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Saturday, December 7, 2013

ISON update on This Week @NASA (+playlist)

MAN SENTENCED TO 144 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR ROLE IN $270 MILLION INVESTMENT FRAUD SCHEME

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT
Friday, December 6, 2013
Virginia Man Sentenced for Conducting $270 Million Investment Fraud Scheme

The owner of a Virginia-based investment firm was sentenced today to serve 144 months in prison for orchestrating a $270 million stock loan scheme that defrauded his clients of more than $35 million.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, Acting United States Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia and Assistant Director in Charge Valerie Parlave of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee of the Eastern District of Virginia.

William Dean Chapman, 44, of Sterling, Va., pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud on May 23, 2013.   Chapman was the founder and owner of Alexander Capital Markets (ACM), whose primary business was to offer a financial product that provided customers with a purportedly fully hedged loan at an above-market rate of interest against a customer’s securities.   This served as collateral for the transaction for a percentage – typically between 85 percent and 90 percent – of the securities’ value.   For example, in exchange for a customer’s Apple stock, ACM would provide a cash loan to that customer worth 85 percent or 90 percent of the stock’s value.   After a period of time – between two and seven years, and typically three years – the customer could receive back their securities, or the equivalent cash value, if they repaid the balance of the loan plus accrued interest.   Alternatively, because the loans were non-recourse, the customer could walk away at the end of the redemption period having already received up to 90 percent of the value of their securities.

ACM’s customers were assured that ACM was engaged in hedging transactions such that ACM would be able to return the full value of the securities, or the cash equivalent, at the end of the contract period.   In reality, ACM simply sold the securities upon receipt, remitted up to 90 percent of the sales proceeds to its customers as the loan, and retained the remaining sales proceeds for itself and the parties who sold, marketed or facilitated the product.

Because ACM simply sold the securities upon receipt and no legitimate hedge existed, ACM could not return securities, or the cash equivalent, to the customers at the end of the redemption period unless it had sufficient funds to buy back the securities.   By in or about April 2008, ACM was functionally insolvent.   ACM did not have – and could not have expected to have – sufficient funds to cover its outstanding liabilities.   Nevertheless, Chapman continued to solicit new customers despite knowing that ACM would never be able to fulfill its financial obligations.

Over seven years, Chapman took in more than $270 million in stock, and 122 victims lost more than $35 million as a result of this scheme.   At the same time that ACM was amassing massive liabilities and failing to repay its existing clients, Chapman used his clients’ money to support a lavish lifestyle by purchasing a custom-built $3 million home in Great Falls, Va.; condominiums in the Turks & Caicos and Pompano Beach, Fla.; and a Lamborghini and Ferrari.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office.  The Criminal Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia recognize the substantial assistance of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on this case.   Assistant United States Attorney Chad Golder and Trial Attorney Henry Van Dyck of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.

MEASLES STILL A THREAT 50 YEARS AFTER MEASLES VACCINE APPROVED

FROM:  U.S. CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION 
Press Release Measles Still Threatens Health Security
On 50th Anniversary of Measles Vaccine, Spike in Imported Measles Cases

Fifty years after the approval of an extremely effective vaccine against measles, one of the world’s most contagious diseases, the virus still poses a threat to domestic and global health security.

On an average day, 430 children – 18 every hour – die of measles worldwide. In 2011, there were an estimated 158,000 measles deaths.

In an article published on December 5 by JAMA Pediatrics, CDC’s Mark J. Papania, M.D., M.P.H., and colleagues report that United States measles elimination, announced in 2000, has been sustained through 2011. Elimination is defined as absence of continuous disease transmission for greater than 12 months. Dr. Papania and colleagues warn, however, that international importation continues, and that American doctors should suspect measles in children with high fever and rash, “especially when associated with international travel or international visitors,” and should report suspected cases to the local health department. Before the U.S. vaccination program started in 1963, measles was a year-round threat in this country. Nearly every child became infected; each year 450 to 500 people died each year, 48,000 were hospitalized, 7,000 had seizures, and about 1,000 suffered permanent brain damage or deafness.

People infected abroad continue to spark outbreaks among pockets of unvaccinated people, including infants and young children. It is still a serious illness: 1 in 5 children with measles is hospitalized. Usually there are about 60 cases per year, but 2013 saw a spike in American communities – some 175 cases and counting – virtually all linked to people who brought the infection home after foreign travel.

PRESIDENT OBAMA'S WEEKLY ADDRESS FOR DECEMBER 7, 2013

FROM:  THE WHITE HOUSE

Weekly Address: Calling on Congress to Extend Unemployment Benefits this Holiday Season

WASHINGTON, DC—In this week’s address, President Obama said that before Congress leaves for vacation, they should extend unemployment benefits for 1.3 million hardworking Americans who will lose this lifeline at the end of the year. For families, unemployment benefits can mean the difference between hardship and catastrophe, and it is also one of the most effective ways to boost our economy. This holiday season, Congress should do the right thing for the American people and make it easier for our economy to keep growing and adding jobs.  
The audio of the address and video of the address will be available online atwww.whitehouse.gov at 6:00 a.m. ET, December 7, 2013.
Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
December 7, 2013
Hi, everybody.  The holiday season is a time for remembering the bonds we share, and our obligations to one another as human beings.
But right now, more than one million of our fellow Americans are poised to lose a vital economic lifeline just a few days after Christmas if Congress doesn’t do something about it.
Our top priority as a country should be restoring opportunity and broad-based economic growth for all Americans.  And yesterday, we learned that our businesses created about 200,000 jobs in the month of November.  That’s more than 8 million new jobs in the last 45 months.  And the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in five years.
But we need to do everything we can to help businesses create more good jobs that pay good wages even faster.  Because the hole that we’re still digging out of means that there are still millions of Americans looking for work – often because they’ve been laid off through no fault of their own. 
We also have to look out for the Americans working hard to get those jobs.  That’s why, as a country, we offer temporary unemployment insurance – so that job-seekers don’t fall into poverty, and so that when they get that job, they bounce back more quickly. 
For many families, it can be the difference between hardship and catastrophe.  It makes a difference for a mother who suddenly doesn’t know if she’ll be able to put food on the table for her kids.  It makes a difference for a father who lost his job and is looking for a new one.  Last year alone, it lifted 2.5 million people out of poverty, and cushioned the blow for many more.
But here’s the thing: if Members of Congress don’t act before they leave on their vacations, 1.3 million Americans will lose this lifeline.  These are people we know.  They’re our friends and neighbors; they sit next to us in church and volunteer in our communities; their kids play with our kids.  And they include 20,000 veterans who’ve served this country with honor. 
If Congress refuses to act, it won’t just hurt families already struggling – it will actually harm our economy.  Unemployment insurance is one of the most effective ways there is to boost our economy.  When people have money to spend on basic necessities, that means more customers for our businesses and, ultimately, more jobs.  And the evidence shows that unemployment insurance doesn’t stop people from trying hard to find work.
Just this week, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicted that allowing benefits to expire will be a drag on our economic growth next year.  A report by the Department of Labor and my Council of Economic Advisors estimated that it could cost businesses 240,000 jobs.  And without the ability to feed their families or pay the bills, many people currently looking for work could stop looking for good.
So extending unemployment insurance isn’t just the right thing to do for our families – it’s the smart thing to do for our economy.  And it shouldn’t be a partisan issue.  For decades, Congress has voted to offer relief to job-seekers – including when the unemployment rate was lower than it is today. 
But now that economic lifeline is in jeopardy.  All because Republicans in this Congress – which is on track to be the most unproductive in history – have so far refused to extend it.
So this holiday season, let’s give our fellow Americans who are desperately looking for work the help they need to keep on looking.  Let’s make it easier for businesses to attract more customers, and our economy to grow.  And together, let’s keep doing everything we can to make this country a place where anyone who works hard has a chance to get ahead
Thanks, and have a great weekend.

SEC BRINGS CHARGES AGAINST ALLEGED PONZI SCHEMERS INVOLVED WITH OIL AND GAS PROJECTS

FROM:  U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced charges and an emergency asset freeze against the perpetrators of a Texas-based Ponzi scheme involving purported investments in oil and gas projects.

The SEC alleges that Robert A. Helms and Janniece S. Kaelin, who work out of an office in Austin, misled investors about their experience in the oil and gas industry while raising nearly $18 million for supposed purchases of oil and gas royalty interests.  Despite representations that nearly all of the money they raised would be used to make oil and gas investments, Helms and Kaelin actually used only a fraction of the offering proceeds for that purpose.  Instead, the vast majority of investor funds were used to make Ponzi payments and cover various personal and business expenses.

“Helms and Kaelin pretended to be in the oil and gas business when they were really in the business of fattening their own wallets,” said David R. Woodcock, director of the SEC’s Fort Worth Regional Office.  “They lied to investors about the use of offering proceeds, spent investor funds on personal expenses, and made Ponzi payments to give investors the false impression that they were earning returns in a profitable venture.”

