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Monday, April 30, 2012

QUEEN'S DAY IN THE NETHERLANDS

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
Queen's Day in the Netherlands
Press Statement Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State Washington, DC
April 27, 2012
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of the Netherlands on Queen’s Day this April 30.
Diplomatic relations between our two countries go back to 1782, when the Netherlands was one of the first countries to recognize the United States. Since then, our close relationship has flourished based on the strong bonds of our shared history and culture, united by our people. Today, our relationship continues to thrive as we work to advance our common interests and our shared values. The United States and the Netherlands work together on a wide range of issues, from promoting democracy and safety in Libya and Afghanistan to our global efforts to support sustainable development and empower women and girls.

I wish Her Majesty Queen Beatrix and all the people of the Netherlands, Aruba, and the Dutch Antilles a very happy birthday celebration. The United States remains committed to strengthening the deep bonds of friendship between our nations and peoples for years to come.




HHS WARNS OF CYBERBULLIES

FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
HHS HealthBeat (April 30, 2012)
Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying, which happens online, can hurt feelings and damage relationships, and it is increasing with emerging technologies. One-click access to the Internet makes it that much more dangerous for kids.

Marci Hertz is a health scientist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“It can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.” Parents and kids can choose to be careful online.

“There are definitely steps that parents can take to help prevent cyberbullying in terms of kids being careful who they’re friends with, adults and parents being friends with their kids on the social networking sites, going to the sites that their kids go to themselves.”


THE MENTAL AND PHYSICAL HEALTH CONNECTION


FROM:  U.S. VETERANS ADMINISTRATION
Mental and Physical Health – A Critical Connection 
The Case for Integrated Care
May is Mental Health Month, a time VA dedicates to raising awareness of Veterans’ mental health conditions and focuses on the many programs VA has to help achieve mental wellness for all.

A workforce of over 20,000 VA staff caring for the mental health of America’s Veterans is scheduled to increase by another 1,900. See sidebar story.
The mission of VA’s Office of Mental Health Services is to maintain and improve the health and well-being of Veterans through excellence in health care, social services, education, and research.

It has long been recognized that mental health and physical health problems are interrelated components of overall health and are best treated in a coordinated care system. In 2007, VA formally began an initiative to assure that coordination takes place — integrated care is now present in almost every VA medical center and an increasing number of community based outpatient clinics.

According to Dr. Andrew Pomerantz, “There have been many calls for full integration of mental health into the rest of health care over a decade, beginning with the Surgeon General’s report in 1999 and later repeated by The Institute of Medicine, the New Freedom Commission, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and many others.”

Dr. Pomerantz is VA’s National Mental Health Director for Integrated Care. He works collaboratively with the National Primary Care Director for Integrated Care.
“One goal of integrated care is to elevate mental health care to the same level of urgency and intervention as other health conditions.”

The important context of integrated care recognizes several facts:
Primary care provides opportunities to screen for unrecognized mental illness. Without ready access to mental health care, these conditions are not always treated.

Many patients prefer treatment in primary care settings and are not willing to attend appointments in a mental health clinic.

An established relationship with a primary care team fosters engagement in treatment. Adding mental health experts to that team expands the reach of what can be accomplished without referral to mental health services.

Health conditions do not always neatly fall into “physical” and “mental health” categories. They are closely interrelated. Outcomes of many general health conditions can be improved if the psychological and behavioral problems are attended to.

As Dr. Pomerantz explains, “We have repeatedly found that once integrated care programs are implemented, more patients with mental illness receive effective treatment than when they were treated in separate systems.

“Integrated care programs offer same-day appointments while the patients are already in the primary care clinic. This eliminates the attrition we generally see when patients have to wait days or weeks for an appointment in another clinic. If a patient has to wait a month for a mental health appointment, there’s almost a 50% likelihood that he or she will either cancel it or not show up when the time comes.”

Elevating Mental Health Care
The objective is to integrate care for Veterans’ physical and mental health conditions, improve access and quality of care across the spectrum of illness severity, reduce the stigma often associated with seeking help for mental illness, and allow treatment in mental health specialty settings to focus on persons with more severe illnesses. This greatly enhances the effectiveness of mental health treatment for those with more serious mental illness.

One goal of integrated care is to elevate mental health care to the same level of urgency and intervention as other health conditions. It provides the expertise to assure that mental disorders are effectively treated.

Dr. Pomerantz describes how a Veteran with co-occurring disorders is helped by integrated care. “We know, for instance, that outcomes for patients with diabetes are improved when we pay as much attention to patients’ mood as we do to their blood sugar.”

He adds, “Primary care practitioners are a critical link in identifying and addressing mental disorders and have often been called the ‘de facto mental health system,’ since most people with mental illness never make it to specialty mental health care. Opportunities are missed to improve mental health and general medical outcomes when a mental illness is under-recognized or under-treated in primary care settings.

“Until the establishment of integrated care, such under-recognition and under-treatment were the norm in primary care, despite the best intentions of primary care providers.”

Discussion Website Lets Vets Share
One avenue of treatment is the benefit Veteran patients receive from talking about their situation with other Vets. A unique VA website lets Veterans share problems and solutions.

MakeTheConnection.net is a website where you will hear inspiring stories of strength and learn what has worked for other Veterans. You will discover positive steps you can take, all in the words of Veterans just like you.

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) provides specialty inpatient and outpatient mental health services at its medical centers and community-based outpatient clinics. In addition, readjustment counseling services are available for Veterans and their families at Vet Centers across the nation. All mental health care provided by VHA supports recovery, striving to enable a person with mental health problems to live a meaningful life in their community and achieve their full potential.

Hydrogen Fuel Cells – Energy Made Easier

U.S. Department of Defense Armed with Science Update

Vigilancia global em risco

Vigilancia global em risco

NEW POWER PROSTHETICS GIVE BACK THE POWER OF WALKING


FROM:  AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE
Power Prosthetics Propel Service Members to Better Lives
By Terri Moon Cronk
BETHESDA, Md., April 27, 2012 - Marine Corps Cpl. Garrett Carnes was on a clearing mission in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province in February when he stepped on a pressure plate that exploded and cost him both legs.

Two months later, the former squad leader was fitted with prosthetic legs -- one with the X2 microprocessor power knee, and the new combination of a bionic foot and ankle at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center here.

Carnes, 22, called his first steps "motivating." The gift of being able to walk so soon exceeded his expectations. "Mentally, it feels good to get back on my feet," he said, taking steps on a slightly elevated ramp with parallel bars to grasp. "It's a little awkward, like a baby who's learning to walk."

Such steps are taken every day at Walter Reed's prosthetics gait lab, where rapidly changing technology is giving active-duty service members the chance to walk again and, in some cases, return to duty, said Dr. Charles Scoville, chief of amputee services in the orthopedics and rehabilitation department.

First considered impossible to design, the X2 and higher grade X3 knees have provided a new way of life for above-the-knee amputees, Scoville said. New microprocessors have five sensors, compared with the original C-Leg, which had two.

Now, a combination of gyroscopes, accelerators and hydraulics provide the knee with greater stability, mobility and versatility by recognizing actions, officials said. The multiple sensors can determine when the wearer wants to sit down or go up and down ramps and stairs, all without presetting the limb with a remote device, as required by the former technology.

The first prosthetic limbs, Scoville said, had mechanical knees that were neither limber nor conducive to the warfighter. The wearer had to swing the leg outward and project himself forward to walk.

The Biom ankle -- a combination foot and ankle prosthetic that works with the X2 or X3 knee and is specifically designed for returning warfighters -- is the newest device that enables flexibility.

Scoville describes the knee and ankle/foot combination as more intuitive than older versions.

