Search This Blog

Translate

White House.gov Press Office Feed

Saturday, October 11, 2014

U.S. CONGRATULATES PEOPLE OF SPAIN ON THEIR NATIONAL DAY

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
On the Occasion of Spain's National Day
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
October 11, 2014

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Spain as they celebrate La Fiesta Nacional de España on October 12.

Spain and the United States are united by history and common values. I’ll never forget my first visit to Spain – and to Pamplona for the Running of the Bulls – while I was in college with friends road-tripping our way through Europe. And as Secretary last year, I was honored to host Foreign Minister Garcia-Margallo in Washington to discuss our shared security and prosperity and to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Ponce de Leon’s landing in Florida.

For more than two centuries, the United States and Spain have worked for international cooperation, peace and security, and economic prosperity. I look forward to our continued partnership as we advance our shared values in both of our nations and throughout the global community.

I wish you a joyous celebration as you observe La Fiesta Nacional de España.

ACTING AG DELERY MAKES REMARKS REGARDING EXTENDICARE FALSE CLAIMS ACT CASE

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT
Acting Associate Attorney General Stuart F. Delery Delivers Remarks at Press Conference Announcing False Claims Act Resolution with Extendicare
Washington, DCUnited States ~ Friday, October 10, 2014
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Good morning and thank you all for being here today.  I am pleased to be joined by Joyce Branda, the Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division, as well as Gregory Demske, the Chief Counsel to the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services.

Protecting this nation’s vulnerable populations – including our seniors – has been, and continues to be, one of this department’s highest priorities.  As more and more seniors rely on nursing homes for care, it becomes increasingly important for us to ensure that they receive the services they need.

Today, we are here to announce that Extendicare Health Services – one of the nation’s largest nursing home chains with 146 facilities in 11 states – has agreed to pay $38 million to resolve allegations that certain of its facilities billed the Medicare and Medicaid programs for nursing care services that were so grossly substandard as to be effectively worthless, while also billing Medicare for medically unreasonable and unnecessary rehabilitation therapy services.  This is the largest False Claims Act settlement the department has entered with a nursing home chain involving “failure of care” allegations.

As part of this historic resolution, Extendicare will also enter into a five year chain-wide corporate integrity agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services.  This agreement will contain innovative staffing requirements intended to ensure that this type of misconduct will not happen again.

This significant resolution reflects a convergence of two of the department’s highest priorities.

First, today’s settlement reflects the department’s commitment to protecting the nation’s elderly and most vulnerable citizens from all forms of abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.  Under this administration, the department has redoubled its efforts in the elder justice arena by funding innovative research, developing training materials for elder abuse prosecutors and legal services lawyers; and by raising public awareness.  In fact, just last month, the department launched its Elder Justice Website, a tremendous resource for prosecutors, practitioners, and most importantly, elder abuse victims and their families.  

Second, today’s settlement reflects the department’s commitment to combatting health care fraud.  Given the growing Medicare eligible population, we must make every effort to protect Medicare funds from fraud, waste, and abuse.  Since the Attorney General and the Secretary for Health and Human Services launched the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team initiative in 2009, the department has recovered over $14 billion in cases involving fraud against federal healthcare programs.   The department has aggressively pursued healthcare fraud against virtually every type of healthcare provider and supplier, including hospitals, physicians, hospice providers, and pharmaceutical and device manufacturers.  Today’s settlement with Extendicare is an example of this initiative in action.

Taken as a whole, today’s resolution represents an important achievement on both those fronts.  Our seniors rely on the Medicare and Medicaid programs to provide them with quality care, dignity and respect when they are most vulnerable.  It is, therefore, critically important that we hold accountable those healthcare providers, including nursing home operators, who put their own economic gain over the needs of their residents.

We will pursue with equal vigor those who bill Medicare and Medicaid while failing to provide beneficiaries with the nursing care to which they are entitled and those who provide medically unnecessary services in order to maximize their Medicare billings.  Both of these schemes are forms of elder financial exploitation. Neither will be tolerated by this department.



Finally, before I turn things over to Acting Assistant Attorney General Joyce Branda, I wanted to commend the excellent work of the Extendicare team.  Given the scope of the allegations at issue, the investigation was conducted jointly by the Department of Justice’s Civil Division, several U.S. Attorney’s Offices, agents and attorneys from the HHS Office of Inspector General, as well as attorneys and agents from the Medicaid Fraud Control Units of several states.  This settlement, and the underlying investigation, is a compelling example of how federal and state law enforcement can work effectively together and of what we can achieve when we do so.  I am pleased that we are joined here today by representatives of those offices.

With that, I’m happy to introduce Joyce Branda, the Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division, who will discuss the Extendicare settlement in more detail.

BOEING RESOLVES FALSE CLAIMS ALLEGATIONS BY PAYING $23 MILLION

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT
Friday, October 10, 2014
Boeing Pays $23 Million to Resolve False Claims Act Allegations

The Boeing Company paid $23 million to resolve allegations that it submitted false claims for labor charges on maintenance contracts with the U.S. Air Force for the C-17 Globemaster aircraft, the Justice Department announced today.  Boeing, an aerospace and defense industry giant, is headquartered in Chicago.

“Today’s settlement demonstrates that the Justice Department vigilantly ensures that companies meet their contractual obligations and charge the government appropriately,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Joyce R. Branda for the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “Government contractors who seek illegal profit at the expense of taxpayers will face serious consequences.”

The government alleged that Boeing improperly charged labor costs under contracts with the Air Force for the maintenance and repair of C-17 Globemaster aircraft at Boeing’s Aerospace Support Center in San Antonio, Texas.  The C-17 Globemaster aircraft, which is both manufactured and maintained by Boeing, is one of the military’s major systems for transporting troops and cargo throughout the world.  The government alleged that the company knowingly and improperly billed a variety of labor costs in violation of applicable contract requirements, including for time its mechanics spent at meetings not directly related to the contracts.

“Defense contractors are required to obey strict accounting standards when submitting billing for work performed on government contracts,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman for the Western District of Texas.  “The pursuit and favorable settlement of this civil litigation was the result of effective teamwork between the Justice Department and the investigative agencies.”

The settlement resolves allegations originally brought in a lawsuit by present and former Boeing employees Clinton Craddock, Fred Van Shoubrouek, Anthony Rico and Fernando de la Garza in federal court in San Antonio under the False Claims Act.  The act permits private parties to sue for false claims on behalf of the United States and to share in any recovery.  The individuals who filed the suit will receive $3,910,000 as their share of the settlement.

The settlement was the result of a coordinated effort by the Civil Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, the Defense Contract Audit Agency and the Defense Contract Management Agency.

The case is United States ex rel. Craddock v. Boeing, Case No. SA-07-CA-0880FB (W.D. Tex.).  The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability.

Weekly Address: America Is a Place Where Hard Work Should Be Rewarded

The President Holds a Town Hall at Cross Campus

DOD NEWS NOW VIDEO: 1100 OCTOBER 10, 2014

video

FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION VIDEO: DEALING WITH DEBT COLLECTORS

BROWN DOG AND THE UNSTRUCTURED WEB

FROM:  NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION 
Brown Dog: A search engine for the other 99 percent (of data)
Illinois-led team develops tools to search the unstructured Web

We've all experienced the frustration of trying to access information on websites, only to find that we can't open the files.

"The information age has made it easy for anyone to create and share vast amounts of digital data, including unstructured collections of images, video and audio as well as documents and spreadsheets," said Kenton McHenry, who along with Jong Lee lead the Image and Spatial Data Analysis division at the National Center for Supercomputing Application (NCSA). "But the ability to search and use the contents of digital data has become exponentially more difficult."

That's because digital data is often trapped in outdated, difficult-to-read file formats and because metadata--the critical data about the data, such as when and how and by whom it was produced--is nonexistent.

Led by McHenry, a team at NCSA is working to change that. Recipients in 2013 of a $10 million, five-year award from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the team is developing software that allows researchers to manage and make sense of vast amounts of digital scientific data that is currently trapped in outdated file formats.

The NCSA team, in partnership with faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Boston University and the University of Maryland, recently demonstrated two services to make the contents of uncurated data collections accessible.

The first service, the Data Access Proxy (DAP), transforms unreadable files into readable ones by linking together a series of computing and translational operations behind the scenes.

Similar to an Internet gateway, the configuration of the Data Access Proxy would be entered into a user's machine settings and then forgotten. From then on, data requests over HTTP would first be examined by the proxy to determine if the native file format is readable on the client device. If not, the DAP would be called in the background to convert the file into the best possible format readable by the client machine.

In a demonstration at the Brown Dog Early User Workshop in July 2014, McHenry showed off the tool's ability to turn obscure file formats into ones that are more easily viewable. [Watch a video of the demo.]

The second tool, the Data Tilling Service (DTS), lets individuals search collections of data, possibly using an existing file to discover other similar files in the data. Once the machine and browser settings are configured, a search field will be appended to the browser where example files can be dropped in by the user. Doing so triggers the DTS to search the contents of all the files on a given site that are similar to the one provided by the user.

For example, while browsing an online image collection, a user could drop an image of three people into the search field, and the DTS would return images in the collection that also contain three people. If the DTS encounters a file format it is unable to parse, it will use the Data Access Proxy to make the file accessible.

The Data Tilling Service will also perform general indexing of the data and extract and append metadata to files to give users a sense of the type of data they are encountering.

McHenry likens these two services to the Domain Name Service (DNS), which makes the Internet humanly navigable by translating domain names, like CNN.com, into the numerical IP addresses needed to locate computer devices and services and the information they provide.

"The two services we're developing are like a DNS for data, translating inaccessible uncurated data into information," he said. According to IDC, a research firm, up to 90 percent of big data is "dark," meaning the contents of such files cannot be easily accessed.

Rather than starting from scratch and constructing a single all-encompassing piece of software, the NCSA team is building on previous software development work. The project aims to potentially bring together every possible source of automated help already in existence. By patching together such components, they plan to make Brown Dog the "super mutt" of software.

This effort is in line with the Data Infrastructure Building Blocks (DIBBS) program at NSF, which supports the development of McHenry's software. DIBBS aims to improve data science by supporting the development of the tools, technologies and community knowledge required to rapidly advance the field.

