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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

U.S. Navy Navy Live Update

U.S. Navy Navy Live Update

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AND THE NATIONAL GUARD DURING HURRICANE SANDY

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Guard Provides Hurricane Response in Nation's Capital
Compiled from a District of Columbia National Guard Press Release

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30, 2012 - About 150 members of the District of Columbia National Guard are providing hurricane response aid in the nation's capital today, assisting with street closures, damage assessment and emergency response as well as manning traffic control points.

Washington officials have asked the National Guard to provide support through Nov. 4.

"We are the capital guardians, and are prepared to support the District during this time of crisis," said Maj. Gen. Errol R. Schwartz, commanding general of the District of Columbia National Guard. "We will provide timely effective responses coordinated with local and federal agencies in the aftermath of this terrible storm. These are the kind of events we train for every day. We are truly always ready, always there for the citizens of the District of Columbia."

The Guard forces are organized into multi-function response packages equipped with medium tactical trucks, Humvees and guardsmen, he said. They will be deployed to locations determined through coordination with The District of Columbia Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency

"As the nation's first military responder, we have a duty to be ready to respond at a moment's notice." said Col. Aaron R. Dean, 74th Troop Command commander.

It can be tough

It can be tough

PENTAGON LEADER PLEDGES SUPPORT TO SERVICE MEMBERS AND FAMILIES

FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Carter Pledges Support to Nation's Service Members, Families

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service


WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2012 - Pentagon leaders are committed to caring for service members and their families, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter told an Army audience today during remarks at the Association of the U.S. Army's annual convention here.

In Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world, Carter said, Army men and women "have displayed extraordinary courage, mental and physical toughness, and adaptability in demanding environments."

Those qualities have garnered the Army over 15,800 awards for valor since 2001, he noted, including six Medal of Honor awards, 25 Distinguished Service Crosses and 660 Silver Stars. The price for the Army's achievements has been high, the deputy secretary said.

"Over 4,700 Army men and women gave up their lives during this decade, in service to us," he said. "Over 34,000 were wounded in action. This must not be forgotten."

The families of the fallen, wounded warriors, serving troops and transitioning veterans all have a claim on the department, their communities and the nation, Carter said.

"As we look to the future, we need to ensure the health of our all-volunteer force," he said. A decade of conflict, he added, "takes its toll. "

"We have a sacred obligation to take care of those who have served us in those conflicts," Carter said.

Soldiers, communities and families across America grapple with the visible and invisible wounds of battle, he said. "We continue to do all we can to provide the best possible care to our wounded warriors, and to better understand and treat some of the signature wounds of the past 10 years of conflict," he added.

The Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs, Carter noted, recently announced they are investing more than $100 million in research to improve the diagnosis and treatment of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress.

Service and DOD leaders are also taking steps to strengthen mental health services, the deputy secretary said.

"We're elevating the issue of mental health to the same level as physical health," he said. "And we want all [service members] to know that seeking help when they're in need of it is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness."

Another issue that troubles many and that he and Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta take very seriously, he said, is suicide.

"Suicide has increased nationally, in every demographic, over the last decade -- not just in the military," Carter pointed out. "But every suicide in our military family is one too many. "

DOD leaders and health providers are working to build resilience in the force and among veterans, and to help those in danger, he said.

Service members who choose to leave the military also deserve the department's help, the deputy secretary said.

"We commit to providing those who transition out of the military service with the training and support they need to find a job, pursue higher education or start a business," he said.

DOD and VA have fundamentally redesigned the Transition Assistance Program, Carter said. He said some key features of the revamped program are stronger career readiness standards and an enhanced curriculum, which "aims to ... help service members meet their personal goals for their post-military careers."

The two departments aren't alone in their efforts, he noted.

"People and organizations across the country ... have made a national commitment to help our service members learn new skills and find work," Carter said.

As military members transition back to civilian life, the deputy secretary said, "the support of community and private organizations will be absolutely essential."

Monday, October 29, 2012

Be Prepared. Be Informed.

Be Prepared. Be Informed.

