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Saturday, March 31, 2012

MILITARY TAKES HOLISTIC APPROACH

American Forces Press Service 

By Elaine Sanchez
WASHINGTON, March 30, 2012 - The military is on the right track by taking a holistic approach to resilience building and readiness, a Defense Department health official told nearly 750 behavioral health experts and military leaders here today.

Initiatives -- such as the DOD's Total Force Fitness -- that view people in "a total package ... rather than a sum of parts" are crucial for success, Army Brig. Gen. W. Bryan Gamble, deputy director of the TRICARE Management Activity, told the audience at the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury's Warrior Resilience Conference.

This conference, in its fourth year, is intended to equip service members, units, families and communities with resilience-building techniques and tools.

Total Force Fitness, an initiative led by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addresses mind and body and encompasses eight domains: psychological, behavioral, social, physical, environmental, medical, spiritual and nutritional. These domains are connective pieces in creating a holistic approach to building service members' resilience, Gamble explained.

A holistic approach requires an array of care, and Gamble said the military has placed an emphasis on acquiring new behavioral health experts, both on installations and in the TRICARE system. Meanwhile, "what we need to keep in mind, too, is the continuity of care," he said, "I think that will really help in the long run to establish successful outcomes for our patients as well as improve our readiness."

People spend about 100 minutes per year in medical appointments, Gamble said, which leaves more than a half-million minutes per year in which people can make positive choices.

"If we make sure we're attached soundly to the ground, well-grounded, we can weather any storm personal or professional," he said. "It's a multitude of things, from who we are, to our significant others, to our health, to our sense of being, to our professional satisfaction, to our job, to our faith."
Family readiness is a "critical concern" within the military, Gamble said, noting families are the "backbone" of the armed forces.

"Without the families we would definitely not be where we are today," he said.
Gamble acknowledged the "stresses and strains" families are experiencing after more than a decade of war. He cited a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that found significantly higher rates of mental health issues in Army wives of deployed soldiers as compared to spouses of nondeployed members. These rates increased as deployments stretched to more than 11 months.

This stress has taken a toll on children from military families as well, he noted. A study indicates that emotional challenges increase for children as their parent's deployment lengthens.

Gamble pointed out some DOD resources available to aid families. Military OneSource offers round-the-clock consultants and TRICARE provides eight out-patient behavioral health visits per year without a referral or prior authorization, he said.

The goal, he said, is to shift focus from health care to health. This will take combating issues such as obesity, alcohol abuse and tobacco use, which contribute to a number of health issues. In fact, Gamble cited a study that says half of the cancer within the population can be tied to obesity, inactivity and diet.
The military also offers new and expectant parent education, he added.

Statistics also show that when service members retire, they tend to pack on some pounds, which can, in turn, impact their health. "We have choices we can make that are very important to our long-term health and that of our forces as well," Gamble said.

Gamble suggested people can visit available TRICARE-sponsored web sites that address issues such as healthy living practices, tobacco and alcohol use and abuse, and other topics.

He also encouraged leadership to keep an eye on their troops, and for service members and their families to ask questions and be advocates for their care.

"People are our most important asset," Gamble noted. "It's truly a partnership between all of us to help maintain, sustain and enhance our warriors and families for a better tomorrow."

1 IN 88 KIDS IN US HAS AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER


CDC estimates 1 in 88 children in United States has been identified as having an autism spectrum disorder

CDC data help communities better serve these children
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 88 children in the United States has been identified as having an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to a new study released today that looked at data from 14 communities.  Autism spectrum disorders are almost five times more common among boys than girls – with 1 in 54 boys identified.
The number of children identified with ASDs ranged from 1 in 210 children in Alabama to 1 in 47 children in Utah.  The largest increases were among Hispanic and black children.
The report, Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders – Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 14 Sites, United States, 2008, provides autism prevalence estimates from 14 areas. It was published today in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
“This information paints a picture of the magnitude of the condition across our country and helps us understand how communities identify children with autism,” said Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  “That is why HHS and our entire administration has been working hard to improve the lives of people living with autism spectrum disorders and their families by improving research, support, and services.”
“One thing the data tells us with certainty – there are more children and families that need help,” said CDC Director Thomas Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “We must continue to track autism spectrum disorders because this is the information communities need to guide improvements in services to help children.”
The results of CDC’s study highlight the importance of the Obama administration’s efforts to address the needs of people with ASDs, including the work of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The IACC’s charge is to facilitate ASD research, screening, intervention, and education.  As part of this effort, the National Institutes of Health has invested in research to identify possible risk factors and effective therapies for people with ASDs.
Study results from the 2008 surveillance year show 11.3 per 1,000 8-year-old children have been identified as having an ASD.  This marks a 23 percent increase since the last report in 2009.  Some of this increase is due to the way children are identified, diagnosed and served in their communities, although exactly how much is due to these factors is unknown.  “To understand more, we need to keep accelerating our research into risk factors and causes of autism spectrum disorders,” said Coleen Boyle, Ph.D., M.S.Hyg., director of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. 
The study also shows more children are being diagnosed by age 3, an increase from 12 percent for children born in 1994 to 18 percent for children born in 2000. “Unfortunately, 40 percent of the children in this study aren’t getting a diagnosis until after age 4. We are working hard to change that,” said Boyle.
The most important thing for parents to do is to act quickly whenever there is a concern about a child’s development. 
  • Talk to your child’s doctor about your concerns.
  • Call your local early intervention program or school system for an assessment. 
  • Remember you do not need a diagnosis to access services for your child.
The above excerpt is from the Centers For Disease Control website:

NSF SAYS OIL SPILLS AFFECT DEEP-WATER CORALS


                                       Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill's Effects on Deep-Water Corals  

The photo and following excerpt is from the National Science Foundation website:
March 26, 2012
Scientists are reporting new evidence that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has affected marine life in the Gulf of Mexico, this time species that live in dark ocean depths--deepwater corals.

The research used a range of underwater vehicles, including the submarine Alvin, to investigate the corals. The findings are published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The scientists used a method known as comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography to determine the source of the petroleum hydrocarbons found.
The lead author of the paper, chemist Helen White of Haverford College in Pennsylvania, is part of a team of researchers led by Charles Fisher of Penn State University (PSU).
The group includes Erik Cordes from Temple University, and Timothy Shank and Christopher German from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), which operates the submersible Alvin.

Fisher, Cordes, Shank and German are co-authors of the paper, along with other scientists from WHOI, Penn State, Temple and the U.S. Geological Survey.
"The biological communities in the deep Gulf of Mexico are separated from human activity at the surface by 4,000 feet of water," says White.

