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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

DOCTOR SAYS MOTHERS SHOULD WATCH WHAT THEIR BABY EATS

FROM: HHS HealthBeat (July 18, 2012)

How big is your baby
There are big kids, and too-big kids, and researchers say many moms can’t tell the difference. At the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Dr. Erin Hager had low-income moms of overweight toddlers choose silhouettes that the moms thought represented the size of their child.

"Ninety-four percent of mothers of overweight toddlers chose a silhouette that was two or more images smaller than their child’s true body size."

Dr. Hager says mothers of normal-weight toddlers also estimated wrong.

This doesn’t mean toddlers should go on diets. But Hager says mothers do need to watch what their kids eat, whether they’re active enough – and whether they’re big, or right-sized.

The study in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

PEER PRESSURE AND TEENS

FROM: HHS HealthBeat (July 23, 2012)
Peer pressure and parents

Teens face peer pressure to use drugs and alcohol. Have a cigarette; it’s just one. Want a beer? Influences on what teens do often come from their friends, but parents have big roles. Researchers interviewed high school freshmen and sophomores, asking them about their substance use, their friends – and their parents’ discipline behaviors and knowledge of their social lives.

Michael Cleveland at the Prevention Research Center at Penn State University grouped students based on their friends, to find:

"Substance abuse was lowest for those teens whose parents were knowledgeable and consistent, and who also had friends whose parents were knowledgeable and consistent."

Parents should be aware of their teens’ whereabouts. They also can keep track of who their teens are friends with, and get to know the parents of those other kids.

GSA SAYS GOVERNMENT GOING BACK TO THE WORLD TRADE CENTER

FROM: U.S. GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION
Federal Government Returning to World Trade Center
General Services Administration to lease approximately 270,000 square-feet of space.

July 18, 2012
WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. General Services Administration announced that it has signed a lease with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Durst Organization to occupy approximately 270,000 rentable square feet of space on six floors at One World Trade Center.

"This reaffirms the federal government’s commitment to the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site and to this project that demonstrates the undaunted resilience of the American people. There will once again be a federal presence in the World Trade Center, as there was from its beginning," said GSA Acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini. "We worked closely with the Port Authority and the Durst Organization to negotiate a lease that will result in the best value for taxpayers, the federal government and the City of New York."

Not only is the return of the federal presence to the World Trade Center site significant, but with this agreement, One World Trade Center will be more than 55 percent leased. Under the terms of the agreement, GSA will occupy floors 50 through 55 of the building for an initial term of 20 years starting in 2015.

In addition, this lease will help the federal government reduce its overall real estate needs in Manhattan as it occupies space in One World Trade Center and evaluates its long-term agency housing needs in New York City.

The Port Authority is owner and developer of One World Trade Center, soon to be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. The Durst Organization is an equity partner in the property and bears primary responsibility for leasing, operating and managing the building.

Monday, July 30, 2012

MOROCCO NATIONAL DAY

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
July 30, 2012

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of Morocco as you celebrate your national day this July 30.

This year, we mark 225 years since our two nations ratified a treaty of peace and friendship – the longest unbroken treaty in United States history. Together, we are working to expand trade, increase cultural and educational exchanges, and strengthen security in the region. This relationship will continue to strengthen as we work toward our common goals.

Congratulations on this special day and best wishes for a year of peace and prosperity.

First Lady visits American, British children in London on eve of Olympic competition

First Lady visits American, British children in London on eve of Olympic competition

European Space Agency United Kingdom (EN) Update

European Space Agency United Kingdom (EN) Update

CDC REPORTS ON MOTHER-TO-CHILD TRANSMISSION PREVENTION IN AFRICA

FROM: U.S. CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL CDC reports progress, innovations and challenges in scaling-up Prevention of Mother-to-Child-Transmission (PMTCT) efforts in AfricaResearch and analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Preventing Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) presented at the XIX International AIDS Conference reveal mother-to-child transmission has decreased in South Africa, provides insights into new clinical and laboratory data in resource-limited settings, and highlights the application of best practices in Mozambique.

CDC plays an essential role in implementing the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through its scientific and technical expertise, and long-standing partnerships with Ministries of Health and other key global partners such as the World Health Organization. Presentations at the conference reflect CDC’s commitment to fighting global HIV/AIDS and to achieving President Obama and Secretary Clinton’s call to action to achieve an AIDS-free generation.

Mother-to-child-transmission decreases in South Africa
One year after implementing the 2010 WHO Option-A PMTCT recommendation of using the antiretroviral (ART) drug nevirapine as preventive treatment in South Africa, mother-to-child-transmission of HIV decreased to less than three percent when measured at 4-8 weeks after mothers gave birth. According to collaborating CDC researcher, Thu-Ha Dinh,thedata suggest that early ART initiation is likely to increase effectiveness and prevent transmission of infection from mother to child.

PREPAID PHONE CAR DISTRIBUTOR PLEADS GUILTY TO TAX EVASION

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Friday, July 27, 2012
New York Distributor of Prepaid Phone Cards Pleads Guilty to Tax Evasion

Goher Yaqoob, a resident of Roslyn Heights, N.Y., pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of New York to tax evasion, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced.

According to court records, Yaqoob, who sold prepaid phone cards through a distributorship business he owned, admitted that he filed a false individual income tax return and attempted to evade his income taxes for tax year 2002 by underreporting his income. Yaqoob admitted that his criminal conduct caused a tax loss of at least $147,323 between calendar years 2000 and 2003.

Yaqoob faces a potential maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. U.S. District Judge John Gleeson, who is presiding over the matter, set a sentencing date of Dec. 7, 2012.

The case was investigated by IRS - Criminal Investigation and is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Jorge Almonte and Jeffrey B. Bender of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.

DEFENSE OFFICIAL DESCRIBES THREATS TO UNITED STATES

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Officials Describe Threats to U.S., Steps Taken to Counter Them
By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service
ASPEN, Colo., July 26, 2012 - Internal and external threats to the United States are legion, and the Defense Department is partnering with industry and the international community to defend against them, senior defense officials said today.


Paul N. Stockton, assistant secretary for Homeland Defense and Americas' Security, and Michael A. Sheehan, assistant secretary for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, described the natural and manmade threats that threaten the United States during a panel discussion at the Aspen Institute's annual security forum.

The officials were joined by retired Navy Adm. Eric Olson,former commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, and moderator Eric Schmitt, a senior writer for the New York Times.
Stockton and Sheehan said that much work remains to be done to keep the U.S. safe from both terrorism and natural disasters.

"There is a problem I discussed last year that is still keeping me up at night, and that is...the risk of a long-term, large-scale outage of the electric power grid," Stockton said.

Such an outage could result from either a natural disaster, such as a geomagnetic disturbance or major earthquake, or from a targeted attack, he said.

Stockton said a major earthquake in the New Madrid Seismic Zone, which touches on five Midwestern states, "could bring down the electric grid for weeks and months."

Internal attacks, like the attempted bombing of Times Square in 2009, demonstrate that there is much to be concerned about in the nexus between domestic and foreign threats, Sheehan said.

"Our adversaries, state and non-state, are not stupid. They're clever and adaptive," Stockton said. "Rather than attacking us on the pointy end of the spear...there is a risk that they'll adopt a profoundly asymmetric strategy, reach around and attack us here at home [in] the critical infrastructure that is not owned by the Department of Defense."

Despite this, the U.S. and its international partners have made a lot of progress in their fight against al-Qaida, its various affiliates, and groups like al-Shabaab in Somalia, Sheehan said, with enormous success coming in regions like Afghanistan and Pakistan. In other regions the fight is just beginning to show progress.

"We have begun to turn the tide of al-Qaida in Yemen," Sheehan said. "That partnership is showing results on the ground. Yemen is starting to regain territory that they lost to al-Qaida, but we still have a long way to go."

Sheehan added that al-Qaida in Yemen, along with the al-Qaida threat in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan, remain the preeminent threat for strategic attacks against the U.S.
The Department of Defense is continually developing partnerships, both with the international community and with U.S. industries, to counter these threats, the officials said.
"We're taking care of business inside the Department of Defense...that is not enough," Stockton said. Industry needs have strong plans to ensure the continuity of operations in the event of an emergency. There also need to be voluntary, innovative partnerships between industry and the government, Stockton said.

Partnerships with industry do more than just protect business interests. They also protect the Department of Defense's ability to execute its mission, Stockton said.
"The Department of Defense depends on U.S. facilities and infrastructure in order to be able to operate abroad," he said. "To make those operations function, we depend on the electric grid and all of the other critical infrastructure that needs electrons to function."

The United States needs to take an all-hazards approach to dealing with potential threats, Stockton said, because prevention of certain events is just not possible.

"There are all kinds of threat vectors out there in addition to cyber," Stockton said. "There's only so much that can be done on the prevention side. We should do everything we can, but building resilience is also critical component of that effort."

