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Saturday, May 10, 2014

FTC SETTLES CHARGES REGARDING DECEPTIVE AD FOR NISSAN FRONTIER TRUCK

FROM:  U.S. FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION 
FTC Approves Final Consent Settling Charges Nissan Frontier Truck Ad Was Deceptive
Nissan North America, Inc., Advertising Agency TBWA Worldwide, Inc. Named in Case

Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved final consent orders settling charges that Nissan North America, Inc. and advertising agency TBWA Worldwide, Inc. deceptively advertised a Nissan Frontier truck pushing a dune buggy up a steep hill, something the truck actually cannot do.

First announced in January 2014, the settlements prohibit Nissan and TBWA Worldwide, which designed the 30-second television ad for the mid-sized truck, from misrepresenting any material quality or feature of a pickup truck through the depiction of a test, experiment, or demonstration. The orders do not prohibit the use of special effects and other production techniques as long as they do not misrepresent a material quality or feature of the pickup truck.

The Commission vote to approve the final order in this case was 4-0-1 with Commissioner McSweeny not participating.

WHITE HOUSE WEEKLY ADDRESS FOR MAY 10, 2014

FROM:  THE WHITE HOUSE 

Weekly Address: The First Lady Marks Mother’s Day and Speaks Out on the Tragic Kidnapping in Nigeria

WASHINGTON, DC – In this week’s address, First Lady Michelle Obama honored all mothers on this upcoming Mother’s Day and offered her thoughts, prayers and support in the wake of the unconscionable terrorist kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian girls.
The audio of the address and video of the address will be available online atwww.whitehouse.gov at 6:00 a.m. ET, Saturday, May 10, 2014.

Remarks of First Lady Michelle Obama
Weekly Address
May 10, 2014
Hello everyone, I’m Michelle Obama, and on this Mother’s Day weekend, I want to take a moment to honor all the mothers out there and wish you a Happy Mother’s Day. 
I also want to speak to you about an issue of great significance to me as a First Lady, and more importantly, as the mother of two young daughters.
Like millions of people across the globe, my husband and I are outraged and heartbroken over the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian girls from their school dormitory in the middle of the night. 
This unconscionable act was committed by a terrorist group determined to keep these girls from getting an education – grown men attempting to snuff out the aspirations of young girls. 
And I want you to know that Barack has directed our government to do everything possible to support the Nigerian government’s efforts to find these girls and bring them home. 
In these girls, Barack and I see our own daughters. We see their hopes, their dreams – and we can only imagine the anguish their parents are feeling right now.
Many of them may have been hesitant to send their daughters off to school, fearing that harm might come their way. 
But they took that risk because they believed in their daughters’ promise and wanted to give them every opportunity to succeed. 
The girls themselves also knew full well the dangers they might encounter. 
Their school had recently been closed due to terrorist threats…but these girls still insisted on returning to take their exams. 
They were so determined to move to the next level of their education…so determined to one day build careers of their own and make their families and communities proud.   
And what happened in Nigeria was not an isolated incident…it’s a story we see every day as girls around the world risk their lives to pursue their ambitions. 
It’s the story of girls like Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan.
Malala spoke out for girls’ education in her community…and as a result, she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman while on a school bus with her classmates. 
But fortunately Malala survived…and when I met her last year, I could feel her passion and determination as she told me that girls’ education is still her life’s mission. 
As Malala said in her address to the United Nations, she said “The terrorists thought that they would change our aims and stop our ambitions but nothing changed in my life except this: Weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.”
The courage and hope embodied by Malala and girls like her around the world should serve as a call to action. 
Because right now, more than 65 million girls worldwide are not in school. 
Yet, we know that girls who are educated make higher wages, lead healthier lives, and have healthier families. 
And when more girls attend secondary school, that boosts their country’s entire economy. 
So education is truly a girl’s best chance for a bright future, not just for herself, but for her family and her nation. 
And that’s true right here in the U.S. as well…so I hope the story of these Nigerian girls will serve as an inspiration for every girl – and boy – in this country. 
I hope that any young people in America who take school for granted – any young people who are slacking off or thinking of dropping out – I hope they will learn the story of these girls and recommit themselves to their education.
These girls embody the best hope for the future of our world…and we are committed to standing up for them not just in times of tragedy or crisis, but for the long haul.
We are committed to giving them the opportunities they deserve to fulfill every last bit of their God-given potential. 
So today, let us all pray for their safe return... let us hold their families in our hearts during this very difficult time…and let us show just a fraction of their courage in fighting to give every girl on this planet the education that is her birthright.  Thank you.

PHOTOS: U.S. PARATROOPS AT EXERCISE ROCK PROOF IN SLOVENIA

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 
U.S. PARATROOPERS PARTICIPATE IN EXERCISE ROCK PROOF IN POSTOJNA, SLOVENIA

U.S. paratroopers engage opposing forces while clearing a simulated village during exercise Rock Proof in Postojna, Slovenia, April 27, 2014. The parartroopers are assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Airborne. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Franklin R. Moor.

A U.S. paratrooper engages a target with an AT4 anti-tank grenade launcher during exercise Rock Proof in Postonja, Slovenia, April 28, 2014. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Pablo N. Piedra.


AGREEMENT REACHED IN SOUTH SUDAN.

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 

U.S. Welcomes Agreement between President Kiir and Machar

Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
May 9, 2014




Today's agreement to immediately stop the fighting in South Sudan and to negotiate a transitional government could mark a breakthrough for the future of South Sudan. The hard journey on a long road begins now and the work must continue.

We urge both leaders to take immediate action now to ensure that this agreement is implemented in full and that armed groups on both sides adhere to its terms.

We also acknowledge the effort of the Chairman of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, to convene this meeting and to mediate this positive outcome between the two leaders.

I saw with my own eyes last week the stakes and the struggles in a new nation we helped courageous people create. The people of South Sudan have suffered too much for far too long. In this most recent crisis alone, over one million people have been displaced, even more now face the prospect of famine, and, as the recent UN Mission Human Rights report found, there have been human rights abuses on a massive scale committed by both sides.

This agreement presents an opportunity to start a path towards peace that must not be lost. We will do all we can to help.

FTC SETTLES WITH SNAPCHAT OVER ALLEGED SECURITY ISSUES AND MISREPRESENTATIONS

FROM:  U.S. FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION 
Snapchat Settles FTC Charges That Promises of Disappearing Messages Were False
Snapchat Also Transmitted Users’ Location and Collected Their Address Books Without Notice Or Consent

Snapchat, the developer of a popular mobile messaging app, has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it deceived consumers with promises about the disappearing nature of messages sent through the service.  The FTC case also alleged that the company deceived consumers over the amount of personal data it collected and the security measures taken to protect that data from misuse and unauthorized disclosure. In fact, the case alleges, Snapchat’s failure to secure its Find Friends feature resulted in a security breach that enabled attackers to compile a database of 4.6 million Snapchat usernames and phone numbers.

According to the FTC’s complaint, Snapchat made multiple misrepresentations to consumers about its product that stood in stark contrast to  how the app actually worked.

“If a company markets privacy and security as key selling points in pitching its service to consumers, it is critical that it keep those promises,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez.  “Any company that makes misrepresentations to consumers about its privacy and security practices risks FTC action.”          

