 2008, Beltran Leyva Organization has waged a bloody war against rival organizations led by Joaquín "Chapo” Guzman Loera and the Sinaloa Cartel.  In the last two years, the Beltran Leyva Organization has re-established itself and begun to expand its influence in parts of Sinaloa.

The President identified the Beltran Leyva Organization and Marcos Arturo Beltran Leyva as significant foreign narcotics traffickers pursuant to the Kingpin Act in May 2008.  Hector Beltran Leyva has been indicted on drug trafficking charges by federal grand juries in the District of Columbia (2004) and the Eastern District of New York (2009).  The U.S. Department of State is offering up to a five million dollar reward for any information that leads to the capture of Hector Beltran Leyva.  In addition, Mexican authorities are offering up to 30,000,000 Mexican Pesos (two million dollars) for information leading to his arrest.  On January 20, 2008, Mexican authorities arrested Alfredo Beltran Leyva, the former leader of the Beltran Leyva Organization, on organized crime, drug trafficking, and unauthorized use of military grade weapons charges.  In December 2009, the Mexican military killed Marcus Arturo Beltran Leyva.  Subsequently, Hector Beltran Leyva assumed the role as leader of the Beltran Leyva organization.

Since June 2000, the President has identified 103 drug kingpins, and OFAC has designated more than 1,300 businesses and individuals, pursuant to the Kingpin Act. Penalties for violations of the Kingpin Act range from civil penalties of up to $1.075 million per violation, to more severe criminal penalties. Criminal penalties for corporate officers may include up to 30 years in prison and fines up to $5 million.  Criminal fines for corporations may reach $10 million.  Other individuals could face up to 10 years in prison and fines pursuant to Title 18 of the United States Code for criminal violations of the Kingpin Act.

USNS MERCY PREPARES FOR POSSIBLE DEPLOYMENT TO PHILIPPINES

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 
Hospital Ship Activates to Support Typhoon Relief Mission
From a U. S. Pacific Fleet News Release

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii, Nov. 14, 2013 – The commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet yesterday directed the activation of USNS Mercy to prepare the hospital ship for possible deployment to the Philippines.

Navy Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr. directed the activation to accelerate Mercy's ability to attain full operating status in case it’s needed to support the ongoing Operation Damayan relief effort in the typhoon-ravaged island nation, officials said.

The activation order includes moving necessary personnel and equipment to the ship, which is berthed in San Diego. Mercy has been in a reduced operating status, which officials said is normal for a hospital ship.

If ordered to deploy, Mercy would get underway in the next several days, and would arrive in the Philippines in December, joining other U.S. Pacific Fleet units already supporting Operation Damayan.

On Nov. 11, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the aircraft carrier USS George Washington and its escort ships to depart early from a liberty port in Hong Kong and make best possible speed for the Philippines. George Washington, USS Antietam, USS Cowpens and USNS Yukon were expected to arrive off the Philippine coast this evening local time.

U.S. Pacific Fleet ships already operating in the Western Pacific also were immediately diverted. USS Mustin, USS Lassen, USS Emory S. Land, and USNS Bowditch are now on station and coordinating with the Philippine government. The U.S. Navy also has P-3 maritime aircraft supporting the disaster relief effort led by the Philippine government.

The amphibious ships USS Ashland and USS Germantown are leaving Sasebo, Japan, today. After picking up Marines, equipment and relief supplies in Okinawa, the two ships will arrive at the Philippines in about a week. USS McCampbell and USNS Charles Drew also are heading to the Philippines.

The ships and their complement of aircraft, including helicopters, will provide food and water, the capability to move relief supplies to isolated areas, and to help move the badly injured for medical care, officials said.

The U.S. Navy routinely trains with numerous Pacific nations and military units, including the Philippine armed forces, to prepare for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions, officials said. In 2012, Mercy participated in the annual Pacific Partnership mission, which included working with Philippine authorities near Tacloban, the area hardest hit by Typhoon Haiyan.