"Brown Dog today is developing a 'time machine' set of cyberinfrastructure tools, software and services that respond to the long-standing aspiration of many scientific, research and educational communities to effectively access, share and apply digital data and information originating in diverse sources and legacy environments in order to advance contemporary science, research and education," said Robert Chadduck, the program director at NSF who oversees the award.

Projects supported by DIBBS involve collaborations between computer scientists and researchers in other fields. The initial collaborators for the Brown Dog software were researchers in geoscience, biology, engineering and social science.

Brown Dog co-principal investigator Praveen Kumar, a professor in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the director of the NSF-supported Critical Zone Observatory for Intensively Managed Landscapes is developing ways to exploit Brown Dog for the analysis of LIDAR data. He hopes to characterize landscape features for the study of human impact in the critical zone.

"These technologies will enable rapid investigation of large high-resolution datasets in conjunction with other data such as photographs and ground measurements for modeling and cross comparison across study sites," Kumar said.

McHenry is also a team member on a new DIBBS project that applies some of the insights from his work to data-driven discovery in materials science.

Brown Dog isn't only useful for searching the Deep Web, either. McHenry says the Brown Dog software suite could one day be used to help individuals manage their ever-growing collections of photos, videos and unstructured/uncurated data on the Web.

"Being at the University of Illinois and NCSA many of us strive to create something that will live on to have the broad impact that the NCSA Mosaic Web browser did," McHenry said, referring to the world's first Web browser, which was developed at NCSA. "It is our hope that Brown Dog will serve as the beginnings of yet another such indispensible component for the Internet of tomorrow."

-- Aaron Dubrow, NSF
Investigators
Jong Lee
Praveen Kumar
Kenton McHenry
Michael Dietze
Barbara Minsker
Related Institutions/Organizations
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

DOD VIDEO: ABOUT 100 MARINES ARRIVE IN LIBERIA TO SUPPORT CONTAINMENT OF EBOLA OUTBREAK

video

EXPORT-IMPORT BANK TOUTS $675 MILLION GENERATED FOR TAXPAYERS IN 2014

FROM:  U.S. EXPORT-IMPORT BANK 
Ex-Im Bank Announces $675 Million Generated For Taxpayers in FY 2014

Washington, DC – The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) today announced it has transferred $675 million in deficit-reducing receipts to the U.S. Treasury's General Fund for fiscal year 2014. Ex-Im Bank supports U.S. jobs and equips U.S. exporters to compete on a level global playing field by financing the export of American goods and services when the private sector is unable or unwilling to do so. For its insurance, loan guarantee, and loan programs, Ex-Im Bank charges fees and interest, and the amount transferred represents what Ex-Im Bank earned in excess of its operating costs.

Ex-Im Bank is a self-sustaining federal agency, meaning it covers its own congressionally-determined appropriation. Over the last two decades, Ex-Im Bank has generated a surplus of more than $7 billion for U.S. taxpayers.

“The mission of the Export-Import Bank is to support job growth, strengthen communities, and empower U.S. businesses to sell more made-in-America products overseas," said Ex-Im Bank Chairman and President Fred P. Hochberg. “American businesses produce some of the highest quality, most innovative goods and services in the world—that we are able to support them while also helping to reduce the deficit is a bonus for taxpayers, and a testament to the hard work and risk management efforts of Ex-Im Bank’s staff.”

SECRETARY KERRY MAKES REMARKS WITH UK FOREIGN SECRETARY HAMMOND

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
Remarks With UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond
Remarks
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Wind Technology Testing Center
Boston,, Massachusetts
October 9, 2014

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you. Thank you all. Thank you very much. Thank you very, very much. Thank you. Good morning, everybody. First of all, there is nothing better than being home in Boston on a beautiful October day. The only thing that is missing, the Red Sox are not in the playoffs, not this time. Foreign Secretary Hammond, I want to share with you the four most important words in Boston sports are, “Just wait till next year.” (Laughter.) We’ll be back.

It’s very special for me to be back here for a lot of different reasons, and Deval, our superb governor, just hit on some of them. But since I’ve been privileged to be Secretary of State, I’ve now had occasion to travel and be either in the trail of or in the company of Deval Patrick. And we went to Panama together for the inauguration of the new president, and the reason Deval was there is he has been totally focused on jobs and opportunities for Massachusetts and for the United States, and he’s been a terrific ambassador in that cause. And I’m not at all surprised to hear that he has just come back from a clean energy conference in London, because as governor, he has made absolutely certain that Massachusetts is leading the way with respect to clean energy, future energy, renewable alternative, and together, with states like California, we really are setting the trend.

I might also point out the fact, which I’m very proud of as a Massachusetts citizen, that the governor has set the next big step of helping to move us forward by setting the goal for ending all reliance on conventional coal generation in the next four years, and that is something I don’t believe any other sitting governor in the United States has had the foresight to do. So Governor, thank you very, very much for that. (Applause.)

I also want to thank Massachusetts’s terrific Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Maeve Bartlett for her great work to help make Massachusetts more energy-efficient and the most energy-efficient state in the nation. As the governor just mentioned, not once, not twice, but for the third straight year in a row, we are leading the nation in energy efficiency, and I’m proud of that. I also want to brag on her brother for a minute. Those of you who don’t know it, but Maeve is the youngest sister of one of my oldest friends in politics and life, and a great citizen of our state, Tommy Vallely, and we will not hold that against you, Maeve. (Laughter.)

I want to also thank Alicia Barton, the CEO of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, and Rahul Yarala, executive director of the Wind Technology Testing Center, for showing us this remarkable facility here today. And most of all, I want to express a very warm Massachusetts welcome to our guest, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond. We’re really happy to have you here today. We’re grateful for your leadership, and I’ll say a little more about that, but thanks so much for being with us here. And Mr. Ambassador, Madam Consul General, thank you for being here with us too.

It was in a time of war and a time of challenge when exactly 70 years ago this year, Sir Winston Churchill first talked about the special relationship between the United States and Great Britain. And his deep conviction expressed then that unless we always kept the United States and the United Kingdom together in that special relationship untold destruction would be the result. Well, seven decades later, our two countries are confronting real danger together, taking it on, stopping it, and ultimately, we will defeat it – not just on the battlefield against ISIL, but we’re also together confronting what is a “gathering storm” of this century. The gathering storm that Sir Winston also warned about. And there is no element of that gathering storm more critical than climate change.

Together, both of our countries recognize that never before has a threat like climate change found in its solution such a level of opportunity – the opportunity to unleash the clean-energy economy that will get us out of this mess but also take us forward towards a safer, more sustainable future.

Now I know that climate change to some people can just seem like a very distant, future prospect, maybe even a future challenge. That’s dangerous, falling prey to that perception, because it’s not. And it would be very dangerous to lull ourselves into believing that you can wait with respect to any of the things that we need to do to meet this challenge.

Climate change is already impacting the world in very real and significant ways. This past August was the hottest August the planet has ever seen in recorded history. And each year of the last ten years, a decade, has been measured as being hotter than the last with one or two variations of which year followed which, but as a decade the hottest in our recorded history.

There are now – right now – serious food shortages taking place in places like Central America because regions are battling the worst droughts in decades, not 100-year events in terms of floods, in terms of fires, in terms of droughts – 500-year events, something unheard of in our measurement of weather.

Scientists now predict that with glaciers and melting of the ice at the current rates, the sea could rise now a full meter in this century. A meter might not seem like a whole lot, but let me tell you, think about it just in terms of Boston. It would mean about $100 billion worth of damage to buildings, to emergency costs, and so on.

And thinking about climate change as some distant challenge is dangerous for other reasons too. We still have in our hands a window of opportunity to be able to make the difference. We don’t have to face a future in which we’re unable to talk about anything except adaptation or mitigation, already present in our planning. But the window is closing quickly. That’s not a threat; that’s a fact. If all of us around the world do not move to push back against the current trend line of what is happening in climate change, we will literally lose any chance of staving off this threat.

The good news is that we actually know exactly how to do it. This is not a challenge which has no solution. This is not a challenge that’s out of our reach. The solution is staring us in the face. It’s very simple: clean energy. The solution to climate change is energy policy. And the best news of all is that investing in clean-energy economy doesn’t just mitigate the impacts of climate change and make our communities cleaner and healthier. It actually also reinvigorates our economies and creates millions of good jobs around the world.

Let me just share with you something. We in Massachusetts ought to be particularly tuned into this. In the 1990s, America created more wealth than at any other time in our history, more even than the famous 1920s and ’30s, when people read about the history of the Carnegies and the Mellons and the Rockefellers and the Fricks and so forth. We created greater wealth in the 1990s in America than we did when we had no income tax in the 1920s.

And the truth is that that came about as a $1 trillion market with 1 billion users – remember the one for one – in technology, in personal computers, in communications. And guess what? Every single quintile of income earner in America saw their incomes go up. Everybody did better. Well, the energy market that we are looking at today, in a nation that doesn’t even have a national grid, a nation that has an east coast grid, a west coast grid, a Texas grid, and a line that goes from Chicago out into the west towards Dakotas – that’s it. We have a huge, gaping hole in the middle of America. We can’t take energy from solar thermal in the Four Corners down there by New Mexico and Colorado and California and bring it to the northeast where we need it. We can’t take energy from those wind farms of Minnesota or Wisconsin or Iowa and sell it south, or our wind ultimately from Cape Wind because we don’t have a transmission system.

Guess what? $1 billion of investment in infrastructure is somewhere between 27,000 and 35,000 jobs. And if we were to do what we know we need to do to build the energy future of this country, we’ll put millions of people to work, and here’s the kicker: The market we’re looking at is a $6 trillion market with four to five billion users today, climbing to a potential 9 billion users by the year 2050. It is literally the mother of all markets. Governor Patrick understands that. Massachusetts has understood that. But we have not yet been able to translate that into our national policy.

So once again, I’m proud Massachusetts is setting the trend. Massachusetts is leading by example. And that’s why many in the United States and the UK who are leading by example. And as the governor said, we’re a little behind them in terms of some of the things we ought to be doing, behind Europe in some respects. But in the United States we’re now targeting emissions from transportation and power sources, which are 60 percent of dangerous greenhouse gases. And at the same time, we bumped our solar energy production on a national basis by ten times and we’ve upped our wind energy production on a national basis by more than threefold thanks in large part to facilities just like this one.