Touting the “ephemeral” nature of “snaps,” the term used to describe photo and video messages sent via the app, Snapchat marketed the app’s central feature as the user’s ability to send snaps that would “disappear forever" after the sender-designated time period expired.  Despite Snapchat’s claims, the complaint describes several simple ways that recipients could save snaps indefinitely.

Consumers can, for example, use third-party apps to log into the Snapchat service, according to the complaint.  Because the service’s deletion feature only functions in the official Snapchat app, recipients can use these widely available third-party apps to view and save snaps indefinitely. Indeed, such third-party apps have been downloaded millions of times.  Despite a security researcher warning the company about this possibility, the complaint alleges, Snapchat continued to misrepresent that the sender controls how long a recipient can view a snap.

In addition, the complaint alleges:

 That Snapchat stored video snaps unencrypted on the recipient’s device in a location outside the app’s “sandbox,” meaning that the videos remained accessible to recipients who simply connected their device to a computer and accessed the video messages through the device’s file directory.
 That Snapchat deceptively told its users that the sender would be notified if a recipient took a screenshot of a snap. In fact, any recipient with an Apple device that has an operating system pre-dating iOS 7 can use a simple method to evade the app’s screenshot detection, and the app will not notify the sender.
 That the company misrepresented its data collection practices.  Snapchat transmitted geolocation information from users of its Android app, despite saying in its privacy policy that it did not track or access such information.  
The complaint also alleges that Snapchat collected iOS users’ contacts information from their address books without notice or consent.  During registration, the app prompted users to, “Enter your mobile number to find your friends on Snapchat!”  Snapchat’s privacy policy claimed that the app only collected the user’s email, phone number, and Facebook ID for the purpose of finding friends.  Despite these representations, when iOS users entered their phone number to find friends, Snapchat also collected the names and phone numbers of all the contacts in their mobile device address books.  Snapchat continued to collect this information without notifying or obtaining users’ consent until Apple modified its operating system to provide such notice with the introduction of iOS 6.

Finally, the FTC alleges that despite the company’s claims about taking reasonable security steps, Snapchat failed to secure its “Find Friends” feature.

For example, the complaint alleges that numerous consumers complained that they had sent snaps to someone under the false impression that they were communicating with a friend.   In fact, because Snapchat failed to verify users’ phone numbers during registration, these consumers were actually sending their personal snaps to complete strangers who had registered with phone numbers that did not belong to them.

Moreover as noted above, the complaint alleges that Snapchat’s failure to secure its Find Friends feature resulted in a security breach permitting attackers to compile a database of 4.6 million Snapchat usernames and phone numbers. According to the FTC, the exposure of this information could lead to costly spam, phishing, and other unsolicited communications.

The settlement with Snapchat is part of the FTC’s ongoing effort to ensure that companies market their apps truthfully and keep their privacy promises to consumers. Under the terms of its settlement with the FTC, Snapchat will be prohibited from misrepresenting the extent to which it maintains the privacy, security, or confidentiality of users’ information.  In addition, the company will be required to implement a comprehensive privacy program that will be monitored by an independent privacy professional for the next 20 years.

This case is part of a multi-national enforcement sweep on mobile app privacy by members of the Global Privacy Enforcement Network, a cross-border coalition of privacy enforcement authorities. The case is also coordinated with the Asia Pacific Privacy Priorities forum’s Privacy Awareness Week.

The Commission vote to accept the consent order for public comment was 5-0.

The FTC will publish a description of the consent agreement package in the Federal Register shortly. The agreement will be subject to public comment for 30 days, beginning today and continuing through June 9, 2014, after which the Commission will decide whether to make the proposed consent order final. Interested parties can submit written comments electronically or in paper form by following the instructions in the “Invitation To Comment” part of the “Supplementary Information” section. Comments in electronic form should be submitted online.

NOTE: The Commission issues an administrative complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of up to $16,000.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them.

ALLEGED DRUG TRAFFICKER EXTRADITED FROM HONDURAS

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
Extradition of Carlos Lobo
Press Statement
Jen Psaki
Department Spokesperson
Washington, DC
May 9, 2014

The Honduran Supreme Court authorized the extradition of Carlos Lobo to the United States on drug trafficking charges. His extradition took place yesterday. We commend Honduras’ resolve in taking this historic step to extradite one of its own citizens, which strikes a blow against impunity for organized crime and narcotics trafficking. Mr. Lobo’s extradition is an important affirmation of the rule of law in Honduras and a strong signal that President Juan Orlando Hernandez is fully committed to stopping the use of Honduran territory for illicit activity.

The Government of Honduras, including its Supreme Court, has sent a clear message that those accused of crimes that jeopardize the safety of Honduran citizens will not be allowed to hide from justice. The United States fully supports Honduran efforts to strengthen the rule of law and improve the quality of life for all Hondurans.


FTC APPROVES AMENDMENTS TO FUR PRODUCTS LABELING ACT

FROM:  U.S. FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION 
FTC Approves Amendments to Fur Products Labeling Act Regulations

The Federal Trade Commission has amended its Regulations under the Fur Products Labeling Act (Fur Rules) to update the Fur Products Name Guide, provide businesses with more flexibility in labeling, incorporate provisions of the Truth in Fur Labeling Act of 2010 (TFLA), and conform the Rules’ guaranty provisions to those governing textile products.

In March 2011, as required by the TFLA, the FTC began a review of the Name Guide, sought public comments on the Fur Rules, and announced upcoming changes to the Fur Rules required by Congress. In December 2011, the Commission held a public hearing on all aspects of the Name Guide, including whether the agency should modify, add or delete names for several specific species.

In September 2012, the FTC sought public comment on its proposed changes including those required by Congress under the TFLA and the FTC’s systematic review of all current FTC rules and guides. In June 2013, the agency sought public comment on proposed changes to the guaranty provisions of the Fur Rules that would align the Rules with proposed changes to the guaranty provisions of the Rules under the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act. On March 14, 2014, the Commission announced final amendments to the Textile Rules’ guaranty provisions, which are substantively the same as those announced today for the Fur Rules.

In response to comments received, the amended Fur Rules retain “Asiatic Raccoon” in the Name Guide for labeling fur products from the species nyctereutes procyonoides. They also adopt the proposals for more labeling flexibility. The rules will become effective 180 days after publication in the Federal Register.

The Commission vote approving the Federal Register Notice amending its Regulations under the Fur Products Labeling Act was 4-0-1. Commissioner McSweeny was recorded as not participating.

Friday, May 9, 2014

U.S. TEAM OF EXPERTS ASSISTING LOCATION OF KIDNAPPED GIRLS IN NIGERIA

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 
U.S. Team in Nigeria to Help Locate Kidnapped Girls
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 9, 2014 – The United States has sent a team of experts to Nigeria to help the government in the West African country locate and free more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped last month by the Boko Haram terrorist group, a Defense Department spokesman said today.

Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters the cell is made up of personnel from the FBI, the intelligence community, and the U.S. military.

“They’re going to take a look at what the capabilities are, what capabilities the Nigerians are applying to the effort, and what gaps they may need [to fill], and additional help and/or resources they may need,” the admiral said. “Then, they’ll come back … and they’ll report that up through the interagency process.”
Kirby said Hagel is closely monitoring developments and earlier in the day was briefed on the situation and details about the team being sent to Nigeria by Africom Commander Gen. David M. Rodriguez and by Africa experts on his staff.
Time is at a premium, Kirby said. The Nigerian government accepted the offer of assistance on Wednesday.