The SEC’s complaint unsealed late yesterday in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas also charges Deven Sellers of Arvada, Colo., and Roland Barrera of Costa Mesa, Calif., with illegally selling investments for Helms and Kaelin without being registered with the SEC.  They also allegedly misled investors about the sales commissions and referral fees they were receiving.

According to the SEC’s complaint, Helms and Kaelin began offering investments in 2011 through Vendetta Royalty Partners, a limited partnership that they control.  They have since attracted at least 80 investors in more than a dozen states while promising in offering documents that they would use more than 99 percent of the investment proceeds to acquire a lucrative portfolio of oil and gas royalty interests.  The offering documents were fraudulent as Helms and Kaelin invested only 10 percent of the proceeds, and the oil and gas projects in which they actually did invest generated only minuscule returns.

The SEC alleges that Helms and Kaelin directed Vendetta Royalty Partners to make approximately $5.9 million in so-called partnership income distributions to investors.  They used money from newer investors to make the distributions to earlier investors.  Helms and Kaelin created the illusion that Vendetta Royalty Partners was a profitable enterprise when, in fact, it was a fraudulent Ponzi scheme.  Some offering documents touted Helms to have extensive oil-and-gas experience, misrepresenting that he had “worked with various mineral companies over the last 10 years advising management on issues involving the acquisition and management of royalty interests, mineral properties and related legal and financial issues.”  In fact, Helms’s oil-and-gas experience came almost entirely from operating Vendetta Royalty Partners and its affiliated or predecessor companies.

The SEC alleges that Helms and Kaelin misled investors about other important matters besides their business background and industry reputation.  They failed to disclose the existence of litigation against them and companies they control.  They misrepresented the performance of the limited oil-and-gas royalty investments actually under their management.  And they failed to inform investors that Vendetta Royalty Partners was behind on its line of credit.  The company ultimately defaulted.

According to the SEC’s complaint, Helms and Kaelin along with Sellers and Barrera told potential investors that any commissions or finder’s fees would be small. However, Sellers and Barrera each received more than $200,000 in such fees on one investment alone. Sellers and Barrera regularly solicited investments without being registered as brokers.

At the SEC’s request, the court entered an order temporarily restraining the defendants from further violations of the federal securities laws, freezing their assets, prohibiting the destruction of documents, requiring them to provide an accounting, and authorizing expedited discovery.

The SEC’s complaint alleges that the defendants violated the antifraud provisions of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5.  The complaint further alleges that Sellers and Barrera acted as unregistered brokers in violation of Section 15(a) of the Exchange Act.  The complaint requests permanent injunctions and the disgorgement of ill-gotten gains plus prejudgment interest and penalties.

The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Chris Davis, Carol Hahn, and Joann Harris of the Fort Worth Regional Office.  The SEC’s litigation will be led by Timothy McCole.  The SEC appreciates the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Secret Service, and Texas State Securities Board.

U.S. OFFICIAL'S REMARKS AT ANNUAL CARIBBEAN-UNITED STATES SECURITY COOPERATION DIALOGUE

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
Remarks at the 4th Annual Caribbean-United States Security Cooperation Dialogue
Remarks
William J. Burns
Deputy Secretary of State
Washington, DC
December 6, 2013

Good morning. We gather here this morning on a sorrowful note – mourning with the rest of the world the passing of a truly great man, Nelson Mandela. I ask that all of you join me in a moment of silence to honor Mr. Mandela, and all that he stood for. Thank you.

It is an honor to welcome you back to Washington. I want to thank all of you -- our Caribbean partners and international donors -- for your commitment to an initiative of great importance not only for the Caribbean, but indeed for the entire Western Hemisphere.

Last month, in a speech at the Organization of American States, Secretary Kerry declared that “the era of the Monroe Doctrine is over.” He explained that in this new era, the United States seeks a relationship of equals adhering “not to a doctrine, but to the decisions that we make as partners to advance the values and interests we share.”

The Caribbean Basin Security Initiative offers a vivid example of what that kind of partnership can yield. It is a partnership based on shared responsibility and mutual respect. It is a partnership based on shared approaches to shared challenges. And it is a partnership that is achieving results -- reducing illicit trafficking, increasing public safety, and promoting social justice. But as all of you know, our task is far from complete. There is still much that we can do to build an even more effective partnership. Let me say a few words about the progress we’ve made and how we might build on that progress in the coming year.

First, we are accelerating our efforts to prevent the trafficking of narcotics, weapons, and persons. In part due to progress in other parts of the Hemisphere, the Caribbean is seeing an increase in drug trafficking… an increase in the number of criminal gangs… an increase in the number of weapons… and an increase in violence that is undermining regional stability and economic growth.

In response, we are deepening regional law enforcement cooperation so that Caribbean nations can share fingerprint and other data about suspected criminals that lead to arrests and prosecutions. We are increasing our efforts to stop arms trafficking – destroying nearly 2,000 weapons and three tons of ammunition over the past three years. We are improving maritime security through expanded training exercises with a specific focus on counternarcotics missions. And we are increasing train and equip efforts to build the capacity of law enforcement agencies and security forces throughout the Caribbean. Indeed, thanks in part to the Initiative, drug seizures are up 40-percent in the Dominican Republic and almost 300-percent in Guyana.

But we can do more. The Regional Integrated Ballistic Information Network is operational, but is not fully integrated. We can accomplish that this upcoming year. We can also do a better job of detecting and interdicting threats before they make it to our shores by improving information sharing and our maritime domain awareness.

And with multiyear plans for the maintenance and sustainment of our maritime assets, we can be sure that we will have the means to address this threat not just today or tomorrow, but for many years to come.

Second, we are making strides in our effort to prevent and reduce crime and violence, disrupt and dismantle organized gangs, and improve border security. By pooling our resources and our knowledge, we are helping Caribbean states develop a stronger and more effective justice sector. For example, this past year, Jamaica’s Organized Crime and Anti-Corruption Task Force dismantled a major criminal syndicate, arrested more than 100 suspects, and seized hundreds of vehicles and computers and tens of millions of dollars. We are also making progress in implementing civil asset forfeiture legislation to make sure law enforcement and rule of law agencies have the resources they need to do their job. Indeed, this past September, under its newly passed law, Dominica had its first successful cash seizure.

But here too we can take decisive steps forward this year. We can do a better job of sharing biometric law enforcement data regionally, through efforts like the Advanced Fingerprinting Information System. And by making sure that all Initiative members have the proper legislative authorities for the seizure of assets by all states and investing them in a dedicated security fund, we can support law enforcement efforts in the years to come.

Finally, and most importantly, we are paying special attention to the safety and security of our citizens, especially the young people who represent our hopes and dreams for the future of the Caribbean. Our main approach is prevention – making sure that we offer opportunities and services to youth so they avoid entering the juvenile justice system. To date, more than 52,000 young people have participated in Initiative programs in education and workforce development across the Caribbean. They are learning critical life and job skills, contributing positively to their communities, and working together with law enforcement to help resolve local conflicts and reduce violence.

To succeed, we need to work more closely with the private sector and our community leaders to develop the employment skills of at-risk youth and to provide them with sufficient opportunities to apply those skills. And we can work together to make sure alternative sentencing for youth is a routine practice of courts throughout the Caribbean region. This too will require building stronger connections among law enforcement, civil society, and business leaders.

We came together this year committed to building a more effective partnership. I am confident that with continued political will, and sustained focus on implementation, our partnership will only grow stronger. And as it does, we can all be certain that we will be building a more peaceful and prosperous Caribbean Basin and contributing to a more peaceful and prosperous Western Hemisphere.

Thank you all very much.

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN'S REMARKS TO AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE IN CHINA AND U.S.-CHINA BUSINESS COUNCIL

FROM:  THE WHITE HOUSE 
Remarks by the Vice President at a Breakfast with the American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing and the U.S.-China Business Council

St. Regis Hotel
Beijing, People's Republic of China

10:12 A.M. (Local)

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.  And I'm so late you probably thought you were going to hear from the 48th Vice President of the United States.   (Laughter.)  I apologize.  I always, when I’m late at home, always blame it on the President.  But I can’t do that today, and I apologize for keeping you waiting.

I remember 220 years ago, when I was in college, you only had to wait 10 minutes for a professor, 20 minutes for a full professor.  The only full professor in the Biden family is my wife -- you didn’t have to wait this long.  But thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to speak with you all.

Let me begin by saying one thing about competition.  I’ve told this to Vice President Xi and then President Xi, in all the time I had to spend with him, is that one of the things that has happened in the last 20 years, as the world has become more competitive, it’s awakened the competitive spirit in the United States.  Competition is stamped into our DNA.  And if there’s anything remotely approaching a level playing field, we’ll do just fine -- just fine.