So because of the steps that we’re now taking, we’re in a position to put twice as many people to work in the energy sector, nearly double the amount of people currently employed by oil and gas industry. This is the future. It’s already a $10 billion chunk of the Massachusetts economy and growing; 90,000 – almost 100,000 – people employed here in Massachusetts; 6,000 companies statewide are defining this future. And the Massachusetts wind testing center that we’re in now helps ensure that the global wind power industry is deploying the most effective land-based offshore wind turbine technologies to be used around the world.

This is global, what’s happening here, and that’s why Philip Hammond and I wanted to come here today, to underscore not just to Massachusetts but to America and to the world what these possibilities are. And the fact is that there is a lab not unlike this, a Narec blade testing facility in the United Kingdom city of Blyth. So we share this vision in very real ways.

I’d just say to all of you here that people need to feel the pressure from you. You all know what politics is about. I’m not in it now, but I’m dependent on it to help make the right decisions so that we move in the right direction. A clean energy future is not a fantasy. Changing course and avoiding the worst impacts of climate change is not a fantasy. And supporting healthier communities and ecosystems and driving economic growth and job creation – none of that is a fantasy. And for those people who still stand in the way, for those people who even still today want to try to question whether or not their science is effective or not, I’d just ask you – ask a simple question: If we’re wrong about this future, what’s the worst that could happen to us for making these choices?

The worst that could happen to us is we create a whole lot of new jobs, we kick our economies into gear, we have healthier people, healthier children because we have cleaner air, we live up to our environmental responsibility, we become truly energy independent, and our security is stronger and greater and sustainable as a result. That’s the worst that happens to us.

What happens if they’re wrong? (Applause.) If they’re wrong – catastrophe. Life as you know it on Earth ends. Seven degrees increase Fahrenheit, and we can’t sustain crops, water, life under those circumstances.

So I know, with Philip Hammond and I and President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron and a whole bunch of leaders around the world know, we need to go to Lima, Peru this year and we need to push forward on an agreement, and next year in Paris we need to reach an agreement where we live up to our responsibility to future generations and make all the difference in the world.

I am proud that we have a great colleague to help us in this fight, an individual who understands the security connection of this better than most because he just finished serving as the Secretary for Defense in Great Britain and was transferred into this role as the Foreign Secretary for Great Britain.

So will you please welcome a terrific partner, a great colleague in this endeavor, Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary of Great Britain. (Applause.)

FOREIGN SECRETARY HAMMOND: Well, thank you, John, for that introduction, and one of the great things about having just been Secretary of State for Defense is that I’m quite used to speaking in aircraft hangars, which have vaguely similar acoustics to this room today. John, it’s a huge privilege to be here, to be invited to visit your hometown. Thank you for that. Thank you for the things that you’ve shown me today. And thank you to our hosts for hosting this event in this world class facility. It’s a fascinating snapshot of the degree of global collaboration that is going on as the green energy business develops on a worldwide basis.

I know that we’re looking at a facility here that is testing blades made in Europe, in China, in Brazil, as well as in North America. And nothing could more encapsulate the global nature of the challenge and the global nature of the response to that challenge. This is a city with a worldwide reputation not only as a seat of learning, but also as a hub for cutting-edge technology, and it’s been a great pleasure to see some of that here today.

Those of you who are working in the low-carbon energy sector know that you are generating jobs and investment for the long term. But above all, you know that you’re in the front line in the battle against climate change. Secretary Kerry, the governor, and I are in complete agreement that this is a battle that we have to win for the sake of our long-term security. When we think about keeping our nation safe, we have to plan for the worst-case scenarios, and Secretary Kerry just spelled out in very, very graphic terms how that equation works. We have to take the precautionary principle, we have to plan for the worst possible outcome, and we have to protect future generations from the impacts of those.

In the case of unchecked climate change, even the most likely scenario could have catastrophic consequences: a rise in global temperature similar to the difference between the last ice age and today, leading to rising sea levels, huge movements of people fueling conflict and instability around the world, pressure on resources, and a multitude of new risks to global public health. The worst case is even more severe: a drastic change in our environment that could see heat stress in some areas surpass the limits of human tolerance, leaving as the legacy of our generation an unimaginably different and more dangerous world for our children and our grandchildren.

So we have to act on climate change, but by doing so we will not just protect the future from the worst effects of climate change; we will bring tangible benefits to our people here and now. We’ll get cleaner air, more efficient transport, better cities, better health. And more than that, the technological transformation that is required will provide a greater stimulus than the space program did 50 years ago, generating massive new opportunities for innovation, jobs, and economic growth.

For too long this debate has been dominated by purists and idealists, people who are happy with the notion that we would have to sacrifice economic growth to meet the climate challenge. I think you’ve heard from all three of us on this platform this morning that we reject that choice. We do not accept that we have to choose between our prosperity and the future of our planet. Indeed, we are demonstrating across the world – here in Massachusetts, in the UK – we are demonstrating that the response to climate change can be a generator of economic growth, innovation, and quality jobs.

In the UK, 92 percent of business leaders think that green growth is an opportunity for their own businesses. Demand for green goods and services is growing faster both here and in Europe than the general economy is growing. Globally, as Secretary Kerry has said, the green economy will be worth over $6 trillion by 2030, and it’s expanding all the time.

But the full range of benefits is beyond our ability to estimate. The dividends of technology are often unpredicted and unpredictable. The potential is immense. And by seizing the initiative now, we can take first-mover advantage.

Moreover, in addition to creating jobs and growth, embracing green technology increases our energy security. At a time of international turbulence, this is an advantage we should not underestimate. And we in Europe, facing Russian energy bullying on a grand scale as we approach the winter, understand that better than most people. ISIL’s assault on Iraq poses another serious threat to our energy security, which could have knock-on effects in global energy markets and the prices that we pay at the pump.

Here in the U.S., the shale revolution has eased worries about dependence on overseas oil and gas, and in the UK we are committed to exploiting the potential of shale as part of our energy mix. But over the longer term, renewable energy sources, like those being developed and tested here, will be critical to reducing our vulnerability to energy supply shocks.

So the benefits of addressing climate change are multiple, but it will not happen by itself. It requires leadership, leadership that is now, some would say, at last beginning to take shape. Britain is leading by enacting into our domestic law the most demanding emissions targets in the industrialized world. We’ve already reduced emissions by more than a quarter, putting us on track for an 80 percent reduction in emissions by 2050. We have the world’s leading carbon-trading center in London, and we’ve established the world’s first green investment bank.

Here on this side of the Atlantic, Boston is leading with its innovative technology. Northeastern states collectively are leading with their Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Other states, from Iowa to Texas to California, are leading in their separate ways. And John, if I may say so, you are leading with your tireless diplomacy on this issue.

The U.S. has begun to take on the leadership role, which, as the world’s biggest economy, is essential if we are going to make progress globally. And there are signs that these efforts are inspiring others to follow, with positive steps from China, from India, from Brazil. This is a momentum that we have to harness and increase if we are to secure an effective global climate deal in Paris next year. And I look forward to working with Secretary Kerry and our partners in the European Union in order to bring that about.

But it isn’t just about governments and diplomacy. Scientists and universities are shaping the debate. Ordinary people and civil society are helping to keep this issue in the spotlight through actions like the Climate March a few weeks ago, but also through their own individual choices as consumers, which in turn drives the vital role that businesses have to play, shaping their investment, channeling innovation to support the fight against climate change.

Both here and – in the U.S. and in the UK, business is at the heart of our approach. We will get this job done by going with the grain, by using the power of the market, by creating the necessary incentives and structures to mobilize the creativity of private businesses to respond to the challenges of climate change. It is a complex task, but as Secretary Kerry said, it is not rocket science; it is something that we know how to do, we just have to put our shoulders to the wheel and get it done.

Fifty years ago, the U.S. showed us how a strategic challenge – putting a man on the moon – could guarantee innovation through economy-transforming investments. Today, we have an opportunity to do that again in response to the challenge of climate change. If we are to achieve our common goal of limiting climate to two degrees Celsius, we need everyone to play their part. It is clear that we have no time to lose.

Secretary Kerry just repeated his oft-repeated remark, that the window of time is still open for us to be able to manage this threat. But as he, himself, observed, that window is fast beginning to close.

To counter the threat and to seize the opportunity that rising to the challenge of climate change represents we have to act now. And by acting now, we will not only maximize our changes of avoiding catastrophic climate change, we will increase our resilience and create huge new opportunities for growth and innovation in all our economies. That is what I call a true win-win situation. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

Friday, October 10, 2014

AG HOLDER'S STATEMENT ON COURT RULING AGAINST TEXAS VOTER ID LAW

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT 
Thursday, October 9, 2014
Attorney General Holder Statement on Federal Court Ruling Against Texas Voter Identification Law

Attorney General Eric Holder released the following statement late Thursday after a federal district court ruled in favor of the Justice Department's lawsuit against Texas' voter identification law:

"We are extremely heartened by the court's decision, which affirms our position that the Texas voter identification law unfairly and unnecessarily restricts access to the franchise. Even after the Voting Rights Act was seriously eroded last year, we vowed to continue enforcing the remaining portions of that statute as aggressively as possible. This ruling is an important vindication of those efforts.

"We are also pleased that the Supreme Court has refused to allow Wisconsin to implement its own restrictive voter identification law.

"This Department will never yield in its commitment to protecting that most sacred of Americans' rights - the right to vote."

NSF ON THE BRAIN AT REST

FROM:  NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION 
What happens to your brain when your mind is at rest?
Kavli Prize winner recognized as pioneer in research in the development and use of brain imaging techniques

For many years, the focus of brain mapping was to examine changes in the brain that occur when people are attentively engaged in an activity. No one spent much time thinking about what happens to the brain when people are doing very little.

But Marcus Raichle, a professor of radiology, neurology, neurobiology and biomedical engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, has done just that. In the 1990s, he and his colleagues made a pivotal discovery by revealing how a specific area of the brain responds to down time.

"A great deal of meaningful activity is occurring in the brain when a person is sitting back and doing nothing at all," says Raichle, who has been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences in the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences. "It turns out that when your mind is at rest, dispersed brain areas are chattering away to one another."

The results of these discoveries now are integral to studies of brain function in health and disease worldwide. In fact, Raichle and his colleagues have found that these areas of rest in the brain--the ones that ultimately became the focus of their work--often are among the first affected by Alzheimer's disease, a finding that ultimately could help in early detection of this disorder and a much greater understanding of the nature of the disease itself.