“Within 48 hours, people were moving to get there,” Kirby said. “We’ve responded as quickly as we could, once the offer had been accepted. The effort right now is on trying to help them find these girls.”

President Barack Obama has vowed to do “everything we can” to help find the Nigerian schoolgirls.

U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT CONTRACTS FOR MAY 9, 2014

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 
CONTRACTS

NAVY

Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, Arizona, is being awarded a $30,891,282 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024 13 C-5409) for MK 698 test sets with Evolved Seasparrow Missile and Standard Missile test capability, upgrade kits, installation kits, repair tool kits, associated spares and technical support. This contract includes Foreign Military Sales to Australia and the Netherlands (100 percent). Work will be performed in Tucson, Arizona (86 percent), Australia (10 percent), and the Netherlands (4 percent), and is expected to be completed by December 2016. Fiscal 2013 other procurement, Navy, FMS and Evolved Seasparrow Missile Consortium funding in the amount of $22,515,282 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.

BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair, Norfolk, Virginia, is being awarded a $30,801,080 undefinitized contract action as a modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-10-C-4308) for USS Stout (DDG 55) fiscal 2014 selected restricted availability (SRA). An SRA includes the planning and execution of depot-level maintenance, alterations, and modifications that will update and improve the ship's military and technical capabilities. Work will be performed in Norfolk, Virginia, and is expected to be completed by October 2014. Fiscal 2014 operations & maintenance, Navy and fiscal 2014 other procurement, Navy funds in the amount of $22,463,961 are being obligated at time of award. Funds in the amount of $21,496,875 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Norfolk Ship Support Activity, Norfolk, Virginia, is the administrative contracting activity.

BAE Systems Land & Armaments, Santa Clara, California (M67854-14-C-0001), and Science Applications International Corp., McLean, Virginia (M67854-14-C-0002), are each being awarded firm-fixed-price contracts for the design and development services to improve the force protection of the Marine Corps Legacy Assault Amphibious Vehicle Personnel Carrier Variant Platform. The initial award value for both contracts is $27,796,449. These contracts include options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative estimated value to between $163,516,104 and $205,966,570 based on the contract selected for the down select option award. Work under contract M67854-14-C-0001 will be performed in York, Pennsylvania (65 percent); Santa Clara, California (30 percent); Aiken, South Carolina (4 percent); Sterling Heights, Michigan (1 percent). Work under contract M67854-14-C-0002 will be performed in Charleston, South Carolina (24 percent); Ontario, Canada (20 percent); Langley, British Columbia, Canada (15 percent); Lansing Charter Township, Michigan (7 percent); Oceanside, California (7 percent); Sterling Heights, Michigan (5 percent); Columbus, Indiana (4 percent); McLean, Virginia (3 percent); Plymouth Township, Michigan (2 percent); Benton, Arkansas (2 percent); Detroit, Michigan (2 percent); Minneapolis, Minnesota (2 percent); Chandler, Arizona (2 percent); San Diego, California (1 percent); Baltimore, Maryland (1 percent); various other locations less the one percent (3 percent). Work is expected to be completed February 2015. If all options are exercised, work for this contract is expected to be completed by September 2019. Fiscal 2013 and 2014 research, development, test and evaluation contract funds in the amount of $27,796,449 will be obligated at the time of award. Contract funds in the amount of $8,079,085 expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Federal Business Opportunities website, with four offers received. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Virginia, is the contracting activity.

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

Gaithersburg Farmers Supply Inc.,* Gaithersburg, Maryland, has been added to a series of multiple award contracts with an aggregate estimated $87,500,000 fixed-price with economic-price-adjustment contract for the procurement of commercial type agricultural equipment. This contract is being issued against solicitation SPM8EC-11-R-0008. Four contracts have previously been issued against this solicitation. This contract was a competitive acquisition with nine offers received and it is anticipated that a minimum of five awards will be made. This contract is for a term of five years and is for a portion of the total estimated $87,500,000. Locations of performance are Maryland, North Dakota, Kansas, Italy, Wisconsin, United Kingdom, France, Georgia, Japan, Korea, and Arkansas with a May 8, 2019 performance completion date. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and federal civilian agencies. Type of appropriation is fiscal year 2014 through fiscal year 2019 defense working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (SPE8EC-14-D-0017).

Burlington Apparel, Greensboro, North Carolina, has been awarded a maximum $19,500,000 modification (P00100) exercising the first option period on a one-year base contract (SPM1C1-13-D-1052) with four one-year option periods. This is a fixed-price with economic-price-adjustment contract for Army poly/wool cloth. Location of performance is North Carolina with a May 12, 2015 performance completion date. Using military service is Army. Type of appropriation is fiscal year 2014 defense working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Burlington Apparel, Greensboro, North Carolina, has been awarded a maximum $13,633,200 modification (P00100) exercising the first option period on a one-year base contract (SPM1C1-13-D-1051) with four one-year option periods. This is a fixed-price with economic-price-adjustment contract for Army poly/wool cloth. Location of performance is North Carolina with a May 12, 2015 performance completion date. Using military service is Army. Type of appropriation is fiscal year 2014 defense working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

ARMY

Northrop Grumman Enterprise Management Services, Herndon, Virginia was awarded a $24,997,000 firm-fixed-price contract to continue key and essential logistics service support requirements at the Joint Readiness Training Center, Ft. Polk, Louisiana with an expected completion date of March 14, 2014. One bid was solicited and one received. Fiscal 2014 operations and maintenance (Army) funds in the amount of $2,000,000 are being obligated at the time of the award. Army Contracting Command, Ft. Polk, Louisiana is the contracting activity (W9124E-14-C-0003).

AIR FORCE

Weldin Construction, LLC, Palmer, Alaska, has been awarded a maximum $10,000,000 modification (P00010) to firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (FA5000-10-D-0023) to exercise the fifth option year for Simplified Acquisition of Base Engineer Requirements for a broad range of maintenance, repair, and minor construction work. Work will be performed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, and is expected to be completed by May 9, 2015. Funds will be obligated on individual task orders. The 673d Contracting Squadron, Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson, Alaska, is the contracting activity.

L-3 Communications Integrated Systems, Waco, Texas, has been awarded a $7,621,505 modification (P00012) to FA8625-13-C-6597 for C-27J Australia foreign military continental United States spares support. The contract modification incorporates CONUS Spares Support functions for the Australian C-27J spares warehousing, packing, handling, shipping, transportation and item unique identification. The work will be performed at Waco, Texas, and is expected to be completed by November 2017. This modification is 100 percent FMS for Australia. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/WLJK, (C-27J Australia FMS), Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity.

*Small Business

DEFENSE SECRETARY HAGEL UNHAPPY WITH HOUSE AREMED SERVICES COMMITTEE BUDGET CHOICES

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT DEFENSE 
Hagel ‘Not Pleased’ About Budget Direction in Congress
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 9, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is not pleased about the House Armed Services Committee’s mark-up of the fiscal year 2015 Defense Department budget request, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said today.

The committee, he said, disregarded many of DOD’s recommendations, including proposing to continue funding for the A-10 Warthog and rejecting a department request to limit military pay and conduct a new round of base realignments and closures.

“Even before the threat of sequestration,” Kirby told reporters, “this department had to -- and was -- making some pretty difficult choices, as we knew we would have to when you come out of over a decade of war.”