Because of the long-standing partnership between the two nations, Pacific Fleet officials said, the United States, working through the Philippine government, is able to rapidly respond with critically needed capabilities and supplies in times of crisis.

The role of U.S. military forces during any foreign humanitarian assistance event, officials explained, is to respond rapidly to host-nation requests for support in mitigating suffering and property damage and in preventing further loss of life. Operation Damayan is part of the broader U.S. government effort to support the Philippine government's request for humanitarian assistance, they added. The effort includes coordination by the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, in constant consultation with Philippine authorities.
As of yesterday, Philippine and U.S. personnel have transported more than 107,000 pounds of relief supplies, officials said.

EXPORT-IMPORT BANK ANNOUNCES AUTHORIZATION OF EXPORT OF NITROGEN PUMPS TO SINGAPORE

FROM:  U.S. EXPORT-IMPORT BANK
Ex-Im Bank Authorizes Wells Fargo to Lend
for U.S. Small Business Exports to Singapore

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) today announced that two small businesses employing 165 workers in Wyoming and Texas are enabled to export about $7 million worth of nitrogen pumps to an energy-industry company in Singapore. Payment was secured for the exporters by medium-term export financing extended by Wells Fargo and guaranteed by Ex-Im Bank. The transaction counts as a first use by Wells Fargo in its capacity as a Medium Term Delegated Authority lender under the MTDA program underwritten by Ex-Im Bank. The MTDA program offers exporters quick access to buyer financing from a network of lenders who have authority to write loans that will be guaranteed by the Bank.

“We’re pleased that a partnership between the Bank and Wells Fargo is supporting this sale of U.S.-made specialty items to Singapore, a gateway to Asia,” said Ex-Im Bank Chairman and President Fred P. Hochberg. “By our delegating lending authority to Wells Fargo, we shorten the process for obtaining guaranteed loans for exports that sustain U.S. jobs. That way, Ex-Im keeps its pledge to provide government services at the speed of business.”

The transaction supports U.S. jobs in four western states. The suppliers to the contract are Compression Leasing Services, Inc., located in Casper, Wyoming, and Generon IGS Inc., headquartered in Houston, Texas. Petroleum and geothermal drilling projects require pipe pressure boosters and an on-site source of nearly pure nitrogen. Generon IGS Inc. plants in Houston and in California manufacture patented modules using fiber membranes for separating nitrogen from air, and for dehydration. The Singapore buyer’s American affiliate, Air Drilling Associates Inc. of Denver, Colorado, employs additional Americans whose jobs are supported by the export sale.

Employees of Wells Fargo likewise benefited when the exporters generated this sale and applied for buyer financing to fulfill the order. Jeramie Maxwell, Wells Fargo’s vice-president for structured trade finance, commented: “This Medium Term Delegated Authority transaction is a first for Wells Fargo, and we look forward to expanding our participation.  This Ex-Im Bank program is a great solution to help U.S. businesses compete in the global marketplace and provides another opportunity for Wells Fargo to support our customer’s international sales growth.  Ex-Im Bank is an important relationship for Wells Fargo and we will continue to partner with them as we strive to support the global needs of our customers.”

Ex-Im Bank’s exposure to Singapore as of the end of fiscal year 2012 amounted to $1.8 billion.

ABOUT EX-IM BANK:
Ex-Im Bank is an independent federal agency that helps to create and maintain U.S. jobs by filling gaps in private export financing at no cost to American taxpayers. In the past five years (from Fiscal Year 2008), Ex-Im Bank has earned for U.S. taxpayers nearly $1.6 billion above the cost of operations. The Bank provides a variety of financing mechanisms, including working capital guarantees, export-credit insurance and financing to help foreign buyers purchase U.S. goods and services.

Ex-Im Bank approved a total of $35.8 billion in authorizations in FY 2012 – an all-time Ex-Im record. This total includes more than $6.1 billion directly supporting small-business export sales – also an Ex-Im record. The Bank's authorizations in FY 2012 are supporting an estimated $50 billion in U.S. export sales and about 255,000 American jobs in communities across the country.

