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Saturday, April 19, 2014

PRESIDENT OBAMA'S WEEKLY ADDRESS FOR APRIL 19, 2014

Right:  Midshipmen Matt Aiken and Cody Peterson, with Coach Ken Niumatalolo, present President Barack Obama with a Naval Academy jumbo paperweight ring during the Commander in Chief's Trophy presentation ceremony for the U.S. Naval Academy football team in the Rose Garden of the White House, April 18, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).

FROM:  THE WHITE HOUSE 
April 19, 2014

Weekly Address: President Obama Offers Easter and Passover Greetings

WASHINGTON, DC – In this week’s address, the President offered his warmest greetings as millions of Americans celebrate Easter this Sunday and recounted the Passover Seder he hosted at the White House earlier this week, joining Jewish families around the world in their celebration. The President looks forward to taking part with his family in the hope and joy of the Easter season and reminds all Americans, no matter their faith, of the common thread that binds us.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
April 19, 2014

Hi, everybody.  For millions of Americans, this time of year holds great meaning.

Earlier this week, we hosted a Passover Seder at the White House, and joined Jewish families around the world in their retellings of the story of the Exodus and the victory of faith over oppression.

And this Sunday, Michelle, Malia, Sasha, and I will join our fellow Christians around the world in celebrating the Resurrection of Christ, the salvation he offered the world, and the hope that comes with the Easter season.

These holy days have their roots in miracles that took place long ago.  And yet, they still inspire us, guide us, and strengthen us today.  They remind us of our responsibilities to God and, as God’s children, our responsibilities to one another.

For me, and for countless other Christians, Holy Week and Easter are times for reflection and renewal.  We remember the grace of an awesome God, who loves us so deeply that He gave us his only Son, so that we might live through Him.  We recall all that Jesus endured for us – the scorn of the crowds, the agony of the cross – all so that we might be forgiven our sins and granted everlasting life.  And we recommit ourselves to following His example, to love and serve one another, particularly “the least of these” among us, just as He loves every one of us.

The common thread of humanity that connects us all – not just Christians and Jews, but Muslims and Hindus and Sikhs – is our shared commitment to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.  To remember, I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper.  Whatever your faith, believer or nonbeliever, there’s no better time to rededicate ourselves to that universal mission.

For me, Easter is a story of hope – a belief in a better day to come, just around the bend.

So to all Christians who are celebrating, from my family to yours, Happy Easter.  And to every American, have a joyful weekend.

Thanks, God bless you, and may God bless this country we love.


Liftoff of SpaceX-3 (+playlist)

500 YEARS TO EARTH: PLANET FOUND IN THE 'HABITABLE ZONE'

FROM:  NASA 

Kepler-186f resides in the Kepler-186 system about 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. The system is also home to four inner planets, seen lined up in orbit around a host star that is half the size and mass of the sun.
Image Credit: NASA Ames-SETI Institute-JPL-Caltech

Using NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered the first Earth-size planet orbiting a star in the "habitable zone" -- the range of distance from a star where liquid water might pool on the surface of an orbiting planet. The discovery of Kepler-186f confirms that planets the size of Earth exist in the habitable zone of stars other than our sun.

While planets have previously been found in the habitable zone, they are all at least 40 percent larger in size than Earth and understanding their makeup is challenging. Kepler-186f is more reminiscent of Earth.

"The discovery of Kepler-186f is a significant step toward finding worlds like our planet Earth," said Paul Hertz, NASA's Astrophysics Division director at the agency's headquarters in Washington. "Future NASA missions, like the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and the James Webb Space Telescope, will discover the nearest rocky exoplanets and determine their composition and atmospheric conditions, continuing humankind's quest to find truly Earth-like worlds."
Although the size of Kepler-186f is known, its mass and composition are not. Previous research, however, suggests that a planet the size of Kepler-186f is likely to be rocky.

"We know of just one planet where life exists -- Earth. When we search for life outside our solar system we focus on finding planets with characteristics that mimic that of Earth," said Elisa Quintana, research scientist at the SETI Institute at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., and lead author of the paper published today in the journal Science. "Finding a habitable zone planet comparable to Earth in size is a major step forward."

Kepler-186f resides in the Kepler-186 system, about 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. The system is also home to four companion planets, which orbit a star half the size and mass of our sun. The star is classified as an M dwarf, or red dwarf, a class of stars that makes up 70 percent of the stars in the Milky Way galaxy.

"M dwarfs are the most numerous stars," said Quintana. "The first signs of other life in the galaxy may well come from planets orbiting an M dwarf."
Kepler-186f orbits its star once every 130-days and receives one-third the energy from its star that Earth gets from the sun, placing it nearer the outer edge of the habitable zone. On the surface of Kepler-186f, the brightness of its star at high noon is only as bright as our sun appears to us about an hour before sunset.
"Being in the habitable zone does not mean we know this planet is habitable. The temperature on the planet is strongly dependent on what kind of atmosphere the planet has," said Thomas Barclay, research scientist at the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute at Ames, and co-author of the paper. "Kepler-186f can be thought of as an Earth-cousin rather than an Earth-twin. It has many properties that resemble Earth."

The four companion planets, Kepler-186b, Kepler-186c, Kepler-186d, and Kepler-186e, whiz around their sun every four, seven, 13, and 22 days, respectively, making them too hot for life as we know it. These four inner planets all measure less than 1.5 times the size of Earth.

The next steps in the search for distant life include looking for true Earth-twins -- Earth-size planets orbiting within the habitable zone of a sun-like star -- and measuring the their chemical compositions. The Kepler Space Telescope, which simultaneously and continuously measured the brightness of more than 150,000 stars, is NASA's first mission capable of detecting Earth-size planets around stars like our sun.

Ames is responsible for Kepler's ground system development, mission operations, and science data analysis. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., developed the Kepler flight system and supports mission operations with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes Kepler science data. Kepler is NASA's 10th Discovery Mission and was funded by the agency's Science Mission Directorate.

U.S. MARINES, GEORGIAN SOLDIERS PARTICIPATE IN "OPERATION CYCLONE" IN AFGHANISTAN

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 



U.S. Marines and Georgian soldiers board a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter as they prepare to participate in an air assault mission during Operation Cyclone near Passau village in Afghanistan's Helmand province, April 12, 2014. The Marines are assigned to Georgian Liaison Team 11, and the Georgian soldiers are assigned to Bravo Company, 31st Georgian Light Infantry Battalion. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Dustin D. March.




A U.S. Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter prepares to land in a field to extract U.S. Marines and Georgian soldiers during Operation Cyclone in Passau village in Afghanistan's Helmand province, April 11, 2014. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Darien J. Bjornda.

CDC SAYS EFFORTS TO REDUCE FOODBORNE INFECTIONS HAVE MIXED RESULTS

FROM:  CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION 

CDC data show limited progress in reducing foodborne infections in 2013
National report card on food safety indicates more can be done
The nation’s food safety grades are out and the results are mixed.  CDC’s annual report card shows that foodborne infections continue to be an important public health problem in the United States.

The rate of salmonella infections decreased by about nine percent in 2013 compared with the previous three years, bringing it to the rate last observed in the 2006-2008 baseline period. But campylobacter infections, often linked to dairy products and chicken, have risen 13 percent since 2006-2008. Vibrio infections, often linked to eating raw shellfish, were at the highest level observed since active tracking began in 1996; however, rates of infections caused by Vibrio vulnificus, the most severe species, have remained steady. Rates of the other foodborne infections tracked have not changed since the period between 2006 and2008.
“CDC data are essential to gauge how we’re doing in our fight against foodborne illness,” said Robert Tauxe, M.D., M.P.H, deputy director of CDC’s Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases. “This year’s data show some recent progress in reducing salmonella rates, and also highlight that our work to reduce the burden of foodborne illness is far from over. To keep salmonella on the decline, we need to work with the food industry and our federal, state and local partners to implement strong actions to control known risks and to detect foodborne germs lurking in unsuspected foods.”

The data for the report card come from the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet), a group of experts from CDC, ten state health departments, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In 2013, FoodNet logged just over 19,000 infections, 4,200 hospitalizations, and 80 deaths from the nine germs it tracks. Young children were the most affected group for seven of the nine germs that FoodNet tracks.

New standards for cut-up poultry parts and plans to modernize poultry inspection are already in the works to increase the safety of chicken.  Regulations designed to help prevent food safety problems have been proposed for many sectors of the food industry, including produce farms, food facilities, food importers, food transporters, and third-party auditors/certification bodies.

"Steps are underway to address many of the concerns raised in this report, such as our Salmonella Action PlanExternal Web Site Icon and other plans to modernize food inspection,” said Assistant Administrator for FSIS’ Office of Public Health Science David Goldman, M.D., M.P.H.. “As these actions are being implemented, we are beginning to see progress, and I am confident we will see further improvement over time.”

“The latest information from FoodNet highlights the importance of continuing preventive measures from the farm to the consumer,” said Stephen Ostroff, M.D., the FDA’s acting chief scientist. “We are making significant progress in implementing the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, having issued seven proposed rules addressing the safety of produce, imported foods, and human and animal food production and transportation. Full implementation of these rules will help prevent these types of infections.”

In addition to new regulations, everyone can help prevent food poisoning. The food industry can require safer ingredients and can implement preventative controls while restaurants and consumers should follow safe practices in the kitchen. These include cooking meat to proper temperatures, washing produce, preparing meat and fresh produce on different surfaces. Consumers should know there are risks to consuming unpasteurized milk, soft cheeses made with unpasteurized milk, and raw oysters, especially for certain populations at risk for foodborne illness.

About FoodNet  

FoodNet collects information to track rates and determine trends in laboratory-confirmed illnesses caused by nine pathogens transmitted commonly by food: campylobacter, cryptosporidium, cyclospora, listeria, salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing O157 and non-O157E. coli, shigella, vibrio, and yersinia. Annual data are compared with data from the previous three years (2010-2012) and with data from 2006-2008 to measure progress. Since 2010, FoodNet has been tracking the increasing use of culture‐independent diagnostic tests instead of culture by clinical laboratories for diagnosis of some bacterial enteric infection. Replacement of culture challenges the ability to identify cases, monitor trends, detect outbreaks, and characterize pathogens. FoodNet is a network of experts from CDC, ten state health departments, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, and the FDA.  FoodNet surveillance covers 48 million people, encompassing about 15 percent of the American population. FoodNet sites are located in Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, and Tennessee, and selected counties in California, Colorado, and New York.
###

SEC CHARGES OPERATORS OF ALLEGED PYRAMID SCHEME TARGETING DOMINICAN AND BRAZILIAN IMMIGRANTS

FROM:  U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION 

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced that on Tuesday it filed charges against the Massachusetts-based operators of a large pyramid scheme that mainly targeted Dominican and Brazilian immigrants in the U.S.  The charges were filed under seal, in connection with the Commission’s request for an immediate asset freeze.  That asset freeze, which the U.S. District Court in Boston ordered on Wednesday, secured millions of dollars of funds and prevented the potential dissipation of investor assets.  After the SEC staff implemented the asset freeze, at the SEC’s request the court lifted the seal today, permitting public announcement of the SEC’s charges.