The secretary led a budget process this year and used the Quadrennial Defense Review and codification of the new defense strategy to craft the department’s request, Kirby said. This made for tough, difficult and strategic choices that took into consideration the world today and possible future threats.

The budget as submitted calls for finding efficiencies and savings and preserving readiness, the admiral said.

“Without speaking specifically to pending legislation, [Hagel’s] hope is that the Congress will see the wisdom in the strategic choices, the hard decisions that he has made,” Kirby said. “And his expectation is that they’ll be willing to make the same ones.

“I can tell you that the secretary was certainly not pleased by the House Armed Services Committee mark-up of the budget,” Kirby continued. “He … resolutely stands by the budget that we submitted because it was strategic in tone and because it was tied to a defense strategy that made sense.”

Kirby noted the budget process is still in its early phases. A final bill will not emerge from both houses of Congress for months and could change significantly.
“The secretary certainly hopes that when it gets to the Senate and into conference, that the Congress will prove capable of seeing the wisdom, again, in the decisions that we’ve made and being willing to make those same tough choices and putting national security first over parochial interests,” he said.

PRESIDENT OBAMA MAKES REMARKS AT DNC RECEPTION IN SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA

FROM:  THE WHITE HOUSE 

Remarks by the President at DNC Reception -- San Jose, CA

Fairmont San Jose
San Jose, California
7:50 P.M. PDT
THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody!  (Applause.)  Hello, California! 
 
AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you!
 
THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back!  It is good to be back in San Jose.  (Applause.)  I think one of the times I came here I started singing the Dionne Warwick song -- did I do that?  (Laughter.)  It was pretty good. 
 
AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Do it again!
 
THE PRESIDENT:  No, I'm not going to do it tonight.  (Laughter.)  Maybe after the midterms.  Maybe I'll sing it to you separately.  (Laughter.) 
 
A couple of people I want to thank -- first of all, our outstanding co-hosts, Sam and Marissa.  Please give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  We've got your own State Assemblywoman, Nora Campos, here.  (Applause.)  Way to go, Nora! There she is.  And we have our outstanding DNC Finance Chair Henry Muñoz here.  (Applause.)  And all of you are here.  (Applause.)  Yay!
 
I am thrilled to see all of you.  Some of you are old friends who have been working with me since I was a U.S. senator and nobody could pronounce my name.  Some of you have been knowing me since I was a state senator.  (Applause.)  Exactly.  See, you’ve got an Illinois guy here.
 
AUDIENCE MEMBER:  North Side.
 
THE PRESIDENT:  We've got a Chicago guy.  All right, I can't name all the places you guys are from.  (Laughter.)  A lot of you worked on the campaign and on OFA -- (applause) -- and I couldn't be more grateful for that.  And I want to give you a little update about where we are.
 
We came into office at a time when America was in dire straits, and we have made enormous progress over the last five-something years.  We've created 9.2 million jobs.  (Applause.)  Auto industry has come roaring back.  (Applause.)  We have reduced our oil imports.  We are producing more clean energy than ever before.  We have seen college attendance go up; we've seen high school dropouts go down.  And there are millions of Americans all across the country, including right here in California, who finally have the financial and emotional security of affordable health care.  (Applause.)  That has all happened over the last five and a half years. 
 
But for all that we've done, for the war in Iraq that we've ended and the war in Afghanistan that we're bringing to an honorable close -- (applause) -- for all the work we're doing on climate change and making sure that we bequeath to our children and our grandchildren the kind of planet that allows them to thrive and prosper -- for all those efforts, we know that we've got more work to do.
 
We know that despite economic growth and close to record corporate profits, despite the fact that folks at the very top are doing better than ever, that there are too many families all across the country who are still struggling to get by, who work hard every day but have trouble making ends meet at the end of the month.  We know that people still feel insecure about their future, about the possibilities of retirement.  We know that there are folks who work hard every day and are still in poverty. We know that there are folks who work hard every day, but are still living in the shadows because of a broken immigration system.  (Applause.) 
 
We know that the investments that we need to make sure that every child in America -- not just my kid or your kid, but every child in America -- has an opportunity to get a world-class education -- that those investments have not yet been fully forthcoming.  We know that.  (Applause.)   
 
And that's why November is so important.  The Republicans who run the House of Representatives right now and want to take over the Senate --
 
AUDIENCE:  Booo --
 
THE PRESIDENT:  Don't boo --
 
AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Vote!
 
THE PRESIDENT:  -- vote!  Work!  (Applause.) 
 
But they have said no to every proposal that we know could make a difference in the lives of hardworking Americans.  They’ve said no to proposals that would rebuild our infrastructure.  They’ve said no to proposals that would increase basic research that drives the innovation that has made this region the envy of the world.  They have said no to equal pay for equal work.  In fact, they’ve denied that there’s even a problem.
 
AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Really?
 
THE PRESIDENT:  I'm just saying.  (Laughter.) 
 
They said no to increasing the minimum wage.  They’ve said no to helping kids afford college.  They even shut down the government and almost created another global financial catastrophe because they wanted to get their way.
 
Now, to be fair, they did say yes to their own budget, except when you look at the budget, what they’re saying yes to are cuts in Medicaid, cuts in education, cuts in basic research. But what they do preserve are tax breaks for folks who don't need them, that aren’t going to grow the economy. 
 
And, look, Republicans are patriots.  They love their country.  They love their families.  They want America to thrive. But they are operating on a theory that time and again has proven to be wrong. It’s a theory that says you’re on your own.  It’s a theory that says if we just reward folks at the very top, then everybody else is going to do just fine.  It’s a theory that discounts the possibility of common action in order to make sure that opportunity is real for every American, and not just some.  (Applause.)  They have a different theory about how America moves forward.  And so they just keep on offering again and again the same failed theories that have been punishing the middle class and failing America for decades now. 
 
And so, when I think about what’s at stake in this election, it’s not just a matter of a seat here or a seat there.  It’s about competing visions of how America moves forward.  And I believe that America moves forward when we recognize that we’re all in it together.  I believe in an America where we rise together, where the economy is built from the bottom up and the middle out. 
 
I believe in an America where we are investing in innovation and where, although the private sector is driving our growth, it is based on an acknowledgment that when we’ve got skilled people and we’ve got outstanding teachers, and we are honoring our researchers and our universities, that’s the dynamism that has always put us at the forefront.  That’s what’s at stake.  That’s what I believe.
 
And so the question is, what are we going to do about it in this midterm?  The choices couldn’t be clearer.  The choices could not be clearer.  As Democrats, I believe that we should be fighting for equal pay for equal work; they do not.  That’s a choice.  (Applause.)  As a Democrat, I believe that opportunity for all means that if you work full-time, you should not be in poverty.  We should increase the minimum wage.  It’s the right thing to do.  (Applause.) 
 
As a Democrat, I believe in investing in early childhood education.  We know it works.  We want to give every child the best chance possible to succeed.  (Applause.) 
They have a different view.  As a Democrat, I believe that we should make college affordable for every young person who’s got the energy and drive to succeed -- every child, not just some.  (Applause.)  They’ve got a different view.
 
So I know what we stand for.  And sometimes, I’ve got to say, that when you look at reporting of what’s happening in Washington -- and let’s face it, Washington is not working the way it’s supposed to -- then sometimes you’d get the impression that, yeah, both parties are just bickering and arguing and that’s why things don’t work. 
 