Harnessing the power of science, technology, engineering and math

Harnessing the power of science, technology, engineering and math

How To Turn 10 Minutes Of Power Into 200; Or, Efficiency X3

How To Turn 10 Minutes Of Power Into 200; Or, Efficiency X3

Sunday, July 29, 2012

U.S.-NORTH AFRICA PARTNERSHIP FOR ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY

FROM: U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
July 27, 2012

As part of the U.S. – North Africa Partnership for Economic Opportunity (NAPEO) Creative and Cultural Economy Incubator, a delegation from Algeria visited Washington DC, Jacksonville, Santa Fe, Detroit, and New York from July 7-29. The group discussed the role of the creative sector in economic development and in building international economic and cultural partnerships between the United States, Algeria, and the Maghreb region.

The delegates met with a wide range of U.S. organizations and experts in the for-profit, government, and not-for-profit sectors. The meetings explored themes such as building the infrastructure for creative industries; promoting cultural tourism through the arts; connecting artists to global markets; supporting entrepreneurship in the creative sectors; and business education for the arts.

The members of the delegation represented the North Africa Partnership for Economic Opportunity Local Advisory Board in Algeria and included: the art director and photographer for Mizophoto.org, the graphic designer and founder of Outsiders T-Shirt Company, a teacher for the Algerian National Orchestra, the founder and director of Artissimo Art School, and the chief executive officer of BlueCorp Advertising and Marketing Agency.

The State Department supported the delegation through the International Visitor Leadership Program within the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The visit advanced the goals of the Partnership to foster entrepreneurship, innovation, and exchange in the Maghreb creative industries.

The program is a collaboration of the U.S. Department of State and the Aspen Institute NAPEO Secretariat; Americans for the Arts and Creative Leaps International are co-leading the NAPEO Creative and Cultural Economy Incubator. The goals are to help develop and sustain arts and culture small-and-medium enterprises and to build a vibrant creative and cultural infrastructure through public-private sector partnerships.



The next chapter

The next chapter

CERVICALCANCER VACCINE NOT BEING COMPLETED BY MANY GIRLS AND WOMEN

FROM: HHS HealthBeat (July 27, 2012)
Vaccination against cancer
Just three shots can reduce the risk of cervical cancer. But a researcher says girls and young women – including those ages 9 to 18, who would get the most benefit – are not getting all the shots within the recommended six months. Abby Berenson of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and her team looked at data on about 272,000 girls and women who got the first dose.

“Many patients have received one vaccine but not completed all three doses. We recommend that all patients take steps to complete the three-dose series.”

Experts say the three-dose series is known to work; they don’t know if one or two doses will.

The study in the journal Cancer was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

ACCUSED ARMY RAMPAGE SHOOTER GETS FINED FOR CONTEMPT

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Military Judge Fines Hasan for Contempt
From a Fort Hood News Release

FORT HOOD, Texas, July 26, 2012 - A military judge here ruled that an Army psychiatrist accused in a November 2009 shooting rampage here is in contempt for his failure to comply with an order to appear in court clean-shaven and within Army grooming standards.

In an Article 39A hearing, Army Col. Gregory Gross fined Maj. Nidal Hasan $1,000, the maximum fine the court could impose under the court-martial contempt statute.

Hasan is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder during a shooting spree at a deployment processing center here.

After the contempt hearing, Hasan refused to voluntarily shave and watched the remainder of the hearing outside the courtroom via a close-circuit television feed. Gross informed him that if he did not voluntarily shave, he likely would compel a shaving so Hasan could attend forthcoming court-martial hearings in person.

The remainder of yesterday's hearing focused on discovery and expert matters. Gross said he would review for relevancy an unredacted copy of a recently released report to the FBI's director on the shooting incident. The judge also requested an update on whether the Senate maintained any notes or summaries of interviews the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs may have taken or made in support of its report on the shooting.

Gross also deferred ruling on whether the defense should have access to military investigations taught in a class at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Va., and he took under advisement and deferred ruling on defense-requested experts in religious conversion and social science methodology.

The judge also authorized further government funding for already appointed defense experts in jury selection and mitigation and found that federal district courts have exclusive jurisdiction over matters raised under 50 U.S. Code Section 1806. He also said he would sign an order transferring any such matter to the federal district court in Waco, Texas.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

TWO INDICTED FOR ALLEGEDLY TRYING TO SUPPLY IRAN WITH NUKE MAKING MATERIALS

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Two Indicted for Alleged Efforts to Supply Iran

WASHINGTON – A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia has returned a superseding indictment charging Parviz Khaki, a citizen of Iran, and Zongcheng Yi, a resident of China, for their alleged efforts to obtain and illegally export to Iran U.S.-origin materials that can be used to construct, operate and maintain gas centrifuges to enrich uranium, including maraging steel, aluminum alloys, mass spectrometers, vacuum pumps and other items. Khaki is also accused of conspiring to procure radioactive source materials from the United States for customers in Iran.

The superseding indictment, which was returned late yesterday, was announced by Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Ronald C. Machen Jr., U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia; and John Morton, Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The superseding indictment charges Khaki, age 43, aka "Martin," and Yi, aka "Yi Cheng," aka "Kohler," aka "Kohler Yi," each with one count of conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) by conspiring with others to cause the export of U.S. goods to Iran without the required U.S. Treasury Department license. Both defendants are also charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States; two counts of smuggling; two counts of illegally exporting U.S. goods to Iran in violation of IEEPA; and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Khaki was arrested on May 24, 2012, by authorities in the Philippines in connection with a U.S. provisional arrest request stemming from a March 8, 2012 indictment in the District of Columbia. Yi, who is purported to be the managing director of Monalila Co. LTD, a company in Guangzhou City, China, remains at large.

Both defendants face a maximum potential sentence of 20 years in prison for conspiring to violate IEEPA; five years in prison for conspiring to defraud the United States; ten years in prison for each smuggling count; 20 years in prison for each IEEPA count and 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering.

"Today’s indictment sheds light on the reach of Iran’s illegal procurement networks and the importance of keeping U.S. nuclear-related materials from being exploited by Iran. Iranian procurement networks continue to target U.S. and Western companies for technology acquisition by using fraud, front companies and middlemen in nations around the globe. I applaud the authorities in the Philippines and the many U.S. agents, analysts and prosecutors who worked on this important case," said Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for National Security.

"This new indictment shows that we have no tolerance for those who try to traffic in commodities that can be used to support Iran’s nuclear program," said U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. "It also underscores our commitment to aggressively enforcing export laws."


"By dismantling this complex conspiracy to deliver nuclear-related materials from the United States to Iran, we have disrupted a significant threat to national security," said ICE Director John Morton. "Homeland Security Investigations will continue to pursue those who exploit U.S. businesses to illegally supply foreign governments with sensitive materials and technology that pose a serious risk to America and its allies."

According to the indictment, from around October 2008 through January 2011, Khaki, Yi and others conspired to cause the export of goods from the United States to Iran in violation of the embargo. At no time during this period did the defendants have a license or authorization from the Treasury Department to export any U.S. goods to Iran.

In carrying out the conspiracy, the indictment alleges that Khaki directed Yi and others to contact U.S. companies about purchasing U.S.-origin goods. Yi and other conspirators then placed orders and purchased goods from various U.S. companies and had the goods exported from the United States through China and Hong Kong to Khaki and others in Iran. Yi and others allegedly made a variety of false statements to U.S. companies on behalf of Khaki to conceal that Iran was the final destination and end-user of the goods and to convince U.S. companies to export these items to a third country.

Efforts to Export to Iran U.S. Materials for Gas Centrifuges to Enrich Uranium

For example, the indictment alleges that on Dec. 6, 2008, Khaki asked an individual in China to obtain 20 tons of C-350 maraging steel from the United States for Khaki’s customer in Iran. In the months that followed, Khaki also had communications with Yi about purchasing 20 tons of maraging steel from a U.S. company with which Yi was in contact. Maraging steel is a special class of high-strength steel known for possessing superior strength without losing malleability. The enhanced strength of maraging steel makes it particularly suited for use in gas centrifuges for uranium enrichment.

In March 2009, Khaki allegedly began communicating with an undercover U.S. federal agent posing as an illegal exporter of U.S. goods. The agent told Khaki that the U.S. company (referenced above) could not sell Khaki the maraging steel because doing so was illegal, but that he (the undercover agent) could potentially help export the steel for a fee. Khaki allegedly replied to the agent with questions about price and payment. In the months that followed, Khaki continued to communicate with the agent in an effort to acquire and export the maraging steel to Iran, noting in one instance, "you know and I know this material are [sic] limited material and danger goods…" Khaki also discussed his desire to make money from the transaction.

The indictment also alleges that in late 2008, Khaki reached out to an individual in China about procuring 20 tons of 7075-O aluminum alloy 80mm rods and 20 tons of 7075-T6 aluminum alloy 150 mm rods from the United States or Europe. In one communication, Khaki explained to the individual that the aluminum alloy had to be American made because his Iranian customer had previously found that Chinese aluminum alloy was of poor quality.