SECRETARY OF STATE KERRY'S REMARKS AT 50TH U.S.-JAPAN BUSINESS CONFERENCE

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
Remarks at a Dinner for the 50th U.S.-Japan Business Conference
Remarks
John Kerry
Secretary of State
The Willard Hotel
Washington, DC
November 14, 2013

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much. Thank you, thank you. Thank you very much, Ambassador. Thank you very much. (Applause.) Please, thank you, thank you, thank you. I am enormously grateful (inaudible). Winston Churchill said the only reason people ever give a standing ovation is they desperately need an excuse to shift their underwear. (Laughter.) I know you had a much more noble cause in mind. (Laughter.) And I thank you for that.

Charles, thank you for a very warm introduction. I’m very grateful. And there’s nothing worse than parachuting into a dinner, interrupting people’s meal. You don’t have any idea what everybody’s been talking about and you’re going to give a speech for a few minutes. But I’m going to try and do that as effectively as I can.

I’m really honored to be here. As you all know – it was mentioned in the introduction by Charles – I used to be an elected official. I was a senator for 29 years. So I used to go to things and say, “It’s nice to be invited anywhere.” (Laughter.) And now that may be more true, I don’t know. (Laughter.)

I was walking through an airport a few months before I was nominated to be Secretary of State, and it was up in Boston. This guy points at me – you know that note of recognition as you’re walking and you see the eyes fix on you or something – and he said, “Hey you. Hey, anybody ever tell you, you look like that Kerry guy we sent down to Washington?” (Laughter.) And I said perfectly normally, I said, “Yeah, they tell me that all the time.” (Laughter.) He says, “Kind of makes you mad, doesn’t it?” (Laughter.) So I’m really lucky to be out of that and happy to be here.

It’s wonderful to be here with Tom Donohue and with all of you celebrating the 50th year of the U.S.-Japanese Business Conference. And I can tell looking out at the ballroom – and I think – where’s Tom Nides? Is he here somewhere? No, not Tom Donohue. Tom Nides. Is he here? Somebody told me Nides was going to be here. Well, anyway – well, I’ve now outed him. He skipped the dinner. (Laughter.) Trouble.

But I know a lot of the folks who are here, and this is a very powerful group of smart business people, all of whom understand the new global economy that we are dealing with, and as Tom and I were talking just walking in here, a much more complex world in many ways than the world that we grew used to through the latter part of the 20th century. The Cold War was really simple compared to what we’re looking at today, with the rise of sectarianism, religious extremism, the challenges of global barriers breaking down, masses of young people all around the planet desperate for education, for jobs, for opportunity, for a reach at the brass ring.

And relationships like ours, the relationship between Japan and the United States, are even that much more important when you think about the complexity and the importance of alliances in this new global economy and with these multiple challenges that we all face. If anybody doubts the importance of this particular relationship, let me just tell you that all you have to do is look at my schedule just for this week. This is my third event with Ambassador Sasae this week. (Laughter.) And I think it underscores the importance – I had the privilege of being with him when we swore in Caroline Kennedy and a wonderful reception at his home to toast her, and literally within hours she is on an airplane right now and she will land in a couple of hours in Tokyo and begin her journey there.

So Mr. Ambassador, I can promise you, as I’ve said previously, President Obama is sending somebody to represent the United States in Japan who truly has his ear and his respect. And she is a very accomplished individual – author, lawyer, a convener of people for all kinds of things through her lifetime. In many ways, she’s been an ambassador all her life, as I said at her swearing-in. And obviously, with her work with the Kennedy Library, her work as the chief of the partnership for schools and education in New York City, and so many other efforts, I believe she’s going to really take our relationship to new heights, and we’re excited about that.

It’s not inappropriate with Caroline Kennedy on that airplane and as we mark the 50th anniversary of the loss of President Kennedy that we remember what President Kennedy said 50 years ago. He urged Americans to look inter-continentally instead of inwardly, to bridge oceans with purposeful partnerships. And he said that we must “look outward to cooperate with all nations in meeting their common concerns.” I don’t think that that charge has ever been more important than it really is today.