The SEC alleges that TelexFree, Inc. and TelexFree, LLC claim to run a multilevel marketing company that sells telephone service based on “voice over Internet” (VoIP) technology but actually are operating an elaborate pyramid scheme.  In addition to charging the company, the SEC charged several TelexFree officers and promoters, and named several entities related to TelexFree as relief defendants based on their receipt of investor funds.

According to the SEC’s complaint, the defendants sold securities in the form of TelexFree “memberships” that promised annual returns of 200 percent or more for those who promoted TelexFree by recruiting new members and placing TelexFree advertisements on free Internet ad sites.  The SEC complaint alleges that TelexFree’s VoIP sales revenues of approximately $1.3 million from August 2012 through March 2014 are barely one percent of the more than $1.1 billion needed to cover its promised payments to its promoters.  As a result, in classic pyramid scheme fashion, TelexFree is paying earlier investors, not with revenue from selling its VoIP product but with money received from newer investors.

“This is one of several pyramid-scheme cases that the SEC has filed recently where parties claim that investors can earn profits by recruiting other members or investors instead of doing any real work,” said Paul G. Levenson, director of the SEC’s Boston Regional Office.  “Even after the SEC and other regulators have alleged that such programs are a fraud, the promoters of TelexFree continued selling the false promise of easy money.”

According to the SEC’s complaint, the defendants have continued enrolling new investors but recently changed TelexFree’s method of compensating promoters, requiring them to actually sell the VoIP product to qualify for payments that TelexFree had previously promised to pay them.  The complaint also alleges that since December 2013, TelexFree has transferred $30 million or more of investor funds from TelexFree operating accounts to accounts controlled by TelexFree affiliates or the individual defendants.

In addition to the TelexFree firms, the complaint charges TelexFree co-owner James Merrill, of Ashland, Mass., TelexFree co-owner and treasurer Carlos Wanzeler, of Northborough, Mass., TelexFree CFO Joseph H. Craft, of Boonville, Ind., and TelexFree’s international sales director, Steve Labriola, of Northbridge, Mass.  The SEC also charged four individuals who were promoters of TelexFree’s program:  Sanderley Rodrigues de Vasconcelos, formerly of Revere, Mass., now of Davenport, Fla., Santiago De La Rosa, of Lynn, Mass., Randy N. Crosby, of Alpharetta, Ga., and Faith R. Sloan of Chicago.  The SEC’s complaint alleges that TelexFree, Inc., TelexFree, LLC, Merrill, Wanzeler, Craft, Labriola, Rodrigues de Vasconcelos, De La Rosa, Crosby, and Sloan violated the registration and antifraud provisions of U.S. securities laws and the SEC’s antifraud rule. The SEC also charged three entities related to TelexFree as relief defendants based on their receipt of investor funds.

The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Scott R. Stanley, James M. Fay, Mark Albers, John McCann, Frank Huntington, and Kevin Kelcourse, all of the SEC’s Boston Regional Office.

BOOSTING COMPUTER PROCESSING POWER

FROM:  NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION 
Shaving nanoseconds from racing processors
University of Wisconsin researcher finds hidden efficiencies in computer architecture

The computer is one of the most complex machines ever devised and most of us only ever interact with its simplest features. For each keystroke and web-click, thousands of instructions must be communicated in diverse machine languages and millions of calculations computed.

Mark Hill knows more about the inner workings of computer hardware than most. As Amdahl Professor of Computer Science at the University of Wisconsin, he studies the way computers transform 0s and 1s into social networks or eBay purchases, following the chain reaction from personal computer to processor to network hub to cloud and back again.

The layered intricacy of computers is intentionally hidden from those who use--and even those who design, build and program--computers. Machine languages, compilers and network protocols handle much of the messy interactions between various levels within and among computers.

"Our computers are very complicated and it's our job to hide most of this complexity most of the time because if you had to face it all of the time, then you couldn't get done what you want to get done, whether it was solving a problem or providing entertainment," Hill said.

During the last four decades of the 20th century, as computers grew faster and faster, it was advantageous to keep this complexity hidden. However, in the past decade, the linear speed-up in processing power that we'd grown used to (often referred to as "Moore's law") has started to level off. It is no longer possible to double computer processing power every two years just by making transistors smaller and packing more of them on a chip.

In response, researchers like Hill and his peers in industry are reexamining the hidden layers of computing architecture and the interfaces between them in order to wring out more processing power for the same cost.

Ready, set...compute

One of the main ways that Hill and others do this is by analyzing the performance of computer tasks. Like a coach with a stopwatch, Hill times how long it takes an ordinary processor to, say, analyze a query from Facebook or perform a web search. He's not only interested in the overall speed of the action, but how long each step in the process takes.

Through careful analysis, Hill uncovers inefficiencies, sometimes major ones, in the workflows by which computers operate. Recently, he investigated inefficiencies in the way that computers implement virtual memory and determined that these operations can waste up to 50 percent of a computer's execution cycles. (Virtual memory is a memory management technique that maps memory addresses used by a program, called virtual addresses, to physical addresses in computer memory, in part, so that every program can seem to run as if is alone on a computer.)

The inefficiencies he found were due to the way computers had evolved over time. Memory had grown a million times bigger since the 1980s, but the way it was used had barely changed at all. A legacy method called paging, that was created when memory was far smaller, was preventing processors from achieving their peak potential.

Hill designed a solution that uses paging selectively, adopting a simpler address translation method for key parts of important applications. This reduced the problem, bringing cache misses down to less than 1 percent. In the age of the nanosecond, fixing such inefficiencies pays dividends. For instance, with such a fix in place, Facebook could buy far fewer computers to do the same workload, saving millions.

"A small change to the operating system and hardware can bring big benefits," he said.

Hill and his colleagues reported the results of their research in the International Symposium on Computer Architecture in June 2013.

Computer companies like Google and Intel are among the richest in the world, with billions in their coffers. So why, one might ask, should university researchers, supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), have to solve problems with existing hardware?

"Companies can't do this kind of research by themselves, especially the cross-cutting work that goes across many corporations," said Hill. "For those working in the field, if you can cross layers and optimize, I think there's a lot of opportunity to make computer systems better. This creates value in the U.S. for both the economy and all of us who use computers."

"The National Science Foundation is committed to supporting research that makes today's computers more productive in terms of performance, energy-efficiency and helping solve problems arising from the entire spectrum of application domains, while also studying the technologies that will form the basis for tomorrow's computers," said Hong Jiang, a program director in the Computer Information Science and Engineering directorate at NSF.

"In the process of expanding the limits of computation, it's extremely important to find both near-term and long-term solutions to improve performance, power efficiency and resiliency. Professor Mark Hill's pioneering research in computer memory systems is an excellent example of such efforts."

The "divide and conquer" approach to computer architecture design, which kept the various computing layers separate, helped accelerate the industry, while minimizing errors and confusion in an era when faster speeds seemed inevitable. But Hill believes it may be time to break through the layers and create a more integrated framework for computation.

"In the last decade, hardware improvements have slowed tremendously and it remains to be seen what's going to happen," Hill said. "I think we're going to wring out a lot of inefficiencies and still get gains. They're not going to be like the large ones that you've seen before, but I hope that they're sufficient that we can still enable new creations, which is really what this is about."

Most recently, Hill has been exploring how graphic processing units (GPUs), which have become common in personal and cloud computing, can process big memory tasks more efficiently.

Writing for the proceedings of the International Symposium on High-Performance Computer Architecture, Hill, along with Jason Power and David Wood (also from the University of Wisconsin), showed that it is possible to design virtual memory protocols that are easier to program without slowing down overall performance significantly. This opens the door to the use of GPU-accelerated systems that can compute faster than those with only traditional computer processing units.

Accelerating during a slow-down

Improvements to virtual memory and GPU performance are a few examples of places where cross-layer thinking has improved computer hardware performance, but they are also emblematic of a wholesale transformation in the way researchers are thinking about computer architecture in the early 21st century.

Hill led the creation of a white paper, authored by dozens of top U.S. computer scientists, that outlined some of the paradigm-shifts facing computing.

"The 21st century is going to be different from the 20th century in several ways," Hill explained. "In the 20th century, we focused on a generic computer. That's not appropriate anymore. You definitely have to consider where that computer sits. Is it in a piece of smart dust? Is it in your cellphone, or in your laptop or in the cloud? There are different constraints."

Among the other key findings of the report: a shift in focus from the single computer to the network or datacenter; the growing importance of communications in today's workflows, especially relating to Big Data; the growth of energy consumption as a first-order concern in chip and computer design; and the emergence of new, unpredictable technologies that could prove disruptive.

These disruptive technologies are still decades away, however. In the meantime, it's up to computer scientists to rethink what can be done to optimize existing hardware and software. For Hill, this effort is akin to detective work, where the speed of a process serves as a clue to what's happening underneath the cover of a laptop.

"It's all about problem solving," Hill said. "People focus on the end of it, which is like finishing he puzzle, but really it's the creative part of defining what the puzzle is. Then it's the satisfaction that you have created something new, something that has never existed before. It may be a small thing that's not well known to everybody, but you know it's new and I just find great satisfaction in that."

--

NSF has been crucial in supporting Mark D. Hill's research throughout his career. For more than 26 years, he has been the the recipient of 19 NSF grants, which supported not only Hill and his collaborators, but also three dozen PhD students from his group, who themselves have trained more than a 100 scientists. Hear his distinguished lecture at NSF from December 2013.

-- Aaron Dubrow, NSF (512) 820-5785 adubrow@nsf.gov
Investigators
Mark Hill
David Wood
James Larus
Gurindar Sohi
Michael Swift
Related Institutions/Organizations
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Friday, April 18, 2014

DEFENSE COOPERATION DISCUSSED AT PENTAGON BY U.S., SOUTH KOREA AND JAPAN

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 
U.S., Japan, South Korea Meet on Defense Cooperation
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2014 – The United States, Japan and the South Korea held what officials called “a productive, substantial meeting” at the Pentagon to promote trilateral defense cooperation.

The two days of meetings, which wrapped up today, grew out of the trilateral summit hosted by President Barack Obama in The Hague on March 25.
In a joint statement summarizing the meeting, officials said the three nations reaffirmed that they will not accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed state and that they agreed to coordinate closely to deter North Korean provocations.
The three countries also reaffirmed the necessity for a coordinated response and close cooperation with the international community with respect to the threat to international security posed by the North Korea's nuclear, ballistic missile, and proliferation programs, the statement said.