And so I want to thank the American Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Business Council for inviting me here today.  You are living the U.S.-China relationship every single day, and you know the opportunities, but you also know the obstacles.  And it’s great to be back together one last time here in Beijing with our Ambassador, Gary Locke.  I say one last time because he is going to be heading back to his home state of Washington after a very distinguished career, which I don’t think is anywhere near ended, as both governor, member of the Cabinet, as well as the Ambassador.

And Gary and I were speaking this morning as I was -- there was a telephone call, they said I’m required upstairs.  And one of the things I like about Gary -- there’s no member of -- no governor or member of Cabinet that I have enjoyed working with more, because Gary speaks English.  By that, I mean not English versus Chinese; I mean plain versus complicated.  (Laughter.)  And so when Gary speaks, everyone understands exactly what he means.

And as you know better than I, communication is the currency, and particularly the currency that is needed most here in China.  He’s been an Ambassador to the Chinese government, but also to the Chinese people, and he will be missed.  I remember, I was here shortly after Gary arrived and every newspaper you’d pick, even though I don’t read Chinese, I’d see Gary’s picture -- because he connected.  He connected immediately with the Chinese people as a representative of our country and knowing -- the Chinese people knowing he was reaching out not just to the government, but to them.

I had a chance since I’ve been here -- it’s been a very rapid visit, and it’s been 14-hour days, but very useful -- I had a chance to talk with Vice President Li, and I will spend several hours -- and I spent I guess almost four and a half hours with President Xi.  And I’m honored that he would give me the time to go into such detail, both in a private bilat with him as well as an expanded, as well as a lovely dinner he hosted for me and a few of my colleagues.  Later, I’ll be meeting with Premier Li.

And I want to talk to you about much of what -- some of what I’ve talked to all of them about and what I believe to be are next steps in the U.S.-China relationship.

We’re trying to build a new kind of relationship between major powers, one that’s different, one that is defined by constructive cooperation, healthy competition, and a shared respect for an agreed upon new set of rules of the road and international norms for the 21st century.

After World II, our grandfathers and fathers and mothers put in place a structure that accommodated the economic change that took place in the world and set up a new set of rules of the road for the remainder of the 20th century.  We’re in a different place now.  You all know it better than I do.  We use the phrase in colloquial conversation in all our countries that it’s a “global economy.”  But it’s truly a global economy -- a global economy.

My colleagues always kid me about quoting Irish poets all the time.  They think I do it because I’m Irish.  I do it because they’re the best poets.  (Laughter.)  And William Butler Yeats wrote a poem called Easter Sunday 1916, about the first rising in Ireland in the 20th century.  And he had a line in it that better describes, I would argue, the Pacific Basin in the year 2013 than it did in his Ireland in 1916.  He said, "All is changed, changed utterly, a terrible beauty has been born."

We’re at a moment, a window, as they say, of opportunity.  How long it will remain open remains to be seen -- where we can potentially establish a set of rules of the road that provide for mutual benefit and growth of both our countries and the region, that set down sort of the tracks for progress in the 21st century.  I think it is that profound.  I think that’s the place, that’s the inflection point we are at in our relationship now -- not only with China but the entire region.

And so the only path to realizing this vision for the future is through tangible, practical cooperation and managing our differences effectively.  We’ve not tried this before.  We’ve not tried this before.  This is going to be difficult.  But if we get it right, the outcome for our children and grandchildren can be profound -- profoundly positive.

But to move this relationship forward, there is no substitute for direct and personal engagement between leaders.  President Xi pointed out to me, because I had an opportunity when he was vice president to spend some considerable time with him at the request of President Hu and then -- and President Obama.  He made indirect reference to -- there was a famous American politician named Tip O’Neill, who I admired a great deal and was sort of a mentor when I was a young 29-year-old senator coming into Congress.  And he’s famous for having said all politics is local.  Well, I believe all politics is personal, including international politics.

Personal relationships are the only vehicle by which you build trust.  It doesn’t mean you agree, but trust to know that the man or woman on the other side of the table is telling you precisely what they mean, even if you don’t want to hear it.  That’s why President Obama asked me to make this visit, and that’s why President Xi and I spent so much time together yesterday discussing in great detail a whole range of issues we face together that are difficult for both of us to navigate in our own political system.

These were very candid conversations.  I know it shocks you to think I would be candid.  I know that’s a shocking assertion. No one has doubted that I mean exactly what I say.  The problem is I sometimes tend to say all that I mean.  (Laughter.)  But because our relationship is so complex, getting it right isn’t going to be easy, and it’s going to require direct straightforwardness with one another about our interests, our concerns and, quite frankly, our expectations.  And that was the nature of the discussion yesterday.

Let me start with economics, not because this is a business audience, but because ultimately what matters most on both sides is our ability to deliver better for our people without it being viewed as a zero-sum game.  I have said since I met with Deng Xiaoping as a young senator, with very senior senators, that China’s economic growth is very much in the interest of the United States of America -- very much in our interest.  In my meetings with President Xi, he and I spent a good deal of our time discussing the outcomes of China’s third plenum.  China’s leaders have stated their ambition to move China toward a system where the market plays a “decisive role.”  That is a very, very big order that will require on the part of -- and I’m confident he possesses it -- the leadership of this country and the President.

But, in fact, many of the reforms China’s leaders are proposing actually match the priorities we have raised with China over the years.  Leveling the playing field for private and foreign-owned companies -- it’s going to be a difficult, difficult transition.  Protecting intellectual property and trade secrets, which is essential.  It’s not a surprise that a number of American companies are coming home in their manufacturing.  Why?  Well, we have very productive workers, but also we have court systems that are totally transparent.  Intellectual property is protected.  It matters.  And I think it’s becoming apparent to our competitors around the world that it matters for their own economic growth.  Opening service sectors to private and foreign investment and moving to market -- to a market-demand exchange rate.

These are welcome steps, but they will be difficult steps, and there’s no need to wait till 2020.  Again, the Chinese leadership in private has been very candid with me about the difficulty, but the determination they have to meet this, by any standard, very ambitious goal.  Of course, what matters most at the end of the day will be implementation.  There’s an old Saxon expression -- the proof of the pudding is in the eating.  The proof of the pudding is in the eating.  But I have no doubt that President Xi and his leadership and his primary advisors intend on, mean to, are committed to making the third plenum a reality. But it is going to require substantial commitment and follow-through.

Reform anywhere is challenging.  There are always intense interests.  I know you all are so happy about our views on Wall Street reform -- not easy, but a minor -- a minor -- change compared to what the Chinese leadership has taken on.  But the more China delivers on its proposed reforms the strong our bilateral trade and investment relationship will be.

And there's a lot of work to do, and I know that many of you have concerns that need to be dealt with in the process.  There are a number of areas where, in the next two years, we can and should make progress immediately.  We have an opportunity to improve intellectual property protection, resolve outstanding trade disputes that are holding us back.  We have an opportunity to significantly expand our cooperation on energy and climate change -- where we have overwhelmingly mutual interest.  Helping China achieve new vehicle emission standards and energy-transparent goals is that we committed to this week.

Implementing our agreement on HFCs -- we have an opportunity to protect the health and well-being of our people by increasing the safety of food and drugs.  And today we've agreed on increase of the number of U.S. inspectors who are operating in China.

We have an opportunity in the months ahead to make significant progress in negotiating a bid, a bilateral investment treaty and much more.

The third plenum also speaks to social and political reform and identifies some important near-term steps that they want to implement -- an end to China's program of reeducation through forced labor, easing the one-child policy, a commitment to deeper judicial and legal reforms.  Any major economic power in the 21st century, these are all going to become essential requirements in order to sustain growth, in my humble opinion, through the first half of the 21st century.

As was pointed out yesterday by the President, quoting back to me, I always say I never tell another man his business, or suggest to another leader what's in the interests of his country. But the interests laid out in the third plenum seem to be very much in our mutual interest.  There are many more steps China can take to open its politics and society as well as its economy.  And as I've said before, this is actually, from our perspective, in China's interest, notwithstanding it's for them to determine their interest.  Because history tells us that innovation is the currency of 21st century success.  Innovation thrive where people breathe freely, speak freely, are able to challenge orthodoxy, where newspapers can report the truth without fear of consequences.

We have many disagreements, and some profound disagreements, on some of those issues right now, in the treatment of U.S. journalists.  But I believe China will be stronger and more stable and more innovative if it respects universal human rights.

I was asked why we always talk about human rights.  The point I try to make wherever I go in the world when that discussion comes up is we are a nation of immigrants.  The vast majority of your ancestors who came to America came because their human rights were being violated.  It is stamped into the DNA of Americans.  No President, no matter how much he or she would like to avoid speaking to it, is able to remain silent without suffering consequences from the American public.  It is who we are.  Not that we're the citadel of human rights; we have much progress to make ourselves.

As businesses know well, prosperity critically depends upon predictability and stability.  The United States and our allies have guaranteed peace and security in this region for more than 60 years, providing the conditions for the remarkable economic progress in the region, particularly China.  Our relationship with China is complex, though.  We have our differences and they are real.  But there's nothing inevitable about a conflict with China -- nothing inevitable about a conflict with China.  Wholesome competition and strong competition is fundamentally different than conflict.