Khaki also allegedly sought to obtain mass spectrometers from the United States. In a May 2009 email request to the undercover federal agent, Khaki specified that one magnetic mass spectrometer he sought was for the isotopic analysis of gaseous uranium hexafluoride. Uranium hexafluoride is the chemical compound used in the gas centrifuge process to enrich uranium. Khaki and Yi also conspired to obtain other items from U.S. companies that can be used for gas centrifuges, including measuring instruments, pressure transducers, vacuum pumps and other accessories, according to the charges.

Efforts to Export to Iran Radioactive Materials

The indictment further alleges that Khaki sought to obtain radioactive source materials from the United States. In May 2009, for instance, Khaki sent an email to the undercover agent asking the agent to purchase radioactive sources and test materials from a U.S. company. Attached to the email was a list of products, including barium-133 source and europium-152 source, as well as contact information for the U.S. company.

In January 2011, Khaki contacted the undercover agent again requesting that he purchase various radioactive sources. In one email to the agent, Khaki allegedly sent a product catalogue for radioactive sources, including cobalt-57 source, and in another email he requested the agent purchase cadmium-109 source.

Exports to Iran of Lathes and Nickel Alloy Wire through Hong Kong, China

The indictment alleges the defendants caused the illegal export of lathes and nickel alloy 120 wire from the United States through China to Iran. In February 2009, Khaki asked Yi to contact a U.S. company about procuring two Twister Speed Lathes. Yi allegedly purchased these items and arranged for them to be shipped from the United States to Hong Kong and ultimately to Iran in June 2009.

In another transaction, on Jan. 26, 2009, Khaki allegedly asked a conspirator to contact a U.S. company about purchasing nickel alloy 120. At Khaki’s request, the conspirator sent a U.S. company an order for nickel alloy, falsely stating that a company in China was the purchaser. In June 2009, the U.S. company shipped the nickel alloy to Yi in Hong Kong, who shipped it on to Iran, according to the charges.

This investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) agents. Assistance was provided by authorities in the Philippines. The prosecution is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and Trial Attorney Brandon L. Van Grack of the Counterespionage Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. The Office of International Affairs in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division also provided assistance.

STATE DEPARTMENT-LAW OFFICERS AND FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS

FROM: U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
Partnership Agreement Signed between United States Department of State and Pasadena Police Department in California
Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
July 26, 2012
Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) William R. Brownfield and City of Pasadena Chief of Police Phillip Sanchez signed a partnership agreement on Wednesday, July 25. This partnership agreement between INL and a local law enforcement agency enables INL to utilize the knowledge and expertise of active serving police officers to train, advise, and mentor foreign law enforcement personnel as part of the Department of State’s numerous foreign assistance programs to further civilian security.

In his remarks, Assistant Secretary Brownfield recognized the Pasadena Police Department for its recent assistance to the Department of State in seconding one of Pasadena’s finest police officers to support INL’s police program in Jamaica for one week, where he advised the U.S. Embassy and Jamaica’s Constabulary Police Force. More information can be viewed at http://www.ci.pasadena.ca.us/Police/.

The State Department recognizes that many of the most important skills required for civilian security and justice sector reform efforts around the world are found in communities throughout the United States. INL has established relationships with state and local law enforcement, corrections, prosecutorial, and other specialized justice sector institutions to leverage their expertise in support of the Department of State’s foreign assistance goals. Each state and local partner receives specialized training from the State Department and develops key relationships for their hometown community. The State Department pays the salaries of state and local officer while they are deployed

HAND WASHING AND HEALTHY LIVING

FROM: HHS HealthBeat (July 12, 2012)

Giving a Hand to Hand-Washing

Life can be a dirty business, and the dirt gets on your hands, and all that mess can lead to infections, as people pick up germs which can make them sick. So hand-washing is a good thing.

To reinforce the point, the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical Center, its research hospital, had a Hand Hygiene Awareness Day – a kind of hand-washing health fair. Research nurse Amina Oughourli did a demonstration test in which she got to see what she missed – but which showed up as a kind of gunk glow-in-the-dark.

"I did the dark light simulation with the dirt, and it was pretty gruesome, so I’m going to be washing my hands pretty vigilantly – even more so than I was before."

AL-QAIDA IN SYRIA?

FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Al-Qaida Role in Syria Should Not be Exaggerated, Official Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 26, 2012 - While there may be some extremists among the Syrian rebels, al-Qaida is not establishing a strong footprint in the country, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today.

Al-Qaida in Iraq has taken credit for a number of attacks in neighboring Syria, as well as in Iraq itself.

"We condemn AQI-related attacks in the strongest possible terms," Little said during a Pentagon news conference. "We understand that they're a presence. We have expressed, and I will reiterate today, our belief that the Iraqi government and security forces can address the challenges posed by AQI."

The United States is working closely with the Iraqis and other governments in the region to disrupt, defeat and dismantle al-Qaida, Little said. The United States will continue to go after the terror group wherever it may try to operate.

There may be al-Qaida operatives in Syria, Little said, "but no one should think ... that AQI has a significant, major or particularly strong footprint in Syria," he said. "I can't eliminate the possibility that some elements of AQI might be there, but I wouldn't want anyone to overstate the concern about AQI in Syria."

Little emphasized that Syrian President Bashir al-Assad must leave power so that Syrians can determine their own way forward.

"The goal at the end of the day for the Syrian people ... should be to define for themselves a path for the future," he said. "It's really not for us to define that path for them, and I can't speculate as to what kind of government may come next. The important thing at the moment is for Bashar Assad to go."

Little called the Syrian dictator "a destructive force" responsible for the murders of thousands of his countrymen.

"We're not looking at this all in isolation," he said. "We understand that we have to look toward the future and toward a political transition. We're not blind to the fact that we need to look toward that future, and we hope it's a future that's much brighter than what we're seeing today."

Friday, July 27, 2012

U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT CHALLENGES CBO FORECASTS

FROM: U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT
Defense Official Objects to Congressional Budget Office Forecasts
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 12, 2012 - A Congressional Budget Office analysis suggesting the Pentagon budget will be $123 billion higher than expected over the next five years dismisses many of the proposals the department has made to control costs, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told reporters today.

The department has committed to reducing the budget by $487 billion over the next 10 years. The CBO report makes clear that if Congress blocks proposals to achieve cost savings in the 2013 budget -- particularly efforts to address skyrocketing personnel costs -- the Pentagon will risk violating the strict spending caps that Congress imposed on the department in the Budget Control Act, Little said.

CBO officials applied their own forecast to many of the DOD proposals, according to Little.

As an example, he said, CBO officials assumed Congress would deny the department's request to raise TRICARE fees for certain retirees. The fee increase would mean an additional $13 billion in savings over the next five years.

The budget office also believes Congress will authorize higher military pay raises than DOD currently proposes, Little said.

CBO also assumes DOD will not meet the aggressive targets it has set to control growth in weapons acquisitions costs. The office assumes future acquisitions programs will perform as in the past. "Their analysis makes clear that we can't let that happen, and that we instead have to improve the performance of our acquisitions programs," Little said. "That's precisely what we're doing."

All of the proposals DOD made "were designed to help us meet the spending caps of the Budget Control Act while preserving our ability to invest in maintaining a ready and well-equipped force that remains the strongest on the planet," Little said.

The department has made the tough decisions and based those decisions on sound strategic grounds. "The CBO report underscores the point the secretary has been making: To responsibly square fiscal discipline with national security, you have to make tough decisions informed by a strategy, as we've done," he said.

If Congress does not approve the DOD proposals – or changes other proposals -- the department must look to other options for the savings required by the Budget Control Act. "That means cuts to training, weapons modernization and other programs that are essential to avoiding a hollow force," he said.

Little welcomed the CBO report and the discussion it has provoked. "CBO's report makes it clear why we need to continue to press ahead on all fronts with our efforts to achieve cost savings," he said. "And we need the close partnership of Congress to do so."

A ground-breaking public-private partnership

A ground-breaking public-private partnership

Presseeinladung: Mars Express unterstützt Curiosity-Landung der NASA auf dem Mars

Presseeinladung: Mars Express unterstützt Curiosity-Landung der NASA auf dem Mars

DOD PROVIDES FOOD TO FEED HUNGRY AMERICAN FAMILIES

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
'Feds Feed Families' Distributes Food to Local Programs
By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 26, 2012 – White cardboard boxes full of food collected at Defense Department agencies stand stacked in a food bank warehouse here, ready for sorting and repackaging to feed those in need.

In the northeast quadrant of the city, the Capital Area Food Bank on Taylor Street receives, organizes and distributes the nonperishable goods that DOD and other federal agencies contribute to the "Feds Feed Families" campaign, said Molly McGlinchy, food resources coordinator at the warehouse.