In addition, the three countries shared the understanding of the importance of cooperating on nontraditional security issues such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and counterpiracy, and discussed additional ways to cooperate in these areas.

Mark Lippert, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s chief of staff; Yoo Jeh-seung, deputy minister for policy in South Korea’s Defense Ministry; and Hideshi Tokuchi, director-general of the Japanese Defense Ministry's Defense Policy Bureau, headed the delegations for the meetings.

U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT CONTRACTS FOR APRIL 18, 2014

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 
CONTRACTS

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

Delta Industries, East Granby, Conn., has been awarded a maximum $37,177,882 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for turbine exhaust engine cases. This is a competitive acquisition, and one offer was received. This is a two-year base contract. Location of performance is Connecticut with a May 31, 2016 performance completion date. Using service is Air Force. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2014 defense working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., (SPRTA1-14-D-0009).

Golden State Medical Supply,* Camarillo, Calif., has been awarded a maximum $22,512,293 modification (P00054) exercising the fifth option period on a one-year base contract (SPM2D0-09-D-0001) with seven one-year option periods for various pharmaceutical supplies. This is a firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract. Location of performance is California with an April 20, 2015 performance completion date. Using military services are Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2014 warstopper funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pa.

ARMY

Lockheed Martin Corp., Orlando, Fla., was awarded a $24,449,293 cost-plus-fixed-fee, sole-source contract to install a vehicle and dismounted exploitation radar (VADER) system and an aerial precision geolocation kit on a King Air 350ER aircraft. Fiscal 2013 research, development, testing and evaluation funds in the amount of $5,700,639 were obligated at the time of the award. Estimated completion date is March 18, 2015. One bid was solicited and one received. Work will be performed in Hagerstown and Linthicum Heights Md.; Greenville, Texas; and Fayetteville N.C. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-14-C-0040).
RSP Architects, Minneapolis, Minn., was awarded a $9,000,000 firm-fixed-price contract for architect and engineer services for the design, construction of various Air Force Reserve projects. Funding and work location will be determined with each order. Estimated completion date is April 18, 2019. Bids were solicited via the Internet with 32 received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville, Ky., is the contracting activity (W912QR-14-D-0008).

NAVY

General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, Orlando, Fla., is being awarded a $9,248,770 modification to previously awarded contract (N00174-08-D-0021) for the procurement of the improved mechanical remote fuze disassembly kit (I-MRFDK ) production units, training, system maintenance and spare and depot level repair parts. The I-MRFDK is a portable ordnance inerting and disassembly system operated by explosive ordnance disposal technicians to safely inert fuzes used with projectiles, bombs, and other explosive ordnance. Work will be performed in Orlando, Fla., and is expected to be completed by September 2015. Contract funds will not be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division, Indian Head, Md., is the contracting activity.

3 Phoenix Inc., Chantilly, Va., is being awarded a $7,263,632 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-13-C-6264) to procure two TB-29A Inverted Passive Electrical Network (iPEN) Towed Array production representative units, associated spares and test equipment. iPEN leverages technology developed under Small Business Innovation Research Topic N04-138, “Real-time Data Fusion and Visualization Interface for Environmental Research Data.” iPEN telemetry acts as a data fusion point for the integration of towed array handling system sensor data. This technology is expected to provide significant improvement in reliability and operational availability of TB-29A towed arrays. Work will be performed in Wake Forest, N.C. (50 percent); Houston, Texas (25 percent); Hanover, Md. (15 percent); and Chantilly, Va. (10 percent), and is expected to be completed by August 2015. Fiscal 2011 and 2012 shipbuilding and conversion, Navy contract funds in the amount of $7,263,632 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

AIR FORCE

Rand and Jones Enterprises, Co., Inc., Buffalo, N.Y., has been awarded an $8,000,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for a Simplified Acquisition of Base Engineering Requirements contract for completion of minor, non-complex construction projects requiring minimum design. Typical projects involve a number of general construction disciplines including, but not limited to, plumbing, masonry, electrical, mechanical, architectural, painting, HVAC, and abatement. Work will be performed at Rome, Newport, and Stockbridge, N.Y., and is expected to be completed April 18, 2019. The ordering period concludes five years after the effective date of the contract. This award is the result of a competitive acquisition. The solicitation was conducted through Federal Business Opportunities, and two offers were received. Funding varies based on individual requirements but is primarily operations and maintenance, research and development, or Defense Finance and Accounting Service. Current fiscal year funding will be provided on individual orders. Air Force Research Laboratory Specialized Acquisition and Operational Contracting Branch, Rome N.Y., is the contracting activity (FA8751-14-D-0004).

TRICARE

Express Scripts Inc., St. Louis, Mo., is being awarded a $33,800,000 requirements-type contract with fixed unit prices, to provide pharmacy benefit management services to the Department of Defense TRICARE pharmacy program. The total cumulative face value of the contract, including the one year base period and seven one-year option periods, if exercised, for pharmacy benefit management services, and options for contract phase-out, is estimated at $5,364,684,318. The TRICARE Pharmacy Benefits Program offers pharmacy services through direct care pharmacy services at Military Treatment Facilities; retail network pharmacies; authorized retail non-network pharmacies; or delivery through the TRICARE Home Delivery/Mail Order Pharmacy. Retail pharmacy services are available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. The contractor will perform pharmacy benefits management functions, including the following: perform claims adjudication, administer a retail pharmacy network, operate mail order pharmacy, provide clinical services for specialty pharmaceuticals, process direct member reimbursements for claims filled at retail network and non-network pharmacies, perform clinical reviews, and provide beneficiary and pharmacy support services. The contractor will also perform as a fiscal intermediary on behalf of DoD to pay for all authorized pharmaceuticals and supplies dispensed for eligible beneficiaries at retail pharmacies and transmit all claim information to the Pharmacy Data Transaction Service, the DoD designated data warehouse. This contract was competitively procured using the Best Value Tradeoff Source Selection process, with two offers received. Fiscal 2014 DoD operations and maintenance funding in the amount of $33,800,000 is being obligated at award. The Defense Health Agency, Aurora, Colo., is the contracting activity (HT9402-14-D-0002).

*Small Business

READOUT: VP BIDEN'S CALL WITH SLOVAKIA PRIME MINISTER ROBERT FICO

FROM:  THE WHITE HOUSE 

Readout of the Vice President’s Call with Prime Minister Robert Fico of Slovakia

Vice President Biden spoke today with Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico.  The Vice President and Prime Minister discussed the situation in eastern Ukraine.  The Vice President underscored the United States’ support for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis in Ukraine, contingent on Russia’s disavowal and cessation of destabilizing actions within Ukraine.  The two leaders agreed that if Russia further escalated the situation in Ukraine, it would face mounting consequences for its actions.   The Vice President thanked the Prime Minister for Slovakia’s commitment to bolstering energy security within Europe, including by supporting the reverse flow of natural gas to Ukraine.

VIEW OF THE GRAND CANYON FROM THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION

FROM:  NASA 

The Grand Canyon in northern Arizona is a favorite for astronauts shooting photos from the International Space Station, as well as one of the best-known tourist attractions in the world. The steep walls of the Colorado River canyon and its many side canyons make an intricate landscape that contrasts with the dark green, forested plateau to the north and south. The Colorado River has done all the erosional work of carving away cubic kilometers of rock in a geologically short period of time. Visible as a darker line snaking along the bottom of the canyon, the river lies at an altitude of 715 meters (2,345 feet), thousands of meters below the North and South Rims. Temperatures are furnace-like on the river banks in the summer. But Grand Canyon Village, the classic outlook point for visitors, enjoys a milder climate at an altitude of 2,100 meters (6,890 feet). The Grand Canyon has become a geologic icon—a place where you can almost sense the invisible tectonic forces within the Earth. The North and South Rims are part of the Kaibab Plateau, a gentle tectonic swell in the landscape. The uplift of the plateau had two pronounced effects on the landscape that show up in this image. First, in drier parts of the world, forests usually indicate higher places; higher altitudes are cooler and wetter, conditions that allow trees to grow. The other geologic lesson on view is the canyon itself. Geologists now know that a river can cut a canyon only if the Earth surface rises vertically. If such uplift is not rapid, a river can maintain its course by eroding huge quantities of rock and forming a canyon. This astronaut photograph (ISS039-E-5258) was taken on March 25, 2014 by the Expedition 39 crew, with a Nikon D3S digital camera using a 180 millimeter lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. It has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed.  Image Credit: NASA Caption: M. Justin Wilkinson, Jacobs at NASA-JSC.

OPERATION CERBERUS NETS 400+ ARRESTS IN ROCKY MOUNT, NORTH CAROLINA

FROM:  U.S. MARSHALS SERVICE 
For Immediate Release
 Over 400 Arrested in Rocky Mount Month-Long Operation

Rocky Mount, NC – The U.S. Marshals Service, Eastern District of North Carolina, and the Rocky Mount Police Department announce the successful conclusion of Operation Cerberus. Law enforcement officers from numerous agencies fanned out across the city of Rocky Mount and the surrounding areas of Nash and Edgecombe Counties over recent weeks, with the goal of locating and apprehending subjects wanted for a variety of offenses. By end of the operation, 404 subjects had been arrested and 634 warrants had been served. Additionally, officers seized 21 firearms, 579.9 grams of heroin, 95.2 grams of Marijuana, 11.78 grams of MDMA, and $4230 in U.S. currency.

Operation Cerberus was initiated by the Rocky Mount Police Department on March 17 to combat the increase in violent crimes in Rocky Mount, and officers worked tirelessly to identify those individuals responsible. In early April, the operation culminated with a two-day sweep that saw the combined resources of the U.S. Marshals Service Violent Fugitive Task Force brought to bear on those perpetrating the offenses and a clear message was sent to the citizens of Rocky Mount. Agencies participating during this operation include the U.S. Marshals Service, Rocky Mount Police Department, Greenville Police Department, Kinston Department of Public Safety, Nash County Sheriff’s Office, N.C. Department of Public Safety – Division of Adult Correction, Pitt County Sheriff’s Office, Raleigh Police Department, and Federal Bureau of Investigation Safe Streets Task Force.

Darrell James, 34, wanted for Assault With a Deadly Weapon (4 counts), Discharging a Weapon into Occupied Property, Discharging a Weapon inside City Limits, Possession of a Weapon while Intoxicated, and Injury to Personal Property .

Alfonso Moore, 43, wanted for Second Degree Kidnapping, and Assault on Female.

“The number of violent fugitives and weapons removed from the streets of Rocky Mount and surrounding areas during this operation is a direct result of Federal, State and Local law enforcement officers working together and being persistent in the common goal of ensuring that citizens of the community are safe from violent felons and probation violators,” said Scott Parker, United States Marshal for the Eastern District of North Carolina. “I want to thank the men and women of law enforcement who stood shoulder to shoulder during this operation, for their dedication to the citizens of the City of Rocky Mount and Eastern North Carolina.”