In fact, we see considerable common interest on the security side.  A secure and peaceful Asia Pacific enables economic growth for the entire region.  This area of the world is going to be the economic engine of the 21st century; in halting the spread of weapons of mass destruction, including North Korea, to stabilizing nuclear missile program, where we have real cooperation; in greater access to affordable and clean sources of energy.  It's easier to begin to talk about that in the United States and in China because as -- my President kids me -- I often say reality has a way of intruding.  Reality has a way of intruding.  And it has intruded in both our countries in terms of global warming and the effects on air quality -- storms, natural disasters.  And it is overwhelmingly in our mutual interest that we share the capacity each of us may have to deal with a more healthy environment.

We need to keep building practical cooperation and manage areas where we do not see eye-to-eye.  Everybody focuses on where we disagree with the Chinese.  We disagree with our allies in other parts of the world.  But China's recent and sudden announcement of the establishment of a new Air Defense Identification Zone has, to state the obvious, caused significant apprehension in the region.

And I was very direct about our firm position and our expectations in my conversations with President Xi.  But I also put this in a broader context.  The Asia Pacific region will be the driver of the global economy, to repeat myself, in the 21st century, and as China's economy grows, its stake in regional peace and stability will continue to grow as well because it has so much more to lose.  That's why China will bear increasing responsibility to contribute positively to peace and security.

That means taking steps to reduce the risk of accidental conflict and miscalculation, and reaffirming -- reaffirming that we want to have better predictability and refraining from taking steps that will increase tension.  And it means pursuing -- this means pursuing crisis management mechanisms and effective channels for communications with its neighbors.

These are some of the things I discussed with Chinese leaders.  The United States has a profound stake in what happens here because we need, and we are, and will remain a Pacific power diplomatically, economically, and militarily.  That's just a statement of fact.

When I first visited China back in 1979, as has been pointed out, I came to the conclusion then that I still share now, that China's economic growth then I thought would be good for, and now I am confident is good for America and the world.  But it has never been inevitable.  It takes work to build trust and make a habit out of cooperation, to be clear, predictable and straight with one another when we disagree, and to escape the traps that set other powers before us down a path of conflict.

That is the work of leaders and diplomats, but it is also of citizens and businesspeople like all of you assembled before me. I believe that our success or failure in building a U.S.-China relationship that will define the world for our grandchildren to live in depends not just on political leaders, but on you as well.  I believe that the shared prosperity that you help create is part of the glue that will hold together this relationship.  So I thank you.  I thank you for your commitment.  I thank you for your hard work.  I thank you for staying in the game.  And I wish you all a great deal of luck because your success strengthens the entire relationship.

And if we get this relationship right, together China and America, the region and the world will be better off for it for a long time to come, and that is not hyperbole.  That is -- as an old Western movie used to say in America, that ain’t brag, ma’am. That's just fact.  It is a fact that if we get this right the prospects for the 21st century being peaceful, secure and everyone sharing in the growing prosperity is real.

So thank you all for what you do.  And may God bless you all and may God protect our troops.  Thank you very much.  Appreciate you.  (Applause.)

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CELEBRATES MEXICAN AND HISPANIC HERITAGE

FROM:  U.S. LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
A Celebration of Mexico: A Champion of Reform
December 4, 2013 by Erin Allen

The Library of Congress has the largest collection of Hispanic materials in the world, including rare items of Mexican origin. Next Thursday and Friday, the institution is hosting a special “Celebration of Mexico” to take a look at some of these items and to also honor Hispanic and Mexican heritage. As part of the celebration, several of the institution’s curators have highlighted a few of the Library’s most treasured artifacts in a series of brief webcasts.

Bartolomé de Las Casas is known throughout history for his stand on the rights of native Americans. The Library holds several of his writings in his collections, including this book to inform the Spanish Crown that officials and landowners in the New World were behaving cruelly toward their indigenous subjects and to plead for redress. His book had an enormous impact, prompting Emperor Charles V to recognize the humanity of indigenous peoples and to issue the New Laws of the Indies in 1542, ending the absolute power of individual Spaniards.

Library of Congress Hispanic Division specialist Barbara Tenenbaum shares insights into the history of the early Americas and Dominican priest and social reformer Bartolomé de las Casas.

EXPORT-IMPORT BANK WILL FINANCE $641 MILLION EXPORT OF REFINERY EQUIPMENT DEAL

FROM:  U.S. EXPORT-IMPORT BANK
Ex-Im Bank Approves $641 Million to Finance the Export 
of U.S. Refinery Equipment to Turkey
Transaction Supports 3,000 Jobs

Washington, D.C. – In a boost for U.S. jobs, the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) has authorized a $640.7 million direct loan to Star Refineri A.S. (Star) of Istanbul, Turkey, that will finance the export of American-made oil refinery equipment and support approximately 3,000 U.S. jobs, according to bank estimates derived from Departments of Commerce and Labor data and methodology.

“This important transaction will support the export of cutting-edge American equipment,” said Ex-Im Bank Chairman and President Fred P. Hochberg. “Moreover, the transaction will help a vital industry in Turkey and support 3,000 U.S. jobs across America. The growth we see in the energy sector around the globe bolsters jobs here at home.”

The American-made equipment will factor in Star’s construction of an oil refinery in Aliaga, Turkey, approximately 30 miles north of Izmir on the Azean coast. Upon completion in 2017, the refinery will produce crude oil in addition to various other petrochemicals, including naphtha, LPG, and xylenes.

Friday, December 6, 2013

SECRETARY OF STATE KERRY'S REMARKS AT BEN GURION INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
Press Availability at Ben Gurion International Airport
Press Availability
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Tel Aviv, Israel
December 6, 2013

SECRETARY KERRY: We’re here this morning just outside of Tel Aviv, but our hearts are in Johannesburg with all the millions of people who loved Nelson Mandela. Madiba’s long walk to freedom gave new meaning to character and to courage, to forgiveness, and to human dignity. And now that his long walk has ended, the example that he set for all of humanity lives on. He will be remembered as a pioneer for peace, and there are some people, I think, in the course of life who truly – you meet and you are touched by them, and you’re forever changed by the experience. Nelson Mandela is one of those people.

Teresa and I had the honor of sitting with Mandela over the Thanksgiving holidays of 2007, and – that and several other times. And I also stood in his tiny cell on Robben Island, a room with barely enough space to be able to lie down in or stand up in. I learned that the glare of the white rock quarry on the island permanently damaged his eyesight, and it hit home even more how remarkable it was that after spending 27 years locked up, locked away, and having his own vision impaired by that condition, that this man was still able to see the best interests of his country, the best interests of humanity, and embrace even the very guards who kept him prisoner. That is the story of a man whose ability to see resided not just in his eyes but in his conscience. He was a stranger to hate. He rejected recrimination in favor of reconciliation, and he knew the future demands required that we move beyond the place that he had been, beyond the past.

So we just think of the lessons that he taught the world which have special significance at this moment in history. He said, “It always seems impossible until it is done.” I think it’s appropriate for us to think about that in the context of the work that I’ve been doing here in the last couple of days and over these last months, and of the hopes and aspirations of the people of this region. That example of Nelson Mandela is an example that we all need to take to heart as we face the challenge of trying to reach a two-state solution.

Over the past two days, I had the opportunity to meet with both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas. And despite the fact that we are discussing really difficult, complicated issues, I am encouraged by the continued commitment of both leaders to the pursuit of peace. And they both underscored their commitment to continue to work through these difficult issues in the days ahead. As we look to the challenges that we face in the coming months, we need to all be not just reminded of the example of Nelson Mandela’s words, but by his actions. The naysayers are wrong to call peace in this region an impossible goal. It always seems impossible until it’s done.

Since the two parties first agreed to resume talks four months ago, they have held regular discussions and the United States has remained in close contact with both sides. It hasn’t been easy; I won’t pretend that. But none of the parties embarked on this path with the expectation that it was going to be a simple or easy process. We all knew upfront that it would be a long, arduous, and complicated journey.

Nonetheless, it is absolutely clear to me through the discussions that we had – and believe me, I wouldn’t spend these hours and I wouldn’t come back here given the agenda that we face on a global basis if I didn’t think it was worthwhile, if President Obama didn’t believe it was worth pursuing. And it is quite clear that both President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu remain as determined as ever to continue down this path and to explore these possibilities. Because both parties have the same endpoint in their sights: Two nations for two peoples living side by side in peace and prosperity.

But neither peace nor prosperity are possible without security, and the United States will only support a final status agreement that makes both Israelis and Palestinians more secure than they are today. As I made clear yesterday, the commitment of the United States to Israel’s security is ironclad. It is a commitment that spans decades. It is permanent. In 1973, that commitment was the driving force behind the 32-day airlift the United States conducted to deliver military assistance to Israeli forces during the Yom Kippur War. More than 20 years ago, that commitment was the reason we began work with Israel to develop ballistic missile defense technologies that continue to protect the Israeli people from the range of threats that they face every day. And at this moment, our commitment to Israel’s security – a central issue as we work towards a lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and as we work towards the creation of a viable, independent, Palestinian state.