Fifty years later, with President Obama’s leadership with respect to our outreach, to the rebalance in Asia, we are bringing that commitment and we are particularly bringing that commitment to our partnership with Japan. As the President said in Tokyo on his first visit in his first year in office, the Pacific Ocean doesn’t separate us as much as it connects us. And I think the same can be said and most of us here would feel the same way about the shared values that have brought us through these 50 years and more in a period of enormous transformation for both of our countries.

We also know, however, that you can’t rest on the past. It never works. You need to keep revitalizing the alliance and reframing it. Secretary Hagel and I paid a visit just a short time ago to Japan. We were in Tokyo for what we call a 2+2, which is Defense Secretary and Secretary of State meeting their counterparts. And we worked very closely there in order to forge a new framework for our alliance for the first time in nearly twenty years. We are not just recommitting to the partnership that has been the cornerstone of Asia’s security and prosperity for the past six decades, we are reinvigorating and redefining the ways that we need to carry that relationship into the future.

And I think as you look at our work together, whether it’s on security, on trade, on global challenges and people-to-people ties, we are proving true what Prime Minister Abe said in Washington: No one should ever doubt the strength of this remarkable alliance. Now, we could not be more pleased with the initiative of Prime Minister Abe and the work that he is doing now to strengthen Japan and its alliance and also, frankly, to play a more robust and more engaged role within the region, which is important, and we welcome that initiative and that effort.

Today, we have the opportunity to, frankly, break new ground in how we keep countries safe, how we help economies to mature, how we create new jobs and embrace partnerships for the future. And I was telling Tom as we came in here one of the things that I have said since day one when I became Secretary of State is that in many ways foreign policy today, more than almost at any time in recent memory, foreign policy is economic policy, and economy policy is foreign policy. And we need to really focus in on that – all of us – as we think about the ways in which we’re going to grow our economies and provide for this rapidly increasing demand for services and opportunity on a global basis.

I think that we’ve seen this partnership grow in other ways. Right now, Japan and the United States are working together in order to provide emergency assistance in the Philippines because of the devastation from the typhoon. That’s the kind of cooperation that redefines security and partnership in the region. And as I said in my remarks at Tokyo Tech when I spoke just last spring, we believe not in some specific set of commandments about how we ought to behave, but rather in a mutual recognition that, as you say in Japan, we are all in this together, otagai-sama. (Laughter.) Not bad. (Applause.)

Every one of you comes to these tables tonight and most importantly to this 50-year partnership with an understanding of your own businesses and of this new, more competitive, more voracious, fast-moving economy that we’re all working in. And it is the success of your businesses and the strength of the ties between them and the United States and your own countries – Japan or America – that is really the proof of what I’m talking about here tonight. For those of you representing Japanese companies who have invested in the United States, we thank you. We also invite you to do more, to recognize what is happening here in America with respect to our productivity, our competitiveness, and the extraordinary fact that we have suddenly become the number one oil and gas producer in the world and will be energy-independent by the year 2035. It’s extraordinary. I can’t tell you that it was something that was absolutely, totally planned. It came about because of the extraordinary productivity and innovation of some of our companies, and that innovation is now producing a different future for people all over the world.

We also hope that you will recognize that we, I think, are the number one leading nation in the world with respect to foreign direct investment from very, very many places, and now increasingly we are finding ourselves manufacturing competitive with manufacturing coming back as a consequence of a whole bunch of different ingredients that I won’t go into tonight.

I also want to point out that through the work of a program called SelectUSA, we are working aggressively to reach out to countries to market something that we haven’t always done as aggressively in the past but which we think is important in this new dynamic.

For those American companies among you who have invested in the Japanese market, likewise we say thank you, because your investments abroad create jobs back here at home and they generate wealth that not only supports our economy but becomes invested and helps to deal with challenges on a global basis.