Rocky Mount Police Chief James Moore stated “The resolve of the Rocky Mount Police Department to identify and apprehend criminals is strong and our investigative capabilities are magnified when our federal and state law enforcement partners, each with its own areas of expertise, unite to achieve a common objective.”

Additional information about the U.S. Marshals Service can be found at http://www.usmarshals.gov.

BUSINESSMAN ADMITS TO USING STRAW DONORS TO FUNNEL MONEY TO POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT 
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Hotel Magnate Pleads Guilty to Federal Election Campaign Spending Limits Evasion Scheme and Witness Tampering

Sant Singh Chatwal, 70, of New York – a businessman operating several restaurants, hotels and a hotel management company – pleaded guilty in the Eastern District of New York to conspiring to violate the Federal Election Campaign Act (the “Election Act”) by making more than $180,000 in federal campaign donations to three candidates through straw donors who were reimbursed and to witness tampering.   There is no allegation that the candidates participated in, or were aware of, Chatwal’s scheme.

Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch of the Eastern District of New York, Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos of the FBI’s New York Field Office and Chief Richard Weber of the Internal Revenue Service–Criminal Investigation made the announcement.

The guilty plea proceeding took place before United States District Judge I. Leo Glasser of the Eastern District of New York.   As part of his plea agreement with the government, Chatwal agreed to forfeit $1 million to the United States.

“Chatwal admitted that he used straw donors to secretly funnel money to political campaigns so that he could gain access to the politicians, and he coerced another person to hide his crime,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General O’Neil.  “Chatwal went to great lengths to undermine both election laws and our system of justice.  Today’s guilty plea shows our vigilance and determination to prosecute those who damage the integrity of elections by masking the true sources of campaign contributions.”

“The Election Act’s spending limits are in place to limit financial influence in federal elections and to ensure transparency as to the identity of donors,” said U.S. Attorney Lynch.   “Chatwal’s scheme sought to subvert the very purpose of the Election Act.   Chatwal then rolled the dice to stymie the government’s investigation, thinking he could corruptly convince witnesses to his federal election crimes to stay silent.   That gamble did not pay off.   Today’s conviction sends a clear message that this office is committed to vigorously investigating and prosecuting individuals who are responsible for committing crimes in connection with federal campaign donations and witness tampering.”

“Attempting to buy elections through illegal campaign contributions is unacceptable. It is also illegal,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge Venizelos.   “Americans rightfully expect that elections will be free and fair. The FBI will continue investigating every case of abuse, wherever we find it.”

“Mr. Chatwal admitted his actions were designed to circumvent the Election Act,” said IRS-CI Chief Weber.  “IRS-CI's ability to adapt our financial investigative skills to cases where they are needed uniquely equips our agents to defend and uphold America's trust in the fairness of the electoral process.”

The Election Act limits the amount and source of money that can be contributed to a federal candidate or to an individual candidate’s political campaign committee and multi-candidate political campaign committees, commonly referred to as “political action committees” (PACs).   For example, in 2008, the Election Act limited primary and general election campaign contributions in a calendar year to $2,300 per campaign, for a total of $4,600, from any one individual to any one candidate.   In 2010, the Election Act limited primary and general election campaign contributions in a calendar year to $2,400 per campaign, for a total of $4,800, from any one individual to any one candidate.   The Election Act also prohibits making a campaign contribution in the name of another person, including giving funds to a “straw donor,” or a conduit, for the purpose of having the straw donor pass the funds to a federal candidate as the straw donor’s own contribution.

According to court filings and facts presented during the plea proceeding, Chatwal operated several businesses, including restaurants, hotels, and a hotel management company.   From 2007 to 2011, Chatwal used his employees, business associates, and contractors who performed work on his hotels (the “Chatwal Associates”) to solicit campaign contributions on Chatwal’s behalf in support of various candidates for federal office and PACs, collect these contributions, and pay reimbursements for these contributions.

Further according to court filings, Chatwal and the Chatwal Associates induced straw donors to make these campaign contributions, promising them that they would be reimbursed.   Chatwal orchestrated a scheme to make approximately $188,000 in campaign contributions to three candidates for federal office via straw donors, and he often arranged for the straw donors to be reimbursed through the Chatwal Associates, ultimately paying for the reimbursed contributions with funds belonging to Chatwal or one of Chatwal’s companies.

The evidence against Chatwal includes an October 2010 recorded conversation between Chatwal and a business associate who became an informant, in which Chatwal underscored his view as to the importance of political campaign contributions, stating that without campaign contributions, “nobody will even talk to you…That’s the only way to buy them, get into the system… What, what else is there?  That’s the only thing.”

Also according to court filings, Chatwal sought to obstruct the grand jury investigation into his Election Act scheme by tampering with a witness, a person whose business performed construction work for Chatwal and Chatwal’s companies and who had recruited straw donors at Chatwal’s direction.   In a June 2012 recorded conversation, Chatwal told the individual that if FBI and IRS agents approached him or his family, they should not speak with the agents and should instead refer them to a lawyer Chatwal would provide.   During this conversation, the individual said that he would not tell agents that Chatwal gave him money to reimburse straw donors.  Chatwal replied, “Never, never.”

A few days later, in a July 2012 recorded conversation, Chatwal directed the same individual to lie to agents about the Election Act scheme.   Chatwal said he would pay for the individual’s legal fees in connection with the investigation and offered to conceal the money within a payment for work the individual’s company had performed for Chatwal.   During the conversation, they discussed that investigators were seeking copies of campaign checks in the individual’s possession, and they then discussed that it was helpful that some of the straw donors had been reimbursed with cash.   Chatwal added, “Cash has no proof.”

The case was investigated by the FBI’s New York Field Office and the IRS-CI.   The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Marquest Meeks of Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Martin Coffey, Carolyn Pokorny, Robert Capers and Brian Morris of the Eastern District of New York.

READOUT: PRESIDENT OBAMA'S CALL WITH CHANCELLOR MERKEL OF GERMANY

FROM:  THE WHITE HOUSE 

Readout of the President’s Call with Chancellor Merkel of Germany

The President and Chancellor Merkel of Germany spoke today regarding their deep concern about the situation in eastern Ukraine.  The President commended the government of Ukraine’s approach to today’s discussions in Geneva, where it put forward constructive proposals to expand local governance and ensure the rights of all Ukrainians are protected.  The leaders stressed that Russia needs to take immediate, concrete actions to de-escalate the situation in eastern Ukraine, including by using its influence over the irregular forces in eastern Ukraine to get them to lay down their arms and leave the buildings they have seized.  The President and the Chancellor agreed that the United States and Europe are prepared to take further measures if this de-escalation does not occur in short order.  The leaders also stressed their support for Ukraine’s May 25 presidential elections.

AG HOLDER'S REMARKS AT INTERFAITH SERVICE HONORING VICTIMS OF PASSOVER SHOOTINGS

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT 
Attorney General Eric Holder Delivers Remarks at an Interfaith Service of Unity and Hope Honoring the Victims of Last Week’s Tragic Shootings
~ Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thank you.  It is a privilege to be here today.  And it’s an honor to stand, and to pray, with this community as we pay tribute – and our last respects – to the three remarkable people who were taken from us just a few short days ago.

Terri LaManno was a dedicated occupational therapist; a loving wife to her husband, Jim – with whom she should have celebrated her 25th anniversary on Tuesday; and a wonderful mother to their three children.  She was also a devoted daughter who traveled, every Sunday, to visit her mother at Village Shalom.

William Lewis Corporon was a highly-respected physician who moved to Johnson County from Oklahoma to be closer to his grandchildren.  He cherished his family and dedicated his life to helping others.  And he planned to spend a portion of last Sunday bringing his talented grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood – a 14-year-old Eagle Scout with a beautiful voice and a passion for theater and debate – to a singing competition.

But on Sunday afternoon, as they and others went about their daily business, and as Kansas City’s thriving Jewish population prepared for the festival of Passover – this community was targeted by a senseless and unspeakable act of violence.  And Terri, William, and Reat were taken from us – far too suddenly, and far too soon.

In the midst of what ought to be a time of celebration – when Jewish families, often joined by relatives and friends of different faiths, come together to retell the story of the Exodus from Egypt – this community has instead been visited by terrible tragedy.  In this celebratory holy week when Christian families, often joined by relatives and friends, come together to proclaim their faith, a pall has been cast over our great nation.  And so we gather not in joy, but in solemn reflection – and in remembrance of those whose lives have been cut short.

We mourn the untimely losses of Terri, William, and Reat – and all that their futures should have held.  We grieve for the friends and family members who knew them best and loved them most.  And we pledge that we will support you – as one community and one nation – not only in sorrow, but in strength; united by tragedy, but bound together by unyielding resolve in the face of hate-fueled violence.

Every alleged hate crime, no matter the intended target, is an affront to who we are – and who we have always been – both as a country and as a people.  These acts cannot be ignored.  And their impact is not limited to particular communities or individuals.

That’s why, today – although our hearts are broken – all Americans stand with the people of Overland Park, of Leawood, and of Kansas City.  We are united in our condemnation of this heinous attack – and our commitment to see that justice is served.  We are inspired by the resilience of this community, the strength of those who lost loved ones, and the stories of heroism that emerged from Sunday’s tragic events – from the passersby and staff members who helped warn others about the danger, to the brave law enforcement officials who raced to apprehend the suspect – and prevented this horrific incident from becoming even more deadly.

In these acts of valor and selflessness are written the true story of what happened here – a story of light emerging from terrible darkness; a community rising above senseless violence; and a diverse group of people accepting the responsibility that all of us share:  to respond to intolerance and anti-Semitism not by pushing one another away, but by drawing each other close.

The Jewish religion speaks of a concept called “tikkun olam,” which means “repairing the world.”  These words may be unfamiliar to some, but the idea is universal to people of every faith:  that it is incumbent upon each of us to bring hope and help to those around us; to create a more loving society; and to help forge a more just existence.

At times – particularly on days like this one, when we stand in the shadow of such mindless destruction – I know it can seem as though the world is irreparably broken; that it is fractured beyond repair.  But all of us here, in this moment – surrounded by the people we love, and held in the hearts of innumerable others – we are a testament to the limitless desire in this country for healing, for compassion, and for peace.  And we reaffirm the spirit of fellowship that has always held this nation of immigrants together – and defined diversity as our single greatest strength.

A few days ago, many of you observed the beginning of Passover, marking the start of a long and difficult journey from tyranny and persecution toward freedom in the Promised Land.  Today, this community begins its own journey of healing.  And although the road ahead will not be easy, I promise you that I, and millions of others throughout our nation, will be here to walk alongside you – not only today, but always.  We will never stop fighting for justice.  And we will never forget the names, or the stories, of those we lost.