That’s why President Obama and I have been working very closely with General John Allen, who is one of the United States’ most experienced military leaders, and a team with him of American defense experts – so that we can anticipate all of the threats to Israel’s security at every step of the final status negotiations process and work out ways to address those threats as well as to address the complicated questions of security within a new state of Palestine and to deal with the issues of a viable independent Palestinian state and the security challenges that that presents. Together, there is no doubt in my mind we can reach an agreement that will support the peaceful and promising Palestine that the Palestinian people deserve alongside a prosperous and a more secure Israel.

There’s another issue at the heart of Israel’s security that’s also been a key focus of all of our discussions, and that is the P5+1 negotiations with respect to Iran. Throughout these negotiations, our commitment to Israel’s security is paramount. The fact remains that both the United States and Israel have the same priority with respect to Iran. We are laser-focused on preventing the Iranians from acquiring a nuclear weapon. The United States firmly believes that the P5+1 first-step agreement not only makes Israel more secure than it was the day before that agreement, but we believe it will take us closer to a lasting, peaceful, and comprehensive solution to the Iranian nuclear program. It is the best opportunity we have to resolve the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.

I pledge this, as President Obama has: As we proceed forward in this negotiation, we will continue to consult very closely with Israel as the negotiations resume as well as with our other friends and allies in the region and around the world, because that input is critical to us in the process. And as is known, Security Advisor to Prime Minister Netanyahu Yossi Cohen will travel to the United States next week. We will be engaging in very direct conversations so that we are on the same track going forward. I look forward to speaking in greater detail about the United States partnership with Israel tomorrow when I address the Saban Forum in Washington, D.C.

For now, let me just now reiterate how grateful I am for the courage that both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas both continue to display against naysayers, against opponents, as they pursue a full exploration of the possibilities of peace. I believe we are closer than we have been in years to bringing about the peace and the prosperity and the security that all of the people of this region deserve and yearn for.

Thank you very much, and I look forward to answering any questions.

MODERATOR: Lara Jakes, AP.

QUESTION: Thanks. Thank you. Just kind of following up on what you just said, you said you believe that we are closer than we have been in years to bringing about peace and prosperity. You’ve been here eight times, and as you know, the media is full of reports that there has actually been no progress made. So what specific examples of progress can you give us to show for your time here?

Also, this was the first time that General Allen briefed the prime minister on some ideas for a security resolution for Israel. Is the U.S. moving now into a more proactive bridging role because the two sides together have been unable to come up with some kind of resolution, solution, or compromise? Thanks.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, no, actually, no. Let me answer the first – the second part of the question first as I answer the first part of the question.

The United States has always been an active participant and will remain an active participant, but the negotiation is between the two parties. And we play a critical role because we have an ability to be able to provide technology as well as other technical capacity as well as concepts that we can help shape with respect to security. Now, why do I say that I believe we’re making progress? Because we’ve gone through a very detailed, lengthy, in-depth analysis of the security challenges of the region, and particularly the challenges to Israel and to the creation of a viable, independent Palestinian state. And that process has taken time.

General John Allen, who came with me on this trip and did brief, did so because we’ve reached a point where we have something to brief on, where we have results as a consequence of the analysis that’s been made. And we believe we’re able to contribute thinking as a consequence of those – that analysis that could help both the Palestinians and the Israelis to make judgments about some of the choices that are important to arriving at an agreement. So that is progress, and it hasn’t come easily. There are about 160 people who have contributed one way or the other to the process General Allen has pursued. The intelligence community, the Department of Defense, the State Department, the White House – all have been engaged in thinking through the various possibilities of how you deal with one problem or another with respect to security. And so obviously, security is paramount in the minds of the prime minister and his team with respect to their ability to be able to move forward with other issues that have to be dealt with. If Israel’s security cannot be increased through this agreement, it’s very difficult to make an agreement. So we are making certain that we’re addressing each and every one of those questions.

And I’m not going to comment further on the progress, but one thing I will say is this: We purposefully agreed at the beginning of this process that I would be the only person to comment on these talks publicly. And I notice in the newspapers or in some comments here or there there’s a leak and somebody suggests this or that. I have no idea who is leaking; I know it’s not me, and I’m the only authorized spokesperson. So whatever people are saying that something is on the table or not on the table or this or that is really not grounded in these talks. Some people may want to think they know more than others or suggest that they know what’s going on or – but the reality is that the people who really know what’s going on are not talking about it. And so there is not going to be a lot of information coming out. And the fact that there is not a lot of information coming out doesn’t mean that the talks aren’t being productive.

So we feel – I mean, I wouldn’t spend these hours if I didn’t think it was productive and we weren’t hammering out important concepts. And nor would the prime minister of Israel, who has a lot to do, spend this kind of time – nor would President Abbas, who has major responsibilities with respect to finance and to management of the Palestinian Authority. But all of us are committed to this process and they have taken, particularly, political heat for choices they have made in order to continue to pursue it. And guess what? They are continuing and they remain committed, and that’s because they know that we are engaged in serious conversations about how we could resolve the differences between the parties.

MODERATOR: Anne Gearan from The Washington Post.

QUESTION: Thank you. Mr. Secretary, do you leave here today with any assurances from the Israeli prime minister that he will be quieter or more cooperative on the Iran talks front? And also, did you discuss with him directly the role of Congress and possible new sanctions and anything that he might do to influence against that? Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: No. I did not have any conversation with the prime minister regarding Congress or Congress’s role. But of course, we did discuss the substance of the issue of Iran and the negotiation. And look, the prime minister has every right in the world to make his views known with respect to his concerns about the security of his country, and we would expect him to do that. But the prime minister has also been extremely constructive in working with us on the next steps and where we need to go now. He understands that we are now in the real negotiation.

And as I pointed out in my earlier comments, and I’ll say this again – I have said this to the prime minister, and I think it’s – and I’ll say this again now to the people of Israel and to any interested parties: I am personally convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that Israel is safer today after we have reached this first-step agreement than it was before we did that. Why do I say that? I say that because we are now engaged in the major comprehensive discussion that the prime minister wanted us to be engaged in, but guess what? We have stopped their program where it is.

They are destroying – under requirements, they will have to destroy the 20 percent enriched uranium in its entirety. They will not be able to grow their 3.5 percent enriched to stock at all. They will not be allowed to put new centrifuges in place. They will have to submit to inspections of the Fordow facility, of Natanz facility, of Arak facility. The Arak facility cannot progress at all with the installation of components or the testing of additional fuel or the installation of any of the nuclear components. And therefore, we have expanded the amount of time during which Iran could actually break out. That makes Israel safer in our judgment.

And the fear of the prime minister with respect to the sanctions is certainly an appropriate concern, but it is one that the Treasury Department and the Obama Administration are absolutely determined to prevent from becoming a problem, because we have the ability to control what happens with respect to those sanctions. And we will continue to enforce them. There is no change in the fundamental sanctions regime. A very small amount of money is released, but those sanctions will continue over the course of these negotiations. And we are free at any time, if Iran is not complying, or we do not move forward, to ratchet up those sanctions and even to go back to Congress and ask for additional sanctions.

So I am convinced that we have put forward a strong proposal, and now what we are doing with Israel is working very closely on what the final comprehensive agreement ought to look like. Israel and the United States are absolutely in sync, not an ounce of daylight between us, with respect to the need to make sure that Iran cannot achieve a nuclear weapon, will not in the future be able to achieve it, and certainly cannot move towards it without the United States of America and Israel knowing that and therefore being able to take steps to deal with it. I believe Israel is safer today and we will approach this final negotiation with an absolute view about Israel’s security, Israel’s safety, the region’s safety, and our ability to stand up afterwards and say, this was an agreement that was good for the region, good for Israel, good for the United States, good for the world. That’s our objective.

MODERATOR: Thanks, everyone.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you all very much. Appreciate it.

U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT CONTRACTS FOR NOVEMBER 6, 2013

 FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 
CONTRACTS

AIR FORCE
 
Lockheed Martin Corp., Marietta, Ga., has been awarded up to $169,726,427 not-to-exceed firm-fixed-price contract for advance procurement funding for long lead efforts associated with 18 C-130J aircraft. Work will be performed at Marietta, Ga., and is expected to be completed by Oct. 31, 2016. This award is the result of a sole-source acquisition. Fiscal 2013 advance procurement funds in the amount of $169,726,427 are being obligated at time of award. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/WLNNC, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8625-14-C-6450).

Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., McLean, Va., has been awarded an $18,062,895 cost-plus-fixed-fee modification (P00047) under an existing contract (FA8811-10-C-0006) for systems engineering and integration support to the Launch and Test Range System . The contract modification extends the existing contract for one year. Work will be performed at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., and is expected to be completed by Dec. 7, 2014. Fiscal 2014 other procurement and research and development funds in the amounf of $3,665,819 are being obligated at time of award. Range and Network Division, Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., is the contracting activity.

Oasis Systems LLC, Lexington, Mass., was awarded an $11,918,862 modification (P00005) on an existing cost-plus-fixed-fee, cost-reimbursable contract (FA8721-13-C-0025) for professional acquisition support services. This contract modification provides the exercise of an option for an additional six months of professional acquisition support services under the basic contract. Work will be performed at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., and Langley Air Force Base, Va., and is expected to be completed by April 17, 2014. This modification provides professional acquisition support services in support of Air Force Life Cycle Management Center divisions. Fiscal 2012 procurement and fiscal 2013 research and development and procurement funds in the amount of $420,420 were obligated at time of award. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Enterprise Acquisition Division/PZM, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., is the contracting activity (Awarded Sept. 10, 2013).

Quantech Services Inc., Lexington, Mass., was awarded a $10,074,671 modification (P00006) on an existing cost-plus-fixed-fee, cost-reimbursable contract (FA8721-13-C-0016) for professional acquisition support services. This contract modification provides the exercise of an option for an additional six months of professional acquisition support services under the basic contract. Work will be performed at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass. and Langley Air Force Base, Va., and is expected to be completed by April 17, 2014. This modification provides professional acquisition support services in support of Air Force Life Cycle Management Center divisions, including classified foreign military sales. FMS support accounts for approximately 46 percent of the stated modification and includes Afghanistan, Egypt, Jordan, and Oman. Fiscal 2013 research and development, procurement and FMS funds in the amount of $2,016,142 were obligated at time of award. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Enterprise Acquisition Division/PZM, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., is the contracting activity (Awarded Sept. 10, 2013).

Global Defense Systems LP, Warner Robins, Ga., has been awarded a $9,624,302, firm-fixed-price contract for 480 C-130 Loadmaster Crashworthy seats. The Crashworthy seat will provide lifesaving capabilities during hard landings. Work will be performed at Albertville, Ala., and is expected to be completed June 30, 2016. This award is the result of a competitive acquisition via the internet, and five offers were received. Fiscal 2011 and 2012 procurement funds in the amount of $9,624,302 are being obligated at time of award. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/WLKCA, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., is the contracting activity (FA8504-14-C-0002).

P E Systems Inc., Fairfax, Va., was awarded an $8,968,305 modification (P00005) on an existing cost-plus-fixed-fee, cost-reimbursable contract (FA8721-13-C-0029) for professional acquisition support services. This contract modification provides the exercise of an option for an additional six months of professional acquisition support services under the basic contract. Work will be performed at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., Langley Air Force Base, Va., Washington, D.C., and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and is expected to be completed by April 17, 2014. This modification provides professional acquisition support services in support of Air Force Life Cycle Management Center divisions, including classified foreign military sales. FMS support accounts for approximately 1 percent of the stated modification and includes the countries of Germany, Greece, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Thailand. Fiscal 2012 procurement and fiscal 2013 operations and maintenance, research and development, procurement and FMS funds in the amount of $621,641 were obligated at time of award. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Enterprise Acquisition Division/PZM, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., is the contracting activity (Awarded Sept. 19, 2013).

NAVY

Lockheed Martin, Mission Systems & Training, Mitchel Field, N.Y., is being awarded a $58,785,716 cost-plus-incentive fee, cost-plus-fixed fee contract for United States and United Kingdom D-5 navigation subsystem engineering support services. This contract provides for U.S. and U.K. fleet support, U.S. and U.K. trainer systems support, Ohio-class SSBN engineered refueling overhauls, U.S. and U.K. SSI4 trainer system, SSBN-R strategic weapon training system and training system development, U.K. successor support, software modernization and Linked Autonomous Programmed Navigational Operational Trainer modernization. The maximum dollar value, including the base period and one option-year if exercised, is $114,236,770. The work will be performed in Mitchel Field, N.Y. (97 percent), Clearwater/Oldsmar, Fla. (2 percent) and Manassas, Va. (1 percent), with an expected completion date of April 2017. Fiscal 2014 operations and maintenance, Navy contract funds in the amount of $36,042,285; fiscal 2014 research, development, test and evaluation contract funds in the amount of $12,382,648; fiscal 2014 United Kingdom contract funds in the amount of $6,912,487; and fiscal 2014 other procurement, Navy contract funds in the amount of $3,448,296 are being obligated at time of award. Contract funds in the amount of $36,042,285 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was a sole-source acquisition in accordance with 10 U.S.C. 2304(c)(1). Strategic Systems Programs, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00030-14-C-0002).

BAE Systems Technology Solutions Inc., Rockville, Md., is being awarded a $56,517,376 cost-plus-fixed fee, cost-plus-incentive fee contract for the United States and United Kingdom D5 strategic weapons systems programs, U.S. guided missile submarine attack weapons systems programs, Nuclear Weapons Security, and future concepts. These services will include: weapon system coordination, safety class engineering, conduct of installation test programs, direct logistics support of deployed forces, and support of logistics management programs. This contract provides for coordination documentation; electrical diagrams; systems publications; shipyard installation test support; test equipment and test data analysis; support for re-engineering the SWS as appropriate in response to guidelines resulting from continuous improvement initiatives, configuration management through SSP Alterations program, logistics engineering, Preventive Maintenance Management Plan, Standard Maintenance Procedures; systems level documentation and training curriculum support; logistics planning; logistics engineering; field logistics services; network development and maintenance. In addition, BAE Systems will provide the following products for the Common Missile Compartment (CMC) concept development effort to ensure that the existing TRIDENT II (D5) SWS is compatible with the Concept Development efforts being pursued for the CMC Program: weapon system coordination, class engineering, configuration management, logistics engineering, systems-level documentation, network development and maintenance and facility engineering and design support. They will also provide technical and engineering support to the CMC concept development efforts for SWS life cycle cost control evaluations. The maximum dollar value, including the base period and two option years, is $171,358,761. Work will be performed at Rockville, Md. (73 percent); Washington, D.C. (13 percent ); Silverdale, Wash. (5 percent); St. Mary’s, Ga. (4 percent); Portsmouth, Va. (3 percent); San Diego, Calif. (1 percent); the United Kingdom (.6 percent) , and Mechanicsburg, Pa. (.3 percent), with an expected completion date of Sept. 30, 2014. Fiscal 2014operations and maintenance, Navy funds in the amount of $33,679,376; fiscal 2014 United Kingdom contract funds in the amount of $10,268,000; fiscal 2013 and 2014 research, development, test and evaluation contract funds in the amounts of $488,000 and $6,783,000 respectively; fiscal 2012, 2013, and 2014 other procurement, Navy contract funds in the amounts of $173,000, $513,000, and $4,418,000 respectively; and fiscal 2014 weapons, Navy contract funds in the amount of $195,000 are being obligated at time of award. Contract funds in the amount of $34,340,376 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was a sole source acquisition in accordance with 10 U.S.C. 2304(c)(1). Strategic Systems Programs, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00030-14-C-0009).

Huntington Ingalls Industries, Pascagoula, Miss., is being awarded a $39,051,995 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-10-C-2203) for life cycle engineering and support services on the Amphibious Transport Dock Ship Program LPD 17 class. Services to be provided include post-delivery planning and engineering, homeport technical support, Class Integrated Product Data Environment, data maintenance and equipment management, systems integration and engineering support, LPD 17 class design services, research engineering, obsolescence management, material support, emergent repair provision (including warranty enforcement), training and logistics support; LPD 17 Integrated Planning Yard support including ship alteration development and installation, material management, Fleet Modernization Program planning, availability planning, configuration data management, research engineering, logistics documentation, and other logistics and executing activity coordination, and management of all related data within the Configuration Data Manager’s Database-Open Architecture. Work will be performed in Pascagoula, Miss., and is expected to be completed by December 2014. Fiscal 2005 shipbuilding and conversion, Navy funds in the amount of $5, 045,557, fiscal 2012 shipbuilding and conversion, Navy funds in the amount of $2,373,000, fiscal 2014 shipbuilding and conversion, Navy funds in the amount of $1,727,500, and fiscal 2014 operations and maintenance, Navy funds in the amount of $50,000 will be obligated at time of award. Contract funds in the amount of $2,423,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Bell-Boeing Joint Project Office, Amarillo, Texas, is being awarded a $15,597,818 firm-fixed-price delivery order (0075) against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-12-G-0006) in support of the V-22 aircraft. This order provides for additional nonrecurring engineering and technical support to forward fit/retrofit engineering change proposal #1007 into the aircraft. This effort will also provide for the delivery of eight helmet mounted display retrofit kits, spares, support equipment, tooling and training devices. Work will be performed at Ridley Park, Pa. (99.9 percent), and Fort Worth, Texas (.1 percent), and is expected to be completed in March 2015. Fiscal 2013 aircraft procurement, U.S. Special Operations Command funding in the amount of $15,597,818 will be obligated at time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

Atlantic Diving Supply Inc.*, Virginia Beach, Va., has been awarded a maximum $84,063,089 fixed-price with economic-price-adjustment contract for various commercial fasteners. This contract is a competitive acquisition, and seven offers were received. Location of performance is Virginia with a Dec. 5, 2016 performance completion date. This is a three-year base contract with one two-year option periods. Using military services are Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2014 through fiscal 2019 defense working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pa., (SPM5EN-14-D-0001).