"It does the work for you," he said. By replacing the once-rigid prostheses, the new, lighter and user-friendly limbs allow enough flexibility to stand on one leg, and step or walk backward without falling, he said.
Army Staff Sgt. Billy Costello demonstrated his knee, foot and ankle flexibility by sitting on the floor and stretching to pull his foot toward him. He also lost a leg by stepping on an improvised explosive device while on a clearance mission.

"We had just taken out 19 IEDs," he said. "I found one more the hard way."
Costello was another patient who progressed faster than his doctors expected. Soon to be discharged, he is an intern at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va. and plans to enter the National Guard when he returns to North Carolina.

"I still want to support the guys," he said, adding that he would deploy if his medical condition allows it, but quickly added he doesn't want to be a "liability" to his unit.
"The vast majority of patients won't return to active duty," Dr. Scoville said. "Our goal is to bring them to their highest level of function."

Scoville said 1,453 troops with severe limb loss have been fitted with prostheses since December 2001 and of those, some 300 service members returned to duty, with 53 redeploying to Iraq and Afghanistan.  "We view patients as tactical athletes," Scoville said. "They don't have an off-season and they don't know when their next game will be."

Marine Corps Cpl. Rory Hammill plans to resume his active lifestyle once he's discharged from active-duty. Before an accident in Marja, Afghanistan claimed one of his legs, he was a runner, snowboarder and surfer, all of which he hopes to resume he said, close to the level of ability he once had.

These service members are just a few of the several hundred patients who are fitted with prosthetic limbs each month at Walter Reed, said David Laufer, chief of orthotics and prosthetics services. By contrast, he added, the civilian sector produces about the same number per year. In addition to limbs, the lab also creates hands that can move fingers, with such dexterity that they can operate a computer mouse and perform other daily tasks. Designing and developing hands is the lab's niche, Laufer said, noting that work is ongoing to enable hands to act intuitively like ankles, feet and knees.

Far fewer hands are made in the lab than legs. "The standard of care is shifting," Scofield said. "It's made a significant impact on the wounded warriors who live with these advances. We want people to know we're restoring their lives."


Saturday, April 28, 2012

NASA Seeks Game Changing Solar Array Systems Proposals

NASA Seeks Game Changing Solar Array Systems Proposals

NASA SAYS AT LEAST 1500 PLANETS WITHIN JUST 50 LIGHT YEARS OF EARTH


FROM:  NASA
the stars in the Milky Way. The planets, their orbits and their host stars are all vastly magnified compared to their real separations. A six-year search that surveyed millions of stars using the microlensing technique concluded that planets around stars are the rule rather than the exception. The average number of planets per star is greater than one. This means that there is likely to be a minimum of 1,500 planets within just 50 light-years of Earth. The results are based on observations taken over six years by the PLANET (Probing Lensing Anomalies NETwork) collaboration, which was founded in 1995. The study concludes that there are far moThis is based on calibrating a planetary mass function that shows the number of planets increases for lower mass worlds. A rough estimate from this survey would point to the existence of more than 10 billion terrestrial planets across our galaxy. The results were published in the Jan. 12, 2012, issue of the British science journal Nature. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Kornmesser (ESO)


Obamas visit Fort Stewart

Obamas visit Fort Stewart

WORKERS' MEMORIAL DAY


FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Statement by Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis on Workers’ Memorial Day
WASHINGTON — Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today issued the following statement on the observance of Workers' Memorial Day:

"Tomorrow, April 28, is Workers' Memorial Day, an occasion for reflection and remembrance of the thousands of workers who needlessly have suffered fatal injuries on the job every year. We also think of those workers who have been seriously injured or sickened as a result of preventable workplace hazards.

"We are never prepared to say goodbye to the people we love, but we are even less so when we send our loved ones off for a day's work. It is our duty to ensure that all workers come home safely at the end of each workday, and we stand behind our firm conviction that workplace injuries and fatalities are entirely preventable.

"On this day, I urge all Americans to raise their voices in support of workers' right to a safe and healthful workplace. In the 41 years since the Occupational Safety and Health Act was enacted, we have made tremendous progress, but our steadfast mission to make every job in America a safe job must continue. One workplace death is too many.
"Making a living shouldn't include dying."

U.S. Department of Defense Armed with Science Update

U.S. Department of Defense Armed with Science Update

WARRIOR GAMES BUILDS BODY, MIND AND, SPIRIT


FROM:  U.S. AIR FORCE SPACE COMMAND
Athletes train for 2012 Warrior Games
4/27/2012 - Gen. William L. Shelton, Commander, Air Force Space Command, talks with the coach the Air Force wheelchair basketball team, Willie Jackson, Paralympic Sports Program, during the Warrior Games at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo. April 25. The U.S. Olympic Committee and DoD strongly believe in the role of sport in everyone’s life as having great potential for building not just the body, but the mind and spirit as well. (U.S. Air Force photo/Duncan Wood)

MARSHALL ISLANDS NATIONAL DAY MAY 1, 2012


FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
The Marshall Islands National Day
Press Statement Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State Washington, DC
April 27, 2012

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of the Republic of the Marshall Islands on the 33rd anniversary of your nation’s independence this May 1.

The United States and the Republic of the Marshall Islands enjoy a warm partnership based on mutual respect and mutual interest. Together, we are working to strengthen economic development, improve regional security, combat climate change, and allow more people the opportunity to realize their human rights and fundamental freedoms. We are grateful for the dedication and sacrifice of your citizens serving in the United States Armed Forces, as we work together promoting peace around the world. Congratulations and best wishes for continued peace and prosperity in the year to come.

Friday, April 27, 2012

FLOOD VICTIMS MOVE TO HIGHER GROUND

 FROM:  FEMA
CHARLESTON, W. Va. -- Sometimes it’s unwise to challenge Mother Nature. As West Virginians know all too well, in many areas of the state flash floods are frequent visitors, and an increasing number of homeowners have decided to seek higher ground.
One family in Stollings saw its two-story house inundated time and again by the nearby Guyandotte River. Flood insurance paid for most of the repeated repairs and cleanups, but no policy can make up for the stress of being repeatedly flooded. And as the disasters continue, a vulnerable house inevitably becomes worth less and less.

The Logan County Commission had determined that the flash flooding of 2004 caused enormous damage to many homes in the Stollings neighborhood, and several homeowners chose to take advantage of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s “buyout” process under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. After the flood of May, 2007, the family also decided it was time to move and accepted the county’s buyout offer.

These projects are normal real-estate transactions. Homeowners are paid fair market value for their homes as calculated before the damage occurred. Once the property is purchased, the structures are removed and the property becomes public open space or green space. It can never be developed or sold to private parties. It can be used as a public park, can be leased for agricultural use, but no structures of any kind can be erected thereon.
The Buyout program is completely voluntary on the part of the property owner and the community. Buyout, or “acquisition,” projects are administered by the state and local communities, be they towns or counties. While FEMA shoulders 75 percent of the costs, it does not buy houses directly from the property owners.

The property owners do not apply to the state for buyouts, but the community may sponsor applications on their behalf. Those applications are prepared by the communities with the input of homeowners whose properties have suffered heavy damage. The applications are completed after the state has advised the community of any state priorities or special restrictions. The state and community work together to identify where buyouts would make the most sense.

The state then submits whatever applications they deem appropriate for action for FEMA’s review, which ensures the rules are being followed, the environment is protected and the buyouts would be a cost-effective use of funds.

If and when FEMA approves the purchase, the community begins to acquire the property. The actual transaction is done by the community or the county. FEMA warns that the process is not quick. The whole buyout process from the day of the disaster to the property settlement can take up to two years.

The family in Stollings has now moved to safer ground. The house is gone and the property is an empty, grassy open space. When the floods hit Logan County in March of this year, this property had no house left to damage or destroy, and the open spaces where houses once sat helped reduce flooding downstream.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover


Bitte schütteln!