Terri, William, and Reat will live on in our hearts, and in the cherished memories of all who knew them.  They will live on in their children, their friends, and countless others whose lives they touched.  And they will live on in the work that we begin – here, today – to repair the world and forge a future that is worthy of their joy, their passion, and their love.

This world will be their legacy.  And we will build it together.

 Thank you, once again, for allowing me to be here.  God bless you.  And may God bless the United States of America.

AG HOLDER'S REMARKS AT 2014 POLICE EXECUTIVE FORUM

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT 
Attorney General Eric Holder Delivers Remarks at the 2014 Police Executive Research Forum
~ Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Thank you, Chuck [Wexler], for those kind words – and for your exemplary leadership, over the past two decades, as Executive Director of the Police Executive Research Forum.  I also want to thank my good friend, Philadelphia Police Commissioner [Charles] Ramsey, for his outstanding work as this organization’s President.  And I want to recognize PERF’s Board of Directors and professional staff for all they’ve done to bring us together for today’s important Summit.

Since its founding in 1976 – the same year I reported for work as a line attorney in the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section – this group has worked hard to strengthen community policing, to minimize the use of force, and to guide and inform our national debate about criminal justice issues.  Over the years, you’ve helped to refine law enforcement’s response to crimes ranging from sexual assaults to active shooter situations.  Your members and leaders have promoted the highest standards of integrity, professionalism, accountability, and ethics.  And your consistent emphasis on proven, data-driven policing strategies and practices has bolstered the efficiency – and the effectiveness – of departments and agencies throughout the nation.

That’s why I’m so proud to stand with you today – as this Forum convenes once again to discuss one of the most urgent and complex challenges facing public safety professionals in this country:  the question of how best to combat illegal drug use – and confront the stunning rise in heroin and prescription opiate overdose deaths that so many of you have witnessed in the jurisdictions you serve.

Especially over the last few years, we’ve come to understand that the cycle of heroin abuse all too often begins with prescription opiate abuse.  Throughout America – between 2006 and 2010 – heroin overdose deaths increased by an alarming 45 percent.  This staggering rise is a tragic, but hardly unpredictable, symptom of the significant increase in prescription drug abuse we’ve seen over the past decade.  And it has impelled law enforcement leaders to fight back aggressively.

As you know as well as anyone, addressing this public health and public safety crisis will require a combination of rigorous enforcement and robust treatment.  I want to assure you this afternoon that the Justice Department is, and always will be, firmly committed to both.

As we speak, with DEA as our lead agency, the Department is doing more than ever to keep illicit drugs off our streets – and bring dangerous or violent traffickers to justice.  Since just 2011, DEA has opened more than 4,500 investigations related to heroin.  As a result of this work, the amount of heroin seized along America’s southwest border increased by more than 320 percent between 2008 and 2013.  And our comprehensive enforcement strategy is also enabling us to attack all levels of the supply chain – so we can proactively investigate the diversion of pharmaceutical controlled substances and prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.

From practitioners who illegally dispense prescriptions, to pharmacists who knowingly fill them; from notorious “pill mills,” to unscrupulous distributors that send controlled substances downstream without due diligence – DEA is standing vigilant against anyone who would divert prescription opiates from their legitimate use.  In targeted areas, they’re also using their regulatory authority to review and investigate new pharmacy applications – so they can identify and prevent storefront traffickers from obtaining DEA registrations.

This work shows tremendous promise – and it’s having a significant positive impact.  But all of it is only the beginning – because my colleagues and I understand, as you do, that although vigorous enforcement will always be critical, enforcement on its own will never be enough.

That’s why we’re partnering with leaders like you – and organizations like PERF – to increase our support for education, prevention, and treatment.  We’re working with doctors, pharmacists, and other health professionals – along with educators, community leaders, and police officers on the front lines – to identify and prevent controlled substance diversion during the health care delivery process.  Nationwide, we’re supporting more than 2,600 specialty courts that connect over 120,000 people with the services they need to avoid future drug use and return to their communities from incarceration.  And we’re focusing our engagement efforts on specific areas where this work is most needed – and where it can make the most difference.

For example, in Ohio’s Northern District, our United States Attorney convened a summit at the Cleveland Clinic to bring together law enforcement and public health professionals to confront that area’s 400-percent rise in heroin-related deaths.  Another U.S. Attorney’s Office – in Vermont – partnered with a family whose young son tragically lost his life to a heroin overdose.  Together, they created an award-winning documentary, called “The Opiate Effect,” to raise awareness about the devastating consequences of opiate abuse.

This powerful video has already reached more than 50,000 people.  But as law enforcement leaders, each of us has an obligation to do even more.  That’s why, today, I’m calling on all first responders – including state and local law enforcement agencies – to train and equip their men and women on the front lines to use the overdose-reversal drug known as naloxone.

When administered in a timely manner, naloxone – also known as narcan – can restore breathing to someone experiencing a heroin or opioid overdose.  This critical tool can save lives.  To date, a total of 17 states and the District of Columbia have taken steps to increase access to naloxone, resulting in over 10,000 overdose reversals since 2001.  And I urge state policymakers and local leaders throughout the nation to take additional steps to increase the availability of naloxone among first responders – so we can provide lifesaving aid to more and more of those who need it.

After all, it’s only by working together – and adopting a holistic approach – that we can confront this crisis, strengthen our communities, and save lives.  That’s why my colleagues and I are committed to supporting you.  And we’re determined to ensure that limited public safety resources are targeted to the most dangerous types of drugs – and the most serious drug offenses.

As you know, last August, I launched a new “Smart on Crime” initiative that’s enabling the Department of Justice to do just that – by using evidence-based reforms to improve the federal criminal justice system across the board, and to make our expenditures both smarter and more productive.  Going forward, the Department will work with Congress to secure the passage of President Obama’s budget request, which includes $173 million to sustain and advance this effort.  And we’ll strive to enact commonsense reforms like the bipartisan Smarter Sentencing Act – which would give judges additional discretion in determining appropriate sentences for people convicted of certain federal drug crimes.

In every case and circumstance, our efforts will continue to be guided by the recognition that – while smart law enforcement will always play a critical role in protecting communities from drug crime, we will never be able to arrest or incarcerate our way to becoming a safer nation.  We’ll keep relying on innovative leaders like you to apply 21st century solutions to 21st century problems.  And we’ll never stop driving investments in the kinds of groundbreaking research – and data-driven strategies – that so many of you have long championed.

This afternoon, as we come together to discuss this work – and to renew our shared commitment to carry it into the future – I want you to know how proud, and humbled, I am to count you as colleagues and partners.  I thank you – and all of this Forum’s members – once again for your service, your leadership, and your patriotism.  And I look forward to all that we must, and surely will, achieve together in the days ahead.

BP P.L.C. FORMER EMPLOYEE CHARGED WITH INSIDER TRADING AFTER DEEPWATER HORIZON OIL SPILL

FROM:  SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION 

The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a former 20-year employee of BP p.l.c. and a senior responder during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill with insider trading in BP securities based on confidential information about the magnitude of the disaster.  The price of BP securities fell significantly after the April 20, 2010 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig, and the subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, resulted in an extensive clean-up effort.

According to the SEC’s complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, BP tasked Keith A. Seilhan with coordinating BP’s oil collection and clean-up operations in the Gulf of Mexico and along the coast.  Seilhan, an experienced crisis manager, directed BP’s oil skimming operations and its efforts to contain the expansion of the oil spill.  The complaint alleges that within days, Seilhan received nonpublic information on the extent of the evolving disaster, including oil flow estimates and data on the volume of oil floating on the surface of the Gulf.

“Seilhan sold his family’s BP securities after he received confidential information about the severity of the spill that the public didn't know,” said Daniel M. Hawke, chief of the Division of Enforcement’s Market Abuse Unit.  “Corporate insiders must not misuse the material nonpublic information they receive while responding to unique or disastrous corporate events, even where they stand to suffer losses as a consequence of those events.”

The complaint alleges that by April 29, 2010, in filings to the SEC, BP estimated that the flow rate of the spill was up to 5,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd).  The company’s public estimate was significantly less than the actual flow rate, which was estimated later to be between 52,700 and 62,200 bopd.  The information that Seilhan obtained indicated that the magnitude of the oil spill and thus, BP’s potential liability and financial exposure, was likely to be greater than had been publicly disclosed.

According to the complaint, while in possession of this material, nonpublic information, and in breach of duties owed to BP and its shareholders, Seilhan directed the sale of his family’s entire $1 million portfolio of BP securities over the course of two days in late April 2010.  The trades allowed Seilhan to avoid losses and reap unjust profits as the price of BP securities dropped by approximately 48 percent after the sales on April 29 and April 30, 2010, reaching their lowest point in late June 2010.

Without admitting or denying the allegations, Seilhan consented to the entry of a final judgment permanently enjoining him from future violations of federal antifraud laws and SEC antifraud rules.  Seilhan, of Tomball, Texas, also agreed to return $105,409 of allegedly ill-gotten gains, plus $13,300 of prejudgment interest, and pay a civil penalty of $105,409.  The settlement is subject to court approval.

The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Matthew S. Raalf, Brian P. Thomas, John S. Rymas, Kelly L. Gibson, Brendan P. McGlynn, G. Jeffrey Boujoukos, Michael J. Rinaldi, and Christopher R. Kelly in the Philadelphia Regional Office.  The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Deepwater Horizon Task Force.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

U.S., POLAND FIND NEW WAYS MILITARIES CAN COOPERATE

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 


Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel hosts a press briefing with Poland’s Minister of National Defense Tomasz Siemoniak at the Pentagon, April 17, 2014. DOD photo by Marine Corps Sgt. Aaron Hostutler.  
U.S., Poland Defense Leaders Find New Areas for Cooperation
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 17, 2014 – Amid deep concerns about the situation in Ukraine, the defense leaders of the United States and Poland met at the Pentagon today and identified new areas in which their militaries can work together, including special operations, air force cooperation, and more exercises and training.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Poland’s Minister of National Defense Tomasz Siemoniak held discussions that Hagel described as being “focused on reinforcing our solidarity and our partnership for the future of the Polish-U.S. defense relationship, especially in light of the situation in Ukraine and its impact on European security.”

During a joint news conference after their meeting, Hagel told reporters this a critical time for the NATO alliance and the Polish-U.S. bilateral relationship, adding that it is also an opportunity to capitalize on the strong relationship the United States and Poland have built together over 25 years.
“The solidarity and partnership roadmap we discussed today identified new areas where we can work together, including special operations forces, air force cooperation, and additional exercises and training,” the secretary said.
“It will also look at how we can further build onto our joint aviation detachment and air missile defense collaboration.”