THE SIXTH SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS AND ELECTRICAL INTERCONNECTION

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Connecting the Americas 2022
Fact Sheet
Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
October 23, 2012

At the Sixth Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, the United States joined Colombia and other leaders of the Western Hemisphere in committing to achieve universal access to electricity over the next decade. Connecting the Americas 2022 (Connect 2022), launched by Colombia at the Summit in April, is a framework for the Americas to reinforce regional and bi-national efforts to bring electricity to all parts of the hemisphere and a platform for development and prosperity. Connect 2022 supports the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA), launched by President Obama at the 2009 Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago. ECPA promotes regional collaboration on low-carbon development, energy security, and climate change.

Electrical Interconnection in the Americas

The Western Hemisphere produces one quarter of the world’s oil, almost one third of its natural gas, and nearly one third of global electricity, and is endowed with abundant renewable energy resources. However, more than 31 million citizens across the hemisphere lack affordable, clean, and reliable energy services. Electrical interconnection benefits all countries by allowing those with excess power to export electricity to countries that have a power deficit. Interconnected power systems allow for greater integration of renewable energy resources, as well as power exchanges among countries with varying climate and seasonal needs. Interconnection expands the size of power markets, creating economies of scale that can attract private investment, lower capital costs, and reduce electricity costs for consumers, making businesses more competitive and creating jobs.

Expanding Markets & Commercial Opportunities

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) estimates that electricity demand in Latin America and the Caribbean will double over the next decade. The International Energy Agency estimates the region will require $700 billion in power sector investments, not including Canada and the United States, to meet the growing demand. Connect 2022 will create a business climate that accelerates development of renewable energy and attracts private investment. The initiative will help open markets that bring the best in power technology to markets that need low-cost, efficient solutions. Connect 2022 will tap the expertise, technology, and capital of individual countries, regulators, utilities, the private sector, and multilateral organizations and institutions.

U.S. Government’s Ongoing Support for Connect 2022

Under ECPA, the United States is providing technical assistance and capacity-building programs throughout the hemisphere, particularly in Central America, the Caribbean, and the Andean region. Through the North American Leaders’ Summit, the U.S.-Canada Energy Consultative Mechanism and Clean Energy Dialogue, and the U.S.-Mexico Cross-Border Electricity Task Force, we are working to further cooperation on electrical interconnection with our nearest neighbors. Agencies across the U.S. government are working together to coordinate efforts on Connect 2022.

Additionally, the U.S. government is working closely with the IDB, World Bank, Organization of American States (OAS), donors, and private companies, to coordinate existing efforts on cross-border trade in electricity and identify further opportunities for collaboration.




A NEARLY $2 MILLION FINE SETTLES CHARGES OF OPTIONS FRAUDN AND UNAUTHORIZED TRADING

FROM: U.S. COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION

CFTC Orders Illinois Resident Joshua T.J. Russo to Pay More than $1.8 Million in Restitution and Penalties for Futures and Options Fraud and Unauthorized Trading

Washington, DC – The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) today issued an order filing and settling charges against Joshua T.J. Russo of Chicago, Ill., for fraudulently soliciting at least one customer to participate in a fictitious commodity futures and options pool, engaging in unauthorized trading, and issuing false account statements.

The CFTC order requires Russo to pay restitution of $960,000, a $645,000 civil monetary penalty, and disgorgement of $215,000. The order permanently prohibits Russo from engaging in any commodity-related activity, including trading, and from registering or seeking exemption from registration with the CFTC. The order also permanently prohibits Russo from further violations of the Commodity Exchange Act and CFTC regulations, as charged.

The CFTC order finds that, from around March 2007 through April 2011, Russo, as a registered Associated Person of an independent Introducing Broker (IB), fraudulently solicited at least one of the IB’s customers by telling the customer that he would be a general partner in a fictitious pool called Peak Performance Fund, LP (PPF). According to the order, Russo issued false statements to the PPF customer in the form of purported PPF audited financial statements and in the form of weekly spreadsheets that Russo represented were summaries of the customer’s account values. In fact, however, the statements grossly overinflated the value of the customer’s accounts, the order finds.

In addition, the order finds that Russo provided at least five other customers with similar spreadsheets that grossly inflated the value of the customers’ accounts. Russo also engaged in a significant amount of unauthorized trading in these customers’ accounts, and in the accounts of three other customers, the order finds. Russo engaged in speculative trading for at least one customer, contrary to the hedging strategy that Russo represented he would utilize, according to the order.