"We would not expect deep-water corals to be affected by a typical oil spill. But the sheer magnitude of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill makes it very different from a tanker running aground and spilling its contents.

Because of the unprecedented nature of the spill, its effects are more far-reaching than those from smaller spills on the surface."

The study grew out of a research cruise in October 2010 that was part of a Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration project.

Using the remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) Jason II, the team initially looked at nine sites more than 20 kilometers from the Macondo well.

The researchers found deep-water coral communities unharmed there.
But when the ROV explored another area 11 kilometers to the southwest of the spill site, the team was surprised to find coral communities covered in a brown flocculent material and showing signs of tissue damage.

"We discovered the site during the last dive of the three-week cruise," says Fisher.
"As soon as the ROV got close enough to the community for the corals to come into clear view, it was obvious that something was wrong. There was too much white and brown, and not enough color on the corals and brittle stars."

Once the scientists were close enough to zoom in on a few coral colonies, "there was no doubt that this was something we had not seen anywhere else in the Gulf," says Fisher. "This is what we had been on the lookout for, but were hoping not to see."
The coral communities were at a depth of 4,300 feet in close proximity to the Macondo well, which had been capped three months earlier after spilling an estimated 160 million gallons of oil into the Gulf.

At the time the damaged corals were spotted, the effects could not be directly linked to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Then in December, 2010, the scientists set out on a second research cruise to the Gulf.
A National Science Foundation (NSF) RAPID grant funded their return. NSF RAPID awards allow scientists to respond quickly to issues such as natural disasters--in this case, the oil spill.

"Through the RAPID award," says Rodey Batiza of NSF's Division of Ocean Sciences, "the researchers were able to analyze the oil spill's effect on the area's deep-sea corals, and compare changes in the corals' condition over a relatively short time-period."
It's easy to see the effect of oil in surface waters, "but this was the first time we were diving to the seafloor to look at the effects on deep-sea ecosystems," says White.
The team used the autonomous underwater vehicle Sentry to map and photograph the ocean floor, and the submersible Alvinto get a better look at the distressed corals.
Alvin holds a pilot and two passengers, and is equipped with viewports and cameras.
Alvin also has robotic arms that can manipulate instruments to collect samples. During six dives in Alvin, whose manipulator claws were modified with a cutting blade, the team collected sediments and samples of the corals and filtered material from the corals for analysis.

"Collecting samples from the deep ocean is incredibly challenging, and Alvin is crucial to this kind of work," says White.

"The primary aim of the research was to determine the composition of the brown flocculent material covering the corals, and the source of any petroleum hydrocarbons present," says White.

Because oil can naturally seep from cracks in the floor of the Gulf, pinpointing the source of petroleum hydrocarbons in Gulf samples can be challenging, especially since oil is made up of a complex mixture of chemical compounds.

However, there are slight differences in oils that can be used to trace their origin.
To identify the oil found in the coral communities, White worked with Christopher Reddy and Robert Nelson at WHOI using an advanced technique called comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography, pioneered by Reddy and Nelson for use in oil spill research.

The method, which separates oil compounds by molecular weight, allows scientists to "fingerprint" oil and determine its source.

This petroleum analysis, coupled with a review of 69 images from 43 corals at the site performed by Pen-Yuan Hsing of PSU, yielded evidence that the coral communities were affected by oil from the Macondo spill.

"These findings will have a significant effect on deep-water drilling, and on the monitoring of oil spills in the future," White says.

"Ongoing research in the Gulf will improve our understanding of the resilience of these isolated coral communities and the extent to which they are affected by human activity.
"Oil had a visible effect on the corals, and it's important to determine whether they can rebound."

U.S. SAYS LINK BETWEEN ORGANIZED CRIME AND TERRORISM IS GROWING

The following excerpt is from the American Forces Press Service:

Link Grows Between Terrorism, Organized Crime, Officials Say

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 28, 2012 - The two missions of fighting terrorism and combating global organized crime are increasingly linked, senior Defense Department officials told Congress yesterday.

Michael A. Sheehan, assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict; Garry Reid, deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations and combating terrorism; and William F. Wechsler, deputy assistant secretary of defense for counternarcotics and global threats, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee's emerging threats and capabilities subcommittee.

The hearing focused on the Pentagon's role in implementing the national strategies for counterterrorism and combating transnational organized crime under the 2013 defense budget request.

"Terrorism, drug trafficking and other forms of transnational organized crime are increasingly intertwined," Sheehan noted, adding that his office -- which is responsible for overall supervision of special operations forces -- is uniquely positioned to provide policy guidance and program oversight to the department's efforts in both missions.

Wechsler noted four trends in terrorism and transnational crime:
-- Terrorist groups are adopting criminal techniques, including drug trafficking, to raise funds;

-- Criminal organizations are adopting terrorist techniques, such as beheadings;

-- Terrorist organizations and criminal organizations that have been separate are now "working together in ways that previously we hadn't seen ... [such as] the attempted assassination of a Saudi ambassador here in the United States"; and
-- Some countries are using criminal activity to produce revenue.
Sheehan said that while the Defense Department plays a central role in fighting terrorism and a more supporting role battling transnational organized crime, the national strategies governing the two missions are complementary and mutually reinforcing.

While the counterterrorism focus on al-Qaida remains, he said, the landscape is changing. As al-Qaida and other terror groups meld with international criminal networks, DOD is expanding its efforts beyond direct strikes against terrorist targets in supporting an interagency approach, Sheehan said.

"All our national security challenges ... [are] becoming increasingly interagency," he noted.
Fighting terrorism increasingly includes targeting the global drug trade, he said. "Nowhere is the link between transnational organized crime, insurgency and terrorism more apparent than in Afghanistan, where the Taliban continues to receive a large percentage of its revenue through heroin trade," he added.

Fighting insurgents, prosecuting criminals and applying pressure to states profiting from terror or criminal activity involves agencies from DOD to the Drug Enforcement Agency to the State Department, Sheehan noted. And while direct strike is an important special operations capability, even purely military action often focuses on a partnering approach, he said.

"Just as important ... are the special operations forces' efforts that build the capability and capacity of our partners to shape the global information and ideas environment, as well as train and equip the capacity of other countries," he added.

Working with Pakistan to keep pressure on al-Qaida is essential, and Yemen serves as an important front against al-Qaida on the Arabian Peninsula, he noted.

"DOD continues to collaborate extensively with the Yemeni forces on operational matters, and together we are closely monitoring [al-Qaida on the Arabian Peninsula] and regularly improving our understanding of its external plots," Sheehan said.

Combating the nexus of terrorism and transnational organized crime, he said, "is a call to action to leverage all of the elements of national power to protect citizens and U.S. national security interests and to enable our foreign partners to do the same."