"It's a phenomenal support system for us," she said of the annual federal food campaign, which began June 15 and ends in late August.

"[The food drive] changes and grows every year," McGlinchy said. She's worked at the food bank since Feds Feed Families' inception in 2009.

Food donations across the federal government in the Feds Feed Families 2011 campaign totaled 5.7 million pounds -- nearly three times the goal of 2 million pounds. DOD exceeded its own goal of 733,800 pounds of food, officials said. This year, DOD looks to collect 1.5 million pounds of food donations for nationwide distribution, more than twice last year's goal.

McGlinchy said that the typical donation of about 1.3 pounds of food per federal employee translates into a single, well-balanced meal for someone who needs it.

Once the donations are delivered to the Washington food bank, the Feds Feed Families contributions blend in with the food bank's overall nonperishable offerings in a new, 100,000-square-foot warehouse on Puerto Rico Avenue. The new building opens this week to meet the growing demands on the nearby 32-year-old, 42,000-square-foot warehouse on Taylor Street.

Food bank officials say 641,000 people in the Washington metro area are at risk of hunger. Feds Feed Families is led by the Chief Human Capital Officers Council, in partnership with the Office of Personnel Management and the Defense and Agriculture departments, according to its website.

A fact sheet on the site says the food bank expects to feed 478,100 people this year, with federal contributions a part of that.

Serving a network of 700 nonprofit groups, the food bank distributes to groups as small as church pantries, which might offer food on a monthly basis, and as large as soup kitchens that serve daily meals, McGlinchy said.

The food bank serves people in the District of Columbia and in Maryland's Montgomery and Prince George's counties. A second warehouse in Virginia serves 230 nonprofit feeding programs and agencies, and handles the city of Alexandria and Arlington, Fairfax and Prince William counties.

Military bases and other federal agencies outside the national capital metro area distribute food to local agencies to meet the needs of the hungry, she said.

"[We] get a wide range of donations and have the ability to distribute different types of food to different organizations," McGlinchy said, adding that the food bank does the food collection legwork for its smaller partner agencies.

Also, because the federally contributed food consists of canned items, distribution sometimes lasts through the rest of the year, McGlinchy said.

Most people who donate likely are aware of the current difficult economic climate, she said. The campaign is run during the summer months for a variety of reasons, she explained. One reason is that some children might not get their nutritional needs met while out of school.

"I think people who donate are thankful for what they have, and want to reach out to the community," McGlinchy said. While Feds Feed Families accepts only canned goods and cannot contribute money, she said, the food bank receives monetary donations through the Combined Federal Campaign.

With a wide variety of contributed food, McGlinchy said, the Feds Feed Families program contribution guidelines allow the food bank to carry the necessary items. "We get exactly what we ask for," she said.

The food bank for Feds Feed Families' has a "most wanted list," which includes:

-- Fruits canned in light syrup or their own juices;

-- Low-sodium or "no salt added" canned vegetables;

-- Multigrain cereals;

-- Brown and white rice, oatmeal, bulgur, quinoa, couscous, and macaroni and cheese;

-- Canned proteins, such as tuna, salmon, chicken, peanut butter and beans;

-- Low-sodium canned foods such as low-sodium beef stew, chili, and chicken-noodle and turkey and rice soups;

-- All kinds and sizes of 100-percent juice, including juice boxes;

-- Whole grain snacks low in added sugars, including individually packaged snacks, cereal bars, pretzels and sandwich crackers; and

-- Baking goods, such as flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices and boxed mixes.

The sun sets behind U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Jamie R. Johnson, a platoon sergeant assigned to Bayonet Company, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, Task Force No Slack, as he patrols Afghanistan's Kunar province, March 17, 2011. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Mark Burrell

 

A group of International Security Assistance Force Regional Command soldiers talk at dusk while pulling security in Kandahar, Afghanistan, March 28, 2011. U.S. Navy photo by Ensign Haraz N. Ghanbari

 

U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL'S REMARKS ON TERRORISM

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
Remarks at the Center on Global Counterterrorism Cooperation
Remarks
Daniel Benjamin
Coordinator, Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism
Washington, DC
July 24, 2012
Thank you, Alistair, for the kind introduction and for organizing this timely event. A big thank you for all that you and your Center have done over the last six or seven years to promote multilateral counterterrorism cooperation.

Last week’s horrific terrorist attack in Bulgaria, which killed a Bulgarian and five Israeli citizens, is just the most recent reminder of the global nature of the terrorist threat – no country is immune from it.

It also serves as another reminder that effective international cooperation, whether among police, policymakers, prosecutors, judges, border officials, or others, is essential both in responding to these attacks and preventing future ones.

I am particularly grateful for the opportunity to speak here today about some of the work that we have done at the State Department over the past three years to strengthen the international counterterrorism apparatus. This includes not only creating the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) but fine tuning the existing bodies. In both cases, among the key objectives has been to ensure the necessary international architecture is in place to allow us to pursue our long-term, civilian-focused counterterrorism objectives most effectively.

Secretary Clinton came into office with a strong conviction that we needed a more comprehensive counterterrorism policy and that there was an important diplomatic role to be played. She believed strongly that it was not just a question of taking out the terrorists who were threatening us at any given moment, but that over the long term, we also needed to diminish recruitment, which the terrorists of course rely upon, and help others to do a better job defending themselves against the threats within their borders and in their regions.

You’ve heard her speak at great length about smart power. We very much consider this to be a smart power approach. We could call it strategic counterterrorism. And its core elements involve countering violent extremism, undermining the ideology of al-Qaida and other extremist groups, and building the capacity of civilian and other rule of law institutions in countries so that they address threats within their own borders regions.

Doing so reduces the burden on American taxpayers; builds partnerships and enables countries to put in place and use rule of law institutions/framework to prevent and counter terrorism, thus reducing the likelihood of US intervention, which unfortunately has proven to be significant radicalizer, historically.

To make real progress in advancing this strategic agenda at the global level there was a strong sense that we needed the international community – in particular its CT policymakers and practitioners – to come together in a way that it had never done before to build counterterrorism capacities, to share expertise and good practices, and develop innovative solutions.

Over the years the UN had done a commendable job in elaborating a normative international counterterrorism framework and some of its secretariat bodies, in particular Mike Smith and his CTED colleagues, do excellent work with countries to advance its implementation on the ground. However, the tendency of the governmental bodies within the global organization to return to the sterile debate about who is a terrorist and the emphasis in New York on process and politics rather than action left us thinking that the UN was not the ideal venue to serve as the centerpiece for advancing our strategic counterterrorism priorities at a global level.

With the terrorist threat spreading to new regions, and in order to advance our long-term, strategic counterterrorism goals, we needed a multilateral forum that could bring together Western donors, Muslim majority partners and emerging powers; one that emphasized results over rhetoric. Our aim with the GCTF was to establish an apolitical, technical body, where CT policymakers and practitioners could come together to set priorities, mobilize resources and do the essential work of assisting our partners to become more capable.

The need for this body was all the more urgent because of the Arab Awakening. Suddenly, a key group of new governments wanted to get away from the repressive practices that drove radicalization for more than a generation. We didn’t want to miss this opportunity to help shape the future.
The 30- member Forum, which grew out of the G8’s Counterterrorism Action Group, was officially launched by Secretary Clinton and her Turkish counterpart last September on the margins of the UN General Assembly and held its second ministerial meeting last month in Istanbul. The continuing high-level political commitment from so many of its members is a demonstration that the Forum is an idea whose time has come.

In its short life, the Forum has already demonstrated the value of having a dedicated global venue to regularly convene CT policymakers and practitioners from around the world to address some of the critical counterterrorism challenges of today and tomorrow, including in its two areas of strategic priority: strengthening rule of law institutions so that countries are better able to address the security threats within their own borders and regions – while respecting human rights and reducing terrorist recruitment by countering the political, economic, and social drivers of violent extremism.
A quick run through the various cities in which the Forum has met since its September launch is just one indication of the breadth of countries that have stepped forward to support the GCTF mission -- Abu Dhabi, Algiers, Istanbul, London, Washington, Niamey, Madrid, Dar es Salaam, Rabat, Semarang, Rome, and The Hague. We expect this list to grow in the months ahead as other GCTF members and non-members step forward to host GCTF activities.

The GCTF has already established itself as an action-oriented organization – one that has surpassed expectations.

It has elaborated and endorsed rule of law-based CT good practices for criminal justice officials and for how to develop prison rehabilitation and reintegration programs for violent extremist offenders. It has raised more than $150 million for capacity-building projects to strengthen rule of law institutions, with a particular focus on countries transitioning away from emergency law as the basis for fighting terrorism. We are seeing an increasing number of GCTF members align their civilian CT capacity-building resources with GCTF thematic and geographic priorities.

Thanks to the GCTF, the first-ever, international rule of law training center will soon be established where the Arab Awakening begin – Tunisia – which will provide human rights-based CT training to criminal justice officials in countries in North Africa and the broader Middle East.