According to the order, Russo’s eight customers deposited at least $3 million into trading accounts to trade commodity futures and options in managed and self-directed accounts. Russo, through his false statements to the eight customers, concealed his unauthorized trading and overall trading losses of approximately $1.7 million, the order finds.

On October 25, 2012, Russo was charged with a single count of commodities fraud in a related criminal action (USA v. Russo, 1: 12-cr-00836). His arraignment is currently scheduled for November 1, 2012.

The CFTC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois and the National Futures Association.

CFTC Division of Enforcement staff members responsible for this case are Katherine S. Driscoll, Michael Solinsky, Michelle Bougas, Kassra Goudarzi, Melanie Bates, Gretchen L. Lowe, and Vincent A. McGonagle

Sunday, October 28, 2012

U.S. Department of Defense Armed with Science Update

U.S. Department of Defense Armed with Science Update

Tsunami Advisory Supplement

Tsunami Advisory Supplement

NATO SHIP ENCOUNTERS PIRATE VESSEL OFF SOMALIA'S COAST

FROM: U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT
Counterpiracy Flagship Comes Under Fire Off Somalia's Coast
From a Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe News Release

MONS, Belgium, Oct. 25, 2012 - The flagship for NATO's Ocean Shield counterpiracy mission came under sustained fire from suspected pirates off Somalia's coast yesterday, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe officials reported today.

The Dutch warship HNMLS Rotterdam was attacked while conducting routine surveillance, officials said.

A boarding team from Rotterdam was approaching a suspect dhow near the coast when they came under fire from ashore and from the dhow itself. When Rotterdam returned fire in accordance with rules of engagement, officials said, the dhow ignited and crew members were seen leaping into the water. One dhow crew member was killed in this action, and 25 people were subsequently rescued from the water by Rotterdam crew members, officials said.

Commodore Ben Bekkering of the Dutch navy, commander of the NATO Task Force, said that the Rotterdam and her boats remained under sustained fire from the shore throughout the incident, even while attempting to rescue the crew of the stricken dhow. One of Rotterdam's rigid inflatable boats was damaged, he said.

Those rescued were transferred to the NATO flagship, where those who required it were given prompt medical attention. No Rotterdam crew members were injured.

"We know that pirates are increasingly using larger dhows as mother ships," Bekkering said. "Therefore, we routinely inspect them. In this instance, the pirates openly choose confrontation. This does not happen often, and it indicates that we are, indeed, impeding their operations and in doing so, pushing them to take more extreme options."

Bekkering praised the "calm professionalism" of the Rotterdam crew and said this incident, together with Rotterdam's successful Oct. 11 interdiction of seven pirates, made two things very clear.

"Firstly, it is obvious that the scourge of piracy has not gone away, and we need to maintain our vigilance," he said. "Secondly, the risks to the pirates themselves are becoming much greater, and while we regret any loss of life, we will deal with any threat we encounter in a firm, robust, but always proportionate, manner."

COMPANY PAYS BACK WAGES IN FAIR LABOR STANDARDS ACT VIOLATIONS CASE

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

Arvada, Colo., manufacturing company pays nearly $40,000 in back wages, liquidated damages following US Labor Department investigation

ARVADA, Colo.
— Colorado Precision Machining Inc. has paid a total of $39,082 in back wages and liquidated damages to 10 machinists, following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division that found violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act's minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions.

"The FLSA provides that employers who violate the law are, as a general rule, liable to employees for back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages," said Cynthia Watson, regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Southwest. "Employees of Colorado Precision Machining worked long hours, without being paid proper minimum wage and overtime compensation. This practice is illegal and unacceptable and, as demonstrated in this case, we are using all tools available, including the assessment of liquidated damages, to ensure that employees receive the compensation to which they are entitled under law."

An investigation conducted by the division's Denver District Office found that the company violated the FLSA by paying employees less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and "straight time" wages, rather than time and one-half their regular rates of pay for hours worked over 40 in a week, as required under the act's overtime provision. Additionally, the company made illegal wage deductions for such items as calipers, micrometers and other hand tools, resulting in wages falling below the federal minimum wage. The employer also failed to maintain accurate records of employees' wages and work hours, in violation of the FLSA's record-keeping requirements.