Friday, March 30, 2012

DOJ JOINS SUIT INVOLVING NEW HAMPSHIRE'S MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM


The following excerpt is from the Department of Justice website:
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Justice Department Intervenes in Lawsuit Involving New Hampshire’s Mental Health System
WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today moved to intervene in Lynn E. v. Lynch, a recently-filed lawsuit alleging that the state of New Hampshire fails to provide mental health services to people with disabilities in community settings in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  As a result of the state’s failures, people with mental illness who need state mental health services are forced to go to segregated institutions like the New Hampshire Hospital in Concord, N.H., and the Glencliff Home in Benton, N.H.

Under the ADA, a state cannot require people with disabilities to enter segregated facilities unnecessarily in order to get services.  In April of last year, the Department of Justice notified the state that it is violating the ADA by unnecessarily institutionalizing persons with mental illness and by failing to provide necessary community-based services and supports, like crisis services and housing supports.  Leadership within the state of New Hampshire has recognized that the state’s mental health system is deficient.  According to a top state official, “NH’s mental health system is failing, and the consequence of these failures is being realized across the community.  The impacts of the broken system are seen in the stress it is putting on local law enforcement, hospital emergency rooms, the court system and county jails, and, most importantly, in the harm under-treated mental health conditions cause NH citizens and their families.”

The state adopted a 10-year plan for improving its system, however, the state failed to implement important pieces of its plan and to put in place needed reforms to meet the needs of people with mental illness.  The New Hampshire Community Mental Health Centers association recently concluded that the state had failed to meet important benchmarks within its 10-year plan and informed federal officials that the New Hampshire community system “has less capacity in January of 2012 than it had in August of 2008 when the ‘Ten-Year Plan’ called for additional investment.”

“States are obligated by the ADA to provide services to people with disabilities in appropriate, integrated settings, so that they can live and work in the community, just like people who do not have disabilities,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.  “People with mental illnesses in New Hampshire are currently denied this right and are instead forced to receive costly services in inappropriate settings, like state institutions, as well as local hospital emergency rooms, rather than in more therapeutic and less expensive community settings.  With our efforts today to intervene, we hope to vindicate the rights of people with disabilities and prompt the state to take the necessary steps to meet their needs in more appropriate community settings.”
“Individuals with mental illness who experience a crisis in New Hampshire often spend days in local emergency rooms that are ill-equipped to address their needs, at great expense, and are then transported to the state’s psychiatric hospital, sometimes by the police,” said John P. Kacavas, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Hampshire.  “This costly and traumatic process could be avoided if New Hampshire offered proven and effective services in the community to prevent and deescalate crises, help people maintain safe housing and assist them in finding and holding employment.”
For several months last year, the department engaged in talks with the state in an attempt to resolve the violations the department had identified.  However, the parties were ultimately unable to come to an agreement.  In order to vindicate the rights of people with disabilities under the ADA, the United States now seeks to participate in this lawsuit.  The plaintiffs in the case are represented by the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, the Center for Public Representation and the New Hampshire Disabilities Rights Center.

A MARINE WHO IS RECOGNIZED FOR HIS PERFORMANCE IN HIS UNIT'S SUCCESS


The photo and excerpt are from an American Forces Press Service e-mail:
Marine Corps Cpl. Jesse R. Mendoza, left, and Lance Cpl. David Anzualda post themselves at the front of the command element formation on Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 10, 2012. Mendoza and Anzualda were selected as the noncommissioned officer of the quarter and Marine of the quarter, respectively, for the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Christopher Stone

Face of Defense: Marine Plays Vital Role in Unit's Success
By Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Edward R Guevara Jr.
26th Marine Expeditionary Unit
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C., March 27, 2012 - Reliability is a trait that Marine Corps Cpl. Jesse R. Mendoza learned from his father while growing up in San Fernando, Calif. He has used it as a foundation to build his life upon, and it's even helped him to gain recognition.
Most recently, the tactical field radio operator was recognized as the noncommissioned officer of the quarter for the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

With the 26th MEU's last deployment, Mendoza was part of a team that faced numerous challenges that come along with integrating communications across armed services and among the elements of the amphibious Marine Air-Ground Task Force and expeditionary environment, said Marine Corps Master Sgt. John O'Connell Jr., the unit's communications chief.

Numerous areas of responsibility stress-tested the section as it facilitated communications among aircraft, ships and land units, O'Connell said. Among them were humanitarian assistance in Pakistan, anti-piracy operations and support for operations Enduring Freedom, Odyssey Dawn and Unified Protector. And through it all, he added, Mendoza excelled.

"He is humble, professional and responsible," O'Connell said.
True to form, Mendoza projected that praise to the Marines who work alongside him.
"My work section always tries to do its best," Mendoza said. "I like working with my peers. We accomplish a lot of great stuff together. Even on short notice, we got it done."
His commitment to teamwork and excellence started when he was a child playing soccer, football and basketball, Mendoza said. During middle school, he added, he played soccer for a park league team that consistently placed in the top three.

Pride in his work is what drives him to do the best he can, Mendoza said. He knows people rely on him, he added, and he doesn't want to shirk his responsibilities.
His father set that example for him, he said, and his father's friends reinforced it through their actions and words when speaking to or about his father.

Mendoza's father even influenced his decision to join the Marine Corps.
"I joined the military because my dad joined when he was in Guatemala," Mendoza said. "I heard him talking about it when I was growing up. He said it was rough, but he got a lot of good things from it."

As his four years of service come to an end this summer, Mendoza said, he hopes to leave his own influence for junior Marines.

"It can get hectic and rough in the beginning [of a deployment]," he said. "But the MEU has its fun times, like visiting ports in different countries. And it has opportunities for Marines to stand out and get promoted."

When he leaves the Marines, Mendoza said, he hopes to attend the Commercial Diving Academy in Jacksonville, Fla., and to become a commercial diver.


Service Members Must Prepare For Transition, Dempsey Says

American Forces Press Service
By Jim Garamone
WASHINGTON, March 30, 2012 - This is a time of transition for the U.S. military and part of that change requires service members to immerse themselves in the study of their profession, said Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Dempsey took time during his recent travels to Colombia and Brazil to talk to reporters about the transitions he sees coming.

In his letter to the force upon taking office in October, Dempsey stressed the need for service members to study their profession.

"We're not a profession simply because we say we're a profession," he wrote. "We must continue to learn, to understand, and to promote the knowledge, skills, attributes and behaviors that define us as a profession."
Dempsey said he gets a lot of affirmation on his position.

"Most agree that we need to look inside this profession of ours and make sure we have the attributes right," the general said in an interview aboard a C-17 en route to Colombia. "Are we developing the right attributes in our new leaders? Some of those attributes are enduring, but there are some new ones."