In recent weeks, the United States has augmented Poland’s aviation detachment with 12 F-16 aircraft and 200 support personnel from Aviano Air Base in Italy, the secretary said, noting that the department is committed to maintaining the augmented presence through the end of 2014.

“This is a clear demonstration of America's bilateral commitment to Poland and to our other NATO allies in the region. The United States is also encouraging other NATO allies to contribute to the detachment,” Hagel said.

“Minister Siemoniak and I agreed,” the secretary added, “that it would be useful to open up the aviation detachment so that other nations in the region can participate.”
One example is Romania, Hagel said, the latest NATO member to acquire F-16s. Such a regionalized approach will help strengthen Poland and its neighbors, he added.

On air and missile defense, Hagel noted that as Poland explores options for its own new capabilities, the Defense Department should take advantage of the chance to work with Poland more closely, leveraging cutting-edge technology and enhancing NATO capability to benefit the entire transatlantic alliance.
“As Poland continues to invest in defense and military modernization,” he added, “the United States will increasingly look to Poland as a leader in the region and in NATO.”

The relationship between the U.S. and Poland and their shared commitment to NATO are critical to stability in Europe, the secretary said, adding that recent events underscore that the alliance and commitments to the alliance are as important as ever.

“As you all know,” Hagel said, “Secretary [of State John F.] Kerry is meeting now in Geneva with his counterparts from Russia, Ukraine and the [European Union]. We fully support these efforts to find a political solution and remain deeply concerned about Russia's ongoing destabilizing activities in eastern Ukraine. De-escalation has been our focus and Russia must take steps to make that happen.”
The United States continues to stand with Ukraine, he added, noting that earlier this morning he called Ukraine Acting Defense Minister Mykhaylo Koval to tell him that President Obama has approved more nonlethal military assistance for health and welfare items and other supplies.

“These supplies include medical supplies, helmets, sleeping mats and water purification units for Ukraine's armed forces,” Hagel said, “as well as shelters, small power generators and hand fuel pumps for Ukraine's state border guard service. The United States will continue to review additional support that we can provide to Ukraine.”

During today’s meeting, the secretary said, he and Siemoniak agreed that Russia's aggression has renewed their resolve to strengthen the NATO alliance.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen yesterday announced a series of measures the alliance would undertake to demonstrate this resolve.
The measures, developed by Supreme Allied Commander Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, the secretary added, include more air policing sorties over the Baltics, more allied ships in the Baltic and in the eastern Mediterranean seas, and military staff deployments to enhance NATO's readiness training and exercises.
“NATO is also updating its defense plans and the United States has offered additional planners to help with that effort, Hagel said. “We're also assessing what additional contributions we can offer to reinforce our allies in central and eastern Europe.”

The measures are not meant to provoke or threaten Russia, he added, but to demonstrate NATO's continued dedication to collective defense.
“Article V [of the North Atlantic Treaty] is clear that an attack against any one NATO ally will be considered an attack against all members of NATO. The United States is fully committed to meeting its Article V responsibilities,” Hagel said.

Today’s meeting was the second between Hagel and Siemoniak this year.
Their first was in January in Poland when Hagel and Siemoniak visited the joint aviation detachment at Powidz Air Base where American and Polish airmen train and work side by side.

President Barack Obama and Polish President Bronisław Komorowski agreed in 2010 to strengthen the U.S.-Polish security partnership through increased cooperation between both nations’ air forces.

The first full-time stationing of U.S. troops in Poland was established in 2012 with an aviation detachment at Lask Air Base, about 90 minutes from Powidz.
In addition to strengthening cooperation, the aviation detachment allows Poland to host other allied air force elements and serve as a regional hub for air training and multinational exercises.

PRESIDENT OBAMA SENDS CONDOLENCES TO FAMILIES OF S. KOREAN FERRY VICTIMS

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 
President Sends Condolences, Pledges Aid for Ferry Sinking
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 17, 2014 – President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have expressed condolences to the families of the victims of yesterday’s ferry sinking off the coast of South Korea.

In a White House statement, the president also said he’s directed the U.S. military “to provide any and all assistance requested by our Korean partners in the days ahead.”

The text of the president’s and first lady’s statement follows:
“On behalf of all the American people, Michelle and I send our deepest and heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims of the tragic ferry sinking off the coast of the Republic of Korea. The bonds of friendship between the American and Korean people are strong and enduring, and our hearts ache to see our Korean friends going through such a terrible loss, especially the loss of so many young students.

“South Korea is one of our closest allies, and American Navy personnel and U.S. Marines are already on the scene assisting with the search and rescue efforts. I’ve directed our military to provide any and all assistance requested by our Korean partners in the days ahead.

“As I will underscore on my visit to Seoul next week, America’s commitment to our ally South Korea is unwavering—in good times and in bad. As the Korean people deal with this heartbreaking tragedy, they will have the unending support and friendship of the United States.”

U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT CONTRACTS FOR APRIL 17, 2014

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 
CONTRACTS

NAVY

Watermark Environmental Inc.,* Lowell, Mass. (N40083-14-D-2719); Blackhawk-MILCON, A Joint Venture*, San Antonio, Texas (N40083-14-D-2720); Custom Mechanical Systems Corp.,* Bargersville, Ind. (N40083-14-D-2721); Krempp Construction Inc.,* Jasper, Ind., (N40083-14-D-2722); and Howard W. Pence,* Elizabethtown, Ky. (N40083-14-D-2723), are each being awarded a firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, multiple-award design-build construction contract for construction projects at Naval Support Activity Crane located primarily within the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Midwest area of responsibility (AOR). The work to be performed provides for all labor, equipment, tools, supplies, transportation, supervision, quality control, professional design services, and management necessary to perform various construction, renovation, maintenance, and alteration projects at assorted buildings and structures. Work includes but is not limited to design, general construction, alteration, repair, demolition, and work performed by special trades. The maximum dollar value including the base period and four option years for all five contracts combined is $50,000,000. Watermark Environmental Inc., is being awarded task order 0001 at $1,403,808 for the Crane Army Ammunition Activity Building 102 renovation at the Naval Support Activity, Crane, Ind. Work for this task order is expected to be completed by September 2014. All work on this contract will be performed in Crane, Ind. (95 percent), and Sullivan, Ind. (5 percent). The term of the contract is not to exceed 60 months, with an expected completion date of April 2019. Fiscal 2013 Army working capital funds contract funds in the amount of $1,483,808 are obligated on this award and will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Federal Business Opportunities website, with 22 proposals received. These five contractors may compete for task orders under the terms and conditions of the awarded contract. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Midwest, Crane, Ind., is the contracting.

Caddell Construction Co., Inc., Montgomery, Ala., is being awarded $34,311,000 for firm-fixed-price task order 0002 under a previously awarded multiple award construction contract (N69450-09-D-1279) for construction of the Waterfront North Land Water Interface at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay. The work to be performed provides for the construction of the waterfront restricted area land/water interface termination that connects the north end of the existing waterfront restricted area enclave fencing system to the floating port security barriers. Work will be performed in Kings Bay, Ga., and is expected to be completed by April 2017. Fiscal 2012 military construction, Navy contract funds in the amount of $34,311,000 are being obligated on this award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Three proposals were received for this task order. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southeast, Jacksonville, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Lockheed Martin Corp., Owego, N.Y., is being awarded $ 7,265,034 for firm-fixed-priced delivery order 7026 against a previously awarded basic ordering agreement (N00383-12-G-010F) for the repair of 12 items of the common cockpit for H-60R/S helicopters. Work will be performed at Owego, N.Y. (77 percent); Farmingdale, N.Y. (9 percent); Phoenix, Ariz. (6 Percent); Salt Lake City, Utah (6 percent); Hershey, Pa. (2 percent), and is expected to be completed by Jan. 12, 2016. Fiscal 2014 Navy working capital funds in the amount of $7,265,034 will be obligated at the time of award, and will not expire before the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured in accordance with 10 U.S.C 2304(c)(1). The Naval Supply Systems Command, Weapon Systems Support, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity.

ARMY

The Boeing Co., Ridley Park, Pa. was awarded a $43,340,932 modification (P00003) to contract W58RGZ-13-C-0114 to support fielding new equipment and equipment training for units receiving the CH-47F weapons system. Fiscal 2014 other procurement funds in the amount of $43,340,932 were obligated at the time of the award. Estimated completion dated is Feb. 29, 2016. Work will be performed at continental United States and overseas locations. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity.

Ensign-Bickford Aerospace & Defense Co., Simsbury, Conn., was awarded a $26,977,402 firm-fixed-price contract to test, manufacture, package and deliver M21/M23 blasting cap assemblies. Funding and work performance location will be determined with each order. Estimated completion date is April 16, 2019. Bids were solicited via the Internet with one received. Army Contracting Command, Picatinny Arsenal, N.J., is the contracting activity (W15QKN-14-D-0016).

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

Heyltex Corp.,* Katy, Texas, has been awarded a maximum $43,292,852 fixed-price with economic-price-adjustment, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for various pharmaceutical products. This is a competitive acquisition, and 35 offers were received. This is a one-year base contract with seven one-year option periods. Location of performance is Texas with an April 16, 2015 performance completion date. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and federal civilian agencies. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2014 warstopper funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pa., (SPE2D0-14-D-0005).

Direct Energy Business, LLC, Pittsburgh, Pa., has been awarded a maximum $11,918,926 firm-fixed-price contract for electricity. This is a competitive acquisition, and three offers were received. This is a two-year base contract. Locations of performance are Pennsylvania and Illinois with a May 31, 2016 performance completion date. Using services are Army, Air Force, and federal civilian agencies. Type of appropriation is fiscal year 2014 through fiscal year 2016 service funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Energy, Fort Belvoir, Va., (SPE600-14-D-8004).

AIR FORCE

Lockheed Martin Corp., Marietta, Ga., has been awarded a $14,713,606 firm-fixed-price modification (P00312) on contract (FA8625-11-C-6597) for initial spares for the C-130J program purchased under the five-year option contract IV. The contractor will provide initial spares for the C-130J program that are provided for 64 aircraft, comprised of 42 delivered C-130J aircraft and 22 HC/MC-130J aircraft. Work will be performed at Marietta, Ga. Initial spares delivery dates vary depending upon the lead time to procure. Fiscal 2014 aircraft procurement funds ($13,685,100) and fiscal 2013 aircraft procurement funds ($1,028,506) are being obligated at time of award. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/WLNN, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity

Quantech Services Inc., Lexington, Mass., has been awarded a $14,402,703 modification (P00050) on cost-plus-fixed-fee, cost reimbursable contract (FA8721-13-C-0016) for professional acquisition support services. This contract modification provides an extension for an additional nine months of professional acquisition support services under the basic contract in support of Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, HBG, HBA, and HBS divisions, including foreign military sales (FMS). Work will be performed at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass. and Langley AFB, Va., and is expected to be completed by Jan. 17, 2015. FMS support accounts for approximately 38 percent of the stated modification. Fiscal 2014 research and development, procurement and foreign military sales funds in the amount of $3,318,686 were obligated at time of award. FMS countries include Saudi Arabia, Korea, Japan, Australia, France, United Kingdom, Egypt, Oman, Poland, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, and Jordan. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Enterprise Acquisition Division/PZM, Hanscom AFB, Mass., is the contracting activity.