Now, I’ve got a confession to make -- the Democratic Party is not perfect.  (Laughter.)  I know that’s crazy to say at a DNC event.  (Laughter.)  But there are times where folks make mistakes.  There are some elected officials who don’t show the courage of their convictions.  There are times where I get frustrated.  And we have to be self-critical and make sure that we’re constantly asking ourselves are we serving the folks who sent us here as well as we should.  But on the big issues, on our core convictions, we’re on the right side of the issues.  (Applause.) 
 
On immigration, we believe in comprehensive immigration reform that gives people a chance and that would improve our economy.  (Applause.)  On climate change, we believe in science
-- (applause) -- and we think it’s important for us to take action, and that if we invest in clean energy, we can create jobs and opportunity here in the United States at the same time as we’re making sure that we’ve got an environment that is what we want for our children and our grandchildren.  We're on the right side of that.  The other side isn't.  That's just the bottom line.
 
AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Amen.
 
THE PRESIDENT:  When it comes to education, when it comes to the minimum wage, when it comes to equal pay, when it comes to making investments in infrastructure, when it comes to basic research -- when it comes to the things that would help drive this economy right now, we're on the right side of the issues.  And the reason that we've got gridlock right now is you’ve got another party that has been captured by folks who are on the wrong side of the issue.
 
Now, that's on inevitable.  I come from Illinois -- (laughter) -- and that’s the Land of Lincoln, a great Republican President.  Those of you who care about the environment -- probably our greatest environmental President -- Teddy Roosevelt, Republican.  So it's not inevitable, this does not have to be how it is.  But it is how it is right now.  And if we are serious about solving the problems that matter for future generations, if we are serious about making sure that there are good jobs out there that pay a living wage, if we’re serious about fixing a broken immigration system, if we are serious about investing in our schools, if we are serious about making college affordable, if we are serious about making sure that our veterans are properly cared for -- (applause) -- if we are serious about a clean-energy economy, if we’re serious about innovation, then we’ve got to fix Congress. 
 
And the way we’re going to fix Congress is not just to get cynical and sit back and complain and grouse and say, a plague on both your houses.  The way to fix Congress is to take a look at who stands for the things you care about and who doesn’t, and get the folks who don’t out of the way so we can make progress in America.  And that’s what this midterm election is all about.  (Applause.)
 
I mean, what exactly are the plans of the other side right now?
 
AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Nothing!
 
THE PRESIDENT:  No, that’s not true.  They’ve got one plan. They’ve taken 50 votes to repeal Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, and I guess they’re going to try to take 50 more -- because that’s all they talk about.  And let me tell you something. You’ve got 8 million people who signed up on these exchanges, you’ve got millions more who are benefiting from expanded Medicaid.  (Applause.)  You’ve got 3 million young people who are able to stay on their parents' plan.  Millions of people across the country --
 
AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Need it.
 
THE PRESIDENT:  -- are better off.  I meet them every day.  And I can’t explain to you why it is that they are so obsessed with making sure those folks don’t have health insurance.  But we’re on the right side of history on that issue.  (Applause.)  And if that’s all they’ve got -– if that’s all they’ve got, then they shouldn’t be running either chamber.  They shouldn’t be running the House and they sure should not be running the Senate. And they sure shouldn’t be making appointments to the Supreme Court.
 
AUDIENCE:  No!
 
THE PRESIDENT:  And they shouldn’t be blocking mine.  (Applause.)   
 
Now, I know I’m preaching to the choir.  (Laughter.)  But we’re just kind of getting started here on this campaign season and I want to kind of get us warmed up.  You’ve got to get the vocal chords are working.  (Laughter.) 
 
There’s one problem we’ve got.  Our problem is not that the public doesn’t agree with us.  If you look on the issues that we’re fighting for, the majority of the American public is on our side.  The majority believes in raising the minimum wage.  The majority of Americans believe in equal pay for equal work.  The majority of Americans want to see us invest in education and job training and apprenticeships.  The majority of Americans think we should be putting people back to work rebuilding our infrastructure.  A majority of Americans think that it’s the right thing to do to develop a clean-energy economy.  A majority of Americans want immigration reform.  So what’s the problem?
 
AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Not voting.
 
THE PRESIDENT:  Say that again.
 
AUDIENCE MEMBER:  They’re not voting!
 
THE PRESIDENT:  They’re not voting.  And in particular, Democrats have a congenital defect when it comes to our politics, and that is we like voting during presidential years and during the midterms we don’t vote.  And so you already have lower voting totals during the midterms, and it’s our folks that stay home.
  
And maybe in normal times that’s okay -- although I don’t think it’s ever okay for us not to vote.  But in this midterm, with the stakes as high as they are, with the progress that needs to be made, with families out there who are desperate to see a Washington that is on their side -- we’re going to have to make sure that we are coming out with the same urgency and the same enthusiasm that we typically show during presidential years.  (Applause.)  That’s what we’re going to need.
 
And that’s where all of you come in.  It’s not enough that you’re going to vote.  You’re going to have to grab your mom, dad, cousins, uncles, co-workers, friends, family, and you are going to have to explain to them the stakes involved in this election. 
 
And that’s what the DNC is about.  The contributions you make today are to ensure that we’ve got the infrastructure, the architecture, so that an army of young people and not-so-young people but young at heart, young in spirit are out there working in precincts and in neighborhoods, delivering a message about what the stakes are in this election and making sure that people know they need to come out and vote.
 
Now, I know that we live in a time where cynicism too often passes off as wisdom.  And this country has been through a lot over these last five years.  But I want to close by just letting you know this:  I travel around the world a lot; I study global trends; I speak to world leaders and prominent businesses who operate in every corner of the Earth.  And I will tell you that the assessment outside of the United States is that we’ve got all the best cards.  We still have the most innovative, dynamic economy in the world.  We still have the best universities in the world.  We still have the most productive workers in the world. 
 
We have this incredible opportunity to develop a clean energy economy -- even as traditional sources of energy, we’ve got more than most advanced countries.  We have this incredible vibrancy that is on display right here in this community -- people from all around the world coming here, hungry, striving, ready to innovate.  There’s no other country that looks like us. It’s a huge gift.  The problem is that we’ll waste that gift if we don’t make the right choices. 
 
So what I want everybody to know is, is that for all the challenges we have and for all the legitimate reasons why people get discouraged, our future is bright if we make the right choices.  Our future is bright if people shake off whatever is holding them back and they go to the polls.  Our future is bright if people understand the stakes involved.  Our future is bright if you and I, we’re all out there working together to make sure that folks know that the decisions we make right now are going to matter to that young man and that young lady, and our kids and our grandkids.  And we don’t have time to wait.
 
So I don’t have patience for cynicism right now.  I think it’s too easy.  I think it’s an excuse.  The future is there for us to seize -- but we’ve got to seize it.  And if we do, then we guarantee you --
 
AUDIENCE MEMBER:  President Obama!  Freedom for Ethiopia!  Freedom!  Freedom for Ethiopia, sir!
 
THE PRESIDENT:  Hold on.  I agree with you, although why don’t I talk about it later because I’m just about to finish.  (Laughter.)  You and me, we’ll talk about it.  I’m going to be coming around.
 
AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible)--
 
THE PRESIDENT:  There you go.
AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible) --
 
THE PRESIDENT:  I agree with you.
 
AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible.)
 
THE PRESIDENT:  I want to hear from you.
 
AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you!
 
THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back.  You kind of screwed up my ending, but that’s okay.  (Laughter and applause.)  That’s okay. And we’ve got free speech in this country -- (applause) -- which is great, too.
 
So, bottom line is this -- bottom line is this:  This is not the end; this is just the beginning.  I’m going to need every one of you to sign up to make sure that you are going to continue to work with the DNC.  I am going to be, I guarantee you, back in California sometime before November.  (Applause.)  And when I come back, I expect everybody here to report back to me that you have been out there working to make sure that we are having a Democratic Senate and a Democratic House.  (Applause.) 
 
Are you with me?  (Applause.)  Are you fired up?  (Applause.)  You ready to go?  (Applause.)
 
Thank you very much, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless America.  Thank you.  (Applause.)
 
END
8:12 P.M. PDT

NASA STUDIES THE BIRTH OF STAR CLUSTERS

FROM:  NASA 

Stars are often born in clusters, in giant clouds of gas and dust. Astronomers have studied two star clusters using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and infrared telescopes and the results show that the simplest ideas for the birth of these clusters cannot work, as described in our latest press release.

This composite image shows one of the clusters, NGC 2024, which is found in the center of the so-called Flame Nebula about 1,400 light years from Earth. In this image, X-rays from Chandra are seen as purple, while infrared data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope are colored red, green, and blue. A study of NGC 2024 and the Orion Nebula Cluster, another region where many stars are forming, suggest that the stars on the outskirts of these clusters are older than those in the central regions. This is different from what the simplest idea of star formation predicts, where stars are born first in the center of a collapsing cloud of gas and dust when the density is large enough. The research team developed a two-step process to make this discovery. First, they used Chandra data on the brightness of the stars in X-rays to determine their masses. Next, they found out how bright these stars were in infrared light using data from Spitzer, the 2MASS telescope, and the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope. By combining this information with theoretical models, the ages of the stars throughout the two clusters could be estimated. According to the new results, the stars at the center of NGC 2024 were about 200,000 years old while those on the outskirts were about 1.5 million years in age. In Orion, the age spread went from 1.2 million years in the middle of the cluster to nearly 2 million years for the stars toward the edges. Explanations for the new findings can be grouped into three broad categories. The first is that star formation is continuing to occur in the inner regions. This could have happened because the gas in the outer regions of a star-forming cloud is thinner and more diffuse than in the inner regions. Over time, if the density falls below a threshold value where it can no longer collapse to form stars, star formation will cease in the outer regions, whereas stars will continue to form in the inner regions, leading to a concentration of younger stars there. Another suggestion is that old stars have had more time to drift away from the center of the cluster, or be kicked outward by interactions with other stars. Finally, the observations could be explained if young stars are formed in massive filaments of gas that fall toward the center of the cluster.

The combination of X-rays from Chandra and infrared data is very powerful for studying populations of young stars in this way. With telescopes that detect visible light, many stars are obscured by dust and gas in these star-forming regions, as shown in this optical image of the region. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass., controls Chandra's science and flight operations. Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/PSU/K.Getman, E.Feigelson, M.Kuhn & the MYStIX team; Infrared:NASA/JPL-Caltech.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE TO OCPW MAKES STATEMENT TO EXECUTIVE COUNCIL MEETING ON SYRIAN CHEMICAL WEAPONS

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT

Statement to the Fortieth Meeting of the Executive Council

Remarks
Robert P. Mikulak
U.S. Permanent Representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons 
United States Delegation to the Executive Council
The Hague, Netherlands
May 8, 2014


Mr. Chairman, Mr. Director-General, distinguished delegates,

Last Tuesday many of us gathered a few meters away from this meeting room to observe the Annual Remembrance Day for Victims of Chemical Warfare. It is equally fitting that we meet here today, and as many times as it takes, to ensure that there are no more victims of chemical warfare in Syria, and that the Syrian chemical weapons program is completely and irreversibly eliminated as soon as possible.

The U.S. delegation recognizes the accomplishment of having 92 percent of the declared stockpile removed from Syria. But we also share the strong concern and growing disappointment of many delegations here with the reality that 100 metric tons of chemicals remain in Syria. The 27 metric tons of sarin precursor remaining would be enough to conduct scores of sarin attacks against civilians on the scale of the August 21, 2013, attack. We also are very concerned that the physical destruction of twelve chemical weapons production facilities declared by the regime has not yet begun.

The responsibility to complete the removal and to start destroying those facilities resides solely with Syria. The OPCW as a whole, as well as the United States and other OPCW member states, has undertaken extraordinary efforts to assist Syria. There are steps that Syria could be taking right now to prepare for the final chemical removal operation. While we note news that Syria is “considering positively” taking some steps, it has not yet taken them. The regime's performance -- insufficient and late steps for completing removals, and refusal to negotiate on a destruction plan for its chemical weapons production facilities that meets treaty standards -- is contrary to its obligations as set forth in numerous Executive Council decisions and UN Security Council Resolution 2118.

Furthermore, outstanding questions about the completeness and accuracy of the Syrian declaration are not yet resolved. Tragically, there are several recent credible allegations that chlorine gas was used repeatedly as a chemical weapon. And videos posted on the Internet appear to indicate the use of chlorine gas -- a World War I chemical weapon that inspired the movement to ban all chemical weapons -- in barrel bombs dropped from regime helicopters.

Mr. Chairman,

The OPCW fact-finding team must meaningfully address all credible allegations of the use of chlorine as a chemical weapon in Syria. The Executive Council decision of 27 September 2013 is crystal clear in providing the OPCW fact-finding team with the immediate and unfettered right to inspect any and all sites in Syria. Consistent with this decision, and with UN Security Council Resolution 2118, the United States calls upon all parties in Syria to cooperate fully with the fact-finding team and provide OPCW personnel with immediate and unfettered access to all sites where there are credible allegations that toxic chemicals have been used as a chemical weapon. They must also allow immediate and unfettered access to individuals whom the OPCW has grounds to believe are of importance to this mandate. Just as the world investigated the use of sarin against opposition neighborhoods of Damascus on August 21, 2013, the world must look into allegations of the use of chlorine gas against opposition villages in the north as well. The United States strongly supports the Director-General’s action to send a team to determine the facts, and we look forward to hearing the results and will be ready to consider any appropriate next steps.

At the same time, the regime must immediately take steps to transport the remaining one hundred metric tons of Priority 1 and Priority 2 chemicals to the port of Latakia. As both the UN Secretary General and the OPCW-UN Joint Mission have made clear, the security situation is cause to complete the removal more rapidly, not more slowly. It is Syria's responsibility to find ways to deliver these final materials to Latakia as rapidly as possible.

At the 29 April meeting of this Council, the United States underscored the importance, as a matter of good faith, of "the need to see immediate and tangible signs that Syria intends to transport, in the very near future, the remaining chemicals from the last site." They should have included such steps as: on-site destruction of the remaining isopropanol; pre-positioning transport equipment; decanting chemicals; packing and site preparations; and maintaining readiness at the port of Latakia to receive the chemicals. It has been almost ten days and the regime has undertaken almost none of these actions despite an active airfield in the immediate proximity that could be used to deliver the material necessary to prepare the chemicals for ground transportation. We need to see immediate action.