But there are a number of service members, he said, who question the need for this study.
"There are some who say, 'C'mon. Look how good we're doing. If it ain't broke, don't fix it,'" Dempsey said. "To me, that's the formula for losing our credentials as a learning organization."

The military has been through 10 years of conflict and service members have made many deployments. "How can we think that hasn't had some effect? It seems to me to be a bit naïve," the general said.
Dempsey said he isn't suggesting the military is broken. Morale is high, he said, and the spirit in the force is good.

"I am suggesting that we ought to have the conversation," the general said.
The U.S. military has had these sorts of discussions throughout its existence. As the military faces its latest transition, Dempsey said, it is a good time to see what is needed to maintain the best military on the globe.
And this discussion is not limited to officers. "We have been putting more emphasis on the noncommissioned officer as an integral part of the profession," Dempsey said. "That's kind of a new thing. Twenty years ago, the profession was defined by officer corps and then the NCOs were held accountable to go out and deliver it."
But NCOs have to be part of the discussion on what it means to be a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine, the chairman said.

"How do you see yourselves as leaders in the profession?" he said. "They are at the point of the spear on this in terms of dealing with all the issues we've uncovered in the past 10 years. We have continually said to them -- rightly -- that they are what make us great; that they are the backbone of the profession."
But being the backbone means continuing to grow and to be strong enough to support the body, the general said.

Ten years of war, Dempsey said, has affected all aspects of the force. NCOs have typically been handed a training checklist, for example, to get troops ready for war.
"Now they are reaching a point where noncommissioned officers are going to have to think about what it means to train their organizations," he said, "to deliver an outcome and to re-instill those small disciplines -- training management, command supply discipline, barracks discipline -- those small disciplines that in a war sometimes are overlooked because they are so darn busy.

"Now we are going to have to hold the NCOs accountable for bringing that [discipline] back," he added, "and I think sometimes they underestimate the challenge."

HHS SAYS ORANGES MAY REDUCE RISK OF STOKES


The following excerpt is from a Health and Human services e-mail:
HHS HealthBeat (March 29, 2012)
                                                                                                                          Credit:  Leigh Brandt
Oranges and strokes
People generally should eat more fruits and vegetables, and one study suggests a possible reason to have citrus on that menu. In collaboration with Harvard University, Aedin Cassidy at the University of East Anglia in England examined data on the risk of stroke in almost 70,000 U.S. nurses. She looked at what the women ate, especially forms of flavonoids, found in plants:

"Citrus flavonoids, called flavanones, seemed to be associated with a reduction in risk. So our data suggests that if you eat more citrus fruits, it may modestly reduce your risk of stroke."

Cassidy says more research is needed. But she does not recommend supplements, and she says whole fruits are best.

The study in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

ARCHAEOLOGISTS FIND THOUSANDS OF ARTIFACTS AT LUKE AIR FORCE BASE IN ARIZONA


The photo and excerpt are from the Department of Defense Armed With Science website:
Archaeologists excavate land Feb. 9, 2012, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., in order to make way for a solar array the base is planning to build. The excavation team has found thousands of artifacts dating back to 3,000 B.C. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Sandra Welch)

By Senior Airman C.J. Hatch
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Archaeologists here recently unearthed an ancient dwelling — just one of thousands of artifacts found here that date back as far as 3,000 B.C.
The excavation was part of the site preparation, including mitigation of surface archaeology and testing for subsurface archaeology, for a large solar array on the south side of the base,

“This site could be of importance to Arizona and the Phoenix valley,” said John Hall, the senior project director with Statistical Research, which is doing the excavation. “We had some of the artifacts dated and this site is almost 1,000 years older than any other site in the Phoenix valley.”

Since October 2010, the excavation team has found thousands of artifacts around the area to help them get an idea of how the people here lived.
“We believe the people to be nomadic,” Hall said. “We found storage holes filled with stone tools and other things. The stone used clearly comes from a river, very different from the stone around Luke.”

One of the things about the site archeologists found interesting was that it dated to the poorly understood Middle and Late Archaic periods of the Phoenix Basin and south-central Arizona between 3,000 and 1,000 B.C.

“The things we have found here will allow a very detailed examination of these ancient life ways,” Hall said. “This is an unprecedented opportunity not included in the more than 100 years of documented archaeological work in and around the Phoenix Basin.”
Archeologists have long studied the Hohokam of the Phoenix valley — one of three major prehistoric archaeological traditions of the American Southwest — including they way they lived, the farming they did and the plants they grew. The Hohokam occupied the valley and much of southern Arizona from 1 to 1450 A.D. The Hohokam grew corn, beans, squash and agave. They also built hundreds of miles of canals throughout the valley to irrigate their agricultural fields. This site has offered a new perspective into the lives of people thousands of years before that.

“This site is 2,000 years older than the Hohokam; these people could be their ancestors,” Hall said. “They were from a time before agriculture, before maze was brought up from Mexico. This will help us understand lots of things. We can get a better idea of how people got food before farming. We can narrow down the time frame when maize was brought from the south. We have 5,000 years of history right here to help us understand things. This could change our understanding of the prehistoric people of the valley.”
The location of Luke AFB attracted the Native Americans who lived here 5,000 years ago as well as the Air Force in the 1940s.

“The land here is in a great location,” Hall said. “You have the White Tank Mountains and the Aqua Fria River both right here close by. There was food and water at hand, and we think they may have moved between the foothills and the river over their course through the valley.”

The land being excavated is located by the south end of the runway and was not being used for anything before the solar array was planned. Luke AFB officials plan to build the solar array to help offset energy costs.
“We have land here that was not being utilized because of the noise from the end of the runway,” said 1st Lt Chris Warshaw, of the 56th Civil Engineer Squadron. “We have a perfect spot for a solar array that could generate almost 50 percent of the electricity the base consumes.”

The solar array is still planned to be built, but it will take longer than initially planned due to the mitigation phase.
“We need to thank Luke,” Hall said, “because if the base had not been here, the land probably would have been dug up years ago to make room for houses or farms.”



MILITARY ENLISTED LEADERS DISCUSS SUICIDE PREVENTION


American Forces Press Service



Enlisted Leaders Focus on Suicide Prevention

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
WASHINGTON, March 29, 2012 - The most senior enlisted leaders from each branch of service and the combatant commands focused on the health of the force, and specifically on suicide prevention, during a conference here this week, the military's top enlisted member said today.

Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he and the other enlisted leaders collaborated on issues pertaining to the health, welfare and wellness of service members and their families.