For his pioneering research, Raichle this year was among those chosen to receive the prestigious Kavli Prize, awarded by The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. It consists of a cash award of $1 million, which he will share with two other Kavli recipients in the field of neuroscience.

His discovery was a near accident, actually what he calls "pure serendipity." Raichle, like others in the field at the time, was involved in brain imaging, looking for increases in brain activity associated with different tasks, for example language response.

In order to conduct such tests, scientists first needed to establish a baseline for comparison purposes which typically complements the task under study by including all aspects of the task, other than just the one of interest.

"For example, a control task for reading words aloud might be simply viewing them passively," he says.

In the Raichle laboratory, they routinely required subjects to look at a blank screen. When comparing this simple baseline to the task state, Raichle noticed something.

"We didn't specify that you clear your mind, we just asked subjects to rest quietly and don't fall asleep," he recalls. "I don't remember the day I bothered to look at what was happening in the brain when subjects moved from this simple resting state to engagement in an attention demanding task that might be more involved than simply increases in brain activity associated with the task.

"When I did so, I observed that while brain activity in some parts of the brain increased as expected, there were other areas that actually decreased their activity as if they had been more active in the 'resting state,"' he adds. "Because these decreases in brain activity were so dramatic and unexpected, I got into the habit of looking for them in all of our experiments. Their consistency both in terms of where they occurred and the frequency of their occurrence--that is, almost always--really got my attention. I wasn't sure what was going on at first but it was just too consistent to not be real."

These observations ultimately produced ground-breaking work that led to the concept of a default mode of brain function, including the discovery of a unique fronto-parietal network in the brain. It has come to be known as the default mode network, whose regions are more active when the brain is not actively engaged in a novel, attention-demanding task.

"Basically we described a core system of the brain never seen before," he says. "This core system within the brain's two great hemispheres increasingly appears to be playing a central role in how the brain organizes its ongoing activities"

The discovery of the brain's default mode caused Raichle and his colleagues to reconsider the idea that the brain uses more energy when engaged in an attention-demanding task. Measurements of brain metabolism with PET (positron emission tomography) and data culled from the literature led them to conclude that the brain is a very expensive organ, accounting for about 20 percent of the body's energy consumption in an adult human, yet accounting for only 2 percent of the body weight.

"The changes in activity associated with the performance of virtually any type of task add little to the overall cost of brain function," he continues. "This has initiated a paradigm shift in brain research that has moved increasingly to studies of the brain's intrinsic activity, that is, its default mode of functioning."

Raichle, whose work on the role of this intrinsic brain activity on facets of consciousness was supported by NSF, is also known for his research in developing and using imaging techniques, such as positron emission tomography, to identify specific areas of the brain involved in seeing, hearing, reading, memory and emotion.

In addition, his team studied chemical receptors in the brain, the physiology of major depression and anxiety, and has evaluated patients at risk for stroke. Currently, he is completing research studying what happens to the brain under anesthesia.

"The brain is capable of so many things, even when you are not conscious," Raichle says. "If you are unconscious, the organization of the brain is maintained, but it is not the same as being awake."

-- Marlene Cimons, National Science Foundation
Investigators
Marcus Raichle
Related Institutions/Organizations
Washington University School of Medicine

2ND VP OF EQUATORIAL GUINEA TO GIVE UP OVER $30 MILLION OF ASSETS PURCHASED WITH CORRUPTION MONEY

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT 
Friday, October 10, 2014
Second Vice President of Equatorial Guinea Agrees to Relinquish More Than $30 Million of Assets Purchased with Corruption Proceeds

The Department of Justice has reached a settlement of its civil forfeiture cases against assets in the United States owned by the Second Vice President of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue that he purchased with the proceeds of corruption.    

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Acting Director Thomas S. Winkowski of U.S. Immigration and Customs and Enforcement made the announcement after the settlement was signed and lodged with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

“Through relentless embezzlement and extortion, Vice President Nguema Obiang shamelessly looted his government and shook down businesses in his country to support his lavish lifestyle, while many of his fellow citizens lived in extreme poverty,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “After raking in millions in bribes and kickbacks, Nguema Obiang embarked on a corruption-fueled spending spree in the United States.  This settlement forces Nguema Obiang to relinquish assets worth an estimated $30 million, and prevents Nguema Obiang from hiding other stolen money in the United States, fulfilling the goals of our Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative: to deny safe haven to the proceeds of large-scale foreign official corruption and recover those funds for the people harmed by the abuse of office.”

“While this settlement is certainly gratifying for the many investigators and prosecutors who worked tirelessly to bring it to fruition, it is undoubtedly even more rewarding for the people of Equatorial Guinea, knowing that at least some of the money plundered from their country’s coffers is being returned to them,” said Acting ICE Director Winkowski.  “ICE remains steadfast in its resolve to combat foreign corruption when the spoils of these crimes come to our shores and we are committed to seeking justice and compensation for the often impoverished victims.”

According to court documents, Nguema Obiang, the son of Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, received an official government salary of less than $100,000 but used his position and influence as a government minister to amass more than $300 million worth of assets through corruption and money laundering, in violation of both Equatoguinean and U.S. law.  Through intermediaries and corporate entities, Nguema Obiang acquired numerous assets in the United States that he is agreeing to relinquish in a combination of forfeiture and divestment to a charity for the benefit of the people of Equatorial Guinea.

Under the terms of the settlement, Nguema Obiang must sell a $30 million mansion located in Malibu, California, a Ferrari automobile and various items of Michael Jackson memorabilia purchased with the proceeds of corruption.  Of those proceeds, $20 million will be given to a charitable organization to be used for the benefit of the people of Equatorial Guinea.  Another $10.3 million will be forfeited to the United States and will be used for the benefit of the people of Equatorial Guinea to the extent permitted by law.

Under the agreement, Nguema Obiang must also disclose and remove other assets he owns in the United States.  Nguema Obiang must also make a $1 million payment to the United States, representing the value of Michael Jackson memorabilia already removed from the United States for disbursement to the charitable organization.  The agreement also provides that if certain of Nguema Obiang’s other assets, including a Gulfstream Jet, are ever brought into the United States, they are subject to seizure and forfeiture.

Next week, the parties will request that the court enter appropriate orders to implement and enforce this agreement.

This case was brought under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative by a team of dedicated prosecutors in the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, working in partnership with federal law enforcement agencies to forfeit the proceeds of foreign official corruption and, where appropriate, return those proceeds to benefit the people harmed by these acts of corruption and abuse of office.

The investigation was conducted by ICE, Homeland Security Investigation’s (HSI) Foreign Corruption Investigations Group and the HSI Asset Identification and Removal Group in Miami, with the assistance of the HSI Office of the Special Agent in Charge for Los Angeles, the HSI Attaché Office in Rome, HSI Attaché Office in Madrid, HSI Attaché Office in London and the HSI Attaché Office in Paris.  HSI established the FCIG in 2003 to conduct investigations into the laundering of proceeds emanating from foreign public corruption, bribery and embezzlement. The cases are worked jointly with representatives of the victimized foreign governments. The FCIG’s goal is to prevent foreign-derived, ill-gotten gains from entering the U.S. financial infrastructure; to seize assets identified in the U.S.; and to repatriate these funds to the victimized governments. Since the initiative’s launch, HSI has effected 220 seizures involving more than $146 million worth of property and assets.

The case was handled by Trial Attorneys Woo S. Lee, Stephen A. Gibbons, and Della G. Sentilles and Assistant Deputy Chief Daniel Claman of the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, with substantial assistance from Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Welk of the Central District of California.  The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs also provided significant assistance

The department appreciates the extensive assistance provided by the Government of France in this investigation and prosecution.

VIEW OF A SPACEWALK AT THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION

FROM:  NASA 


Caption By NASA.  On Oct. 7, NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman (pictured here) and European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst completed the first of three spacewalks for the Expedition 41 crew aboard the International Space Station. The spacewalkers worked outside the space station's Quest airlock for 6 hours and 13 minutes, relocating a failed cooling pump to external stowage and installing gear that provides back up power to external robotics equipment. Flight Engineer Barry Wilmore of NASA operated the Canadian robotic arm, maneuvered Gerst during the course of the spacewalk and served as the spacewalk coordinator. A second U.S. spacewalk is set for Oct. 15. Wilmore will don a U.S. spacesuit and follow Wiseman outside the Quest airlock for a 6-1/2 hour excursion. Gerst will serve as the spacewalk choreographer. The goal of the excursion is to replace a failed voltage regulator component on the starboard truss of the station. They will also move external camera equipment in advance of a major reconfiguration of station modules next year for the arrival of new docking adapters for commercial crew vehicles. Image Credit: NASA/ESA/Alexander Gerst.

NASA VIDEO: TOUR OF RX J1131-1231

SOME E*TRADE SUBSIDIARIES IN TROUBLE OVER ALLEGED UNREGISTERED SALES OF MICROCAP STOCKS

FROM:  U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION 

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced an enforcement action against current and former brokerage subsidiaries of E*TRADE Financial Corporation that failed in their gatekeeper roles and improperly engaged in unregistered sales of microcap stocks on behalf of their customers.

An SEC investigation found that E*TRADE Securities and E*TRADE Capital Markets sold billions of penny stock shares for customers during a four-year period while ignoring red flags that the offerings were being conducted without an applicable exemption from the registration provisions of the federal securities laws.  E*TRADE Securities remains an E*TRADE subsidiary while E*TRADE Capital Markets was sold earlier this year and is now called G1 Execution Services.

E*TRADE Securities and G1 Execution Services agreed to settle the SEC’s charges by paying back more than $1.5 million in disgorgement and prejudgment interest from commissions they earned on the improper sales.  They also must pay a combined penalty of $1 million.

In addition to the enforcement action, the SEC staff today published a Risk Alert and FAQs to remind broker-dealers of their obligations when they engage in unregistered transactions on behalf of their customers.

“Broker-dealers serve an important gatekeeping function that helps prevent microcap fraud by taking measures to ensure that unregistered shares don’t reach the market if the registration rules aren’t being followed,” said Andrew J. Ceresney, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.  “Many billions of unregistered shares passed through gates that E*TRADE should have closed, and we will hold firms accountable when improper trading occurs on their watch.”