KPMG LLP, McLean, Va., has been awarded a maximum $12,834,740 firm-fixed-price contract for all necessary management services, personnel and documentation required for Defense Logistics Agency audit readiness review. This contract is a competitive acquisition, and six offers were received. Location of performance is Virginia with a Dec. 5, 2014 performance completion date. This is a one-year base contract. Using service is federal civilian agencies. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2014 defense working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Contracting Services Office, Richmond, Va., (SP4703-11-A-0017-0034).

ARMY

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., Poway, Calif., was awarded a $40,253,105 modification (P0003) to contract W58RGZ-13-C-0109 for the Gray Eagle full rate production option exercise applicable to the Gray Eagle Unmanned Aircraft System. Fiscal 2014 other procurement, Army funds in the amount of $40,253,105 were obligated at the time of the award. Estimated completion date is Sept. 30, 2016. One bid was solicited with one received. Work will be performed at Poway, Calif. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity.

EADS North America, Herndon, Va. was awarded a $33,217,089 firm-fixed-price contract with options for the purchase of six UH72A Lakota aircraft and six airborne radio communication 231 radios. Fiscal 2014 other procurement funds in the amount of $33,217,089 were obligated at the time of the award. Estimated completion date is Dec. 31, 2014. Five bids were solicited with three received. Work will be performed in Herndon, Va. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-06-C-0194).

Dutra Dredging Co., San Rafael, Calif., was awarded a $19,869,500 firm-fixed-price contract for dredging the Thimble Shoal Federal Navigation Channel and the Cape Henry Federal Navigation Channel. Fiscal 2014 other procurement funds in the amount of $8,231,200 were obligated at the time of the award. Estimated completion date is Sept 1, 2014. Bids were solicited via the Internet with three received. Work will be performed at Newport News, Va. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk, Va., is the contracting activity (W91236-14-C-0014).

BAE Systems Information & Electronic Systems Integration, Greenlawn, N.Y., was awarded an $11,527,257 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to acquire engineering services, a technical data package and technical training required to develop organic depot activation repair capability of the AN/APX-124 Mode S/5 Identification Friend or Foe Transponder System at Tobyhanna Army Depot, Pa. Fiscal 2014 other procurement funds in the amount of $3,562,257 were obligated at the time of the award. Estimated completion date is June 6, 2016. Bids were solicited via the Internet with one received. Work will be performed at Greenlawn, N.Y. Army Contracting Command, Tobyhanna, Pa., is the contracting activity (W25G1V-14-C-0003).

Jorge Scientific Corp., Arlington, Va., was awarded a $7,309,301 firm-fixed-price contract for Counterinsurgency (COIN) Advisory and Assistance Team services in Afghanistan regarding a new COIN concept without a break in service. This assistance entails training U.S. forces on how to train Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF) on functions critical to ANSF sustainment. Fiscal 2014 operations and maintenance, Army funds in the amount of $5,755,730 were obligated at the time of the award. Estimated completion date is March 15, 2014. This was a sole-source acquisition. Work will be performed in Afghanistan. CENTCOM Joint Theater Support Contracting Command – Phoenix APO, AE is the contracting activity (W56SGK-14-C-0003).

DEFENSE ADVANCED RESEARCH PROJECTS AGENCY

Koniag Information Security Systems, Chantilly, Va., has been awarded a $6,600,688 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. This award is for contractor support services for the DARPA Security and Intelligence Directorate. Work will be performed in Arlington, Va. The estimated completion date is Dec. 31, 2014. Fiscal 2013 research and development funds are being obligated at time of award. The contracting activity is the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Arlington, Va., (HR0011-14-C-0048).

*Small Business

HHS ARTICLE ON GIVING SMALL CHILDREN COUGH AND COLD MEDICATIONS

FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES 
From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I’m Ira Dreyfuss with HHS HealthBeat.

Cough and cold medications for infants under 2 years of age have been withdrawn from the U.S. market – and labels warn against giving cough and cold meds to children under 4 years old – and it looks like children are better for it. Researchers say the number of visits by young children to emergency departments because of problems from these medications has fallen.

However, the study at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that many children still have problems from these medications. So researcher Lee Hampton advises:

“Do not give cough and cold medications to children less than 4 years old. Keep your medications stored up and away and out of sight. And properly lock child-resistant caps after every use.”

The study is in the journal Pediatrics.

U.S. OFFICIALS REMARKS ON FOOD SECURITY

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
Business Roundtable on Food Security with Private Sector Representatives of the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
Remarks
Jonathan Shrier
Acting Special Representative, Office of Global Food Security
Johannesburg, South Africa
December 4, 2013

The U.S. government currently partners with South Africa as a “strategic partner” in Feed the Future, the U.S. global hunger and food security initiative. As our whole-of-government initiative, Feed the Future works hand-in-hand with 19 partner countries to develop their agriculture sectors and break the vicious cycle of poverty and hunger. Our goal is to reduce the prevalence of poverty and stunted children by 20 percent in the specific areas where we work, which will help families lift themselves out of poverty, purchase nutritious food, and have access to education and health care.

An overarching objective of our strategic partnership with South Africa is for the United States to support a viable South-South, demand-driven approach to development cooperation. We collaborate with three non-traditional donors – Brazil, India, as well as South Africa – to build upon our deep historical ties, and to leverage the expertise, resources, and leadership of rising middle-income countries for the benefit of Feed the Future partner countries. We seek to share South Africa’s innovative business models and advanced technical expertise across the region. We seek to support SADC’s important goal of transferring South Africa’s agricultural success to other countries, thereby reducing hunger and poverty across the region.

To meet these goals, we seek to deepen our partnerships across the government, civil society, academia, and the private sector in South Africa and beyond. We must increase responsible agricultural investment and scale-up our collective development impact in Southern Africa.

South Africa already plays an indispensable role in the achievement of regional -- and, in turn, global -- food security. South Africa is the largest economy on the continent and the engine of economic growth in Southern Africa, with one of the top ten stock exchanges in the world and well-developed physical telecommunications and energy infrastructures. South African firms conducted about 70% of intra-regional investment flows, and South Africa accounted for 71.5% of the region’s GDP in 2009. South Africa is also the largest food exporter within the region. Investment from South Africa’s private sector to neighboring countries is the key to economic growth to the region.

South Africa has achieved some of the highest crop yields in the world because of its innovative, high-performing businesses in the agricultural sector, which have adopted first-generation biotechnologies and effective plant breeding capabilities. For example, the average maize yield in South Africa is about 3,000 kilograms per hectare. This high yield compares to a regional maize yield level of around 1,500 kilograms per hectare. South African firms also boast cutting edge technology in the use of advanced food processing and fortification.

South Africa has also demonstrated a strong commitment in recent years to the development of key trade corridors in the region. As President Zuma has repeatedly stated, South Africa is committed to championing the North-South Corridor and to mobilize resources for the implementation of projects. USAID supports corridor efforts by working with private sector groups, such as the NEPAD Business Foundation, to help small-holder farmers access markets. We also work with the Southern African Trade Hub to improve trade facilitation and cross border management, specifically by focusing on National Single Windows, Coordinated Border Management, and Customs Connectivity. The main objective is to decrease the time and cost of transporting agricultural commodities and inputs across borders. I am pleased to report that we are seeing some significant results, such as improvements in crossing times for exports and imports as high as 60% at Mwanza (between Malawi and Mozambique) and 40% for Songwe (between Malawi and Tanzania) in this past year alone.

Now is a critical time for us to deepen our partnership in food and nutrition security. Southern Africa, as a region, continues to be severely affected by chronic vulnerability and continuous food and nutrition insecurity. With nearly 45% of the population living below the poverty line of $1.25 per day, chronic food shortages exist at both the national and household level throughout the region. Although 70% of the region’s population depends on agriculture for food, income, and employment, the productivity of most rural smallholders remains very low.

To respond to these challenges, the U.S. government’s programs across Southern Africa are designed to advance food security by improving agricultural productivity and market access for agricultural products and inputs, as well as by reducing trade barriers along major transport corridors. In Southern Africa, Feed the Future partners with three countries -- Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique. In Zambia, we support smallholder out-grower schemes, which help link more small-scale farmers to buyers and processors and other key private sector partners. Meanwhile, in Malawi, we work with the government to advance policy priorities that can improve agricultural inputs, agricultural trade, institutional architecture, and nutrition. Our programs in Mozambique focus on catalyzing international and local agribusinesses investments in agriculture, not only through Feed the Future, but also through the G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which is a commitment by G8 members, African countries, and private sector partners to reduce poverty through inclusive agricultural growth.