We recognize that this Institute will not be the first actor to engage in this region on these issues. However, while a number of bilateral and multilateral actors are delivering rule of law-related counterterrorism training in the Middle East and North Africa region, much of this is done as one-off workshops and/or on an ad hoc basis and is thus often not geared to the longer-term, sustainable training that could be delivered from and by the Institute.

This will complement the first-ever International Center of Excellence on Countering Violent Extremism, which the UAE agreed to host, with the support of the GCTF, and is set to open this fall. Its international experts, who will be drawn from governments, academia and NGOs around the world, will provide, long-term, sustainable training to government officials on how to develop programs and tools to counter violent extremism at home and abroad.

Much like the Tunisia center, this CVE center was inspired by and driven by the agenda of the GCTF. Also, much like the Tunisia center and the GCTF as a whole, the Abu Dhabi center will have a close partnership with the UN, including by offering a platform for relevant UN entities to deliver CVE training and host CVE workshops.

All of this is not only going to provide us a more dynamic, strategically and practically-oriented multilateral counterterrorism architecture, but it is going to pay real security dividends for the U.S. and its partners.

With the Forum soon entering its second year of existence, we are accurately aware that its impact should not be limited just to its members; maximizing its impact will require contributions from and developing partnerships with non-members and this includes states, multilateral bodies, and civil society.

The GCTF has already made important strides here. It has already developed a close working relationship with the United Nations, and regional bodies as it strives to promote the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. A wide range of UN entities have participated in GCTF activities and have contributed to the elaboration of GCTF good practices. We are also particularly pleased to see how the Forum has been able to mobilize additional resources for UN capacity-building projects in areas of strategic priority for both the Forum and the UN, some of which I am sure Mike will address in his remarks.

We have also seen key counterterrorism partners from the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, and Southeast Asia, countries who are not members of the Forum, participate in Forum activities. In fact, in May, Niger (a non-member) hosted a productive GCTF meeting that brought together border security experts from all Sahel countries and GCTF members to build working-level partnerships and identify how best to secure the borders in the region. We are committed to continue to find ways to involve non-member states in the work Forum and demonstrate that despite its limited membership the GCTF is truly committed to strengthening global civilian CT capacities and cooperation.

The Forum has also made progress in engaging with and involving regional and other international organizations. So far, experts from a diversity of regional bodies have participated in GCTF activities to learn how they can take best advantage of the expertise and resources that the GCTF can mobilize.
Before turning the floor over to Mike, I wanted to underscore that although our efforts with the GCTF may attract the most attention, we remain very active in a wide range of other multilateral fora, whether at the UN or at the regional level. Our efforts have focused on how we can leverage these organizations to increase the political will and the capacities of countries around the world to counter terrorism. Wherever appropriate, we have sought to work with partners to reorient the work of these bodies towards our strategic counterterrorism priorities.

For example, we are increasingly turning to the UN to deliver counterterrorism capacity-building assistance, including in politically sensitive regions such as South Asia, the Horn of Africa, and North Africa, and on potentially sensitive topics. This recognizes not only the growing expertise that that the UN is developing, but that in many instances engagement under the UN flag is likely to be more productive, better received and far reaching than providing it bilaterally. We are particularly pleased with two innovative projects: one that will allow the UN for the first time to be able to deliver counterterrorism-related human rights training to law enforcement officials in key regions around the globe, and the other will allow the UN to work with prison officials to develop rule of law-based programs aimed at rehabilitating violent extremists. Both of these initiatives will pay particular attention to countries transitioning away from the use of repressive counterterrorism tactics and other front-line countries.

At the regional level, our efforts have traditionally focused on those bodies in which the U.S. is a member. Thus, for example, we spearheaded the creation of an APEC Consolidated Counter-Terrorism and Secure Trade Strategy, with the objective of making regional commerce and travel more secure, efficient, and resilient and will now work within APEC to bring together experts from a range of sectors, such as aviation, maritime, customs, and border protection to support its implementation. This complements the work we have done in recent years within APEC to build the capacity of our APEC partners to secure transportation and trade and counter terrorism financing, among others, This week in Manila, for example, we’re hosting a training workshop on Bus Security as it pertains to information sharing, capacity building, and public awareness. As we saw last week in Bulgaria, this is an area of critical importance.

At the OSCE, by applying its signature concept of comprehensive security and utilizing the multiple dimensions of the organization, we are seeking to expand CT cooperation and capacity-building with Central Asia and Afghanistan. This includes by helping to develop and fund projects to promote the rule of law and counter violent extremism and radicalization.

Finally, we continue to work closely with OAS/CICTE on strengthening CT cooperation and capacities in the Western Hemisphere and capacity building and provide funds for workshops on a diverse range of subjects to strengthen the capacity of our partners in the region, to include, cyber security, aviation security, travel document security, and bulk cash smuggling.

By working through regional organizations such as the OAS, we’ve built security partnerships that would not exist otherwise. For example, we expect the US-funded, OAS-delivered bulk cash smuggling training to result in a joint interdiction operation for the Southern Cone countries of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay and, if successful, it could be considered an international breakthrough on international cooperation against bulk currency smuggling as a means to launder money and finance terrorism.

There is obviously a great deal more that could be said about our efforts to strengthen the international counterterrorism architecture… as I have just skimmed the surface of what we are doing to implement a central pillar of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Strategy.
I look forward to your questions.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Carter Remarks in Korea

Carter Remarks in Korea

More Kidney Stones

More Kidney Stones

U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE CLINTON'S REMARKS WITH LUXEMBOURG DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER ASSELBORN

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Remarks With Luxembourg Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn Before Their Meeting
Remarks
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
July 25, 2012
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s a pleasure to welcome the Vice Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Luxembourg here. I have the opportunity to work with him on a number of important issues in NATO and in other fora, where we are committed to advancing our shared values and interests. And I’m looking forward to the opportunity to discuss a wide range of issues. So welcome, Jean. We’re so happy you’re here.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER ASSELBORN: Thank you, Hillary. First, I am grateful and it’s an honor for me to be here. It’s the sixth time that I have been in this house as Foreign Minister. I saw three different colleagues, three highly appreciated personalities, and I want to thank you, Hillary, in the name of Luxembourg for the very, very, great job you are doing since now.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER ASSELBORN: Let me – a little bit on Europe and United States. I think that we are facing unprecedented challenges on the economic future (inaudible) in our region. But I think that we have to put our energies together. We cannot face them, I think, alone. We will not manage it to face and to find solutions. So I think that more than ever, today we have to pray together and to put really our energies in the same basket.

I just want to mention maybe three topics very briefly that I think that we have to work together. The first is Sahara. I was in Africa in the last two weeks, in Addis Ababa and also in Mozambique. And in the Sahara region, there is a humanitarian crisis and a security crisis that is unfolding out of our very eyes. And we have to cooperate, I think, with the Western African organizations and West African Union to avoid (inaudible) of this region.

The second point, of course, is Syria. I think that the only aim of the United States and the European Union is to make – to increase the pressure on the regime that the killings and the violence stop. And therefore we need to cooperate with all the diplomatic means that we have our – at our disposal.

And the last point, I think, on Northern Africa, there is a lot of hope, I think, and in Egypt – you have been there – in Libya, but also in Tunisia. The core challenge is to accept the results of democratic elections and to safeguard, if I can say, the fundamental human rights fixed in the UN Charter and to support – and that’s very important for Europe to support the countries to restart the economy and to give social hope to these countries.

So I think only three points that – for us as Europeans. I am the longest serving foreign minister in the European Union, but now more than ever, I think we can share, and we have to share, our values and cooperate very strongly together. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we certainly agree with that.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER ASSELBORN: Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, all, very much.

MOTORCYCLE HELMET SAFETY INFORMATION FROM HHS

FROM: HHS HealthBeat (July 13, 2012)Heads in Helmets

Wearing a helmet can save your life on a motorcycle. In fact, in 2010, helmets saved over 1,500 riders’ lives, but about 700 more lives could have been saved if all riders had worn helmets.

Rebecca Naumann is at the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the CDC.

"We’ve seen that helmets reduce the likelihood of death in a motorcycle crash by about 37 percent."

Full-face helmets offer the best protection for your head, face, eyes – and smile.

"CDC encourages that every motorcycle rider wear a helmet on every trip. We also encourage that motorcycle riders never ride after drinking."

In 2010, motorcyclists who wore helmets prevented so much head injury that the total savings to the country amounted to $3 billion.

U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LEON PANETTA ON CRAFTING SUPPORT SYSTEM FOR VETERANS

FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSEPanetta: DOD, VA Crafting Integrated Support SystemBy Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 25, 2012 - The Defense and Veterans Affairs departments are building an integrated military and veteran support system that is fundamentally different and far more robust than in the past, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta told a congressional panel today.

Panetta addressed a relatively rare joint hearing of the House Armed Services and Veterans Affairs committees to discuss assistance for service members as they return to civilian life. Joining him was VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki.