Bitte schütteln!

Space Station Trio Lands Safely In Kazakhstan

Space Station Trio Lands Safely In Kazakhstan

SECOND HAND SMOKE AND TODDLER'S LUNG FUNCTION

FROM:  HHS HealthBeat (April 26, 2012) 
Toddlers, smoke and allergies
A study finds that 2-year-olds who were around secondhand smoke are more likely to have less lung function at 7 years of age. And researchers say some have more risk than others.

At the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Kelly Brunst looked at data on kids, secondhand smoke, and allergies:
“Young girls at age 2 who had been exposed to tobacco smoke and had more allergic sensitization showed 6 times the loss in lung function when they were 7, compared to non-sensitized girls and non-sensitized boys.”

Brunst says it’s another reason to keep kids away from smoke.
The study in the journal Pediatric Allergy and Immunology was supported by the National Institutes of Health.


Tracy, Sami, and Pre-Existing Conditions

Tracy, Sami, and Pre-Existing Conditions

Mars Express desvela la historia de la actividad volcánica en Marte

Mars Express desvela la historia de la actividad volcánica en Marte

HHS AND NEW OPTIONS FOR COMMUNITY-BASED CARE


FROM:  DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

HHS announces new Affordable Care Act options for community-based care

Medicaid and Medicare introduce greater flexibility for beneficiaries to receive care at home or in settings of their choice
New opportunities in Medicaid and Medicare that will allow people to more easily receive care and services in their communities rather than being admitted to a hospital or nursing home were announced today by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
HHS finalized the Community First Choice rule, which is a new state plan option under Medicaid, and announced the participants in the Independence At Home Demonstration program. The demonstration encourages primary care practices to provide home-based care to chronically ill Medicare patients.
Both are made possible by the Affordable Care Act. Studies have shown that home- and community-based care can lead to better health outcomes.
“We know that people frequently prefer to receive services in their own homes and communities whenever possible. The rule and demonstration announced today give people choice and provide states with flexibility to design programs that better meet the needs of beneficiaries,” Secretary Sebelius said. “Prior to passage of the Affordable Care Act, many families had few choices beyond nursing homes or other institutions for their loved ones. The actions taken today will help change that and can lead to better health for these individuals.”
The final rule released today on the Community First Choice Option provides states choosing to participate in this option a six percentage point increase in federal Medicaid matching funds for providing community-based attendant services and supports to beneficiaries who would otherwise be confined to a nursing home or other institution. 
Also today, the first 16 organizations that will participate in the new Independence at Home Demonstration were announced. They will test whether delivering primary care services in the home can improve the quality of care and reduce costs for patients living with chronic illnesses. These 16 organizations were selected from a competitive pool of more than 130 applications representing hundreds of health care providers interested in delivering this new model of care.                                                           
The Independence at Home demonstration, which is voluntary for Medicare beneficiaries, provides chronically ill Medicare beneficiaries with a complete range of in-home primary care services.  Under the demonstration, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will partner with primary care practices led by physicians or nurse practitioners to evaluate the extent to which delivering primary care services in a home setting is effective in improving care for Medicare beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions and reducing costs. Up to 10,000 Medicare patients with chronic conditions will be able to get most of the care they need at home.

The demonstration is scheduled to begin on June 1, 2012, and conclude May 31, 2015.

HHS is also seeking comment on a proposed rule that describes a separate Home and Community-Based Services state plan option, which was originally authorized in 2005 then enhanced by the Affordable Care Act. Like the Community First Choice Option, this benefit will make it easier for states to provide Medicaid coverage for home and community-based services.

“Our goal is to provide person-centered support to every Medicare and Medicaid beneficiary, regardless of their physical ability or chronic health conditions,” Acting CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said. “These services and programs will help keep these individuals’ health stable, and keep them home where they want to be, while giving us even more tools to achieve better care for the patient, better health for the population, all at lower costs.”

The announcements made today are one part of the Obama administration’s efforts to help people with disabilities and those living with chronic illness stay in their own homes when they wish to do so.  Earlier this month, Secretary Sebelius announced the creation of the new Administration for Community Living, bringing together key HHS organizations and offices dedicated to improving the lives of Americans with functional needs into one coordinated  and stronger entity. This new agency will work on increasing access to community supports and achieving full community participation for seniors and people with disabilities.

U.S. WORKS TO ENHANCE SECURITY ARRANGEMENTS WITH INDIA AND BANGLADESH


FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTENT
Talks With India and Bangladesh
Remarks Andrew J. Shapiro
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Political-Military AffairsCarnegie Endowment Roundtable
Washington, DC
April 24, 2012
Ashley, thank you for having me here and for arranging this discussion. I also want to commend you for the great work you and your colleagues do here at Carnegie. We certainly follow the work you all do very closely. And I also want to thank all of you for coming and I really look forward to hearing from all of you about our growing partnerships in South Asia. Before we move to the discussion I just want to say a few words about our security cooperation with India and Bangladesh.

Last week I travelled to Delhi and Dhaka for talks to enhance our security relationships. Both of these visits were very productive and will help further our growing partnerships with these countries. These visits also demonstrated the different security cooperation tools we utilize to engage our partners. They demonstrate how security cooperation is critical to our diplomatic engagement.

Let me begin by first explaining why security cooperation is an essential part of the State Department’s mandate. There is sometimes confusion about where these roles begin and end between the Departments of Defense and State. And many often wonder why the State Department is involved at all in “harder” security related areas. The reason is fairly straightforward: security cooperation has broad foreign policy implications. It is not just that weapons can be used in a conflict and therefore must be dealt with very carefully. It is that security cooperation – whether that involves defense trade, security assistance, or joint exercises – are fundamentally foreign policy acts.

Take defense trade for example. When a country acquires an advanced U.S. defense system through our Foreign Military Sales, Defense Commercial Sales, or Foreign Military Financing programs, they aren’t simply buying a product, they are also buying into a long-term relationship. What is generally underappreciated is that the complex and technical nature of advanced defense systems frequently requires constant collaboration and interaction between countries over the life of that system – decades in many cases. This may include training and support in the use of the system, assistance in maintenance, and help to update and modernize the system throughout its life-cycle. This cooperation therefore helps build bilateral ties and creates strong incentives for recipient countries to maintain good relations with the United States. Defense sales therefore both reinforce our diplomatic relations and establish a long-term security relationship.

Our security cooperation therefore often serves to undergird our diplomatic relationships. As the principal link between the Departments of State and Defense, the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, which I oversee, exercises the Secretary’s authority in this area. We work to ensure that any arms transfer or assistance the U.S. government provides is fully in line with U.S. foreign policy. This demands working closely with DoD and making sure both agencies are working in sync. I’ll just note that while in the past State-DoD cooperation has not always been smooth, under the leadership of Secretary Clinton, the State-DoD relationship has never been better. And as a result we are seeing an unprecedented level of coordination. This coordination will prove critical, because I believe over the coming decade U.S. security cooperation will be an increasingly important tool for U.S. foreign policy. And this is especially true with our increasingly important relationship with India and Bangladesh.

So let me now turn to my recent trip to the region.
Last week I travelled to Dehli to conduct the first U.S.-India Pol-Mil talks since 2006. Our principal objective of these talks was to reaffirm our commitment to the bilateral relationship and chart a way forward toward a deeper defense partnership. And I believe that the talks made important progress to that end.