According to the SEC’s order instituting a settled administrative proceeding, the failures by E*TRADE occurred periodically from March 2007 to April 2011.  The securities laws generally require all offers and sales of securities to be registered with the SEC unless those offers and sales qualify for an exemption.  When brokers facilitate an unregistered sales transaction on behalf of a customer, they must reasonably ensure that an exemption does indeed apply.

The SEC’s order finds that three customers of E*TRADE routinely deposited to their E*TRADE accounts large quantities of newly issued penny stocks they had acquired through private, unregistered transactions with little-known, non-reporting issuers.  The customers claimed that these penny stocks were “freely tradable” and they placed orders for E*TRADE to sell the securities to the public through “resales” without any registration statements in effect.  Following the resales, the customers immediately wired the sales proceeds out of their accounts.

According to the SEC’s order, E*TRADE encountered numerous red flags indicating potential improper sales of securities.  Nevertheless, the firm relied on a registration exemption for broker-dealers that permits them to execute a customer’s unregistered sales of securities if, after a reasonable inquiry, the broker-dealer is not aware of circumstances indicating that the customer is violating registration requirements.  E*TRADE initially failed to identify any exemptions potentially available to these customers.  When it later identified the purported exemptions upon which the customers claimed to be relying, E*TRADE failed to perform a searching inquiry to be reasonably certain that such exemptions applied for each unregistered sale executed by the three customers.

“E*TRADE failed to fulfill its obligation to determine whether any exemptions applied to  the sale of billions of shares of securities thereby depriving investors of critical protections under the federal securities laws,” said Stephen L. Cohen, Associate Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.  “Firms must take their reasonable inquiry obligations seriously and do more than check the box, particularly when red flags are apparent.”

The SEC’s order finds that E*TRADE Securities and G1 Execution Services violated Sections 5(a) and 5(c) of the Securities Act of 1933.  In addition to the monetary sanctions and without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, the two firms agreed to be censured and consented to the order requiring them to cease and desist from committing or causing any future violations of the registration provisions of the Securities Act.  

The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Deborah R. Maisel and Richard E. Johnston with assistance from Kyle DeYoung.  The case was supervised by Jennifer S. Leete.

SECRETARY KERRY MAKES REMARKS WITH HAITIAN PRIME MINISTER LAURENT LAMOTHE

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
Remarks With Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe Before Their Meeting
Remarks
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
October 9, 2014

SECRETARY KERRY: Good afternoon, everybody. Thank you for joining us for a minute. I’m very happy to welcome the Prime Minister of Haiti Laurent Lamothe here to Washington. And in doing so I welcome a good friend, a good partner in the major efforts to meet the challenges of Haiti, which are significant because of the devastating earthquake and some of the needs to push for political reform. The government has worked hard and we have worked hard and the international community has worked hard to make a difference to the lives of the people of Haiti.

I have many Haitians who live in Massachusetts that I was proud to represent as a United States senator for many years, and so I would always hear very personal stories of the challenges in Haiti. And we have a deep interest in the United States in helping to continue down this road of both democracy and economic growth and development.

There is work to be done, and particularly, as we know, there is the challenge of completing the task of having local and legislative elections as soon as possible, being able to set the date and hold those elections to complete the task of Haiti’s transition. Unfortunately, that is being blocked now politically. I spoke with President Martelly just the other day about this, and we intend to try to work very closely to move forward. This resistance – the unwillingness to allow the people to be able to have this vote – really challenges the overall growth and development progress of the country. You need to have a fully functioning government. The president has been working very hard, the prime minister working very, very hard, to pull people together to make this happen.

So we’ll talk about that today and we have very, very high hopes that we can make progress with respect to that, because that will facilitate our ability to continue the progress and complete the task of helping the people of Haiti to have the day-to-day lives they deserve and want, and which we want for them.

So Mr. Prime Minister, welcome. Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER LAMOTHE: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.

I want to thank Secretary Kerry for having us today. It’s a great pleasure and honor to be here. It’s my second visit. I used to be foreign minister here – of Haiti, so I’m very, very happy to be able to discuss Haiti’s progress. We came a long way after a devastating earthquake that took away 250,000 lives, 500,000 people were wounded. The country had $14 billion in damages. And 50 percent of the population of Port-au-Prince was homeless. That’s the situation we found.

Today, 98 percent of that population has been relocated. The country is progressing very much, and that’s thanks very much to the U.S. support of Haiti’s growth, Haiti’s progress. We have a thriving industrial park in the northern part of Haiti.

Haiti has tremendous challenges ahead of it. We have the elections that we have to organize, and like the Secretary said, we’re working very hard to organize those elections as soon as possible. We have the energy security that we wanted to address, and the rule of law and security in general.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Secretary Kerry for the time, and also all the leadership that you’ve shown in the Ebola, I would say, mobilization of the world. And Haiti stands by your side in order to assist in any little way that we can in this effort that affects all of us.

Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, sir.

QUESTION: Mr. Prime – Mr. Prime Minister --

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

QUESTION: Mr. Prime Minister, so can you confirm that the elections won’t take place as scheduled on October 26th and that you will have to postpone them?

PRIME MINISTER LAMOTHE: All – everything is ready for the election to take place. We have the financing that’s in place. The electoral council is in place. We have the security plan that’s in place. We’re missing one thing, which is the electoral law, and the electoral law has to be voted by the senate. And at this moment, there is six senators who’ve been sitting on the law for the past 200 days, seven months. So we are working feverishly in a dialogue with different sectors to try to get them to vote that law in order for us to have elections as soon as possible. But if it was up to us, we would have it tomorrow.

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

FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA SPEAKS AT THE FASHION EDUCATION WORKSHOP

40-COUNT SUPERSEDING INDICTMENT RETURNED AGAINST ALLEGED RUSSIAN CYBER-CRIMINAL

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT 
Thursday, October 9, 2014
Alleged Russian Cyber-Criminal Now Charged in 40-Count Superseding Indictment

A federal grand jury in Seattle returned a second superseding indictment late yesterday charging a Russian national with 11 additional counts and further detailing his alleged scheme to hack into businesses and steal credit card information for later sale over the Internet on “carding” websites.

The now 40-count indictment alleges that Roman Valerevich Seleznev, aka “Track2,” 30, of Vladivostok, Russia, was involved in the theft and sale of more than 2 million credit card numbers.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes of the Western District of Washington made the announcement.

“The additions in this superseding indictment show how cybercriminals use the Internet not only to infiltrate and steal sensitive data, but also to teach other criminals how to navigate the credit-card selling underworld and get equipment that can be used to defraud U.S. citizens,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “The Criminal Division is committed to investigating these thefts and uncovering the methods of computer hackers to stay one step ahead of them and bring them to face justice.”

“The charges returned by the grand jury detail a criminal scheme that continued right up until Mr. Seleznev’s arrest in July,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Hayes.  “As set forth in the indictment, the government expects to prove at trial that Seleznev was a leader in the marketplace for stolen credit card numbers, and even created a website offering a tutorial on how to use stolen credit card numbers to commit crime.”

The indictment charges Seleznev with 11 counts of wire fraud, nine counts of intentional damage to a protected computer, nine counts of obtaining information from a protected computer, nine counts of possession of 15 or more unauthorized access devices and two counts of aggravated identity theft.  Seleznev is currently scheduled for trial on Nov. 3, 2014, and will be arraigned on the new charges sometime next week.

According to court documents, between October 2009 and October 2013, Seleznev allegedly hacked into retail point of sale systems and installed malicious software to steal credit card numbers from various businesses.  Seleznev allegedly created and operated the infrastructure to facilitate the theft and sale of credit card data, used servers located all over the world to facilitate his operation, and sold stolen credit card data on a website known as “2pac.cc.”

Seleznev is also charged in a separate indictment in the District of Nevada with participating in a racketeer influenced corrupt organization (RICO) and conspiracy to engage in a racketeer influenced corrupt organization, as well as two counts of possession of 15 or more counterfeit and unauthorized access devices.

The charges contained in the indictments are only allegations.  A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case is being investigated by the U.S. Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force, which includes detectives from the Seattle Police Department.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Ethan Arenson of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Norman M. Barbosa and Seth Wilkinson of the Western District of Washington.  The Office of International Affairs and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Guam provided substantial assistance in this case.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

SPECIAL PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY MEETS WITH TURKISH OFFICIALS REGARDING ISIL

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
Special Presidential Envoy John Allen Meetings With Turkish Officials on Efforts to Counter ISIL
Press Statement
Jen Psaki
Department Spokesperson
Washington, DC
October 9, 2014

Special Presidential Envoy John Allen and Deputy Special Presidential Envoy Brett McGurk held constructive and detailed talks with Turkish officials today in Ankara, including with Prime Minister Davutoglu and senior Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials. General Allen and Deputy Special Envoy McGurk discussed areas of cooperation across the multiple lines of effort that will be required to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL. They stressed that we are in the early stages of consolidating a broad coalition against this terrorist network in what will be a long-term campaign. General Allen and Deputy Special Envoy McGurk also emphasized that urgent steps are immediately required to degrade ISIL's military capabilities and ongoing ability to threaten the region. They further stressed that strengthening the moderate Syrian opposition, which is engaged in fighting both ISIL and the Asad regime, is crucial to any realistic and lasting political settlement of the Syrian crisis.

In this regard, General Allen, Deputy Special Envoy McGurk, and their Turkish interlocutors discussed several measures to advance the military line of effort against ISIL, noting that a joint military planning team will visit Ankara early next week to follow up in military-to-military channels. Both sides also agreed that we will continue a dynamic and deepening bilateral consultation process across the multiple lines of effort against ISIL, including military support, countering foreign fighters, counter-finance, humanitarian assistance, and de-legitimizing ISIL's messaging and rhetoric. General Allen and Deputy Special Envoy McGurk recognized the sacrifice made by Turkey due to the ISIL crisis in Syria and Iraq, and emphasized the historic and unbreakable partnership between Turkey and the United States as NATO allies.

U.S. CONGRATULATES PEOPLE OF UGANDA ON THEIR NATIONAL DAY

 FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
Uganda National Day
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
October 9, 2014

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Uganda as you celebrate 52 years of independence.

Your government is an important partner in the fight against terrorism. We greatly appreciate Uganda’s efforts to address the threat posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army and your vital contribution to the African Union Mission in Somalia.