"This hearing comes at a very important time for our nation and for collaboration between our two departments," Panetta told the panel.

A new generation of service members and veterans is coming home today, he said. "They have fought and died to protect this country, and we need to fight to protect them," he added.

The two departments are working more closely together, Panetta said. "But frankly," he added, "we have much more to do to try to reach a level of cooperation to better meet the needs of those who have served our nation in uniform, especially our wounded warriors."

Returning service members and veterans deserve a seamless support system, the secretary said, "so they can put their lives back together, pursue their goals, give back to their communities, and strengthen our nation in new ways."

Such an effort takes tremendous commitment on the part of all Americans, he said, describing collaboration between the two departments led by a joint committee co-chaired by Erin C. Conaton, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, and W. Scott Gould, deputy VA secretary.

DOD and VA also are enhancing collaboration across five priority areas, Panetta told the panel.

One effort is called the Transition GPS Program, announced July 23 by President Barack Obama.

"At the Department of Defense, our goal is to provide a comprehensive transition assistance program that prepares those who are leaving the service for the next step, whether that is pursuing additional education, whether it's trying to find a job in the public sector or the private sector, or whether it's starting [a new] business," Panetta said.

The transition program, he added, will ensure that every service member develops an individual transition plan, meets new career-readiness standards, "and is prepared to apply their valuable military experience however and wherever they choose."

DOD and VA also are collaborating on a single integrated disability evaluation system that lets officials in both departments work together to reduce layers of bureaucracy for service members and veterans and to shorten the wait for disability compensation after separating from the military.

The departments also have undertaken a major initiative in the area of electronic health records for a seamless transition between DOD and VA health care systems, targeted for completion by 2017.

"This is not easy," Panetta said, explaining that the plan is to complete this process in San Antonio and Hampton Roads, Va., and then to expand it to every other hospital.

"If we can achieve this, it would be a very significant achievement that I think could be a model not only for the hospitals that we run, but for hospitals in the private sector as well," the secretary added.

DOD and VA also collaborate on mental and behavioral health, including improving the ability to identify and treat post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. This includes a review across the services of reports of problems with modifying diagnoses for post-traumatic stress in the military disability evaluation system. The secretary said he anticipates the review, led by Conaton, will take 18 months.

The departments also are working together in suicide prevention, including promoting cultures of help-seeking, improving access to mental and behavioral health care, emphasizing mental fitness, and working with other agencies to better understand the issue of suicide.

"One of the things that I'm trying to stress," Panetta told the panel, "is that we have got to improve the ability of leadership within the military to see these issues, to see them coming and to do something to try to prevent it from happening."

Panetta noted that he is a former congressman who has spent more than 40 years in government. "I am well aware that too often the very best intentions ... for caring for our veterans can get trapped in bureaucratic infighting," he said. "It gets trapped by conflicting rules and regulations, [and] it gets trapped by frustrating levels of responsibility."

This, he said, cannot be an excuse for failing to deal with these issues.

"It should be a challenge for both the VA and DOD, for the Congress and for the administration to try to meet that challenge together," he said. "Our warriors are trained not to fail on the battlefield. We must be committed not to fail them on the home front."

War of 1812 Expert Delivers History Lecture at Pentagon

War of 1812 Expert Delivers History Lecture at Pentagon

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

RON PAUL HAPPY WITH PASSAGE OF AUDIT-THE-FED BILL

FROM:  U.S. CONGRESSMAN RON PAUL'S E-MAIL
House Votes Overwhelmingly
to Audit the Fed!


WASHINGTON, July 24 – Congressman Ron Paul today applauded the passage by the House of Representatives of H.R. 459, the Federal Reserve Transparency Act. The bill, which calls for a full audit of the Federal Reserve System-- including its lending facilities and critical monetary policy operations-- passed overwhelmingly by a bipartisan vote of 327-98.

"I am very pleased that the House passed my Audit the Fed legislation today," Congressman Paul stated. "It has been a long, hard fight, but Congress finally is getting serious about exercising its oversight responsibility over the Federal Reserve. Auditing the Fed is a common sense issue supported by the overwhelming majority of the American people. The Fed’s trillions of dollars worth of asset purchases and its ongoing support of foreign central banks cannot be allowed to continue without Congressional oversight. Today’s passage of H.R. 459 is a good first step towards full Fed transparency, and I hope that the Senate will consider the bill before the end of the year."

SEC. OF STATE CLINTON ON SWEARING-IN OF INDIAN PRESISDENT PRANAB MUKHERJEE

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT

Swearing-In of Indian President Pranab Mukherjee

Remarks
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
July 25, 2012

I want to congratulate President Mukherjee on his swearing-in as the 13th President of India. President Mukherjee has been a strong partner to America and the American people, working throughout his career to deepen our cooperation on a wide range of issues. I look forward to continuing to work with the government and people of India. Together we will build on our shared democratic values, strengthen this relationship even more and create a brighter future for both our people.



DOD PENTAGON BRIEFING

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Presenter: Pentagon Press Secretary George Little
July 24, 2012

DOD News Briefing with George Little from the Pentagon

MR. GEORGE LITTLE: Good afternoon.

On Friday, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, Chief of Staff General Schwartz, and other Air Force leaders briefed Secretary Panetta on the Air Force's extensive analysis of hypoxia-like symptoms in the F-22 aircraft. As you know, the F-22 has been flying under restrictions ordered by Secretary Panetta since May 15 of this year. Leaders informed Secretary Panetta that the Air Force is confident the root cause of the issue is the supply of oxygen delivered to pilots, not the quality of oxygen delivered to pilots. The need to explore both possibilities, the supply and quality, was identified earlier this year by the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board.

To correct the supply issue and reduce the incidence of hypoxia-like events, the Air Force has made two changes to the aircraft cockpit life support system. First, the Air Force will replace a valve in the upper pressure garment vest worn by pilots during high-altitude missions. The valve was causing the vest to inflate and remain inflated under conditions where it was not designed to do so, thereby causing breathing problems for some pilots. The garment has been suspended from flight since June.

Second, the Air Force has increased the volume of air flowing to pilots by removing a filter that was installed to determine whether there were any contaminants present in the oxygen system. Oxygen contamination was ruled out. The Air Force is also exploring improving the oxygen delivery hose and its physical connections.

After receiving assurances that these corrective measures would minimize hypoxia-like events in the F-22, the secretary approved the Air Force planned sequence of actions to remove flight restrictions over time. This process starts today.

Secretary Panetta has authorized the deployment of a squadron of F-22s to Kadena Air Base in Japan. The aircraft will fly to Japan under altitude restrictions via the North Pacific transit route. Following completion of the flight to Japan, the Air Force will recommend resuming most long-duration flights.

The Air Force will also proceed with installing a new backup emergency oxygen system and pursue implementations of all Scientific Advisory Board actions. Five of the actions are complete, and the remaining three -- first, installation of a cockpit-mounted oxygen sensor; second, installation of an improved pilot oxygen sensor; and, third, the initial National Aeronautics and Space Administration's report -- are on track to be completed by the end of the summer.

The Air Force will brief Secretary Panetta in early fall on the results of the modified upper pressure garment testing. Pending completion of the Scientific Advisory Board recommendations, the NASA independent analysis, and fielding of the modified upper pressure garment, the Air Force will seek approval to remove F-22 altitude restrictions.

Finally, following the completion of these actions and the installation of the backup oxygen system, the Air Force will request resumption of the aerospace alert control alert missions in Alaska. Until that time, this mission will continue to be flown by other aircraft.

Along with Air Force leadership, the secretary believes that pilot safety is paramount. The gradual lifting of restrictions will enable the Air Force to resume normal F-22 operations over time, while ensuring the safety of the incredible airmen who fly this critical aircraft.

The F-22 aircraft have flown more than 7,000 sorties, totaling more than 9,000 hours, since the last unexplained incident involving hypoxia-like symptoms occurred on March 8, 2012. Two incidents involving oxygen-related concerns since then were determined to be mechanical malfunctions, in other words, explained incidents. On June 26, an incident at Langley Air Force Base was caused by a faulty valve in the cockpit. On July 6, at Hickam Air Force Base, indicators in an F-22 signaled a possible oxygen problem, but the issue resolved itself in flight.

In both cases, the pilots and aircraft have returned to flight status. The pilots have been issued a clean bill of health, and relevant cockpit components, valves, and connections were replaced by maintenance personnel.

Two other brief announcements before taking your questions. Today here in the briefing room, at 2:30 p.m., Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz will review you on his four years as the Air Force's senior uniformed leader and his nearly 40 years of his distinguished military service.

Tomorrow at 10 a.m. Secretary Panetta and Secretary Shinseki will testify before a joint hearing of the House Armed Services Committee and the House Veterans Affairs Committee on assistance for servicemembers returning to civilian life.

All right. I'll turn it over to you all. Thank you.