Battaglia highlighted his "NOW" initiative, designed to reach younger service members.
"The audience that I really wanted to reach is the 18- to 24-year-olds," he said. The suicide issue seems to be most prevalent with younger service members, he said, but "it's also important to educate the leadership too, so the audience wasn't restricted to simply the young [troops]."

The sergeant major broke down the initiative's three-letter acronym.
"The 'N' meaning there is never a problem too big that one would have to resort to suicide as a course of action to solve a problem," he said. "If it is a problem, bring the problem to us, and we can solve it together, if he or she can't solve it alone.

"The 'O' is simply outreach – an outreach that is literally a fingertip away," Battaglia continued. "Troops can outreach by pressing the button on a phone, knocking on someone's door, or by texting a team leader, but help is readily available."

Battaglia said the final letter, "W," represents "we," as in the one-team concept of all leaders, service members and their families.

"[It's] just to remind them -- even though I think that all of our troops and families know we care, and I say we collectively, again -- it's one team, and it's a universal problem, so we're going to find a universal solution for this," he said.

During the conference, Battaglia said, he brought in a subject-matter expert to shed more light on suicide and further educate senior leadership. The military still has "a lot of work to do" in preventing suicides, he acknowledged.
"And we just have to burn the midnight oil to try to crack this code as to why folks are not coming to get help and using suicide as an option," Battaglia said.

Battaglia said he believes the conference was "a great networking opportunity."
"It afforded us the opportunity to build relationships between the services and the combatant commands," he said. "It's all about relationships."

Thursday, March 29, 2012

ARYAN BROTHERHOOD OF TEXAS MEMBER GETS PRISON TIME FOR 2009 SHOOTING


The following excerpt is from the Department of Justice website: 
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Aryan Brotherhood of Texas Member Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Role in 2009 Shooting

WASHINGTON – A member of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT) was sentenced today to 20 years in prison for his role in the 2009 shooting of a man in Jefferson County, Texas, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney John M. Bales of the Eastern District of Texas.

Joshua Mark Bodine, 32, aka “Desperado,” of Vidor, Texas, also was ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Marcia A. Crone to serve three years of supervised release following his prison term.  Bodine pleaded guilty on Oct. 11, 2011, to assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering activity.

Co-defendant John Oliver Manning, 52, aka “Fish,” of Pasadena, Texas, was convicted on Dec. 1, 2011, of racketeering and firearms charges.  Bodine has been in custody since his arrest on Feb. 24, 2011, and Manning has been in custody since his arrest on Sept. 9, 2009.  A sentencing date for Manning has not yet been set by the court.

According to the indictment, the ABT is a race-based, state-wide organization that operates inside and outside of state and federal prisons throughout the United States.  The ABT was established in the early 1980s within the Texas prison system.  It modeled itself after and adopted many of the teachings and writings of the Aryan Brotherhood, a California-based prison gang that was formed in the California prison system during the 1960s.  According to the indictment, the ABT was primarily concerned with the protection of white inmates and white supremacy/separatism.  Over time, the ABT expanded its criminal enterprise to include illegal activities for profit.

The evidence presented at Manning’s trial also showed that the ABT enforces its rules and promotes discipline among its members, prospects and associates through murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, assault, robbery and threats against those who violate the rules or pose a threat to the enterprise.  Members, and oftentimes associates, are required to follow the orders of higher-ranking members.

The evidence at trial established that on Sept. 7, 2009, Manning shot and wounded ABT associate Matthew Fails in Nederland, Texas, on the orders of Bodine.  Specifically, Manning approached Fails with a firearm and a pair of handcuffs in an attempt to collect a debt on Bodine’s behalf and ultimately shot Fails.  Fails was declared brain-dead, but later regained consciousness after emergency surgery.  A surgeon testified that the wound Fails received caused “agonizing pain” and that Fails “would not ever be the same.”
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive; the Nederland Police Department; Orange County, Texas, Constable’s Office, Precinct 2; Jefferson County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office; Williamson County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office; Chambers County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office; Alvin, Texas, Police Department; Mont Belvieu, Texas, Police Department; and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.  The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Baylor Wortham of the Eastern District of Texas and Trial Attorney Cody L. Skipper of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section.


YOUNGEST WHITE HOUSE AID

Corbin Fleming, brother of 2011 March of Dimes National Ambassador Lauren Fleming, plays with the President's telephone during his family's visit to the Oval Office, Feb. 7, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

THE STORY OF A MARINE IN AFGHANISTAN


This photo and excerpt are from a Department of Defense American Forces Press Service e-mail:
Marine Corps Sgt. Matthew Branch communicates with other Marines before a joint convoy with Afghan truck drivers, March 13, 2012. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. John Jackson

Face of Defense: Marine Works to Keep Afghans Safe
By Marine Corps Sgt. John Jackson
1st Marine Logistics Group
HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan, March 23, 2012 - For the past six months, Marine Corps Sgt. Matthew Branch has provided security for Afghan truck drivers while they deliver fuel to forward operating bases here.
Branch is the assistant security team leader for 1st Marine Logistics Group's 2nd Platoon, General Support Motor Transport Company, Marine Air-Ground Task Force Support Battalion 11.2. He is a Marine Corps reservist attached to 4th Engineer Maintenance Company in Omaha, Neb.
Back home, the Kearney, Neb., native is accustomed to arriving at work at 6 a.m. and leaving around 3 p.m. Here, he must be sure the enemy does not affect his mission or harm Afghan drivers.
Branch is a maintenance technician at a clothing distribution center in civilian life. Fixing broken equipment is his specialty, but he has become proficient in his duties here as well, he said.
"This is my third deployment," said Branch, 29. "I love to deploy. I like to be engaged with what the Marine Corps is doing."
During his current deployment, Branch has been responsible for getting fuel and other supplies to Marines stationed throughout Helmand province.
"Our mission is to safely and expediently transport combat essential gear and fuel to the Marines and service members throughout the [area of operations]," he said. "Our platoon has completed more than a dozen missions, and we have been very successful at getting our job accomplished."
In addition to making sure fuel and equipment is delivered safely, Branch and his Marines also interact and work with local civilians.
"There is a language barrier, but it was definitely a unique experience," he said. "It gave us all a great insight and a great way to experience the local culture."
With his company's seven-month deployment nearing its end, Branch said, he is looking forward to getting back to Nebraska to be with his family, but believes his time in Afghanistan has been a worthy accomplishment.
"I am ready to get in some good quality time with my wife and daughter," he said. "My wife is a very proud Marine Corps wife, and she is very supportive.
"This deployment has been a success. Any mission that was asked of the Marines, they got done and excelled at," he added. "We kept our convoys safe, the local nationals safe, and got our missions completed."



EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY HAS ANNOUNCED CARGO VEHICLE DOCKING WITH THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION

By Leigh Brandt
The European Space Agency announces that it’s third cargo vehicle has docked with the International Space Station.  Edoado Amaldi (ATV-3) docked with the Russian space module at the ISS.

Thomas Reiter, ESA’s Director of Human Spaceflight and Operations said, “No-one should consider that this smooth and gentle docking between these two giant spacecraft is either an easy or routine task.  The technologies we have demonstrated in operational conditions with the ATVs have a tremendous potential for future human spaceflight and exploration missions.”

The ESA website went on to say, “ Like its predecessors, ATV-3 has a multifaceted mission. As a space tug, it is loaded with 3150 kg of propellant to reboost the Station’s orbit to compensate for the natural decay in altitude caused by atmospheric drag or to move it from the path of potentially hazardous space debris. ATV also provides attitude control when other spacecraft are approaching the Station.”

ESA went on to say that the ATV-3 can also be used as a tanker for fuel or as extra living space for ISS occupants.  



IN AFGHANISTAN COALITION FORCES WORK TO AVERT "INSIDER" ATTACKS


The following excerpt is from the Department of Defense American Forces Press Service website:



Afghans, Coalition Work to Avert 'Insider' Attacks

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 26, 2012 - Afghan and coalition leaders are working to limit "insider threat" killings in Afghanistan, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces there told reporters here today.
Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen said at a Pentagon news conference that Afghan and coalition forces have changed their operations to address the killing of coalition members by Afghan soldiers or police forces, also known as "green-on-blue" events.

Fifteen coalition members have been killed in such events this year. "I think you're aware that tragically we had one overnight, as two young British soldiers were killed in Helmand province," Allen said.
Afghan leaders have put in place an eight-step vetting process, Allen said, and have placed counterintelligence operatives in army and police schools, recruiting centers and within the ranks "to spot and assess the potential emergence of an individual who could be an extremist or, in fact, a Taliban infiltrator."
The general said some breakthroughs have taken place, as Afghan investigators have arrested people in uniform who potentially could have been perpetrators of "green-on-blue" violence.
"So the process is actually working," he added.

Allen said he has directed International Security Assistance Force troop-contributing nations to increase training for their deploying forces. ISAF troops, he added, have changed sleeping, basing and guard arrangements to better-protect coalition troops.

"Between what the Afghans have done for themselves, what we're doing for ourselves and how we're partnering together, we seek to reduce this tragedy to the maximum extent possible," he said.
While the Taliban take credit for all such attacks, Allen said, the majority are not a direct result of Taliban infiltration. But it's no secret that the Taliban have for some time tried to infiltrate Afghan forces and elements that support Afghan and coalition forces directly, he noted.

In most cases, the relationship between Afghan and coalition troops is strong, the general said. Still, he acknowledged, the attacks are one characteristic of counterinsurgency campaigns.
"We experienced these in Iraq, [and] we experienced them in Vietnam," Allen said. "On any occasion where you're dealing with an insurgency and where you're also growing an indigenous force -- which will ultimately be the principal opposition to that insurgency -- the enemy's [going to] do all that they can to disrupt the counterinsurgency operations, but also disrupt the integrity of the indigenous forces that develop."

HHS SAYS CHILDREN NEED MORE ACTIVITY

The following article is from a Department of Health and Human Services e-mail:
A HHS HealthBeat (March 27, 2012)
Active games, less-active kids
An active video game doesn’t necessarily make a kid more active. A new study of 78 children, ages 9 to 12, shows that kids were no more or less active when playing an active video game.

Dr. Tom Baranowski is a professor of pediatrics at the Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital.
“If Mama brings a video game home, can she expect that her child will get more physical activity, and the answer is, as far as we can tell, no.”

Experts say children should get 60 minutes of activity a day for good health.
“Parents who want to have their kids to be more physically active should enroll their children in school-based sports teams, other kinds of physical activities.” (10 seconds)
The study in the journal Pediatrics was supported by the National Institutes of Health.



Wednesday, March 28, 2012

HHS SAYS RAW MILK PUTS CHILDREN AT RISK


The following excerpt is from a Department of Health and Human Services e-mail:
Raw milk has its following, but experts say the followers are putting themselves at risk – and their children and families, too. Raw milk is nonpasteurized, which means it has not been treated against germs that can be found in cows – even if the cow looks healthy. Some people think raw milk is better, but researcher Adam Langer of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention knows what happens to people who drink it.
“Raw milk and other nonpasteurized dairy products can carry harmful bacteria and other germs that can make you very sick or kill you.”  (8 seconds)
He says some raw milk drinkers have wound up needing weeks of kidney dialysis, and even ventilators to help them breathe.
The study is in the CDC journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

TAX LIEN BID RIGGER PLEADS GUILTY


The following excerpt is from the Department of Justice Antitrust website:
WASHINGTON — A financial investor who purchased municipal tax liens at auctions in New Jersey pleaded guilty today for his role in a conspiracy to rig bids for the sale of tax liens auctioned by municipalities throughout the state, the Department of Justice announced.
A felony charge was filed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey in Newark, N.J., against Robert E. Rothman of New York. Under the plea agreement, which is subject to court approval, Rothman has agreed to cooperate with the department’s ongoing investigation.

According to the felony charge, from in or about the spring of 2000 until approximately February 2009, Rothman participated in a conspiracy to rig bids at auctions for the sale of municipal tax liens in New Jersey by agreeing to allocate among certain bidders on which liens to bid. The department said that Rothman proceeded to submit bids in accordance with his agreement and purchased tax liens at collusive and non-competitive interest rates.
“The Antitrust Division’s investigation into municipal tax lien auctions is ongoing and active,” said Sharis A. Pozen, Acting Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “The division will not tolerate this kind of illegal conduct that harms distressed homeowners.”

The department said that the primary purpose of the conspiracy was to suppress and restrain competition to obtain selected municipal tax liens offered at public auctions at non-competitive interest rates. When the owner of real property fails to pay taxes on that property, the municipality in which the property is located may attach a lien for the amount of the unpaid taxes. If the taxes remain unpaid after a waiting period, the lien may be sold at auction. State law requires that investors bid on the interest rate delinquent homeowners will pay upon redemption. By law, the bid opens at 18 percent interest and, through a competitive bidding process, can be driven down to zero percent. If a lien remains unpaid after a certain period of time, the investor who purchased the lien may begin foreclosure proceedings against the property to which the lien is attached.  

According to the court documents, Rothman conspired with others not to bid against one another at municipal tax lien auctions in New Jersey. Since the conspiracy permitted the conspirators to purchase tax liens with limited competition, each conspirator was able to obtain liens which earned a higher interest rate. Property owners were therefore made to pay higher interest on their tax debts than they would have paid had their liens been purchased in open and honest competition.