Sharing agricultural technologies currently practiced in South Africa, and relying on South Africa’s world-class educational institutions to train agriculturalists from neighboring countries, can further improve the lives of millions of people across southern Africa. Our Strategic Partnership with South Africa represents an important opportunity to bring together the private sector, South African government, and Feed the Future programs to unlock the potential of Africa’s agricultural sector. For precisely this reason, the United States actively works with South African companies and academic institutions to disseminate key technologies and promote agricultural training.

The United States is committed to supporting South African private investment and sustainable, equitable growth in agriculture across the region. Strategic Partnership Grants have already helped to create new market linkages, connecting farmers in the region to rewarding markets elsewhere in Africa and globally. These grants have also helped to: increase food storage capacity; transfer cutting-edge technology (like drought tolerant seeds, sophisticated soil testing and analysis); and disseminate timely crop extension and market information via mobile technologies. But we can always do more, and we can always do better -- together.

Together, we can increase market access, particularly for small-holder farmers. Together, we can support finance for improving infrastructure and trade, including the development of new financial products, services, and insurance products. Together, we can work from farms to markets to tables to improve incomes and nutrition. Not only is this the smart thing to do; it is also the right thing to do.

We can -- and we will -- make a significant difference in the lives of millions of people by reducing hunger and poverty in Southern Africa.

SECRETARY OF STATE KERRY'S REMARKS AT MOLDOVA TRADE SHOW

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
Remarks at Moldova Trade and Investment Showcase
Remarks
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Cricova Winery
Chisinau, Moldova
December 4, 2013

Prime Minister Leanca, thank you very much for your warm welcome here. And Minister of Agriculture Bumacov, thank you very much also. It’s an honor to – where is he – to have you over here.

I was just looking over here at this beautiful dress. I didn’t know I was attending a wedding underground. As long as it’s not me you’re trying to marry off. (Laughter.)

I’m really delighted to be here in Moldova and very, very grateful for the opportunity to visit Cricova this afternoon. It’s not every day that I get to visit a place where a legacy from the 15th century, winemaking, is being carried on in this extraordinary underground facility with 21st century technology.

I’m told that people in this region have practiced winemaking really since – for centuries, dating back to the early ties with the Romans. So this winery is really a fitting reminder of how Moldova’s rich history is intimately tied to its now very promising future. And it’s also a reminder of how Moldova’s future and past are both rooted in Europe.

But today and this visit is really much more than a celebration of winemaking, important as that is. I am here today for a larger purpose. I’m here to congratulate the people of Moldova for initiating an Association Agreement and a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the European Union at the Vilnius Summit last week and to pledge the support of the United States of America to you as you finalize this agreement over the course of this next year.

The United States believes deeply that European integration is the best road for both security and prosperity for Moldova. The European Union has offered Moldova a historic opportunity to be able to cement a European future for its people, and you have seized that opportunity through the leadership of your government. There’s also no doubt that Moldova’s commitment to reform is going to encourage, inspire greater investment and also greater confidence from financial institutions across the continent.

Moldova may be a landlocked nation, but there is no way that its potential or its future is locked in to any one place or to any one relationship. This is about building bridges of opportunity and it’s about reaching out to be able to touch the possibilities of the future and define them for yourselves. It is about building the bridges and the opportunity and defining the future through your own hopes and your own aspirations.

And to the people of the Ukraine, we say the same thing: You, too, deserve the opportunity to choose your own future. Let me make it clear: The United States and the European Union strongly believe that European integration does not have to be a zero-sum game. Today, Moldova has an opportunity to be able to shape its future with partners in Europe and across the world. This nation’s future can really be defined by the strength of its connections, which reach out to a dynamic continent, as well as providing Moldova with a diverse and pluralistic set of options in the world.

Here at Cricova, I’m very proud to say that United States assistance programs have actually facilitated advances in the wine industry, and that has helped to increase the effectiveness and the competitiveness of this historic sector of your economy. And in order to help tap into that set of possibilities, I’m really delighted this evening to be able to join with Prime Minister Leanca in unveiling and displaying to all of you a new “Wine of Moldova” branding logo, which we have developed and worked on together and which will promote Moldova wine in the international marketplace.

I’m also proud to announce that we will create – the United States will sponsor a reverse trade mission, where we will actually send some of your best wine makers from Moldova to the United States so that they can work at the whole set of questions of how to break into the American marketplace, and we can help together to make that happen. And after walking by the huge barrels of wine as I came in here and looking at this display in front of me, I know that Moldova’s winemakers will have a few things to share with our winemakers also. And we look forward to that exchange.

I’m also happy to say that this is not a beginning for the United States. Vice President Biden was here, as the prime minister mentioned, in 2011. And we are – we have proudly been supportive of Moldova’s journey over these last years. The United States has, very proudly and happily, provided some $1.1 billion in support of this country’s democracy, prosperity, security, and rule of law.

And this year, we’ve provided some $22 million to help to implement the Association Agreement and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement. This includes about $4.4 million for peace and security programs, about $10.8 million to support democracy and good governance and rule of law, and $6.4 million for economic growth, competitiveness, and market diversification.

And I’m pleased to say that Moldova – I think the prime minister mentioned this – is benefitting from a $262 million Millennium Challenge grant – Corporation Compact, which supports the rehabilitation of road and irrigation systems. The prime minister was telling me, as we drove over here, that he’s looking forward in June to going back and talking with a woman that he promised would have a road in that period of time. And we’re happy to be able to be helpful in that kind of infrastructure development. These roads are obviously nice to drive on, and they’re smoother, but the fact is they’re also a critical way to be able to get products to the marketplace. And they increase efficiency, and they increase opportunity, and they create jobs.

The United States is also looking forward to working with our friends here to help develop programs that will further energy independence and energy security for Moldova. And in the short term, in order to be able to help reduce reliance on existing natural gas supplies, USAID, which is a division of the State Department, is going to work with the Swedish International Development Agency, and it will leverage 3.5 million in local bank capital for energy efficiency projects.

In closing, let me just say to all of you, I know as a person engaged in public life that our schedules are intense, and we don’t always get as much done to be able to stop and meet people and spend time in a country as we would like. But short as this time is, I wanted to make certain that I came here today. I wanted to make certain that I stopped in order to celebrate this journey that Moldova is on, which is exciting and filled with possibilities, and which we intend to support as much as we can.

Just the few moments I’ve been here, as we drove through town and the prime minister described to me the buildings, some of which obviously represented a very different period of time, when the Soviet Union existed, and now people are living with a whole different set of opportunities, I was excited, and I felt the sense of possibilities that people believe in here.

Before I came here, I learned that the word “Chisinau” – perfect timing – (laughter and applause.) I learned that the word “Chisinau” comes from a root that means “new spring.” I can’t think of a better way to capture what is happening here now or a better thing to celebrate.

So it’s my great pleasure – if I may, I’m going to make a toast. And I would like for us to be able to drink – obviously it’s just the prime minister and me who get this privilege. I’m sorry for that. (Laughter.) But we’ll drink for all of you. And I want to drink to the partnership and the friendship between the United States of America and Moldova and in the great spirit of generosity and the daring and the courage with which your government is moving to embrace a new future. And we drink to that future, to the reintegration of Europe, to the journey ahead, and to the commitment of the United States of America to help achieve that goal. Thank you. (Applause.)

SECRETARY OF STATE KERRY'S REMARKS AFTER MEETING WITH PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT ABBAS

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
Statement Following Meeting With President Mahmoud Abbas
Remarks
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Muqata'a Presidential Compound
Ramallah
December 5, 2013

Good evening, everybody. Let me begin by thanking President Abbas for his steadfast commitment to stay at these negotiations despite difficulties that he and the Palestinians have perceived in the process. I am very grateful to him for the seriousness of the effort, and he has committed to stay at this and to remain in these talks through their duration with the hopes that we would be able to find an agreement.

Today, we discussed at great length issues of security in the region, security for the state of Israel, security for a future Palestine. And we, I think, made some progress in discussing some of the ideas that are on the table. We are not going to discuss these further publicly, but I will say that the goal here for everybody is a viable Palestinian state with the Palestinian people living side by side in peace with the state of Israel and with the people of Israel.

I think the interests are very similar, but there are questions of sovereignty, questions of respect and dignity which are obviously significant to the Palestinians, and for the Israelis very serious questions of security and also of longer-term issues of how we end this conflict once and for all.

So we will continue. I’m returning now to Jerusalem to have further conversations with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and then shortly, perhaps in a week or so, may return for further discussions depending on where we are. And some of us will have a chance to meet over the weekend in Washington in conjunction with the Saban Forum. So the discussions will go on, the effort will continue, and our hopes with them for the possibilities of peace for the region.

Thank you.