Mr. Chairman,

My delegation is ready today, as we have been for weeks, to engage in technical discussions to resolve the concerns that we -- as well as others -- have about Syria's approach to the destruction of its chemical weapons production facilities. However, the Syrian delegation has refused to discuss technical matters with the international community. In fact, Syria seems to consider its destruction plan as a "take-it-or-leave it" document. No questions, no changes. For good reason, under the Chemical Weapons Convention, it is the Council's prerogative to decide if a destruction plan is satisfactory. We are not satisfied with the Syrian plan because we do not believe it meets the Convention's requirements, and we share the concerns expressed by other members of the Council in this regard.

The current situation on this issue, in which Syria refuses to discuss its plan, is highly regrettable and contrary to the spirit of the OPCW. The Council has no hope of ever reaching consensus if Syria refuses even to discuss differences. As a result of Syrian refusal to negotiate directly, the only communication is taking place through the good offices of the Technical Secretariat, which is endeavoring to facilitate an approach that can achieve consensus. But ultimately the member states of the Executive Council must agree to the approach on destruction. The U.S. delegation welcomes the Director-General's efforts to overcome differences on this issue and is cooperating fully with him.

Destruction of chemical weapons production facilities is an essential aspect of the elimination of Syria's chemical weapons program. The United States wants to see the destruction accomplished without further delay. Our delegation does not have an inflexible approach and wants to find practical solutions that are consistent with CWC requirements, but we cannot do so if Syria refuses to discuss our questions and refuses to negotiate. We do believe that destruction of hangars could begin soon, while efforts to try to resolve issues regarding the tunnels could be accomplished in parallel. But recognizing Syria's position that there must instead be a package solution, we are also prepared to work hard to find such a solution. We hope that, with the help of the Technical Secretariat and with Syrian cooperation, this Council can find a mutually acceptable approach.

Mr. Chairman,

My statement today has focused on three issues that are most in need of immediate action by Syria. There is another issue that is also very important – resolution of discrepancies in the Syrian declaration. The Director-General has taken a first step that is consistent with UNSCR 2118, the Executive Council decisions and the Chemical Weapons Convention. The United States supports what he has undertaken and looks forward to learning the results so that we can consider appropriate next steps. This issue may take some time to resolve and this Council must continue to pursue it diligently.

Mr. Chairman,

In closing, let me remind the members of this Council that every step Syria has taken toward the elimination of its chemical weapons program has been the result of international pressure, not because of Syria's moral abhorrence to chemical weapons. We must, both as a Council and as the international community, remain steadfast about Syria's obligations until all remaining declared 100 metric tons of chemicals are removed, until the accuracy of Syria's declaration is fully verified, until the chemical weapons production facilities are destroyed, and until all the facts are brought to light regarding the recent allegations of use.

I request that this statement be considered an official document of this meeting of the Council and that it be posted on the OPCW's public website and external server.

U.S. CONGRATULATES PEOPLE OF THE EUROPEAN UNION ON EUROPE DAY

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 

On the Occasion of Europe Day

Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
May 8, 2014




On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of the European Union as you celebrate Europe Day on May 9.

Sixty-four years ago, Robert Schuman declared that a united Europe was indispensable to the maintenance of world peace. His vision continues to inspire us to join with our European partners in shaping a future worthy of our historic past.

When Europe negotiated the Treaty of Rome, the United States welcomed its contribution to the welfare of the entire free world. In 1992, when the European Community succeeded in creating a single market, U.S. companies invested – in droves. With the birth of the European Union, we worked together in a truly historic partnership to promote democracy, advance world trade, confront global challenges, and build new bridges across the Atlantic. We have supported EU efforts to jump-start growth in the Euro-zone and shore up European energy security. We continue to negotiate and remain laser focused on achieving an ambitious, comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. T-TIP will deepen our transatlantic economic partnership, increase economic well being on both sides of the Atlantic, and establish a way of doing business that can serve as the global gold standard.
Today, the United States and an expanded European Union are working together to defend and advance the values history has shown make all nations stronger: human rights, rule of law, and prosperity for our people and citizens around the world. Just this week, I met with EU High Representative Catherine Ashton during her visit to Washington. We had a wide ranging discussion on our shared strategy of using the tools of diplomacy to reduce the conflicts that are threatening Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and other parts of the world, including our work together in support of the people of Ukraine’s right to choose their own future. I thanked her for the tremendous cooperation between the EU and the United States.

We look back in pride on the miles we’ve traveled together. Yet we must also look forward to the challenges that lie ahead. We stand by our eastern partners in their sovereign right to choose their political and economic associations, and chart their own futures. And once again, our strength will come from our unity. As President Obama reaffirmed in Brussels, following the 2014 U.S.-EU Summit, “Europe, including the European Union, is the cornerstone of our engagement around the globe. We are more secure and more prosperous – the world is safer and more just – when Europe and America stand as one.”

On this Europe Day, the United States remains steadfast in our commitment to working side by side with our European partners and friends to advance peace and prosperity around the world, and to supporting the EU’s vision for a united, peaceful, stable, and democratic Europe.


AG HOLDER, EDUCATION SECRETARY DUNCAN ISSUE GUIDANCE ON EQUAL ACCESS TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT 
Thursday, May 8, 2014
Attorney General Holder and Secretary Duncan Issue Guidance for School Districts to Ensure Equal Access for All Children to Public Schools, Regardless of Immigration Status

WASHINGTON—Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary Arne Duncan today announced updated guidance to assist public elementary and secondary schools to ensure enrollment processes are consistent with the law and fulfill their obligation to provide all children –  no matter their background –  equal access to an education.

In 2011, the Departments of Justice and Education issued guidance to help schools understand their responsibilities under the Supreme Court’s decision in Plyler v. Doe and federal civil rights laws to provide all children with equal access to an education regardless of their or their parents’ immigration status. Today, the departments are issuing important updates to that guidance, including examples of permissible enrollment practices, as well as examples of the types of information that may not be used as a basis for denying a student entrance to school.  

The updated guidance documents— including a guidance letter to states and school districts and a fact sheet and Q and A document—emphasize the need for flexibility in accepting documents from parents to prove a child’s age and to show that a child resides within a school’s attendance area.  They also provide specific examples of the types of documents that many schools have accepted.  And the guidance documents remind schools that they may not require certain documents – such as a parent’s state-issued driver’s license – where such a requirement would prevent a student from enrolling because of his or her parent’s immigration status.

“Public school districts have an obligation to enroll students regardless of immigration status and without discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.  “The Justice Department will do everything it can to make sure schools meet this obligation.  We will vigilantly enforce the law to ensure the schoolhouse door remains open to all.”

“We want to be sure every school leader understands the legal requirements under the Constitution and federal laws, and it is our hope that this update will address some of the misperceptions out there,” said Secretary Arne Duncan.  “The message here is clear: let all children who live in your district enroll in your public schools.”

In the three years since the guidance was initially issued in 2011, the departments have worked collaboratively with states and school districts across the country to meet their obligations under Plyler and federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin.

The important changes announced today will provide districts with the additional tools and practical guidance needed to make sure the schoolhouse door is open to all students and that undocumented children and children from immigrant families no longer face barriers to enrollment in school and starting down the path to a better future.


FORMER VIRGINS ISLANDS LEGISLATURE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR CHARGED WITH BRIBERY, EXTORTION

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT 
Thursday, May 8, 2014
Former Executive Director of Virgin Islands Legislature Charged with Bribery and Extortion in Award of Government Contracts

The former e xecutive director of the Legislature of the Virgin Islands was indicted today by a federal grand jury in the Virgin Islands for accepting bribes and engaging in extortion in the award of contracts with the Legislature, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Ronald W. Sharpe for the District of the Virgin Islands.