The United States and India are building a robust relationship based on shared security interests. Since the signing of a bilateral defense framework agreement in 2005, our defense relationship has become a major pillar of the strategic partnership. For example:
India now holds more than 50 annual military exercises with the United States, more than any other country.
Cumulative defense sales have grown from virtually zero to more than $8 billion.
And high-level exchanges on defense issues also have increased, as demonstrated by last week’s talks.
The defense trade relationship between the United States and India is certainly expanding and it plays an integral role in the defense relationship and overall strategic partnership. The United States successfully concluded several significant Foreign Military Sales and Direct Commercial Sales since 2009, including the sale of eight P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft, six C-130J transportation aircraft and ten C-17 transport aircraft. Once all have been delivered, India will have the second largest C-17 fleet behind the United States, providing it with a significant strategic airlift capability in the region.

With India’s projected defense trade spending expected to continue to increase, we are seeking to engage the Government of India to address any outstanding concerns they may have with the U.S. acquisition system. One of our major objectives during the talks was to better familiarize the Indian government with our system and to attempt to address any potential concerns they may have. During our discussions, we sought to explain the advantages and disadvantages of the Foreign Military Sales or FMS and Direct Commercial Sales or DCS systems by detailing how to go about choosing between them. FMS pertains to sales between governments, while DCS involves commercial defense sales abroad. Often times, countries can view FMS more skeptically and prefer the more transactional nature of the DCS system. However, we believe the U.S.-India defense and trade relationship would benefit by linking defense sales with broader strategic goals. That’s why we specifically articulated the technical and political advantages that FMS offers. This entails political buy-in and support from Congress. The full faith and backing of the U.S. government, transparency, support throughout the systems lifecycle, as well as expanded inter-operability between our forces, which would greatly benefit the U.S.-India defense and military-to-military relationships.

Another area of discussion was U.S. security assistance to India through our International Military Education and Training Program or IMET. India benefits from one of the largest and longest-standing IMET programs, graduating more than 1,700 Indian officers since the program’s initiation more than forty years ago. In FY 2011, more than 51 Indian officers came to the United States to attend courses through the IMET program. The linkages established through IMET also help build personal relationships between officer corps, which helps bolster our relationship over long term, as well as helps professionalize partner militaries. This is all achieved for a little more than one million dollars per year.
A major area of discussion during our talks was the issue of piracy emanating from Somalia. Somali pirates have expanded their range of operations all the way to the coast of India, creating a real security challenge for India and for the international community. My Bureau coordinates the U.S. counter-piracy response and we discussed ways we can together improve the international response to piracy. India has been an important contributor to the international effort. Since 2006, we have expanded our maritime cooperation with India, as we see counter-piracy as an area where we can work together closely.

Now let me turn to Bangladesh. This was my first visit to Bangladesh and I believe that our relationship is very strong. Indeed, over the past decade, the bilateral defense relationship between the United States and Government of Bangladesh has become one of the most robust in South Asia. Bangladesh is a key player in maintaining security in the Bay of Bengal. They are an active partner in regional counterterrorism efforts and we are working to enhance their ability to respond to natural disasters.

Our cooperation with Bangladesh is a prime example of how U.S. security assistance can play a critically important role in our diplomatic engagement. My Bureau plays an integral role in this relationship through our security assistance programs, our global peacekeeping programs, and our authority over the allocation of excess defense articles.
Since first receiving Foreign Military Financing or FMF in 2005, Bangladesh has focused on building patrol boat fleets for the Coast Guard—a project that supports maritime security and disaster relief and strengthens the government’s presence in isolated areas. Bangladesh is also working through a military modernization plan, which includes looking to partners for affordable defense systems, especially to supply its Special Operations Forces and disaster relief equipment. This modernization effort provides an opportunity for us to expand our security cooperation, especially through our Excess Defense Articles program, which makes U.S. equipment that is surplus to our requirements available to our partners.

Additionally, we provide assistance to support Bangladesh’s peacekeeping efforts. They are the largest troop contributor to UN peacekeeping operations. Today Bangladesh has over 10,000 troops deployed supporting nine U.N. operations. My Bureau oversees the Global Peace Operations Initiative, which has supported military peacekeeping training and assisted with improvements and refurbishment of the Bangladesh Institute of Peace Support Operations Training.

Our security assistance to Bangladesh also demonstrates the tremendous impact these programs can have in supporting states trying to build their security capacity. In an interconnected world, terrorists, pirates, traffickers, and other transnational actors can exploit the weakness of states to cause mayhem and instability. Our assistance is helping states like Bangladesh better control their borders and their coastlines. Our assistance is helping Bangladesh better deal with natural disasters and transnational threats. And through our training initiatives and exchanges we are helping professionalize national military forces to ensure they can better protect their publics, while respecting human rights. In short, our security assistance is playing a critically important role for the people of Bangladesh and for the national security of the United States.
So with that I look forward to the discussion.

HHS Speeches: Doctors for America

HHS Speeches: Doctors for America

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Warm Ocean Currents Cause Majority of Ice Loss from Antarctica

Warm Ocean Currents Cause Majority of Ice Loss from Antarctica

U.S. Navy Photos of the Day Update

U.S. Navy Photos of the Day Update

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE BELIEVES EXTREMISM THREATENS LATIN AMERICA


FROM:  AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE

Panetta: Violent Extremism Threatens Latin America


By Cheryl Pellerin
RIO DE JANEIRO, April 24, 2012 - Even in a region where some of the United States' closest military partners are steadily improving national stability and security, the threat of violent extremism is spreading, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said here yesterday.

During a weeklong trip that includes stops in Bogota, Colombia; Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Santiago, Chile, the secretary is meeting with military and political leaders to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to help with common defense challenges.
Increasingly, one of those challenges involves violent extremist organizations and the growing engagement of Iran in the region.

"We always have a concern about, in particular, the [Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps] and efforts by the IRGC to expand their influence, not only throughout the Middle East but also into this region," Panetta said during a briefing en route to Colombia.

"In my book," he added, "that relates to expanding terrorism."
Last month, in written testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Air Force Gen. Douglas M. Fraser, commander of the U.S. Southern Command, detailed the regional activities of Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based Shi'a Muslim militant group and political party, and Iran.

Southcom's area of responsibility includes Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
"We do see evidence of international terrorist groups benefitting from the intertwined systems of illicit trafficking and money laundering in our AOR," Fraser said.

In South America, funding for Hezbollah is raised through charitable donations as well as through drug trafficking and dealing in counterfeit and pirated goods, he said.
In 2011, the U.S. Treasury Department identified the Lebanese Canadian Bank as a "primary money laundering concern" for its role in facilitating money laundering activities of Ayman Joumaa and his Lebanon-based drug trafficking network, which also channeled financial support to Hezbollah.

Joumaa also is accused of smuggling U.S.-bound cocaine through Central America and Mexico and laundering money for a group called Los Zetas, and many Colombian and Venezuelan suppliers.
"In addition to Hezbollah supporters throughout South America, the region is home to a small number of violent extremist organizations, Fraser said.

"We remain vigilant for the potential radicalization of homegrown extremists," the general added.
For example, a small number of Sunni extremists are involved in the radicalization of converts and other Muslims, Fraser told the panel.

"These efforts can be seen through the influence of public personalities like Jamaica's Shaykh Abdullah al-Faisal, who was convicted in the United Kingdom for inciting terrorism," the general said.
Al-Qaida senior operative Adnan el-Shukrijumah has held valid passports for the United States, as well as Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, where he has family and associates, Fraser added.
Despite recent convictions in a 2007 plot to attack the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, one alleged co-conspirator remains at large in Guyana, he said.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has visited the region six times in six years, and Iran continues its overtures to countries there to try to circumvent international sanctions, Fraser said.
Iran has established modest economic, cultural and security ties, the general added, mostly with nations aligned with a group known as the Bolivarian Alliance for the People of our Americas, called ALBA. These include Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Cuba.

Iran also has established 36 Shi'a cultural centers in the region, Fraser said.
The Fundacion Cultural Oriente is an Iranian outreach center dedicated to strengthening Iran's ties to Latin America, Fraser said.