John?

Q: George, has the Japanese government been informed of the decision to send the F-22s to Kadena? And if so, have they expressed any safety concerns in that regard?

MR. LITTLE: The government of Japan has been informed of this move of the F-22s to Kadena. I'm unaware of any concerns expressed with respect to safety.

Jeff?

Q: When is it expected that all Air Force -- that all the altitude restrictions will be lifted? And why didn't the secretary lift all restrictions on Friday, when he was given the explanation for what's causing this?

MR. LITTLE: I think the answer to the second part of your question, Jeff, is very simple, and that is that the Air Force recommended a phased approach to resuming normal flight operations, while re-engineering of certain components of the life support system inside the aircraft occurs and components are replaced.

So this is a phased approach. This is prudent. It was recommended by Air Force leadership. And the secretary approved their recommendations.

Q: Do you have the timeline for all restrictions being lifted?

MR. LITTLE: I don't have the precise timeline. Perhaps the Air Force can give you more detail on the timelines associated with each of the phases here.

Dave?

Q: When is this deployment to Kadena? And how far away from a landing field does that transit take them?

MR. LITTLE: The deployment could occur at any moment. The way the planes are going to fly will allow them to be near runways, through -- and forgive me for referring to my -- the North Pacific transit route, which will allow the planes to be near land as they fly to Kadena.

Q: What are the phases until the day it was -- had to stay within 30 minutes of landing fields --

MR. LITTLE: Right.

Q: -- what's the first phase?

MR. LITTLE: Well, long-duration deployments are the first phase. The deployment to Kadena will be flying at -- the planes will fly at lower altitude, which means that pilots won't have to use the upper garment vest, period. And they will be near runways all along the flight trajectory to Kadena.

Q: (Inaudible)

MR. LITTLE: And then, over time, we expect -- pardon me?

Q: Is there some stated distance or, you know, time distance that they cannot go from an airfield?

MR. LITTLE: I don't have that for you, Dave. I would check with the Air Force. Close proximity.

Jim?

Q: George, does the fact that they take the high-altitude vest away from the pilots so that they can breathe limit the capacity of the aircraft in case of an emergency? So something happens with North Korea, and you're going to need the F-22s to go after them, are they still going to be limited by altitude? Or will they -- how will that work? Will they be able to use them?

MR. LITTLE: Well, I'm not going to get into speculative scenarios with respect to North Korea and how the F-22 might or might not be involved in a potential scenario with North Korea. But there are -- we're going to follow the protocols. If we need to depart from those protocols, then that decision will make its way up the chain of command.

Courtney?

Q: I'm a little unclear still. So -- so the secretary or the Air Force or both are confident at this point that replacing the valve in the vest, that they've determined the problem here, right, that this has been solved?

MR. LITTLE: Correct.

Q: So then I still don't quite understand -- I mean, they have to be within so many miles of a -- of a landing area. They can't fly above a certain altitude. I mean, the plan going forward doesn't inspire a lot of confidence that the secretary or the Air Force have confidence that this problem is solved and that they won't have this problem again in the theater.

MR. LITTLE: Well, I think we have very high confidence that we've identified the issue. It's going to take us a little while to ensure that all the relevant components are replaced and that the equipment is -- allows for the supply issue to be resolved. So this is a very prudent way to ensure that we -- in a very careful manner -- resume normal flight operations. We have high confidence at this stage that that could be done.

Q: Do you know if any of the pilots, F-22 pilots have expressed any concern about continuing to fly at this point?

MR. LITTLE: My understanding is that the -- the Air Force -- but please check with them -- the Air Force has surveyed F-22 pilots, and the vast majority have expressed confidence in the aircraft.

Q: One question -- the -- the filter you're removing is the diagnostic filter, right? It was added to the F-22 as a diagnostic procedure, to see if it was air quality, right? That's the filter you're removing?

MR. LITTLE: I believe that's correct, yes.

Q: And the other side -- as far as the hypoxia problems, you haven't had problems -- and at lower altitudes, you haven't had the hypoxia, right? It's when you get into the higher altitudes.

MR. LITTLE: It's when you get into higher altitudes. That's correct. You don't need to wear the upper garment vest at lower altitudes, for example, at passenger jet altitudes.

Q: So this flight to Japan, then, it's going to be at low altitudes? You wouldn't expect -- unless there's some other problem with the plane -- you wouldn't expect any problems, period, with that. So why all the precautions on staying so close to the air bases and things like that -- or landing strips?

MR. LITTLE: Well, we're adopting a very measured approach here. We want to make sure that the upper garment vest issue is resolved. We believe it has been. And we need to re-engineer the valves and so forth. We need to make sure that the corrugated tubes that deliver the oxygen are appropriately configured and designed. And we need to make those changes to the life support system in the aircraft. This is a phased approach, and that's why we're moving out in this way.

Q: Just to make sure I understand, this flight wouldn't actually bring any of that stuff into play, right?

MR. LITTLE: No, we're -- the flights to Japan will occur below the altitude at which you would need to wear the upper garment vest.

Yes?

Q: Two questions. One, F-21 -- 22 and also Afghanistan. F-22. Is it same plane that U.S. was in touch and discussion with India to manufacture or sale of these planes to India?

MR. LITTLE: I'm not aware of potential F-22 sales to India. I'll let you know if I hear differently.

Q: Thank you. And Afghanistan, Afghanistan has now warned for the last few days to Pakistan that stop cross-borders -- (inaudible) -- civilians are being targeted. And now Pakistan's new prime minister has said that -- (inaudible) -- Afghanistan. How U.S. mission and NATO mission will impact relations between two countries -- -- (inaudible) -- -- on this issue?

MR. LITTLE: Relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan? Well, we're working closely with both countries, obviously, to try to limit violence along the Afghan-Pakistan border. We have obviously been in constant contact with the Afghan government to work on these issues. And we have put pressure on the enemy to operate along the border.

On the Pakistani side of the border, we are settling back into a normal phase of cooperation with our Pakistani partners. And border coordination, we believe, is improving.

Q: And as far as the new prime minister of Pakistan, Raja Ashraf, is concerned, how this will change as far as U.S. mission in Afghanistan is concerned?

MR. LITTLE: In our estimation, I'm not sure there's any particular change to the mission in Afghanistan. We're carrying out the mission as we've designed it. We're moving quickly and prudently toward implementation of the improvement of Afghan national security force capabilities. And, of course, we're following the Lisbon timeline toward the end of 2014.

Q: What I mean is really, will things change because of new leadership in Pakistan, compared with Prime Minister Gilani is concerned?

MR. LITTLE: No, we don't believe so.

Q: (Inaudible)

MR. LITTLE: Justin?

Q: George, so far this year, Al Qaida in Iraq has claimed the lives of nearly 600 people. On Monday alone, shootings and bombings across the country killed 100 people. Is Iraq a safe haven for Al Qaida?

MR. LITTLE: We condemn these cowardly acts. Violence of this sort is totally intolerable. We believe that the Iraqi government is capable of providing for its own security and addressing internal threats that it's facing from Al Qaida and from other groups, perhaps. The level of violence is a potential challenge to the Iraqi government. But we're confident that they can take care of business.

Q: Are they doing enough to take care of business, as you see it right now? It certainly doesn't appear that way by the numbers. And it's -- and it appears that they're getting closer to some sort of sectarian conflict again. Are you concerned about that?

MR. LITTLE: As I said, we have confidence that the Iraqi government can address the problem of violence inside their own country. They have the tools and the capabilities to do so. They have the security forces to be able to do so. And I'm not going to speculate on what the future of Iraq might look like. That's really for the Iraqis to describe themselves.

Jeff?

Q: Among the people who suffered hypoxia incidents were maintainers on the ground. Was it determined why they suffered hypoxia?

MR. LITTLE: I don't have the specifics on that, Jeff. The Air Force, I think, and probably -- and will be able to address that specific issue at a later time.

Q: Is the Air Force going to -- well, at this point, are there any unresolved cases still? Or has the Air Force provided an explanation for all of them?

MR. LITTLE: I will leave that specific answer to the Air Force. The most recent incidents have been explained versus unexplained, and that's an important distinction.

Yes?

Q: George, the president yesterday said that DOD this week is going to unveil a public database of some sort for military medal recipients. Can you offer any details as to what the scope of that database, what medals it'll include?

MR. LITTLE: I said a number of days ago that we were exploring options to be able to stand up this kind of capability, that it would allow us to list the names of service members receiving valor awards. I think there will be more to come later this week.

Yes?

Q: Earlier today, a number of military officials testified before the House Oversight Committee about allegations of neglect at the Afghan national hospital. One said that Lieutenant General Caldwell ordered them to retract a request for the inspector general to investigate. Is there a DOD investigation into the allegations made by that -- by that official?

MR. LITTLE: The allegations are being look at by the DOD IG. I'm not going to get into specifics of those allegations. I would point out that some of the problems that we saw at the hospital have, in fact, been resolved. Corrective measures were taken, and patient care was improved as a result.