The indictment charges Louis “Lolo” Willis, 56, of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, with three counts of federal programs bribery and three counts of extortion under color of official right.

According to the indictment, Willis was the executive director of the Legislature between 2009 and 2012.  One of his responsibilities included oversight of the renovation of the Legislature building, which included awarding and entering into contracts on behalf of the Legislature.   These contracts included contracts for general construction, air-conditioning services and carpentry, which were not publicly bid.  Willis was also responsible for paying the contractors for their work.   As alleged in the indictment, Willis accepted payments, including, among other things, thousands of dollars in cash, from three contractors in exchange for using his official position to secure contracting work for the contractors and to ensure they received payment upon completion.

An indictment is merely an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s San Juan Division, the Office of the Virgin Islands Inspector General and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation.   The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Peter Mason and Jennifer Blackwell of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and First Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Anderson of the District of the Virgin Islands.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

U.S. FILES COMPLAINT UNDER FALSE CLAIMS AGAINST COLLEGE FOR ILLEGAL RECRUITING

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT 
Thursday, May 8, 2014
United States Files Complaint Against Stevens-Henager College, Inc. Alleging False Claims Act Violations for Illegal Recruiting

The United States has filed a complaint under the False Claims Act against Stevens-Henager College, Inc. and its owner, The Center for Excellence in Higher Education, for illegally compensating recruiters, the Department of Justice announced today.  Stevens-Henager operates a chain of for-profit colleges in Idaho and Utah.

“Congress has made clear that colleges should not pay improper incentives to admissions recruiters,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division Stuart F. Delery.  “The Department of Justice and the Department of Education are working together to combat unlawful recruitment practices that can harm students and result in the waste of taxpayer funds.”

In its complaint, the government alleged that the college falsely certified compliance with provisions of federal law that prohibit a university from paying incentive-based compensation to its admissions recruiters based on the number of students they recruit.  Congress enacted the prohibition on such incentive compensation to curtail the enrollment of unqualified students, high student loan default rates, and the waste of student loans and grant funds.

The claims alleged by the United States were initiated by a whistleblower lawsuit filed by two former Stevens-Henager employees under the False Claims Act, which allows private citizens to file suit over false claims on behalf of the government.  The act provides for the recovery of triple damages and penalties, and allows the government to intervene and take over the allegations, as it has done in this case.  The whistleblower is entitled to a share of any recovery obtained in the lawsuit.

“Fighting fraud and protecting federal tax dollars from abuse is a priority for this office,” said U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson for the District of Idaho. “The False Claims Act is an important tool for doing just that. Whistleblowers are necessary to our ongoing efforts to combat fraud, waste and abuse.”

This matter was investigated by the Commercial Litigation Branch of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Idaho, and the Department of Education, Office of Inspector General.  The case is captioned United States ex rel. Brooks v. Stevens-Henager College, Inc., et al., Case No. 1:13-CV-00009-BLW (D. Id.).  The claims asserted are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.

PRESIDENT OBAMA'S MESSAGE TO CONGRESS ON NUCLEAR ENERGY COOPERATION BETWEEN U.S.-VIETNAM

FROM:  THE WHITE HOUSE

Message to the Congress -- Transmitting the Agreement for Cooperation Between the US and Vietnam on the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy

TO THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES:

I am pleased to transmit to the Congress, pursuant to sections 123 b. and 123 d. of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended (42 U.S.C. 2153(b), (d)) (the "Act"), the text of a proposed Agreement for Cooperation between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam Concerning Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy (the "Agreement"). I am also pleased to transmit my written approval, authorization, and determination concerning the Agreement, and an unclassified Nuclear Proliferation Assessment Statement (NPAS) concerning the Agreement. (In accordance with section 123 of the Act, as amended by title XII of the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-277), a classified annex to the NPAS, prepared by the Secretary of State in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence, summarizing relevant classified information, will be submitted to the Congress separately.) The joint memorandum submitted to me by the Secretaries of State and Energy and a letter from the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission stating the views of the Commission are also enclosed. An addendum to the NPAS containing a comprehensive analysis of Vietnam's export control system with respect to nuclear-related matters, including interactions with other countries of proliferation concern and the actual or suspected nuclear, dual-use, or missile-related transfers to such countries, pursuant to section 102A of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 403-1), as amended, is being submitted separately by the Director of National Intelligence.
The proposed Agreement has been negotiated in accordance with the Act and other applicable law. In my judgment, it meets all applicable statutory requirements and will advance the nonproliferation and other foreign policy interests of the United States.
The proposed Agreement provides a comprehensive framework for peaceful nuclear cooperation with Vietnam based on a mutual commitment to nuclear nonproliferation. Vietnam has affirmed that it does not intend to seek to acquire sensitive fuel cycle capabilities, but instead will rely upon the international market in order to ensure a reliable nuclear fuel supply for Vietnam. This political commitment by Vietnam has been reaffirmed in the preamble of the proposed Agreement. The Agreement also contains a legally binding provision that prohibits Vietnam from enriching or reprocessing U.S.-origin material without U.S. consent.
The proposed Agreement will have an initial term of 30 years from the date of its entry into force, and will continue in force thereafter for additional periods of 5 years each. Either party may terminate the Agreement on 6 months'advance written notice at the end of the initial 30 year term or at the end of any subsequent 5-year period. Additionally, either party may terminate the Agreement on 1 year's written notice. I recognize the importance of executive branch consultations with the Congress regarding the status of the Agreement prior to the end of the 30-year period after entry into force and prior to the end of each 5-year period thereafter. To that end, it is my strong recommendation that future administrations conduct such consultations with the appropriate congressional committees at the appropriate times.
The proposed Agreement permits the transfer of information, material, equipment (including reactors), and components for nuclear research and nuclear power production. It does not permit transfers of Restricted Data, sensitive nuclear technology, sensitive nuclear facilities, or major critical components of such facilities. In the event of termination of the Agreement, key nonproliferation conditions and controls continue with respect to material, equipment, and components subject to the Agreement.
Vietnam is a non-nuclear-weapon state party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Vietnam has in force a comprehensive safeguards agreement and an Additional Protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Vietnam is a party to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, which establishes international standards of physical protection for the use, storage, and transport of nuclear material, and has ratified the 2005 Amendment to the Convention. A more detailed discussion of Vietnam's intended civil nuclear program and its nuclear nonproliferation policies and practices, including its nuclear export policies and practices, is provided in the NPAS and in a classified annex to the NPAS submitted to you separately. As noted above, the Director of National Intelligence will provide an addendum to the NPAS containing a comprehensive analysis of Vietnam's export control system with respect to nuclear-related matters.
I have considered the views and recommendations of the interested departments and agencies in reviewing the proposed Agreement and have determined that its performance will promote, and will not constitute an unreasonable risk to, the common defense and security. Accordingly, I have approved the Agreement and authorized its execution and urge that the Congress give it favorable consideration.
This transmission shall constitute a submittal for purposes of both sections 123 b. and 123 d. of the Act. My Administration is prepared to begin immediately the consultations with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee as provided for in section 123 b. Upon completion of the 30 days of continuous session review provided for in section 123 b., the 60 days of continuous session review provided for in section 123 d. shall commence.
BARACK OBAMA