The center is run by radical cleric Moshen Rabbani, who is on the Interpol Red List for involvement in the 1994 bombings of a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires, the general said, adding that Rabbani oversees several media outlets and has recruited students from the region to study in Iran.

"We take Iranian activity in the hemisphere seriously and we monitor its activities closely," Fraser said.
"The U.S. government's successful detection and thwarting of the plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States," he added, "reinforces the importance of that monitoring and the effectiveness of U.S. countermeasures."

The expansion of terrorism is an area of concern for the region and its partners, Panetta said.
"I hope we can work together," the secretary added, "to make sure that all the steps are taken to ensure that anything that encourages terrorism can be fought against."

INNOVATION AND MISSILE DEFENSE


FROM:  U.S. AIR FORCE
The 6th Space Warning Squadron, located at Cape Cod Air Force Station, Mass., operates a Pave PAWS early warning radar. Despite operating a 30-year-old system, Team Six has discovered a number of innovative initiatives to enhance operations and increase the radar’s mission effectiveness. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Innovation in action
by 1st Lt. Christian Evans
6th Space Warning Squadron

4/25/2012 - CAPE COD AIR FORCE STATION, Mass. -- Early warning radars have been a work-horse of the United States' missile warning network for more than 30 years.

This network, called the Integrated Tactical Warning and Attack Assessment network, is comprised of multiple systems which detect and track intercontinental and sea-launched ballistic missiles. These sites also work as collateral sensors in the Space Surveillance Network, tracking earth-orbiting satellites and reporting the information to the Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg AFB, Calif.
The Northern Hemisphere is home to six of these U.S. and allied ground-based early warning radar sites, which all contribute to the ITW/AA network. Of the six sites, the two radars located at Clear AFS, Alaska, and Cape Cod AFS, operate the Pave Phased-Array Warning System, initially designed for cold-war era threats and space traffic, while the rest have undergone major system modifications in the past decade.

To compensate for an older system design in the face of modern threats and a congested space environment, the 6th Space Warning Squadron, known as Team Six, at Cape Cod AFS, is continually innovating and executing a number of little-to-no cost initiatives to enhance operations and increase the radar's mission effectiveness.

For example, Team Six site analysts and tacticians have been searching for methods to increase the amount of radar resources devoted to space surveillance mission planning, without degrading missile warning capability. The team identified a default radar setting that might be adjusted and, after conducting a three-day test in November 2011, realized better than expected results. The radar acquired 9 percent more satellites and detected 28 percent more small objects.

The increase in smaller and total objects tracked provides more accurate data to improve space situational awareness, which helps protect both manned and unmanned space platforms and the national investment they entail. Improved space situational awareness is critical to achieving the wing's national security objectives in space.

The results from early initiatives have led to a micro-renaissance of ideas in Team Six and has encouraged personnel at all levels to contribute to innovation. For example, Team Six has moved many internal processes to SharePoint to improve knowledge management and sharing, and to streamline coordination and facilitate feedback from external organizations.
Sometimes, change is an internal idea; at other times, change is driven by pressure from outside or above the organization. Along with other ground-based radar sites and with the support of higher headquarters and functional staff, Team Six has undertaken an Air Force Space Command initiative to reduce the operations crew size from three to two operators.

This initiative is an innovation unto itself, requiring more efficient utilization of crew resources and weapon system interfaces. Operation and tasking of the Pave PAWS radar is more manually intensive than with the upgraded radar systems, so Team Six and the Sentinels of the 13th and 213th Space Warning Squadron at Clear AFS identified software changes to help crews excel in the new environment. Those software changes may take years to implement, and in the mean time, innovation will be the key to employing this system to the edge of its capability.
Some of these innovations are like sudden seismic movements, while others accumulate drop by drop, but promise a sea of change in culture.

Ever Aware is the 6th SWS motto, but with Team Six's taste for innovation, it might as well be Ever Aware, Ever Changing, and that's exactly the culture we need to dominate our high ground.






ARMY WORKING HARD ON TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY RESEARCH


FROM:  AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE
Army Research Drives Brain Injury Science
By Cheryl Pellerin
WASHINGTON, April 18, 2012 - With $633 million and 472 active research projects on traumatic brain injury alone, the Army is driving the science behind this neglected public health problem that affects everyone from kids on the sports field to service members in Afghanistan.
TBI, and especially mild TBI, "is essentially a frontier of medicine," Army Col. (Dr.) Dallas Hack, director of the Army's Combat Casualty Care Research Program, said in a recent interview with American Forces Press Service.
From 2000 to 2011, just over 133,000 soldiers were diagnosed with TBI. For the Defense Department as a whole in that period, 220,000 service members were diagnosed, according to an Army behavioral health specialist.
Traumatic brain injuries range from severe to moderate to mild and can be caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts normal brain function.
On the battlefield, Hack said, fewer than 25 percent of brain injuries are combat related. Most are caused by training injuries, vehicle accidents and a range of other activities.
Severe brain injuries are easy to diagnose, Hack said. Any kind of a computed tomography, or CT, scan can show the resulting physical defect.
CT scans combine a series of X-ray views taken from many different angles with computer processing to produce cross-sectional images of soft tissues inside the brain.
It's a little more difficult to diagnose moderate TBI, he said, "although some of the more advanced imaging, even [magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI] scans generally do a decent job."
MRI machines use powerful magnets and radio waves to create pictures of the internal brain.
"Where it is so difficult and where we as a culture and as a profession basically ignored it for all these years," Hack said, "is in the mild TBI area."
To improve the spectrum of diagnosis-to-treatment of mild TBI, he said, the research program pushes the science with partners like university researchers, and even organizations like the National Football League and the National Hockey League, sports whose players are at risk for concussion, also called mild TBI.
Research being funded includes a range of neuroimaging or brain scanning technologies; quantitative electroencephalography or brain mapping, blood tests for biomarkers of brain injury, and even drugs that may prevent injuries from mild brain trauma.
Brain imaging is "probably the current best we can do," Hack said, but scientists often don't have enough data to interpret mTBI scans.
"The fact is," he added, "that on the milder injuries you don't see physical defects but you can see functional issues."
Studies are ongoing with functional MRIs, which rather than showing brain structures show brain activity by tracking the uptake of glucose, the brain's source of energy.
Other imaging research targets a new kind of CT scan called single-photon emission computed tomography, or SPECT, which shows how blood flows through arteries and veins in the brain.
A technique called DTI, for diffusion tensor imaging, is a special version of MRI that measures the direction of water molecules in the brain, Hack said, so scientists can follow the physical path of nerve tracts in the brain.
Brain mapping, called quantitative EEG, can automatically detect and locate abnormal brain activity, he added, "or what we call silent seizures. We often see these soon after an injury and we have studies that are working on getting [Food and Drug Administration] approval" to use the technique in mTBI.
The program's biomarker studies are producing devices that can test the blood for proteins unique to brain cells and indicate whether brain cells are damaged.
"When brain cells die and break [apart]," Hack said, "they spill their contents into the brain fluid. Some of that gets across into the blood and we can measure it."
An application for FDA approval of the device will be submitted sometime in 2013, the physician said, "and hopefully we can have an approved test by the end of 2013."
Eye movements are another way to get a look inside the brain.
"Certain kinds of eye movements are affected by even mild brain injury," Hack said, "so we have some projects in that. We have others in sensory function. Balance, for instance, or vestibular function, is also quite sensitive to brain injury.
In such fledgling brain science studies, the researchers have to make sure they're diagnosing the right conditions.
"Confounders are other conditions that could cause the same problems," Hack said, "and we need to make sure in our studies that we're able to differentiate brain injury from other conditions that can cause functional impact," including Alzheimer's disease, for example, or even lack of sleep or poor nutrition.
The program's three-pronged approach to understanding mTBI, he said, is to determine whether there is brain cell damage, where the damage is and its functional impact.
"The science behind all of that is still very rudimentary, so we're spending a lot of effort in those areas," he said.
The program also funds drug trials, some of which examine existing drugs to see if they have a beneficial effect on brain inflammation, which can occur after a brain injury.
Atorvastatin, whose brand name is Lipitor, "is one of the drugs that has shown a benefit [on inflammation] in brain cells."
The program is working with the National Institutes of Health on a phase III clinical trial of the female hormone progesterone.
"Progesterone is essentially a steroid that also is a female hormone but it is called a neurosteroid as well," Hack said. "It has a positive benefit on brain inflammation."
He added, "We don't think there's any one drug that will [help those with mTBI]. This is a complex problem and it's going to take multiple approaches to solving it."