Joe?

Q: George, around Syria, today Ambassador Rice to the United Nations has said that United States will start to act outside the United Nations framework because of the Russian veto. Is the Pentagon -- does the Pentagon know anything about -- does the Pentagon have any plan to work outside the United Nations framework? Could you give me some --

MR. LITTLE: I'm aware of Ambassador Rice's comments. And I certainly understand her frustration with elements of the United Nations process with respect to Syria. I'm not going to get into speculation on what planning may or may not flow, but as you know, we plan for a variety of contingencies in these kinds of situations, and we'll continue to.

Q: Okay, if I ask you, if the Pentagon is on the same page with Ambassador Rice, what could you say?

MR. LITTLE: Well, I think that Ambassador Rice has a very good point. I think that we have been frustrated by our attempts -- and not just the United States, but other countries have been frustrated by attempts to resolve or at least develop capabilities or actions through the United Nations that would perhaps bring a quicker resolution in Syria. So I certainly associate myself with Ambassador Rice's remarks.

Q: (Inaudible) Russian ships that left northern Russia, crossed the Gibraltar Strait, and then -- (inaudible) -- Mediterranean en route to Tartus. Did the Russians since they left their own ports give you any detail about what was on the ships?

MR. LITTLE: This is really a matter for the Russians to address.

Q: (Inaudible)

MR. LITTLE: I'll have to get back to you. I'm unaware of any communication on this specific issue with the Russian military.

Q: To follow on that question, is there any evidence whatsoever -- because it's been said from this building that those ships are being monitored -- that they've delivered weapons in Tartus or delivered weapons to the Assad forces?

MR. LITTLE: If that's happened, I can't confirm it. I don't know that to be the case.

Yes?

Q: Israel's General Ganz said today that, to the best of his knowledge, Syrian government is beefing up security at the chemical weapons depots. Is that the -- the U.S. understanding?

MR. LITTLE: I've said for quite a while that the Syrian regime has a solemn obligation to protect the stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons in that country.

Q: But are they doing it?

MR. LITTLE: (Inaudible) hasn't changed. And --

Q: (Inaudible) responsibility. I'm asking you, are they doing it?

MR. LITTLE: Well, I think that over time we've seen that they have maintained security around their chemical and biological weapons stockpiles. It's hard for me to give a day-by-day accounting of every chemical stockpile site in Syria. The point here, David, is that the Syrian regime needs to protect these weapons. And I think I've been very clear, as have others in the U.S. government, that it would be unacceptable not to secure them.

Q: Have you seen any indication that the Syrian regime is making any preparations whatsoever to use them against the opposition?

MR. LITTLE: I'm unable to speculate on Syrian intentions, Dave. But let me be very clear that the Syrian regime should not use chemical weapons. It would be entirely unacceptable. It would be intolerable. And I think that my colleagues in the State Department have spoken to this, as well.

Q: Can I ask you, what level of confidence does the United States government have that -- about the size and scope of Syria's chemical and biological stockpiles, their locations, and the authority levels within the Syrian military for use of these? You recall this was an issue in the lead-up to the Iraq war. Can you give the public a sense of, you know, the confidence level? Do you have a better feel for what Syria has than what Iran -- Iraq allegedly had?

MR. LITTLE: I'm not going to draw any comparisons in our analysis, and I'm not going to get into intelligence. But we do believe that we have a good sense of the state of play of Syrian chemical weapons stockpiles. They have a really distributed network of stockpiles. But I wouldn't get into matters involving intelligence.

Q: But can I ask you a different issue that came -- in terms of matters of intelligence?

MR. LITTLE: Okay.

Q: You outraged a lot of the press corps Friday -- you, this building -- or Thursday, when you came out with an anti-leak memorandum --

MR. LITTLE: Okay. I'm glad that you clarified that, Tony.

Q: Right, the building. It came up -- (inaudible) -- senator, Congressman McKeon, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said he was convinced no leaks of these high-profile nature that everybody's been concerned about came from the Pentagon. Yet that same day, you came out with a directive that called for active monitoring of national-level media for unauthorized disclosures. Can you give the public a sense of the rationale for this move? And have you had a lot of leaks lately? Or what's the backdrop for, George? Because it's somewhat disquieting.

MR. LITTLE: Well, I think it shouldn't be disquieting. We as government officials have a solemn obligation to protect national security information, classified information. The secretary and the chairman had a very good session with the House Armed Services Committee to discuss this very issue, and we appreciate the opportunity to discuss this matter with members of the committee.

The measures that we announced last week we believe are prudent to ensure that we're doing what we can internally, DOD officials ourselves, to reinforce and to re-emphasize the need for us to protect classified information. This is what this series of announcements is all about. It's about reinforcing to the personnel inside this department that we need to do all we can to protect classified information. That's really it.

Q: You don't think it's going to have a chilling effect on media interplay with officials here? Every official is going to be worried that George Little or Mike Vickers is going to be parsing his words in articles to see if he gave up classified information.

MR. LITTLE: Well, we have great respect for the work that you do, to report the incredible work that this building does, especially our men and women in uniform. We have tremendous respect for the press corps.

This is an effort, though, to identify possible disclosures of classified information that appear in press reports. We have an obligation to take a look at reporting, and if we think there's been a disclosure of sensitive information, doesn't it behoove us, isn't it our responsibility to track down where that might be coming from? It stands to reason.

Q: What steps are you going to be -- I don't mean to belabor this, but we're in the 40th anniversary of the Watergate break-in and the leaks that -- the plumbers unit that precipitated a lot of that. I mean, some people will say that you have set up a plumbers unit to go after news media and officials here. What do you say to that?

MR. LITTLE: This is an effort to protect classified information. This is not an effort to go after media. That's what I would say to it. This is reinforcing our responsibilities as government officials who sign paper to protect classified information. In some cases, we have a lifelong obligation to protect classified information. And this is about upholding that obligation. That's it.

Q: And not to belabor it, but I think others want to bring this up, too. The whole notion of classification in this building has degenerated into a joke, most reporters and a lot of officials would agree. What steps are you going to be taking to make sure when you analyze these news stories that it's really classified-classified versus B.S. classified information?

MR. LITTLE: Okay. Well, we haven't defined precisely what steps we're going to take in concert with USDI on this matter. So I don't have the answer yet, Tony. And I can't really, as a result, answer the question in great detail.

Sure. Yes?

Q: Thank you. Back to the F-22 --

MR. LITTLE: Yeah.

Q: -- as you know, the whole Osprey issue going on in Japan --

MR. LITTLE: Yes.

Q: -- right now, and Okinawa people get so nervous about the military deployment right now, so the timing of this announcement, what do you think about it for the Okinawa people?

MR. LITTLE: What I would say to those who may have concerns about the safety of this aircraft or the MV-22 aircraft is that we believe that the safety record overall is quite good. There have been incidents over time, and when there have been incidents, we've investigated them, we have shared our findings with the government of Japan when Japanese officials have expressed concerns, and we will do so in the future if incidents occur.

We believe that this deployment of F-22s can be conducted safely, and we're doing it in a very prudent way, as I described earlier.

Jeff, and then we'll wrap it up.

Q: The questions about the F-22 started when a plane crashed, and the Air Force ruled it pilot error, but now in light of these revelations of mechanical problems with the F-22, does the Defense Department, does the defense secretary, are they satisfied with this conclusion that it was pilot error?

MR. LITTLE: I have not spoken to the secretary with respect to this specific incident. It's really for the Air Force, I think, to address the specifics of that one.

Q: And just to clarify, the filter that was removed, is this the dreaded charcoal filter?

MR. LITTLE: I don't know that that's the technical name for it, but I do believe it is that filter, yes.

Q: (Inaudible) question, you come into this cold as an intelligent taxpayer, is it a question that you guys -- why wasn't --

MR. LITTLE: (Inaudible) pay my taxes, I'm not sure everyone would agree with the descriptor of the (inaudible)

Q: All right. Well (inaudible).

MR. LITTLE: Okay.

Q: This happened -- these issues happened six years after the plane was declared initial operational capability in December of 2005. At your level, are you scratching your head saying, why wasn't this picked up earlier in all the oodles of testing that launched this billion-dollar -- multi-billion-dollar program?

MR. LITTLE: Look, it's really hard for me to answer that question. I can't go back in time and conduct technical archeology on this or any other aircraft. What I would say, Tony, is that the Air Force has taken very prudent measures over the past not just couple of months, but over the past year-and-a-half or so, with respect to the F-22, and they have come to a conclusion on what is contributing to these hypoxia-like events.

With any aircraft, whether it's the F-22 or the F-16 or another kind of aircraft with a helicopter, with a ground vehicle, we can never take the risk to zero. But we have an obligation to our troops and our airmen to make whatever equipment they're using as safe as possible. And that's what we think we're doing here.

All right? Thank you, everyone.