East Africa looks to Uganda for leadership. We continue to encourage your role in promoting democracy, human rights, and peace and prosperity throughout the region. The United States stands ready to support your efforts to achieve these objectives.

As you gather with family and friends, I wish you a happy Independence Day and a prosperous future.

U.S. CONDUCTS 11 AIRSTRIKES IN SYRIA, IRAQ TODAY

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 
U.S. Military Conducts Airstrikes Against ISIL in Syria and Iraq
From a U.S. Central Command News Release

WASHINGTON, Oct. 9, 2014 – U.S. military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists today, using bomber and attack aircraft to conduct a total of eleven airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.

In Syria, six airstrikes south of Kobani destroyed two ISIL-held buildings, one ISIL tank and one ISIL heavy machine gun and damaged an ISIL fighting position. These strikes also struck one large and two small ISIL units.
In addition, three airstrikes north of Kobani struck two small ISIL units and destroyed two ISIL-held buildings. These strikes were conducted by U.S. bomber aircraft deployed to the U.S. Central Command area of operations. All aircraft exited the strike areas safely.

In Iraq, an airstrike south of Sinjar destroyed an ISIL bunker and ammunition cache and a small ISIL unit. Another airstrike, south of Sinjar Mountain, destroyed an ISIL armed vehicle and a small ISIL unit. To conduct these strikes, the U.S. employed attack aircraft deployed to the Centcom area of operations. All aircraft exited the strike areas safely.

The strikes were conducted as part of President Barack Obama's comprehensive strategy to degrade and destroy ISIL. The destruction of targets in Syria and Iraq further limits the terrorist group's ability to lead, control, project power and conduct operations.

President Obama Meets with the Pentagon About ISIL

10/8/14: White House Press Briefing

NASA VIDEO | THE ARCTIC AND THE ANTARCTIC RESPOND IN OPPOSITE WAYS

REMARKS BY SECRETARY KERRY, PERUVIAN FOREIGN MINISTER GUTIERREZ

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
10/08/2014 02:06 PM EDT
Remarks With Peruvian Foreign Minister Gonzalo Gutierrez Before Their Meeting
Remarks
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
October 8, 2014

SECRETARY KERRY: Good afternoon, everybody. I’m delighted to welcome Peruvian Foreign Minister Gonzalo Gutierrez, and to reaffirm with him and with our friends in Peru our gratitude for the strong relationship, for the cooperation that we are engaged in on many different fronts.

First of all, we are deeply involved in helping to work on growth and development. And since the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement went into effect about six years ago, we’ve actually doubled our trade between our countries. So there’s now about $18 billion of trade and growing, and we’re very appreciative of that.

We also have a great partner in counternarcotics, counterterrorism efforts. Peru has made significant arrests and undertaken important initiatives to stop illicit narcotics trafficking and some of the criminal activity that goes with it.

And finally, we really are looking to Peru for its significant contribution coming up in December, when they host the Conference of the Parties on global climate change. This is a very important meeting which is a lead-on to Paris next year, but it’s a stepping stone. And it will be very important for all of us to use this meeting appropriately to advance the goals so that we can build on it. Without adequate effort in Peru in December, it will be harder to reach an agreement in Paris. So we’re very grateful for Peruvian leadership, and I look forward, hopefully, to participating with you myself. Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER GUTIERREZ: Thank you. Thank you very much, John. I’m – I have a great pleasure to be with you here in the State Department. As the Secretary of State mentioned, we are very pleased with the development of the free trade agreement. Indeed, a few days ago we had the fifth anniversary of the agreement. This is working very well. In the many areas that we are trading, our trade balance is increasing year by year.

As the Secretary of State mentioned, for Peru now a very high priority is the 20th Conference of the Parties of the climate change convention. For us, it will be very important that the key role players in the convention like the U.S. could do significant contributions during the conference, meaning real pledges in order to enhance the Green Fund, contributions in terms of national measures to diminish the greenhouses – gases, and of course, a significant draft in order to finish the new convention for Paris next year.

Also, I would like to take the opportunity to express to the Secretary of State the very high interest of Peru in this initiative on education, the 100,000 Strong. We are very much interested to develop our cooperation with the U.S. in order to promote better education for Peruvians in the areas of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, which are areas very important for the development of Peru.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, sir.

FOREIGN MINISTER GUTIERREZ: Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much.

$123 MILLION ALLEGED SCHEME INVOLVING ATM MACHINES IS SHUT DOWN BY SEC

FROM:  U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Litigation Release No. 23106 / October 8, 2014
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Nationwide Automated Systems, Inc. et al., Civil Action No. 14-Civ-07249 (SJO) (FFMx) (C.D. Cal., filed September 17, 2014)

SEC Shuts Down $123 Million Atm Ponzi Scheme in California

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced charges against the perpetrators behind a California-based Ponzi scheme in which investors were told their money would be used to operate automated teller machines (ATMs) in popular public places and they would earn a significant share of the profits.

In a case unsealed yesterday in federal court in Los Angeles, the SEC has obtained an emergency court order to freeze the assets of Nationwide Automated Systems (NAS), located in the L.A. suburb of Calabasas, Calif.  The order also appointed a temporary receiver over NAS’s assets and froze the assets of the company’s owner Joel Barry Gillis and fellow officer Edward Wishner.

The SEC alleges that NAS raised more than $123 million in the past 18 months by telling investors they could purchase ATMs from NAS and then lease them back in return for “rent” of 50 cents per ATM transaction.  Investors were guaranteed an investment return of at least 20 percent per year in these sale-and-leaseback agreements.  However, the vast majority of NAS’s revenue is from new investor funds, and this money is being used to pay the promised returns owed to earlier investors.  NAS does not actually own most of the ATMs it claims to operate, a fact unknown to investors who were contractually forbidden in their agreements from contacting the locations where their ATMs were supposedly located.

According to the SEC’s complaint filed under seal on September 17, NAS, Gillis, and Wishner convinced investors to buy an ATM by paying a flat amount – typically $12,000 but in some cases $19,800.  They have claimed to operate some 31,000 ATMs in high-traffic retail locations like hotels, casinos, and convenience stores largely in the Midwest.  However, reports from the company’s third-party ATM servicers only identify approximately 235 ATMs currently serviced for NAS.

The SEC’s complaint charges NAS, Gillis, and Wishner with violating Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rules 10b-5(a) and (c) as well as Sections 17(a)(1) and (3) of the Securities Act of 1933.  NAS and Gillis also are charged with violations of Rule 10b-5(b) of the Exchange Act and Sections 5(a), 5(c) and 17(a)(2) of the Securities Act.

The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Peter Del Greco, Sara Kalin, Roger Boudreau, and Marc Blau in the Los Angeles office.  The SEC’s litigation is being led by John Berry and Gary Leung.

UNMANNED NASA AIRCRAFT MAY PROVIDE WAY TO DETECT FIRES IN DISMAL SWAMP WILDLIFE REFUGE

FROM:  NASA 

NASA’s research in unmanned aerial systems (UAS) may soon provide a means for early detection and mitigation of fires in the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, a nearly 50,000-square-acre region centered on the Virginia-North Carolina border.

NASA’s Langley Research Center, in nearby Hampton, Virginia, has signed a one-year agreement with the Department of the Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to test small UASs for the detection of brush and forest fires. The research is part of the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate’s UAS Integration in the National Airspace System (NAS) project.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is evaluating the feasibility of airborne unmanned platforms and their ability to offer a safer and more cost-effective alternative for surveillance of potential areas of interest immediately following thunderstorm activity,” said Great Dismal Swamp Refuge Manager Chris Lowie. “The agency hopes to see a significant decrease in cost to survey the Great Dismal Swamp, as well as a reduction in time to detect nascent fires, which could potentially save millions of dollars to the taxpayer in firefighting costs,” added Lowie.

Mike Logan, the research lead at Langley, came up with the idea after a forest fire in 2011 that lasted almost four months and cost more than $10 million to extinguish. Smoke from that fire, which was caused by a lightning strike, traveled as far north as Maryland only three years after another $10-million blaze in 2008, according to FWS.

“I made a phone call to the local fire captain after days of inhaling peat bog smoke,” said Logan. “I learned most fires are caused by lightning strikes and the only way they can spot them is by hiring an aircraft to do an aerial survey of the huge swamp. So I figured why not use a UAV as a fire detector?”

After approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, the team at Langley plans to fly a lightweight UAS equipped with cameras and transmitters over the wildlife refuge.

“One is an out-of-the-nose camera that can see smoke plumes as they are rising,” Logan explained. “The other is an infrared camera housed in the body of the plane that points down. It can find hot spots by detecting heat signatures.”

Although the aircraft can fly as fast as 40 miles an hour, when used in this capacity it will be flown slower while it transmits video, allowing individuals on the ground to observe what is occurring in the live video. The transmissions can be viewed on a laptop computer in a mobile ground station.

Logan says the drone, which weighs about 15 pounds and has an almost six-foot wingspan, has a range of about eight miles and can stay aloft as long as an hour, before the batteries need recharging. The aircraft also can be programmed to fly on its own, but a safety pilot will monitor operations during the tests.

“This kind of application for unmanned aerial systems shows just one public benefit,” said Dave Hinton, Langley associate director for UAS technologies and applications. “They can be used to detect fires or locate people who are lost.”

MISSISSIPPI TRUCKER PLEADS GUILTY TO PAYING BRIBES TO MILITARY BASE EMPLOYEES

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
Mississippi Man Pleads Guilty to Paying Bribes to Employees at Military Base for Freight Business

A former driver for a national trucking company pleaded guilty today to bribery charges, admitting that he bribed employees in the Traffic Office at the Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany (MCLB-Albany) in order to obtain lucrative freight hauling business, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Michael J. Moore of the Middle District of Georgia.

David R. Nelson, 54, of Lucedale, Mississippi, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge W. Louis Sands in the Middle District of Georgia to one count of bribery of a public official.

During his guilty plea, Nelson, a former driver for a large transportation company based in Louisville, Kentucky, admitted to paying more than $100,000 in bribes between 2006 and 2012 to officials in the Traffic Office at MCLB-Albany in exchange for obtaining freight shipments from the base to destinations on the West Coast.  The bribes started at $500 for each shipment, but later grew to as much as $1,500 per shipment.  From the money he made from these freight shipments, Nelson purchased a $50,000 specially-modified trailer that allowed him to carry multiple Protected Security Service loads on a single trip.