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Technical Sgt. Cortney A.P. Rogers, sings the National Anthem a the opening of the Executive Safety Summit, 24 April 2012 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Technical Sgt. Cortney A.P. Rogers, sings the National Anthem a the opening of the Executive Safety Summit, 24 April 2012 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

NAF commander visits 340th

NAF commander visits 340th

SEC ISSUES UPDATED ALERT ON IPO INVESTMENT FRAUD


The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy is issuing this updated Investor Alert to warn investors about investment scams that purport to offer investors the opportunity to buy pre-IPO shares of companies, including social media and technology companies such as Facebook and Twitter.  SEC staff is aware of a number of complaints and inquiries about these types of frauds, which may be promoted on social media and internet sites, by telephone, email, in person, or by other means.

The Commission’s Division of Enforcement continues to take action in this area. On April 4, 2012, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami issued an Order to Show Cause and Other Emergency Relief to halt a defendant’s fraudulent of sale securities of an investment vehicle that he falsely represented owned pre-IPO shares of Facebook, Inc.  In that matter, the Commission’s motion for an order to show cause alleges that Allen Weintraub, using entities with names such as “Private Stock Transfer, Inc.”, “PST Investments III, Inc.”, and “World Financial Solutions” falsely represented that he would sell the investors pre-IPO shares of Facebook, Inc., and that PST Investments had an ownership interest in Facebook stock.  The Commission’s motion also alleges that Weintraub utilized the website privatestocktransfer.com to perpetrate his scheme. The Division of Enforcement urges anyone who believes that Allen Weintraub may have recently defrauded them to contact John Rossetti, Senior Counsel, at202-551-4819.

In another matter in September 2010, a judgment order was entered in favor of the SEC based on allegations that a scam artist had misappropriated more than $3.7 million from 45 investors in four states by offering fake pre-IPO shares of companies, including AOL/Time Warner, Inc., Google, Inc., and Rosetta Stone, Inc. before the companies went public. 

While legitimate offerings of pre-IPO shares in a company are not uncommon, unregistered offerings may violate federal securities laws unless they meet a registration exemption, such as restricting the private offering to “accredited investors” -- investors who meet certain income or net worth requirements.  Investors should be mindful of the risks involved with an offer to purchase pre-IPO shares in a company.  As with any investment, we encourage investors to research thoroughly both the investment product and the professional offering the product before making any investment decision.  
For additional information, please visit the following web pages on the SEC’s website and Investor.gov:

FORT ORD NATIONAL MONUMENT WILL HONOR VETERANS

FROM:  The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
President Obama to Sign Proclamation Designating Fort Ord National Monument
National Monument will honor veterans, serve as hub for conservation and recreation
President Obama today will sign a Proclamation to designate federal lands within the former Fort Ord as a National Monument under the Antiquities Act.  Fort Ord, a former military base located on California’s Central Coast, is a world-class destination for hikers, mountain bikers, and outdoor enthusiasts who come to enjoy the area’s history and scenic landscapes.   “Fort Ord’s dramatic landscape lives in the memories of thousands of veterans as their first taste of Army life, as a final stop before deploying to war, or as a home base during their military career.  This national monument will not only protect one of the crown jewels of California’s coast, but will also honor the heroism and dedication of men and women who served our nation and fought in the major conflicts of the 20th century,” said President Obama.

“Already, over 100,000 people come every year to enjoy all that Fort Ord has to offer. President Obama’s action, with the strong support of the people of California, will ensure that this special place continues to thrive for generations to come. At the same time, the creation of this new national monument is good for tourism, recreation, and local businesses that cater to the tens of thousands of people who come to experience this remarkable place,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.

President Obama first used the Antiquities Act in November 2011 to designate the Fort Monroe National Monument, a former Army post integral to the history of slavery, the Civil War, and the U.S. military. First exercised by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 to designate Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming, the authority of the Antiquities Act has been used by 16 presidents since 1906 to protect unique natural and historic features in America, such as the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty, Colorado’s Canyons of the Ancients, and the Papahanaumokuakea marine protected area of the Northwestern Hawai‘ian Islands.

Today, Fort Ord provides exceptional recreational opportunities to over 100,000 visitors annually, offering 86 miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails.  The area is an economic engine for the community and serves as a key venue for the annual Sea Otter Classic, one of the largest bicycling events in the world with approximately 10,000 athletes and 50,000 spectators every year.

Nearly two and a half centuries ago, the area was traversed by a group of settlers led by Spanish Lieutenant-Colonel Juan Bautista de Anza, whose diaries were used to identify the route of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail.  The area’s open, contiguous landscape owes its undeveloped state largely to its role as a U.S. Army facility.  From World War I through the early 1990s, the area’s rugged terrain served as a military training ground for as many as a million and a half American soldiers.

The Fort Ord National Monument will be managed by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM).  The BLM currently manages approximately 7,200 acres of the area, and the Army will transfer approximately 7,450 acres after clean-up under an existing base closure agreement between the Army and the BLM.  The BLM will continue to work closely with its many community, state, and Federal partners to effectively manage the new national monument, which will become part of the Bureau’s 27-million-acre National Landscape Conservation System.

The Department of the Interior lands support $363 billion in economic activity and 2.2 million jobs annually, with BLM public lands in California alone hosting more than 10 million recreation visitors a year.  This translates to an estimated contribution of $980 million to local California economies and 7,600 recreation-related jobs.

NASA TESTS GPS MONITORING SYSTEM FOR EARTHQUAKES

FROM: NASA
WASHINGTON -- The space-based technology that lets GPS-equipped 
motorists constantly update their precise location will undergo a 
major test of its ability to rapidly pinpoint the location and 
magnitude of strong earthquakes across the western United States. 
Results from the new Real-time Earthquake Analysis for Disaster 
(READI) Mitigation Network soon could be used to assist prompt 
disaster response and more accurate tsunami warnings. 

The new research network builds on decades of technology development 
supported by the National Science Foundation, the Department of 
Defense, NASA, and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The network 
uses real-time GPS measurements from nearly 500 stations throughout 
California, Oregon and Washington. When a large earthquake is 
detected, GPS data are used to automatically calculate its vital 
characteristics including location, magnitude and details about the 
fault rupture. 

"With the READI network we are enabling continued development of 
real-time GPS technologies to advance national and international 
early warning disaster systems," said Craig Dobson, natural hazards 
program manager in the Earth Science Division at NASA Headquarters in 
Washington. "This prototype system is a significant step towards 
realizing the goal of providing Pacific basin-wide natural hazards 
capability around the Pacific 'Ring of Fire.'" 

Accurate and rapid identification of earthquakes of magnitude 6.0 and 
stronger is critical for disaster response and mitigation efforts, 
especially for tsunamis. Calculating the strength of a tsunami 
requires detailed knowledge of the size of the earthquake and 
associated ground movements. Acquiring this type of data for very 
large earthquakes is a challenge for traditional seismological 
instruments that measure ground shaking. 