Oasis Systems LLC, Lexington, Mass., has been awarded an $11,801,189 modification (P00050) on cost-plus-fixed-fee, cost reimbursable contract (FA8721-13-C-0025) for professional acquisition support services. This contract modification provides an extension for an additional of six months of professional acquisition support services under the basic contract in support of Air Force Life Cycle Management Center HNA, HNS, and HNI divisions. Work will be performed at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., and Langley AFB, Va., and is expected to be completed by Oct. 17, 2014. Fiscal 2012 procurement and fiscal 2014 research and development, procurement and operations and maintenance funds in the amount of $11,077,504 were obligated at time of award. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Enterprise Acquisition Division/PZM, Hanscom AFB, Mass., is the contracting activity.

Odyssey Systems Consulting Group Ltd., Wakefield, Mass., has been awarded an $11,445,617 modification (P00050) on cost-plus-fixed-fee, cost reimbursable contract (FA8721-13-C-0022) for professional acquisition support services. This contract modification provides an extension for an additional of nine months for professional acquisition support services under the basic contract. Work will be performed at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., Hanscom AFB, Mass., and Dahlgren, Va., and is expected to be completed by Jan. 17, 2015. This modification provides professional acquisition support services in support of Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, HBQ and HBD Divisions, including foreign military sales. FMS support account for approximately 11 percent of the stated modification. Fiscal 2014 operations and maintenance, procurement, research and development and foreign military sales funds in the amount of $8,869,158 were obligated at time of award. FMS countries include Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Israel, and Japan. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Enterprise Acquisition Division/PZM, Hanscom AFB, Mass., is the contracting activity.

Odyssey System Consulting Group Ltd., Wakefield, Mass., has been awarded a $9,167,656 modification (P00050) on cost-plus-fixed-fee, cost reimbursable contract (FA8721-13-C-0020) for professional acquisition support services. This contract modification provides an extension for an additional nine months of professional acquisition support services under the basic contract in support of Air Force Life Cycle Management Center HBU and HNJ divisions. Work will be performed at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., Warner Robins, Ga., and San Antonio, Texas, and is expected to be completed by Jan. 17, 2015. Fiscal 2012 procurement funds and 2014 research and development, procurement, and operations and maintenance funds in the amount of $7,169,369 were obligated at time of award. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Enterprise Acquisition Division/PZM, Hanscom AFB, Mass., is the contracting activity.

Oasis Systems LLC, Lexington, Mass., has been awarded an $8,983,870.00 modification (P00050) on cost-plus-fixed-fee, cost reimbursable contract (FA8721-13-C-0026) for professional acquisition support services. This contract modification provides an extension for an additional nine months of professional acquisition support services under the basic contract in support of Air Force Life Cycle Management Center HB and HBAJ divisions including foreign military sales (FMS). Work will be performed at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., Langley AFB, Va., and Topeka, Kan., and is expected to be completed by Jan. 17, 2015. Fiscal 2013 procurement and fiscal 2014 research and development and procurement funds and FMS funds in the amount of $5,331,180 were obligated at time of award. FMS (84 percent of the contract) countries include Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, Egypt, Belgium, Romania, Poland, and Columbia. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Enterprise Acquisition Division/PZM, Hanscom AFB, Mass., is the contracting activity.

P E Systems Inc., Fairfax, Va., has been awarded a $7,280,498 modification (P00050) on cost-plus-fixed-fee, cost reimbursable contract (FA8721-13-C-0029) for professional acquisition support services. This contract modification provides an extension for an additional six months of professional acquisition support services under the basic contract in support of Air Force Life Cycle Management Center HNA and HBD Divisions, including foreign military sales (FMS). Work will be performed at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., Langley AFB, Va., Washington, D.C., and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and is expected to be completed by Oct. 17, 2014. FMS support account for approximately 13 percent of the stated modification. Countries include Jordan, Germany, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Oman, Greece, Thailand, France, Sweden, and United Kingdom. Fiscal 2012 procurement and fiscal 2014 operations and maintenance, research and development, procurement and foreign military sales funds in the amount of $6,351,766 were obligated at time of award. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Enterprise Acquisition Division/PZM, Hanscom AFB, Mass., is the contracting activity.

*Small Business

SECRETARY KERRY'S REMARKS WITH EU HIGH REPRESENTATIVE CATHERINE ASHTON

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
Remarks With EU High Representative Catherine Ashton After Their Meeting
Remarks
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Geneva, Switzerland
April 17, 2014

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, good afternoon, everybody. Or good evening, actually, I guess. I’m very, very grateful to be joined here today by the High Representative Cathy Ashton, my friend and colleague, and a terrific partner in this and in other efforts. And I thank her for her leadership throughout this particular initiative.

Diplomacy requires willing partners, and I also want to thank Minister Deshchytsia and also Minister Lavrov for their willing work in the course of today, their readiness to engage in a constructive dialogue. We worked hard, and we worked in good faith, in order to try to narrow what are real differences, some of them significant, and to find a way forward for the people of Ukraine that helps them in achieving their aspiration to live in a stable, peaceful, and unified democracy.

As recent events in eastern Ukraine make clear, they need our support now, and they need it more than ever. Ukraine has shown admirable – sometimes, I think, even remarkable – restraint in the face of considerable challenge. But no one should expect the leaders of a sovereign state to always stand by passively while public order is threatened. And the public order of Ukraine has been threatened in recent days.

Our most urgent task is to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine. So let me just outline where we are and some initial concrete steps that we have agreed to take in the course of the discussions today in order to de-escalate the tensions and restore security for all Ukrainians.

The parties agreed today that all sides must refrain from the use of violence, intimidation, or provocative actions. And we strongly condemned and rejected all expressions of extremism, racism, and religious intolerance, including anti-Semitism.

Let me say a quick word about that. Just in the last couple of days, notices were sent to Jews in one city indicating that they had to identify themselves as Jews. And obviously, the accompanying threat implied is – or threatened – or suffer the consequences, one way or the other.

In the year 2014, after all of the miles traveled and all of the journey of history, this is not just intolerable; it’s grotesque. It is beyond unacceptable. And any of the people who engage in these kinds of activities, from whatever party or whatever ideology or whatever place they crawl out of, there is no place for that. And unanimously, every party today joined in this condemnation of that kind of behavior.

In addition, recently, the Ukrainian – the Russian Orthodox Church members in Ukraine were threatened that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was somehow going to attack them in the course of the next days. That kind of behavior, that kind of threat, has no place. And all parties agreed that that kind of behavior is not just grotesque and unacceptable, but it will not stand the test of the direction that Ukraine wants to move in.

We agreed today that all illegal armed groups must be disarmed, that all illegally seized buildings must be returned to their legitimate owners, and all illegally occupied streets, squares, and other public places in Ukrainian cities and towns must be vacated.

The Government of Ukraine itself affirmed, and again today, that it will grant amnesty to protestors and to those who have left buildings and other public places and surrender weapons, with the exception of those people who are found guilty of capital offenses.

We also agreed – and I think this is a key part of what was focused on today – we wanted to find concrete steps, not just words, but concrete steps that could be acted on immediately in order to defuse the situation. And so we agreed that the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, which is already on the ground, whose mission has already been defined and granted, that they undertake a special role in assisting Ukrainian authorities in local communities in the immediate implementation of the de-escalation measures, that they will do so wherever they are needed the most in the coming days. That means beginning immediately. The United States, the EU, and Russia committed to support this mission, including by providing monitors directly.

Now I want to emphasize that Ukraine’s leaders indicated that they are prepared to go to extraordinary lengths to address regional demands for more autonomy, for local self-government, for the protection of minority rights. And I talked this afternoon with Prime Minister Yatsenyuk, and he indicated and reaffirmed his and the government’s strong commitment to a genuine, comprehensive, and inclusive process by which they will engage in the constitutional reform process of Ukraine.

Foreign Minister Deshchytsia briefed us on the extensive and inclusive constitutional reform process already underway, which is geared to address all of the legitimate grievances, but importantly, he and Prime Minister Yatsenyuk committed themselves to going as far as they can to reach out to opponents, to people with different ideas, from people from different constituencies, from different geography, and bring them together over the course of these next days in order to have a comprehensive, inclusive process.

Today, the Ukrainian foreign minister, Minister Deshchytsia, affirmed all of us repeatedly that they will have an inclusive, transparent, and accountable constitutional reform process, and it will include the immediate establishment of a broad national dialogue with outreach to all of Ukraine’s regions and political constituencies, and it will allow for the consideration of public comments and proposed amendments that will be considered. The parties also agreed on the importance of the economic-financial stability of Ukraine, and the importance of all of us being engaged in that effort going forward.

Now, all of this, we believe, represents – excuse me – all of this, we are convinced, represents a good day’s work. But on the other hand, this day’s work has produced principles, and it has produced commitments, and it has produced words on paper. And we are the first to understand and to agree that words on paper will only mean what the actions that are taken as a result of those words produce. So it is absolutely clear now that what is important is that these words are translated immediately into actions, and none of us leave here with the sense that the job is done because the words are on the paper.

The job will not be done until these principles are implemented, until they are followed up on. And what is vital is that the OSCE needs to get to work immediately to de-escalate the security situation in Luhansk, in Donetsk, in Sloviansk, and all the other towns that have been destabilized. And people need to provide them the immediate access in order to be able to do that job, and we intend to be watching extremely carefully to make certain that our monitors and our embassies and our eyes on the ground are able to verify what is taking place.

We fully expect the Russians, as they said they would here today, to demonstrate their seriousness by insisting that pro-Russian separatists, who they’ve been supporting, lay down their arms, leave the buildings, and pursue their political objectives through the constitutional processes that the agreement guarantees. No more incidents of this kind should occur, and if they do, it will be clear that it will elicit a response.

I made clear to Foreign Minister Lavrov today that if we’re not able to see progress on the immediate efforts to be able to implement the principles of this agreement this weekend, then we will have no choice but to impose further costs on Russia.

The Ukrainian Government has exhibited extraordinary patience and fortitude in the face of enormous challenges and pressure. They have asked their people to restrain themselves. They have purposefully assumed a nonviolent posture in the face of challenges that might have invited others to engage in violence. And the Ukrainian people now deserve a right to choose their own future. The international community remains firmly by their side as they travel the difficult, democratic path to prosperity and to peace.