As part of his plea agreement with the United States, Nelson agreed to forfeit the proceeds he received as a result of the bribery scheme, as well as to pay full restitution to the Department of Defense.  Sentencing will be scheduled at a later date.

The case is being investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Richard B. Evans, J.P. Cooney and John Keller of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney K. Alan Dasher of the Middle District of Georgia.

WOMAN PLEADS GUILTY TO CONSPIRACY TO SMUGGLE UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT 
Monday, October 6, 2014

Costa Rican Woman Pleads Guilty to Human Smuggling Conspiracy
A citizen and resident of Costa Rica pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to smuggle more than 25 undocumented immigrants to the United States.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, and Special Agent in Charge Clark E. Settles of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations’ (HSI) Washington, D.C., Field Office made the announcement.

Mercedes Morera Roche, 49, was extradited to the United States from Panama on Aug. 21, 2014, to face charges for smuggling more than 25 undocumented immigrants from Cuba to the United States.

According to her plea agreement, Roche admitted that between 2004 and 2011, she was an organizer of a human smuggling network that provided instructions, fraudulent identity and travel documents, escorts, transport, safe house locations, and other assistance to facilitate the illicit travel of undocumented immigrants to the United States.  Roche admitted that in some cases, she provided fraudulent passports so that undocumented immigrants could fly to the United States with the help of corrupt foreign airline and immigration officials.  Roche directed the immigrants to destroy the fraudulent documents during the flights before landing at United States airports and instructed the immigrants about engaging with authorities at the airports.  In other cases, Roche coordinated the smuggling of undocumented immigrants via land through Latin America and Mexico into the United States.  Roche solicited payments of up to $10,000 for each undocumented immigrant.

Roche’s sentencing is scheduled on Dec. 11, 2014, before U.S. District Court Judge Ursula M. Ungaro of the Southern District of Florida.

The investigation was conducted under the Extraterritorial Criminal Travel Strike Force (ECT) program, a joint partnership between the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and HSI.  The ECT program focuses on human smuggling networks that may present particular national security or public safety risks or present grave humanitarian concerns.  ECT has dedicated investigative, intelligence and prosecutorial resources.  ECT coordinates and receives assistance from other U.S. government agencies and foreign law enforcement authorities.

The investigation was conducted by HSI’s Washington, D.C. Field Office with support from the Human Smuggling Trafficking Center and U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s National Targeting Center.  Critical assistance was also provided by HSI’s Miami Field Office and the ICE Attaché Office in Panama.  Extradition assistance was provided by the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, Interpol Washington and the United States Marshals Service.  The Justice Department is grateful for the significant assistance provided by the Panamanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Michael Sheckels of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Emery of the Southern District of Florida.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

SECRETARY KERRY, U.K. FOREIGN SECRETARY HAMMOND MAKE REMARKS ON ISIL, EBOLA CRISIS

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
Secretary's Remarks: Remarks With U.K. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond
10/08/2014 01:40 PM EDT
Remarks With U.K. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond

Remarks
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
October 8, 2014

SECRETARY KERRY: Good morning, everybody. I’m very privileged to be here welcoming Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond to the State Department, and I’m even more privileged to work with him and to form a partnership that gives full gusto to the meaning of the special relationship that Great Britain and the United States share. So it is important for us to be continuing – I think we – Philip mentioned to me we’ve probably met eight times already in the course of a few weeks of his being on this job, having shifted from being defense secretary.

And we share a lot in this effort. In the fight against ISIL, the British people have already borne a very heavy burden, and it’s a pain felt personally by everybody in the United States and Great Britain as well. We’ve both seen our hostages brutally murdered in barbaric acts that shock the conscience of the world, but the response of both of our countries is not to wilt; it is to fight, to push back against this barbarity. And we are doing so.

I want to thank Foreign Secretary Hammond for the commitment the United Kingdom has made to the international coalition that will degrade and defeat ISIL over the next months, in the period ahead. The Royal Air Force is now conducting airstrikes on ISIL positions in Iraq, and the United Kingdom has provided some of the strongest humanitarian support in Iraq – more than $36 million in water and shelter, food, and medicine to save the lives of innocent people.

And the United States and the United Kingdom are also standing together as we battle Ebola in West Africa. And we are monitoring particularly this situation, and we’re very grateful for the way that Great Britain has now ramped up its efforts in Sierra Leone, including deploying a civil-military task force, constructing more than 700 beds in Ebola treatment unites, and providing essential supplies and personnel.

President Obama has made it crystal clear that Ebola is an urgent global crisis that demands an urgent global response. The United States has intensified every aspect of our engagement, and that includes providing Ebola treatment units, recruiting first responders, and supplying a critical set of medical equipment.

Just 48 hours ago, President Obama convened another strategy meeting at the White House in order to discuss where we are and where we need to get to, and I want to discuss that in a moment. But in addition to that, I have been in daily contact with Rajiv Shah and – the USAID director, and Deputy Secretary of State Heather Higginbottom, and our Ebola Coordinator Ambassador Nancy Powell, in order to make sure that we are bringing all of our resources to this effort.

I’m here this morning to make an urgent plea to countries in the world to step up even further. While we are making progress, we are not where we can say that we need to be. And there is additional – there are additional needs that have to be met in order for the global community to be able to properly respond to this challenge, and to make sure that we protect people in all of our countries.

There are specific needs, and I want to emphasize those needs by showing a few slides, if I can. As you’ll see in the first slide to my left here, we need more countries to move resources of specific kinds. It is not just a question of sending people, though it is vital to send people. But we need Ebola treatment units. We need health care workers. We need medevac capacity. We need mobile laboratory and staff. We need nonmedical support: telecommunications, generators, incinerators, public communications capacity, training, construction. We also need large assistance of health system strengthening, of cash that countries could contribute, budget support, food, other humanitarian efforts, and we need ways of getting that equipment to people.

All of these things are frankly urgent in order to be able to quickly move to contain the spread of Ebola. We need airlines to continue to operate in West Africa and we need borders to remain open. And we need to strengthen the medevac capacity. We need countries to contribute more Ebola treatment centers, and we need other African countries with the capacity to send responders to join the effort. And we need to make sure that the health care workers who go are properly trained, properly equipped, and supported in order to prevent additional infections.

Now, as you can see in the next slide to my left here, this gives you a sense of who has contributed and what they have contributed. And the fact is that the United Kingdom and the United States, between them, have contributed $120 million to the United Nations response. There are smaller countries that have stepped up to the plate – some quite remarkably. Some smaller countries are contributing way above their per capita population compared to other countries.

But the fact is more countries can and must step up in order to make their contributions felt, and this chart tells the story. Those are not enough countries to make the difference to be able to deal with this crisis. And we need more nations – every nation has an ability to do something on this challenge. And the next chart will show the – as you see, we have a shortfall still of some $300 million. The United Nations has identified $1 billion in urgent needs, which is what are reflected in that pie chart. The World Bank has put in 22 percent. The U.S.A. has put in 11 percent. Private sector, 10 percent. Others – you can see the tally.

But this unfunded is a critical component of our ability to be able to meet this challenge, and we need people to step up now. Now is the time for action, not words. And frankly, there is not a moment to waste in this effort.

Both Foreign Secretary Hammond and I also remain deeply committed on another issue, and that is the question of a Europe which is whole and free and at peace. Together with our partners in the European Union, the United States and the United Kingdom are supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the Ukrainian Government’s efforts to implement important democratic reforms. We agree on the need for Russia to withdraw its forces immediately from Ukraine, to end its material support for separatists, and to meet its commitments under the Minsk ceasefire which they have agreed to, and to put in place the peace plan agreements.

Russia’s actions over the past months have challenged the most basic principles of our international system. Borders cannot and should not be redrawn at the barrel of a gun, and people have a right in their own country, within their sovereign borders, to determine their own future. So together with the G7, our European partners and other allies, we have made it clear that we are prepared to do even more to ensure that the international order prevails and that with one voice, we prove that we mean what we say and we say what we mean.

Finally, I want to mention that tomorrow morning, Foreign Secretary Hammond and I will travel to my hometown, Boston, to focus on an issue that animates President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron, both of whom – and which also demands all of our urgent attention, and that is our shared responsibility to confront climate change. I appreciate Foreign Secretary Hammond’s personal leadership on this issue. We can conclude a new international agreement that is ambitious, effective, and inclusive of all countries, particularly the largest greenhouse gas emitters, of which we are one. But we will also only get there in the end – even if one large emitter were to eliminate all of its emissions, that won’t do the job. We will only get there in the end if we make it clear that all countries must join in this effort and that inaction is not an option.

So Mr. Foreign Secretary, I’m delighted to welcome you here at this time of obvious significant global challenge. We greatly appreciate, as I said, your partnership, your leadership, and we look forward to continuing to work with you. Thank you.

FOREIGN SECRETARY HAMMOND: Thank you. Thank you very much, John. It’s a great pleasure to be back here in Washington, this time in my new role as foreign secretary. When I came here many times as defense secretary, I was always clear that the U.S. is Britain’s most important military partner. As foreign secretary, I’m equally clear that the United States it the UK’s greatest foreign policy ally. And the range of issues that we’ve discussed today and that the Secretary has outlined reflects how closely we work together on a huge range of issues in foreign affairs.

That relationship is based on our shared history, our shared values, and our longstanding cooperation on a range of global issues, from fighting the threat of extremism, promoting stability in countries such as Libya, dealing with the challenge to the established order in Ukraine, addressing global crises like Ebola, and promoting an ambitious EU-U.S. free trade agreement.

I want to begin, if I may, by paying tribute to Secretary Kerry for his energy and resolve in dealing with some of the most challenging foreign policy issues the world has faced for a while. I’ve only been in this job for three months, but as John said, we’ve already met eight or so times. Every week, we seem to be in a different city somewhere discussing these challenging issues that we’re having to deal with. And I’ve observed him in action. I’ve seen his tireless commitment and inexhaustible enthusiasm, which is the personification of U.S. leadership on these many, many challenges that we have to deal with together around the world.