High-precision, second-by-second measurements of ground displacements 
using GPS have been shown to reduce the time needed to characterize 
large earthquakes and to increase the accuracy of subsequent tsunami 
predictions. After the capabilities of the network have been fully 
demonstrated, it is intended to be used by appropriate natural hazard 
monitoring agencies. USGS and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration are responsible for detecting and issuing warnings on 
earthquakes and tsunamis, respectively. 

"By using GPS to measure ground deformation from large earthquakes, we 
can reduce the time needed to locate and characterize the damage from 
large seismic events to several minutes," said Yehuda Bock, director 
of Scripps Institution of Oceanography's Orbit and Permanent Array 
Center in La Jolla, Calif. "We now are poised to fully test the 
prototype system this year." 

The READI network is a collaboration of many institutions including 
Scripps at the University of California in San Diego; Central 
Washington University in Ellensburg; the University of Nevada in 
Reno; California Institute of Technology/Jet Propulsion Laboratory 
(JPL) in Pasadena; UNAVCO in Boulder, Colo.; and the University of 
California at Berkeley. 

NASA, NSF, USGS, and other federal, state, and local partners support 
the GPS stations in the network, including the EarthScope Plate 
Boundary Observatory, the Pacific Northwest Geodetic Array, the Bay 
Area Regional Deformation Array and the California Real-Time Network. 


"The relatively small investments in GPS-based natural hazards systems 
have revolutionized the way we view the Earth and allowed us to 
develop this prototype system with great potential benefits for the 
infrastructure and population in earthquake-prone states in the 
western United States," said Frank Webb, Earth Science Advanced 
Mission Concepts program manager at JPL. 

The READI network is the outgrowth of nearly 25 years of U.S. 
government research efforts to develop the capabilities and 
applications of GPS technology. The GPS satellite system was created 
by the Department of Defense for military and ultimately civil 
positioning needs. NASA leveraged this investment by supporting 
development of a global GPS signal receiving network to improve the 
accuracy and utility of GPS positioning information. Today that 
capability provides real-time, pinpoint positioning and timing for a 
wide variety of uses from agriculture to Earth exploration. 

"Conventional seismic networks have consistently struggled to rapidly 
identify the true size of great earthquakes during the last decade," 
said Timothy Melbourne, director of the Central Washington 
University's Pacific Northwest Geodetic Array. "This GPS system is 
more likely to provide accurate and rapid estimates of the location 
and amount of fault slip to fire, utility, medical and other 
first-response teams." 
The GPS earthquake detection capability was first demonstrated by 
NASA-supported research on a major 2004 Sumatra quake conducted by 
Geoffrey Blewitt and colleagues at the University of Nevada in Reno. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Wing phases out flight suits effective May 1

Wing phases out flight suits effective May 1

Mayport-based Frigate Departs on Final Deployment for Southern Seas 2012

Mayport-based Frigate Departs on Final Deployment for Southern Seas 2012

Navy News Service - Eye on the Fleet

Navy News Service - Eye on the Fleet

U.S. MILITARY MEMBERS AND FAMILY HELP CLEANUP TRASH IN MISAWA FISH PORT, JAPAN

FROM:  U.S. NAVY

 Japan (April 21, 2012) Chief Yeoman Ken Vinoya, center, helps gather trash at the Misawa Fish Port. Misawa Air Base service members and family took part in an Earth Day cleanup in the local community, and helped remove several tons of refuse. (U.S. Navy Photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Daniel Sanford/Released)

Misawa CPO 365 Helps Conduct Beach Cleanup
By Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Daniel Sanford, Naval Air Facility Misawa Public Affairs
MISAWA, Japan (NNS) -- Members of the Navy Misawa CPO 365 Program spent the morning cleaning up the local Misawa Fish Port, April 21.

The event was in coordination with the 42nd annual observance of Earth Day, a global event filled with activities highlighting environmental concerns and issues.

More than 30 Misawa Air Base chief petty officers (CPOs) and board-eligible first class petty officers worked together to help the community pick up trash and help beautify the areas in the local community.

"Were here this morning to help out our host country and Mother Nature," said Chief Navy Counselor Todd Wean, who hails from Sarasota, Fla. "The members of CPO 365 do monthly community relations projects together anyway, so it seemed like a good fit for us to combine our effort in the community, while also helping out the environment in the process."

The cleanup is always one of the largest environmental awareness projects in Misawa with several tons of refuse being collected and removed from the fish port.

"We have a great relationship with the local community, and they are very open, receptive and helpful to service members living here in Misawa," said Chief Cryptologic Technician Collection Erika Haws, who originally hails from New Orleans, and serves as the Navy Misawa CPO 365 community relations coordinator. "It's nice to return the favor, and help make this area even more beautiful than it already is."

Besides, the CPO 365 members, many more Misawa service and family members were also on hand to help with the cleanup. Misawa cub scouts, girl scouts and numerous other base groups and organizations joined CPO 365 in their effort.

"It's nice to see folks of all ages come on out from the base and take ownership in the local community," said Wean. "We love Misawa, and this is just one small way that we can make it an even better place to be stationed and live."

Abby-Care: Coverage for Young Adults

Abby-Care: Coverage for Young Adults

NATIONAL FLOOD INSURANCE PROGRAM COULD END UNLESS REAUTHORIZED SOON

FROM:  FEMA
National Flood Insurance Program Could Expire May 31, 2012, if Not Reauthorized
Here Are a Few Things You Need to Know
April 23, 2012
Many businesses, commercial owners, homeowners and renters purchase flood insurance to reduce the escalating costs of repairing damage to buildings and their contents caused by floods.

As we approach a potentially active hurricane season, FEMA’s Administrator, W. Craig Fugate, is engaging Congress to strongly recommend reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) which will expire on May 31, 2012.

The NFIP plays a key role in our Nation’s efforts to prevent and recover from flood disasters. Reauthorization of the NFIP before it expires on May 31, 2012, is essential to our Nation’s efforts to prevent and recover from flood disasters. Floods are the number one natural disaster in the United States in terms of lives lost and property damaged. The NFIP identifies areas of flood risk; it encourages communities to implement measures to mitigate against the risk of flood loss; it provides financial assistance to help individuals recover more rapidly from flooding disasters; and it lessens the financial impact of flood disasters on individuals, businesses, and all levels of government.

In recent years, a series of short-term reauthorizations and temporary suspensions of the NFIP have eroded confidence in the program among stakeholders, including state governments, tribal governments, local communities, individual policyholders, mortgage lenders, and the private insurance industry. In addition to disrupting the program's day-to-day operations, short-term reauthorizations and temporary suspensions create significant uncertainty regarding the federal government's long-term commitment to underwriting and indemnifying flood losses. In the absence of such a commitment, our stakeholders are less likely to make the investments needed to successfully sustain, strengthen, and grow the program — thereby undermining the NFIP’s effectiveness and efficiency over time.

A two year re-authorization will send a clear signal to citizens, communities, and private sector partners that the federal government will continue to support our nation's efforts to manage flood risk. If Congress does not re-authorize the NFIP before it expires on May 31, 2012:

  Property owners will be unable to complete new mortgage transactions. Property owners who would normally be required to purchase flood insurance to fulfill lending requirements will be unable to obtain affordable coverage. The National Association of REALTORS estimates that a lapse in authorization jeopardizes an estimated 1,300 sales each day or about 40,000 mortgage closings per month.

The Disaster Relief Fund will bear additional costs when flood strike. Property owners who are unable to obtain flood insurance coverage may seek and be eligible for assistance from the Disaster Relief Fund. Consequently, failure to reauthorize the NFIP will result in transferring a portion of the costs of flood losses that otherwise would have been paid by the NFIP to the taxpayer through the Disaster Relief Fund.