Lady Ashton.

HIGH REPRESENTATIVE ASHTON: Thank you, Secretary Kerry. Thank you, John, very much. I just want to add a few comments. You’ve set out very clearly the discussions on the agreement that’s been reached today. As you’ve said, these have been very frank, but I think constructive discussions that are looking to find the concrete steps, real, practical things that can de-escalate the tensions in Ukraine.

I think it was extremely important to bring us all together here to have that process of dialogue begin. It has to be the first priority that we focus on, to see a de-escalation of the situation, and collectively, as you’ve indicated, we agreed a number of concrete steps that we can see implemented immediately. The word “immediately” is extremely important in this context. We want to see these happen so that we can see things achieved.

The OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission, as you’ve indicated, will play a leading role in this. It will assist the Ukrainian authorities and local communities to take the necessary measures that they need to take. And we absolutely welcome the Ukrainian commitment to conduct an inclusive and transparent constitutional process. We know that free and fair presidential elections on the 25th of May are the best way to express the will of the people of Ukraine, as is this process of constitutional reform, and we want to see all candidates behaving well and being treated with great respect in that process.

We remain committed to the unity, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ukraine. In the meantime, the European Union will continue to support efforts to stabilize the situation in Ukraine economically, financially and politically.

Today, President Barroso of the European Commission wrote to President Putin on behalf of the European Union, accepting President Putin’s proposal for consultations with Russia and Ukraine, trilateral consultations on the security of gas supply and transit.

I end by saying that I believe that by discussing constructively the solutions and actions, that this is the best way to find a way out of the current crisis. Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: The first question will be from Karen DeYoung of The Washington Post.

QUESTION: Thank you. Mr. Secretary, did you discuss or did you receive any Russian commitment for the withdrawal of Russian troops along the border of Ukraine? And did the United States and Europe make any commitments regarding the removal of existing sanctions against Russian individuals? Just to follow up on something you said, you mentioned that Russia had committed to call on those it is supporting inside eastern Ukraine to lay down their weapons. What happens if they don’t respond to that? And finally, did Russia make any commitment on Ukraine’s debt and the gas payments it says are overdue?

SECRETARY KERRY: The answers are no, no commitments with respect to the debt, no commitments with respect to the gas payments overdue, but a commitment to engage in a dialogue that Lady Ashton just described, which will begin to tackle the whole question of energy. And with respect to the withdrawal of troops, they – excuse me – they’ve made it clear that over a period of time, assuming this can de-escalate and it does de-escalate, as the rights of the people they are concerned about are represented, as the constitutional process unfolds and the future government of Ukraine takes place, they are absolutely prepared to begin to respond with respect to troops and larger numbers.

They indicated and reiterated that they have withdrawn one battalion in response to the efforts we’ve made to insist on some movement, and I raised the question of whether more couldn’t now also become part of the equation. And our hope is that as these steps are taken, that that can happen. That would be part of a managed de-escalation.

We said at the beginning, and the document says, “initial concrete steps.” We do not envision this as the full measure of de-escalation. So if this starts and starts effectively, and we can begin to see some progress, we intend to continue to have our meetings, and we discussed with Foreign Minister Lavrov at the end of the meeting the notion that we would continue to talk and to follow up on this. So this is just the beginning. It depends, obviously, as I said, on the good faith of parties and pursuing and following through. And we’re going to watch that very, very closely.

You had one other part to your question?

QUESTION: There were two, actually. One, did you discuss at all lifting any existing sanctions? And finally, if the separatists in eastern Ukraine decline to lay down their arms, who is responsible for making sure that they do?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, on the question of additional sanctions, the other sanctions, no. There was no discussion at this point in time of removal of any of the existing sanctions. I think everybody understands that would be premature at a moment where we’re putting to test the bona fides of the proffers made today in the course and context of this agreement. So if this agreement pans out and they do indeed produce some change on the ground, then obviously, as we go down the road, I’m sure that is going to become a topic of conversation, but it’s premature right now.

In addition to that, I would just say – thank you very much, thank you, thanks – on the subject of the laying down of weapons, the responsibility will lie with those who have organized their presence, equipped them with the weapons, put the uniforms on them, supported them, and been engaged in the process of guiding them over the course of this operation. And we’ll have to – before we start making judgments about exactly where that accountability will fall, we’ve made it very, very clear that Russia has huge impact on all of those forces. And we’ve made clear what the evidence is. It’s out in the public domain. I think almost everybody in the world has drawn their conclusions about what is happening, and so that’s why these next days will be very important to making judgments.

And I repeat what the White House policy is and what we have said: That if there is not progress over the course of these next days and we don’t see a movement in the right direction, then there will be additional sanctions, additional costs as a consequence.

MODERATOR: The next question is for Julian Borger in the front row. If you could raise your hand, Julian.

SECRETARY KERRY: Can I just say one other thing? Our goal is not to come here and be threatening or to be talking about the downsides. We’re just trying to express a reality about what has to happen. Our hope is that we’ve opened the door so that both of the entities that have an ability in Ukraine to make a difference, or all the entities, will respond. Russia clearly has an enormous ability to be able to impact that outcome, and the Government of Ukraine has an ability to affect it.

So to the degree that both of them can take steps here that will help to provide space for each of them to take further steps, that’s what we’re encouraging, and that’s what we hope will happen.

QUESTION: Did the talks today and the agreement make any progress to finding a compromise between Kyiv and Moscow on just how much autonomy the eastern Ukraine should have ultimately?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, let me say – and Cathy can obviously respond here too and I think would want to – we were both very impressed by Prime Minister Yatsenyuk’s definition of what he is prepared to do, and he and the government – the interim government in Kyiv are prepared to do. It’s quite extensive. And they have laid down their own vision of autonomy which includes election of local officials; election of the governors; election and management of their budget to a large measure, to the largest measure; management of education; other functions of governance, really reserving to the federal government the principal initiatives of defense, justice, and foreign policy.

It’s frankly far more extensive an offer of autonomy than anything that exists in any oblast in Russia. And so I think we were impressed by it and they are committed to it and their constitutional process will now open up significantly in an effort to bring all of the political players in Ukraine together.

HIGH REPRESENTATIVE ASHTON: Just to echo and endorse that, but the whole process of constitutional reform, the capacity of people to have the kind of public meetings, opportunities to receive ideas from different parts of the country, for people to have a genuine debate about what kind of country they want to live in and how far they want centralization and decentralization – in some ways, this is actually a very exciting moment to be able to try and do that in a proper way. And we want to see that process happen in ways that will enable people to feel that they are engaging in serious discussion about the future of their nation and looking at how local and national governments work together. And that’s a really, really important part of going forward, and I think we want to support that in every possible way.

MS. PSAKI: Margaret Brennan from CBS.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. Mr. Secretary, what is the specific timeframe and specific consequences if these steps are not followed through on? Do we understand you correctly in saying that any and all sanctions are put on pause here? And with the type of autonomy you just described Ukraine being willing to offer, aren’t you concerned that Russia has seemingly carved out a mechanism for influence in Ukraine without even having to launch an overt military invasion of east Ukraine? Vladimir Putin said today he hopes he doesn’t have to demonstrate his right to take military intervention there.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, first of all, we obviously would contest the notion of a right to do so, and we do. And we obviously differ over the exercise of that so-called right with respect to Crimea, which we believe was taken illegally, against the constitution of Ukraine as well as against the standards of international law. So we begin with a difference there.

But that said, let me make it clear that what has been promised by the government – the interim Government of Ukraine – what Prime Minister Yatsenyuk has promised was promised way before any of these exercises by Russia took place. Almost immediately, Prime Minister Yatsenyuk promised increased autonomy. And the reason he promised the increased autonomy is that he was sensitive to and aware of the fractures within the social fabric of Ukraine and the differences of representation and the complaints that have existed for some period of time, long preceding the events of the Maidan and the change of the government.

So I just – I don’t think that – I think the premise of the question is incorrect that this has happened because of Russia’s pressure. This has happened because this is something that the moment Crimea took place, they made clear they cared about, they thought was important, and they thought represented a better way to manage the differences of background, culture, history, language, and other things that have been reflected in the politics of Ukraine for some period of time.

So I think they’ve taken these steps because they believe it’s the best way to strengthen Ukraine. It’s the best way to have a Ukraine that can be united but still respect some of the passions and differences that exist in the constituencies of Ukraine. And I think it’s an act of – it’s a visionary act, I think it’s a courageous act, and I think it does offer the best prospect going forward for a strong and united, sovereign Ukraine in which all people feel proud to be Ukrainian, but at the same time feel like their day-to-day lives are reflected in the way that they want them to be.

QUESTION: And what about the timeframe for the steps?

SECRETARY KERRY: The timeframe for the steps taken right now? As I said earlier, we expect in the next few days, over the course of this weekend and the earliest part of next week, some of these steps need to begin to be seen and be evident. They don’t have to all be accomplished by then, and it would be hard to see how they would be, but if there’s a clear indication that this is moving in the right direction, then the President will – our President will make his decision and the leaders in Europe will make their decisions, obviously in consultation with each other.

MODERATOR: Final question. Gentleman in the third row.

QUESTION: Thank you. Steve Sedgwick, CNBC. I’m amazed, up until the last answer, Secretary of State and Baroness Ashton, that we haven’t heard the word “Crimea” at all today. Could I confirm now that the West and Ukraine have given up on Crimea and that the whole sanctions process and escalation of sanctions or de-escalation of sanctions has now got nothing to do with Crimea anymore; it’s all about the south and the east of remaining Ukrainian territory?

SECRETARY KERRY: No, you cannot confirm that. And I’m amazed that you asked that question after the answer I just gave. Maybe it was a question you really felt you had to ask, and despite my prior answer you asked it anyway. But I said very clearly that we differed on Crimea, and I said it was illegal, and I said we disagree with the basis, on the constitution of Ukraine as well as on international law. I just said it. In addition to that, the fact is that we just sanctioned them two days ago, I believe, on the issue of Crimea.

So the fact is that we have made it crystal clear that there is a significant difference over Crimea. We are not, quote, “given up,” but today we didn’t come here to talk about Crimea. Today we came here to get something done to reduce the violence, reduce the potential for a complete and total implosion, and to try to move away from what is a spiraling downwards confrontation that takes nobody to a great place. And our hope is that we’ve opened up the opportunity to be able to do that.

But no, nobody has left behind the issue of Crimea, which remains as differentiated today as it was on the day that we first raised the issue and put the sanctions in place.

Cathy?

HIGH REPRESENTATIVE ASHTON: When I said territorial integrity of Ukraine, I meant the territorial integrity of the whole country. I didn’t think I needed to spell out where the European Union stands on that. We’ve been absolutely crystal clear, and the measures we’ve taken equally remain for that reason.

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