A violation of the Sherman Act carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine for individuals. The maximum fine for a Sherman Act violation may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victim if either amount is greater than the statutory maximum.

Rothman is the sixth individual to plead guilty as a result of the ongoing investigation into bid rigging or fraud related to municipal tax lien auctions. On Aug. 24, 2011, Isadore H. May, Richard J. Pisciotta Jr. and William A. Collins each pleaded guilty to one count of bid rigging in connection with their participation in a conspiracy to allocate liens at New Jersey auctions. On Feb. 23, 2012, Robert W. Stein and David M. Farber each pleaded guilty to one count of bid rigging in connection with their participation in this conspiracy.  

Today’s charge is part of efforts underway by President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF). President Obama established the interagency FFETF to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. 

FDA REVISES RECOMMENDATIONS ON CELEXA


The following excerpt is from an e-mail sent out by the FDA on the drug Celexa:



Celexa (citalopram hydrobromide) - Drug Safety Communication: Revised Recommendations, Potential Risk of Abnormal Heart Rhythms

AUDIENCE: Psychiatry, Cardiology
ISSUE: FDA is clarifying dosing and warning recommendations for the antidepressant Celexa (citalopram hydrobromide; also available in generic form). In August 2011, FDA issued a Drug Safety Communication (DSC) stating that citalopram should no longer be used at doses greater than 40 mg per day because it could cause potentially dangerous abnormalities in the electrical activity of the heart. Citalopram use at any dose is discouraged in patients with certain conditions because of the risk of QT prolongation, but because it may be important for some of those patients to use citalopram, the drug label has been changed to describe the particular caution that needs to be taken when citalopram is used in such patients. The revised drug label also describes lower doses that should be used in patients over 60 years of age.
Read the FDA Drug Safety Communication for additional information.
BACKGROUND: Celexa (citalopram hydrobromide; also available in generic form) is in a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
RECOMMENDATIONS:
  • Citalopram is not recommended for use at doses greater than 40 mg per day because such doses cause too large an effect on the QT interval and confer no additional benefit.
  • Citalopram is not recommended for use in patients with congenital long QT syndrome, bradycardia, hypokalemia, or hypomagnesemia, recent acute myocardial infarction, or uncompensated heart failure. 
  • Citalopram use is also not recommended in patients who are taking other drugs that prolong the QT interval.
  • The maximum recommended dose of citalopram is 20 mg per day for patients with hepatic impairment, patients who are older than 60 years of age, patients who are CYP 2C19 poor metabolizers, or patients who are taking concomitant cimetidine (Tagamet) or another CYP2C19 inhibitor, because these factors lead to increased blood levels of citalopram, increasing the risk of QT interval prolongation and Torsade de Pointes.
See the FDA Drug Safety Communication for additional recommendations for healthcare professionals and patients.

Healthcare professionals and patients are encouraged to report adverse events or side effects related to the use of these products to the FDA's MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program:

U.S. SAYS TROOPS IN AFGHANISTAN RECEIVE BEST TRAUMA CARE IN THE WORLD

The following excerpt is from the American Forces Press Service:

Services Strive to Extend Expert Trauma Care

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 28, 2012 - Troops deployed to Afghanistan are receiving the best trauma care in the world, and the services are determined to continue that level of expertise as service members return home, the military's top health professionals told a Senate panel today.

The surgeons general of the Army, Navy and Air Force testified about the status of military health care before the Senate Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee.

Lt. Gen. Patricia D. Horoho, the Army's surgeon general and former chief of its nurse corps, said Army health professionals have a proud history of standing side by side with troops on the battlefield since the nation's beginning.

Those skills have been well-honed in the past decade of war, Horoho and her Navy and Air Force counterparts said.

"It cannot be overstated that the best trauma care in the world resides in Kandahar," Horoho said, noting that the NATO hospital complex in Afghanistan's southern region houses the best military trauma professionals from the 50-nation coalition.

The services strive to continue that top level of care as troops leave the war theater, from hospitals and rehabilitation centers, to when they return home, the surgeons general said. As the United States draws down from Afghanistan, they said, the services need not only to retain those battlefield skills, but also to transition more toward wellness and promotion of overall health.

"Our mission is larger than wartime medicine," Horoho said.

Vice Adm. (Dr.) Matthew L. Nathan, the Navy's surgeon general, agreed. "They need to heal in mind, body and spirit," he said of warfighters.

To that end, the Navy has seen success with its program to help redeployed Marines deal with post-traumatic stress, binge drinking, sleep disorders and other problems, Nathan said.

Each of the surgeons general said the proposed fiscal 2013 budget would meet their service's health system needs, and agreed with Nathan that they must strive to innovate, operate more jointly, engage with private sector providers, and partner with civilian health departments and agencies, such as the Veterans Affairs Department.
"Interoperability creates systemwide synergies," Nathan said, and allows for better care at lower cost.
The surgeons general defended the Defense Department's budget proposal to increase TRICARE enrollment fees on a tiered basis for military retirees as being necessary to bringing down rapidly rising health care costs.
The department's health care costs rose from $19 billion in 2001 to an expected $51 billion this year, Nathan said. And while the costs have grown, retirees still are paying the same $400 to $500 annual fee they've paid for TRICARE since the health plan's inception in the mid-1990s, while new programs like TRICARE for Life have driven up costs, he said.

"This is an effort to try to find a fair increase in the participation of beneficiaries, in an effort to make it commensurate to the benefits they've received in the last few years," he said.
Air Force Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Charles B. Green acknowledged that military retiree groups have been vocal about opposing the increase. But he added that he will be retiring soon and he supports the higher fees.
"There is a mismatch now with inflation," he said. "We've been giving cost-of-living increases to retirement, but not increasing any of the out-of-pocket costs."

Horoho, Nathan and Green said they also are looking for redundancies and other cost savings in programs to affect future budgets.

SPEAKING TO AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE U.S. OFFICIAL SAYS U.S. INVESTMENT IN VIETNAM IS "PROLIFERATING"


The following excerpt is from a U.S. State Department e-mail:
Remarks at American Chamber of Commerce Vietnam
Remarks Robert D. Hormats
Under Secretary for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs Hanoi, Vietnam
March 20, 2012
As prepared for delivery
Introduction
I would like to thank the AmCham for hosting this luncheon today and to all of you for coming.

All of you are on the cutting edge of a bilateral economic relationship that is growing in leaps and bounds.