The NFIP may have to halt payment of claims for recent events, including Hurricanes Irene and Lee, if a lapse in authorization substantially reduces cash flow into the program from premiums or a significant flood event follows the lapse and drains the remaining, non-renewable funds.

DEPLETED URANIUM, SHRAPNEL AND WAR VETERANS




FROM:  AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE
Dr. Jose Centeno, director of the Joint Pathology Center's Biophysical Toxicology and Depleted Uranium/Embedded Metal Fragment Laboratories, demonstrates the variety of shrapnel pieces removed from service members and veterans. DOD photo by Terri Moon Cronk
Laboratory Analyzes Shrapnel to Look for Uranium
By Terri Moon Cronk
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md., April 19, 2012 - Military doctors here are examining shrapnel taken from service members and veterans, looking for depleted uranium and other metals.

Biophysical Toxicology and Depleted Uranium/Embedded Metal Fragment Laboratories branch is analyzing the embedded fragments and providing second opinions at military and Veterans Affairs medical centers to treat those who had retained shrapnel.

"Our goal is to improve the care of wounded warriors," said Army Col. (Dr.) Thomas Baker, interim director of the Joint Pathology Center, the umbrella organization for the lab.

"We advise [doctors] how to follow up and what treatment is needed" to mitigate the potential effects of uranium and other metals, he said.
The lab analyzes all combat-associated metal fragments taken from DOD personnel that might pose a long-term health risk, such as depleted uranium, which can contribute to kidney damage over time, Baker explained. The lab also develops laboratory capabilities in metal toxicology to support the Defense Department, The Pathology Center and VA and Army programs that require exposure assessment to depleted uranium, embedded fragment analysis and analysis of certain metal alloys, officials said.

The only one of its kind in the United States, Baker said, the lab keeps a registry of the fragments for future re-evaluation. The register now includes 600 specimens.
The lab also has the only diagnostic equipment in the nation that can detect where the uranium originates in the body, noted Dr. Jose Centeno, the lab's director.

A wide range of materials are packed in improvised explosive devices, the doctors said.
The metal fragments and alloys the labs analyze comprise common metals and alloys of steel, aluminum, copper and brass. Depleted uranium is contained in some fragments, the doctors said, noting that shrapnel specimens are tested in triplicate for accuracy.
Concerns about tainted fragments began in 1993 following the Gulf War, when evidence arose of kidney damage from uranium, the doctors said.

For 18 years, 75 volunteers have participated in a study as part of the depleted uranium program, Baker said. All but one, an Iraq War veteran, served in the Gulf War, said Centeno, a physical chemist with a background in the toxicology of metals.
While many service members and veterans have retained fragments because of high risks removing them would pose, Baker said, some alloys such as depleted uranium are not safe to leave in the body. Because of that potential risk, DOD and VA have comprehensive programs to reach troops and veterans for testing, he added.

Baker said service members and veterans who carry shrapnel but haven't sought medical care should seek advice from a doctor or call the Baltimore VA Medical Center, which works with the laboratories here.

"Anybody with an embedded fragment who hasn't been followed up or hasn't seen a physician should [do so] ... and talk to them to discuss their risks," he said.

BOSTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS SETTLES WITH FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OVER ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNER STUDENTS OPPORTUNITIES


FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT
Monday, April 23, 2012
Departments of Justice and Education Reach Settlement with Boston Public Schools to Ensure Equal Opportunites for ELL Students
The Department of Justice and the Department of Education reached agreement with the Boston Public Schools (the district) and its superintendent today to ensure that English Language Learner (ELL) students in Boston receive the services and supports they need to overcome language barriers, as required by the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974 and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  This agreement replaces an interim settlement agreement entered on Oct. 1, 2010, which required the district to implement short-term remedies to ensure that thousands of students improperly excluded from the district’s ELL programs were promptly assessed and provided services.

The agreement reached today governs the district’s transition from these short-term remedies to longer-term policies and programs that expand the coverage of Boston’s ELL program and are designed to ensure that the services provided to ELL students are of high quality, delivered by qualified teachers and tailored to the specific needs of each individual student.   The agreement requires the district to continue its efforts to accurately identify and place ELL students, and further ensures that ELL students, who face unique challenges, including students with interrupted former education and students with disabilities, receive assessments and services that are specially designed to address and ameliorate those challenges.   The agreement also affords ELL students greater access to the higher-level learning opportunities in the district. To ensure these programmatic changes are effective, the agreement further requires the district to evaluate the effect of these changes on student achievement over time through robust, disaggregated data analyses.

“We applaud the Boston Public Schools for working collaboratively with the United States to develop a comprehensive plan to effectively serve all students who are not proficient in English,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.  “We believe this plan can guide other school districts seeking to ensure that its English Language Learner programs not only meet the requirements of federal law, but also empower English Language Learner students to strive for success in their education and lives.”  

“A key to success is access to a high quality education and today, the Boston Public Schools is promising to provide limited English proficient students an equal opportunity for success by giving them access to programs and services tailored to meet their needs, including access to accelerated programs,” said Russlynn Ali, Assistant Secretary for the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Education.   “The Department of Education is committed to working with the Boston School Committee as it implements this comprehensive plan.”  

“ Our education system must provide our children with opportunities to develop into productive citizens regardless of their proficiency in English.  When English language learners lack properly trained teachers, those opportunities are curtailed,” said U.S.  Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz of the District of Massachusetts.  “We share the goal of continued improvement to Massachusetts schools and look forward to the progress of this collaborative effort.”


Monday, April 23, 2012

NHB OR Staff Recognized for 'Earth Day Every Day' Efforts

NHB OR Staff Recognized for 'Earth Day Every Day' Efforts

78 SCHOOLS NAMED AS GREEN RIBBON SCHOOLS


FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
Obama Administration Names 78 Schools in 29 States and D.C. as First-Ever U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools 
Winners represent a diverse portfolio of schools, includes 66 public and 12 private schools in urban and rural communities

WASHINGTON - U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was joined today by White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson to announce the first-ever U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, a list including 78 schools that span 29 states and D.C.

The announcement was made during a visit to Stoddert Elementary School, one of D.C.’s two honorees.

“Science, environmental and outdoor education plays a central role in providing children with a well-rounded education, helping prepare them for the jobs of the future,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools demonstrate compelling examples of the ways schools can help children build real-world skillsets, cut school costs, and provide healthy learning environments.”

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) is a federal recognition program that opened in September 2011. Honored schools exercise a comprehensive approach to creating “green” environments through reducing environmental impact, promoting health, and ensuring a high-quality environmental and outdoor education to prepare students with the 21st century skills and sustainability concepts needed in the growing global economy.

"Schools that take a green approach cut costs on their utility bills, foster healthy and productive classrooms, and prepare students to thrive in the 21st century economy," said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. "These Green Ribbon School award winners are taking outstanding steps to educate tomorrow's environmental leaders, and demonstrating how sustainability and environmental awareness make sense for the health of our students and our country."

The 78 awarded schools were named winners from among nearly 100 nominees submitted by 30 state education agencies, the District of Columbia and the Bureau of Indian Education. More than 350 schools completed applications to their state education agencies. Among the list of winners are 66 public schools including 8 charters, and 12 private schools composed of 43 elementary, 31 middle and 26 high schools with around 50 percent representing high poverty schools.

"These Green Ribbon Schools are giving students and educators what they need to maximize learning and minimize risks like asthma and other respiratory illnesses, ensuring that no child is burdened by pollution in or around their school," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "Today's winners are protecting our children's health and opening up environmental education opportunities for students. The EPA is proud to help recognize the Green Ribbon award winners and will continue working to improve the environment of our nation’s schools and helping prepare students to succeed in the emerging green economy.”

The U.S. Department of Education’s “Green Ribbons” are one-year recognition awards.