And our meeting today comes at a pivotal moment in addressing the situation in Iraq and Syria and responding to the atrocities that are being committed by ISIL – atrocities that have been visited upon UK and U.S. citizens, but are also being felt by ordinary Muslims in Iraq and Syria every day of every week. It is clear that tackling ISIL requires a strong military response from the international community, but that has to be combined with a clear diplomatic plan to support the new Iraqi Government’s inclusive program; to hamper ISIL’s access to funds, fighters, and resources; and a political strategy to combat the poisonous ideology that underpins ISIL; and counter those trying to spread sectarian violence and hatred across the region and beyond.

We now have those elements in place, and I am pleased that Britain is playing a key role in that response, leading efforts at the UN to cut off ISIL funding, a long-running counter-radicalization program at home, and now RAF combat jets and surveillance assets contributing to the military response. Britain will continue to work closely with coalition partners on further actions that we can take across the international community to ensure that we tackle ISIL not just through military action but through all those other strands of action which are essential to ensure our long-term success.

We have also, as Secretary Kerry has said, discussed the situation in Ukraine and the crucial importance of implementing the 12-point peace plan. Ukraine is a sovereign country; its people are entitled to make their decisions about their country’s future. There can be no Russian veto on Ukrainian democracy. And Ukraine’s President Poroshenko will need continuing international support to ensure stability within the country and to ensure that the Ukraine is able to go on making decisions about its own future. And we spent some time this morning discussing ways in which the UK and the U.S. can work with other partners, international partners particularly in the European Union, to continue to support President Poroshenko in those efforts.

And of course, we spoke about the appalling situation in West Africa where the spread of Ebola virus is a real cause for concern. Last week we held – I chaired a conference in London on defeating Ebola, and I said then that the disease is an unprecedented threat that knows no borders. We have to get ahead of this disease, but if we get ahead of it, if we rise to the challenge, we can contain it and beat it. We know how to do this. It is not complicated to do. It just requires a large focus of resource and effort to deliver it.

And Secretary Kerry and I discussed the increased measures that the U.S. is leading in Liberia and that the UK is leading in Sierra Leone. We now need, as the Secretary has said, the wider international community to step up to the plate and deliver that additional resource – not just money, but trained medical and clinical personnel to lead that effort on the ground. We all have to do more if we are going to prevent what is currently a crisis from becoming a catastrophe.

The UK has committed over $200 million to the program in Sierra Leone. We have military and civilian teams on the ground, a construction program to deliver 700 Ebola treatment beds. This morning, I joined a COBRA emergency committee meeting in London by video link from the British Embassy here, and we decided at that meeting to deploy the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Argus to Freetown with three Merlin helicopters embarked to provide a communication and transport capability on the ground. We’re also conducting trials in Sierra Leone of a new model of Ebola care unit, a primary care triaging system for those with early stage symptoms of Ebola.

It’s also important that we remember that our national security is dependent upon our economic security. We can’t have a strong defense without a strong economy underpinning it. Later this afternoon, I will be holding a discussion at the Atlantic Council here in Washington on the benefits of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the United States and the EU. The UK remains committed to this ambitious deal and will be a cheerleader for it within the European Union. If we achieve it, it will create the largest free trade zone in the world, bringing more jobs and more growth to both Europe and the United States, and setting the standards for trade deals for many years to come, allowing us to establish our international standards as the standards for trade patents in the coming decades.

And tomorrow, I look forward to our visit to Massachusetts to tour the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s wind blade testing facility in Charlestown. John and I agree that climate change represents a strategic threat to global prosperity and to global security. Innovation and investment in clean energy technology must be at the heart of our response and can help us turn a threat into an economic opportunity. The UK and the U.S. will work together to ensure the world responds to this threat before it is too late, including through the conclusion of an effective global climate deal at Paris at the end of next year.

So once again, John, I’m delighted to be here. Thank you again for your leadership on these multiple challenges that face us, and I very much look forward to working with you across all of these areas of activity to preserve and to strengthen this very special relationship. Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much.

MS. PSAKI: The first question will be from Elise Labott of CNN.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. The U.S. intensified airstrikes overnight on Kobani. Has there been a decision now to save Kobani from falling? Because yesterday, your spokesman and other officials suggested that you had larger strategic priorities than saving Kobani or any particular city or town.

And I’d like to talk to you about the reluctance of Turkey. They have tanks at the border, soldiers at the ready, but this NATO ally has not done really much to save this town inches from its border. What did you ask the prime minister to do in recent conversations? The president has said that they won’t do more unless you act to get rid of Assad. Is this an excuse, and – or are you deferring to Turkey here? Have you not been partnering with the Kurds, who have been battling ISIS for a year and are decidedly secular, to save the city?

And Foreign Secretary, you spoke a lot about what you’re doing for the coalition, particularly in Iraq. But I’m wondering whether you see Britain furthering that action into Syria, or is there a kind of disagreement on whether the British should take part in airstrikes and what the goals are in Syria? Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thanks. Thank you. Thanks, Elise. Well, we’re deeply concerned about the people of Kobani, who are battling against ISIL terrorists. And indeed, we have talked to the leaders of Turkey. I talked with Prime Minister Davutoglu, I think, twice yesterday and the day before. We have conducted additional strikes in the region. We conducted strikes both Monday and Tuesday and now. But as horrific as it is to watch in real time what’s happening in Kobani, it’s also important to remember that you have to step back and understand the strategic objective and where we have begun over the course of the last weeks.

We’re literally just coming out of the UN meeting at which we announced the coalition, literally have just been deploying the first efforts to liberate – as you know, a few weeks ago – Sinjar Mountain, the siege on Amirli, the Haditha Dam, the Mosul Dam, and we were very successful in those efforts. And the Iraqi forces within Iraq are standing up and have had some successes – some setbacks too – but some successes over the course of the last days.

But General Allen is literally only on his first trip right now in the region. He will be going to Turkey tomorrow. He is going to have long meetings through tomorrow and Friday in which we hope to determine exactly how Turkey will now enter this having resolved their hostage crisis. Clearly, on their border, this is of enormous concern to Turkey and they recognize that.

QUESTION: But where are they?

SECRETARY KERRY: These things have to be done in a thoughtful and careful way so everybody understands who is doing what and what the implications are of their doing it and where you go as a result. And I am absolutely confident that tomorrow, the discussions will take place directly with Ambassador McGurk and General Allen and CENTCOM. General Lloyd Austin is very much involved in directing those strikes now and in doing what he can within the framework of the current structure. But this is a structure that is evolving on a daily basis, and notwithstanding the crisis in Kobani, the original targets of our efforts have been the command and control centers, the infrastructure. We’re trying to deprive the – ISIL of the overall ability to wage this, not just in Kobani but throughout Syria and into Iraq. So I think you will see over the next hours, days the fullness of that strategy evolving and decisions being made about the Turks and others as to exactly what role they’re going to play.

FOREIGN SECRETARY HAMMOND: And following on from that, you asked about the UK’s position. We have – we were asked by the Iraqi Government to provide support in Iraq. We obtained parliamentary approval for that support and we’re already in action in Iraq. We absolutely have not ruled out playing a role in Syria. We will require further parliamentary approval if we decide that that is the right thing for us to do, but as Secretary Kerry said, this is a coalition. There are many players in it and many different tasks to be carried out. There’s some division of labor here, specialization of roles. And just as we wait to see exactly how Turkey will make its contribution to the coalition, so the UK is still considering whether the right way for us to make a contribution – the way in which we can most usefully add value to the coalition – is to extend our military permissions to operations in Syria. If we conclude that is the right thing to do, we’ll ask the British parliament for approval of that decision.

MS. PSAKI: The second question is from Peter Foster at Telegraph.

QUESTION: Thank you. My first question relates to Kobani and Syria. The French president has indicated he supports Turkish calls for a buffer zone. Do either have – either of you have any comment on that, and have any sense of what form a buffer zone might take and what purpose it might serve?

And just to follow up on British role – military role in the Iraq-Syria situation, the foreign secretary has indicated that Britain would be receptive to American requests if there was a specific military role that Britain could play. This question to Secretary Kerry: Do you see a useful role that Britain could play militarily in Syria? I think particularly if, say, Kobani, where our Brimstone missile could have a role in – it’s a very low-caliber missile. It could have a role in these very closed urban environments. Do you see America seeing a role for Britain in Syria?

FOREIGN SECRETARY HAMMOND: May I answer that question first? We are at the stage of exploring – as the Secretary said, this is very new territory. I mean, we’re only in the first week or two of the coalition’s existence and operation. The idea of a buffer zone is one that has been floated. We’d have to explore with other allies and partners what is meant by a buffer zone, how such a concept would work, but I certainly wouldn’t want to rule it out at this stage.

In terms of the UK’s potential military contribution in Syria, we would see this as a military question: Is there a militarily useful role that UK assets could play? And Secretary Kerry may want to say something about that, but I think this is a question for the military people. General Allen has his role; CENTCOM will be in the lead on this. If CENTCOM commanders see a specific role for UK military assets, I’m sure that they will not be slow in requesting them.

SECRETARY KERRY: Look, in broad, generic terms, can Great Britain be useful? Absolutely, in so many different ways. But this is, as Philip has just said, a specific determination that has to be made with respect to a very specific mission, and it’s up to General Austin, our CENTCOM commander, to make that decision. And he will do so with the appropriate consultation with his counterparts and with the President with respect to the overall mission. But in – there’s no question that we are very happy to have our friend and ally Great Britain as part of this, and there’s all kinds of things that we can do together in this endeavor.

QUESTION: And the buffer zone, Secretary?

SECRETARY KERRY: The buffer zone – as Philip said, the buffer zone is an idea that’s been out there. It’s worth examining. It’s worth looking at very, very closely. There are a million-plus refugees who have crossed the border. There were another 180,000 or so driven out in the last few days from Kobani. This should not be a problem that is thrust onto Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, where they bear an incredible burden with respect to their societies. And if Syrian citizens can return to Syria and be protected in an area across the border, there’s a lot that would commend that. But at the same time, you’d have to guarantee safety, guarantee there wouldn’t be attacks by the government, other kinds of things would have to happen. So it needs a thorough examination. We’re all in favor of looking at this very closely, and that will clearly be one of the things that General Allen will be having discussions on and, subsequently, the active line authority commanders will have discussions on over the course of the next days.

MS. PSAKI: Thank you, everyone.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you all.