Colorado Precision Machining manufactures small parts for a variety of medical and dental equipment and internal parts for spray paint machines. The company has agreed to future compliance with the FLSA. Back wages and liquidated damages have been paid in full.

The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers are also required to maintain accurate time and payroll records.

THE ORIENT SHIELD

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Orient Shield Promotes U.S.-Japan Readiness, Interoperability

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2012 - The U.S. Army and the Japan Ground Self Defense Force kicked off Orient Shield 2012 in Japan today, the first in a series of annual tactical field-training exercises since the Defense Department's new strategic guidance refocused attention on the Asia-Pacific region.

Considered the two armies' premier field training exercise since it began in 2000, Orient Shield focuses on bilateral planning, coordination and interoperability, Army Maj. Randall Baucom, a U.S. Army Japan spokesman, told American Forces Press Service.

This year's exercise, the first to include Stryker vehicles, brings together soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment based at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and the JGSDF Middle Army's 10th Division, 33rd Infantry Regiment at Japan's Aibano Training Area. Collectively, it includes about 750 U.S. service members and 600 Japanese troops.

Unlike other bilateral exercises focused primarily on headquarters and bilateral staff operations, Orient Shield promotes engagement at the junior enlisted and noncommissioned officer level. As the U.S. and Japanese soldiers exchange ideas, tactics, techniques and military experiences, Baucom said, they will enhance their combat readiness and interoperability at the tactical level.

That capability will get put to the test through collective training conducted during the exercise's second week, as the troops work side by side in a tactical field training exercise, he said.

These engagements have big-picture significance, Baucom said, strengthening the historic U.S.-Japan alliance demonstrating U.S. resolve to support the security interests of friends and allies in the region.

Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, the U.S. Pacific Command commander, calls the U.S.-Japan alliance -- one of five U.S. alliances in the region -- a keystone in implementing the new strategic guidance that recognizes the growing economic and strategic importance of the Asia-Pacific region.

As he explores ways to increase military-to-military engagement there, Locklear said, he wants to expand the scope of current exercises while also reaching out to new partners to initiate new exercises. The admiral said he also plans to encourage more trilateral and multilateral exercises that encourage broader regional engagement.

Army Lt. Gen. Francis J. Wiercinski, the commander of U.S. Army Pacific, told bloggers earlier this week he hopes to increase the number of troops available to support the exercise program. As the U.S. military draws down forces in Afghanistan, Wiercinski said, he wants to begin troop rotations.

As envisioned, the soldiers would serve 30- to 45-day deployments in the region, participating in exercises and other military engagements. Ideally, they will be able to fall in on equipment and supplies pre-positioned at key locations, he said, reducing the cost and logistical burden of that enhanced military-to-military engagement.

Meanwhile, Pacom also is seeking ways to engage its sailors, Marines and airmen more closely with regional allies and partners, reported Army Col. David Parker, Pacom's exercise division chief.

As the command strives to exercise with more partners and promote more multilateral engagements, Parker said, they are finding disaster preparedness to be a universal common ground.

"If there is something common across the [area of responsibility], it is the awareness that there is going to be a natural disaster. So nations are focusing on that," said Army Col. Phillip Meade, the director of Pacom's Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance.

"And that is why, when you develop a multilateral exercise under the humanitarian assistance disaster relief umbrella, it helps bring everyone to the table," he said.

 

NASA VIDEO: SPACE VIEW OF HURRICANE SANDY

FROM: NASA


 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

THE MILITARY LEGACY OF WOMEN CELEBRATED

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Service Members, Vets Celebrate Military Legacy of Women

Army News Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2012 - Hundreds of active-duty women and veterans turned out Oct. 20 at the gateway to Arlington National Cemetery to celebrate the legacy of more than 2.5 million women who have served in the nation's military.

Former WACs, WAVEs, WMs, WAFs and SPARS shared with their active-duty counterparts in the contributions women have made to the U.S. military that are enshrined at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial, dedicated by President Bill Clinton on Oct. 18, 1997.