Not only are U.S. exports to Vietnam expanding rapidly – from $3.1 billion in 2009 to $4.3 billion in 2011 – but the number of U.S. companies invested in Vietnam also is proliferating, as is evidenced by your presence here today.

I’m looking forward to learning from all of you today about how we can further strengthen the U.S.-Vietnam economic relationship.

I want to take a moment to thank Adam Sitkoff from AmCham Hanoi and Sesto Vecchi from AmCham Ho Chi Minh City for their participation in Secretary Clinton’s Global Business Conference last month in Washington.

It was the first-ever Global Business Conference at the State Department in Washington. We brought together senior U.S. officials with more than 160 business leaders from over 120 countries.

The Global Business Conference had one goal: to figure out how the United States can make it easier for companies to do business internationally and create American jobs.

The State Department and Economic Statecraft
Now you may be asking yourselves “Why is the State Department spending so much time thinking about the U.S. economy and America’s commercial interests abroad? This is not something the State Department has spent so much time worrying about in the past.”
Strengthening the U.S. economy and creating jobs is a top priority back home. With the launch of the President’s National Export Initiative in early 2010, all agencies with a role in U.S. international trade, including the Department of State, were asked to play a more active role in export promotion. And given the numbers of state of the U.S. economy, no issue is more important today.

In addition, Secretary Clinton recognizes “that America’s economic strength and our global leadership are a package deal and that you’re not going to have one without the other.”

In a speech she delivered last fall describing this challenge, she said “Our power in the 21st century depends not just on the size of our military but also on what we grow, how well we innovate, what we make, and how effectively we sell. Rising powers like China, India, and Brazil understand this as well, and we can’t sit on the sidelines while they put economics at the center of their foreign policies.”

And so the State Department is engaging in Economic Statecraft. That was why we hosted the Global Business Conference, and brought together senior U.S. government officials and U.S. multinational business executives from around the world to exchange information and ideas on how best to shape our work going forward.
At the time of the conference, the Secretary announced the creation of “Jobs Diplomacy,” a series of programs to promote American business competitiveness overseas and equip Foreign Service Officers with the skills and tools they need to better advocate for America’s economic interests abroad.

Through the Jobs Diplomacy initiative, the Secretary stated her commitment to meet with business leaders on every foreign trip. She also launched the “Direct Line to American Business” program, in which ambassadors in key markets are being asked to conduct regular conference calls to brief the U.S. business community on economic opportunities in their countries, as well as answer questions.

But, very importantly for this audience, the Secretary also fully recognizes the positive role played by U.S. companies that are investing overseas.

While export promotion remains a critical component of the U.S. government’s support of business, we also recognize that working with foreign governments to improve their investment environments for companies like yours here in Vietnam also benefits the U.S. economy.

Economic Shift to Asia
I don’t need to tell you that much of future global economic growth will be centered in the Asia-Pacific.

Asian economies and populations are growing rapidly and so are the opportunities to expand our exports to the region.
In 2011, the United States exported nearly $900 billion in goods to APEC countries. That’s more exports than we sent to any other group of regional economies.
We hope that our economic shift to Asia has been obvious and beneficial. We were able to get KORUS passed, we hosted a successful APEC year in 2011, and we are increasing our engagement with ASEAN.

In Southeast Asia in particular, the U.S. government is looking to launch a couple of new initiatives to support our private sectors interests in the region.

The U.S. Trade Development Agency (USTDA) is leading a Connectivity Cooperation Initiative with ASEAN. As part of this effort, TDA is planning to hold a workshop on “Smart Grid and Power Transmission” with ASEAN in July.

In addition, the State Department is collaborating with the U.S. ASEAN Business Council to organize a Lower Mekong Initiative Infrastructure Best Practices Exchange.
We want to look for innovative ways to be more proactive in Southeast Asia – to partner with ASEAN and to help give a boost to U.S. business interests.

Rules-based System
As we make this shift to Asia, though, it is imperative that we do it in the right way.
The decisions Asia’s emerging economies make together with the United States will help govern a rules-based system that will guide us through the 21st century. If we get the rules right, all of our countries will prosper together.

The Trans Pacific Partnership is a big part of forging this new system.
TPP members, including the United States and Vietnam, are working to complete the TPP negotiations as expeditiously as possible, recognizing that all members need to share a high level of ambition for this agreement.

As we build a more prosperous future through the TPP and other initiatives, we should be clear.
We are striving to build a global, rules-based system in which all businesses stand a chance to succeed. Secretary Clinton has clearly articulated our vision that economic competition should be open, free, transparent, and fair.

In the case of Vietnam, this vision should include enhanced protection of intellectual property rights. While Vietnam has made some progress in this area, I know I don’t need to tell you that Vietnamese enforcement agencies are overwhelmed by high levels of copyright and patent infringements, counterfeiting and piracy, internet piracy, and fake goods.

The U.S. Government will continue to cooperate with Vietnam to improve intellectual property protection here, including by providing training and technical assistance to Vietnamese enforcement agencies.

Our vision of open, free, transparent and fair competition also will need to include continued discussions with Vietnam on the proper role of its state-owned enterprises.
We will continue to advocate for policies that support “competitive neutrality.” In other words, while we do not object to SOEs per se, we do not believe they should enjoy unfair advantages from government support that private companies – including U.S. companies – do not receive.

Private Sector Collaboration is Critical
And we want to do everything we can to support U.S. companies in Vietnam.
As the Secretary noted in her speech at the Global Business Conference on February 21st, we want to work with the AmChams around the world to best support U.S. businesses abroad and drive recovery at home.

As part of this effort our embassies have identified best practices that demonstrate how the U.S. government and AmChams can better collaborate to expand opportunities for U.S. businesses worldwide.

However, we can and must do much more in the coming years to advance this economic statecraft agenda, and we need the business community to be our full partner.
We need to sit down together more, in forums like this one or the State Department Global Business Conference.

Building sustainable global growth and creating jobs at home is a joint venture.
The private sector innovates and allocates capital, and the government opens doors to new markets and ensures that the system is fair.

We must take our partnership between business and government to the next level.
We are relying on you to think big, to generate new ideas, to open doors with jobs and capital. And the government will be right beside you – knocking down barriers, connecting partners, protecting everyone’s interests.

Together, we can build a system of healthy economic competition that will be sustainable and profitable for many years to come.

Strong commercial ties lead to prosperity at home and abroad and I look forward to our discussion about what we can do to strengthen those ties.

Conclusion
In conclusion, I would just say that we should all be asking: What can the government and the State Department do to improve opportunities for business in Vietnam? How can we do better?

We really want to hear from you – the U.S. business community – about the best way forward for our trade and investment relations with Vietnam.
I look forward to hearing your insights and am more than willing to answer any questions you might have.

Thank you.