To harness the full strength of our alliance, I would respectfully say to you that we need to actually deepen our economic ties, and we need to unlock the full potential for growth in the Asia Pacific, a fast – remarkably, one of the fastest-growing parts of the world, obviously. I was just in Brunei and Bali for the summits, and I could feel this incredible energy as well as just see the remarkable set of opportunities.

But the great catalyst for this effort, we believe, is the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We are absolutely convinced that the multilateral free trade agreement under negotiation with some of the world’s most vibrant economies represents something good for everybody in the world and it will make a difference by raising standards, opening up markets, and creating, literally, millions of more jobs in our country, in yours, and across the Asian Pacific. This is the future.

And with Japan’s entry, the TPP markets are going to comprise nearly 40 percent of the world’s GPP. You put that together with the TTIP and Europe, and you have the most powerful economic force on this planet, raising the standards of everybody, breaking down barriers, breaking down the sometimes government-placed barriers, and creating a fair playing field which improves everybody’s sense of the future, and certainly sends a message to capital about investment, which really is important to the kind of growth that we need in all of our countries.

So the TPP is not only going to be a job creator here at home and in Japan and throughout East Asia, but it’s going to ensure that the highest standards that we set in our own economies become the standard by which everybody then begins to measure their own judgments about investment and about the marketplace. And that improves the certainty of investment as well as creates a stability from which every single one of us will benefit.

We also know that the vitality of our partnership for the future depends on innovation. This has been proven over the last years, ever since World War II. Almost all of the productivity that we saw in our country – I think about 85, 90 percent of it – came through increases in innovation. And the foundation for innovation – none of us dare forget – is people. It’s the ability to be able to have people take ideas and take risks and be willing to cross oceans and create the new products and new possibilities of that future.

Through our exchange of technology and talent, U.S. and Japanese researchers right now are making historic breakthroughs in creating new – in helping to build the International Space Station, in helping to find cures for cancer and treatments for cancer. And from the tragedy of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, we have actually been able to cooperate and find ways to make great strides in disaster response, recovery, and risk mitigation.

But as with any profitable partnership, every single one of you here knows that growth requires investment. And when it comes to the educational exchange, I just want to single out for you we can do better and we need to do better. In recent years, the number of Japanese students studying full-time in the United States for their university degrees has dropped by nearly 60 percent. Meanwhile, the number of U.S. students studying in Japan, while growing steadily, has actually remained relatively low despite the growth. So each of you here can actually engage in proactive ways to help us continue that exchange which is going to be critical to the vitality of our innovation and the growth of this partnership.

And it’s important because in today’s world, whether it’s climate change, or the problem and challenge of youth unemployment or global health, every one of these issues transcend borders. They don’t belong to any one country. And so the result is we have to find new thinking that brings people together on an international basis willing to cooperate, willing to share the values and share the solutions to these particular problems.

I think the reality is that the United States and Japan’s ability to create shared prosperity tomorrow rests almost exclusively in what we do to build the stronger ties today. And I invite all of you to find ways for your businesses to create these stronger partnerships and move us forward. As we work to grab ahold of these opportunities in the future, there are some special things we’re going to need to pay attention to. Everybody knows about the tensions over islands between Japan and China. We’re all very cognizant of still some unfinished business with respect to the Republic of Korea and the need to move to the future and not be held by the past. We also know that North Korea presents a very special challenge to all of us, and one in which our cooperation with China will be as critical as any other single thing that we do, because China above all has the ability to make the greatest difference in the choices that North Korea makes. And we have been having that dialogue very directly, and that policy is moving, and I believe it is the only way ultimately to – the only way that we want to rationally accept to force the denuclearization of the peninsula, which is critical to the non-nuclearization of the entire region.

So these are the challenges. They’re not small. And because of what so many of you in this room have helped to achieve, I believe we have a chance to turn our potential into the promise of the future and to address each of these. I think we have the opportunity to live up to our generational responsibility to meet these challenges, and I look forward to passing that generational test with you in an effort to make certain that we make wise decisions, that we protect the future, and importantly in that effort, that we continue to build this extraordinary relationship.

Thank you for letting me be here to celebrate with you. Thank you. (Applause.)