While WIMSA serves as a memorial to all of America's service women, Wilma L. Vaught, president of the Women's Memorial Foundation, said she doesn't consider it a museum, though the building does contain a gift store and features numerous artifacts and photographic exhibits.

"This is more than a memorial; it's an educational center meant to tell the story of women in the military from the American Revolution through Iraq -- it was an opportunity to tell the story of women's service individually and collectively," said Vaught, who enlisted in the Air Force in 1957 and went on to retire as a brigadier general in 1985 as one of only seven women serving as general or flag officers in all of the services at the time.

Vaught said WIMSA was also created because many women going back to World War II felt they never received recognition for all they did -- from the nurse corps of the Army and Navy to the Army Air Corps WASPs who delivered fighter and bomber aircraft across the country. WIMSA also honors all women who served overseas during conflicts such as those who served with the Red Cross, USO and Special Services.

"They deserved recognition, because they changed the military and they changed life in America for women [and] because they stepped out and did things women hadn't done before. ... They created a new day for women," she said. "Many of today's military women go through the memorial and realize for the first time what women in the military did before them.

"We stand on the shoulders of all these women who met up with all kinds of obstacles and barricades and they overcame them," Vaught added. "Today, they can say, 'I can have a career, I can have the opportunities for education, I can have a family and be in the military, when they couldn't stay in the military if they were pregnant."

The afternoon ceremony included memories from active duty or retired speakers from each service branch who told the stories of why they served and the challenges they faced at the point in history in which they joined.

Speakers included Allison A. Hickey, undersecretary of veterans affairs for benefits and a retired brigadier general, whose military career started when she graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1980 -- the first class to include women. Too many women veterans just fade away, she said, not thinking too much about their service after they leave the military.

She encouraged women veterans to stand proudly and declare themselves veterans, and did so herself. No fewer than 10 other women stood and joined in the declaration.

Keynote speaker Jessica L. Wright, assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, was the Army National Guard's first woman CH-47 Chinook aviator. She began her association with the Army by enlisting in 1975, obtained her bachelor's degree and retired as a major general in 2010 after commanding the Pennsylvania National Guard.

"There's not a better or [more] fitting place to pause and reflect on those contributions than here at the Women's Memorial." She said. "It is a wonderful testament of the power of women in the service to our country. This monument honors the legacy and the proud and distinguished service of women. With every passing day, there is a new and enthusiastic group of young women who join the list of forbearers that we honor here today. They have the same determination and courage that runs through our current serving women that was in our predecessors."

WIMSA Foundation officials hope to have 250,000 women veterans in the memorial's historical record by the end of the year. Vaught said they're just 301 shy that figure, and that she's confident the foundation will reach its goal.

What she's less sure about, she said, is raising the $3 million needed annually to meet payroll and maintenance of the 33,000 square-foot education center. She said the memorial has an average of about 150,000 visitors a year. "Not too bad a number," she added, "but I had hoped that given there's about 4.5 million who visit Arlington every year, we would see about 500,000 visitors. I think that would solve our economic problems."

Friday, October 26, 2012

US Fleet Forces Sets Sortie Condition Alpha, Ships Getting Underway

US Fleet Forces Sets Sortie Condition Alpha, Ships Getting Underway

U.S. Department of Defense Contracts for October 26, 2012

Contracts for October 26, 2012

PREPARING FOR HURRICANE SANDY

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

National Guard Troops Prepare for Hurricane Sandy

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 26, 2012 - The National Guard Bureau has yet to receive requests for assistance, but is prepared to respond if needed to the expected arrival of Hurricane Sandy, the chief of the National Guard Bureau said today.

"We are monitoring Hurricane Sandy closely and coordinating with our federal, state and local partners to ensure a coordinated and efficient response," Army Gen. Frank J. Grass said in a news release.

"Currently, there are no state or federal requests for National Guard assistance, but rest assured the National Guard is poised and ready to provide proven responders and capabilities," Grass said.

Sandy, currently a Category 1 hurricane with winds upwards of 75 miles per hour, has prompted the governors of Maryland and Virginia to declare states of emergency today, National Guard Bureau officials said.

According to the officials, more than 61,000 National Guard personnel along the Eastern Seaboard will be available for duty, if and when, Hurricane Sandy makes landfall.

The Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and District of Columbia National Guard units are coordinating with authorities in the event Sandy makes landfall as predicted, officials said.

The New York National Guard Joint Operations Center will go to full staffing Oct. 28 and New York National Guard representatives will be manning the State Emergency Management Center over the weekend, according to New York National Guard officials.

The New York Army National Guard is planning for the deployment of an immediate response force on Oct. 29 of about 250 soldiers, officials added.

Army Maj. Gen. Patrick A. Murphy, the New York National Guard's adjutant general, has asked the governor's office to request that Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta appoint Army Brig. Gen. Mike Swezey, commander of the 53rd Troop Command, as a dual-status commander for this event.

This status allows Swezey to command both National Guard and active duty reserve troops if the governor decides to request the assistance of federal assets.

Along with their efforts, Delaware National Guard officials said, the 142nd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron has nurses and medical technicians on standby, while the Air National Guard is moving all flyable equipment out of the storm's path over the weekend, Delaware National Guard officials said.

Army National Guard units will shelter their helicopters until the storm passes and will provide support as needed, Delaware National Guard officials said.

Grass said the National Guard Bureau is part of a collaborative effort to help citizens that could be affected by the hurricane.

"We are joined in a cooperative effort ... with a single set of objectives -- to save lives, preserve peace and civil order, and support recovery efforts," he said.

News about Parliament - UK Parliament welcome page update

News about Parliament - UK Parliament welcome page update

Food for thought

Food for thought

Satélites que estudian el campo magnético de la Tierra

Satélites que estudian el campo magnético de la Tierra

PATHWAYS TO PROSPERITY IN THE AMERICAS

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas

Fact Sheet
Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
October 22, 2012

Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas is a policy-level dialogue that links Western Hemisphere countries committed to democracy, open markets and social inclusion. Through this initiative, countries share best practices and collaborate to spread the benefits of economic growth more broadly to all of our citizens.

Pathways was launched by the leaders of twelve Western Hemisphere countries in New York in September 2008. Since then, annual ministerial meetings have been held in Panama, El Salvador, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Colombia. The government of Panama will host the 2013 Ministerial in conjunction with the Americas Competitiveness Forum.

Through shared leadership, Pathways partner countries are committed to deepening cooperation on the following four pillars:
Empowering small businesses by building an enabling environment for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises.
Facilitating trade by improving the systems, regulation, and infrastructure that small firms need to trade more competitively across borders.
Building a modern workforce by supporting worker rights and fair labor standards as well as promoting the education and training, jobs and entrepreneurship that will prepare our citizens to achieve their full potential.
Promoting sustainable business practices and environmental cooperation.

Pathways Partners

Pathways countries now total fifteen and include Belize, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Uruguay, and the United States. Brazil and Trinidad and Tobago have observer status. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Organization of American States (OAS), and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) are strategic Pathways partners. Two countries co-chair each Pathways pillar and organize activities throughout the year that advance the Ministerial Action Plan.

Pathways Activities

To make real progress toward Pathway’s goals, U.S. government agencies provide technical assistance in priority areas such as small business development, financial inclusion, infrastructure financing, women’s entrepreneurship, greening the supply chain, improving environmental practices, and promoting internationally-recognized labor rights. Pathways achievements include:
Expanding the small business development center (SBDC) model in several countries in the Americas.
Strengthening public-private partnerships for border management reform and increasing customs technical expertise in Pathways countries through the Central American Border Management Reform Project.
Increasing market access and technical training for women entrepreneurs through the Pathways Access Initiative in Peru and the Pathways Women’s Entrepreneurship Mentoring Network in Colombia as well as through Women’s Empowerment in the Americas (WEAmericas).
Promoting environmentally-sound production processes by a network of universities, governments, and industries in Pathways countries through training for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, as part of the Pathways to Cleaner Production in the Americas Initiative.

Looking Forward

To broaden the Pathways network and increase its impact in the Hemisphere a new Pathways Clearinghouse was introduced at the 2012 Ministerial. The Clearinghouse, a collaborative effort between the OAS, IDB and ECLAC, has three different functions: to share and disseminate best practices through websites, outreach materials, online forums and social media; to provide a space where diverse stakeholders can come together to discuss challenges Pathways partner countries face; and to launch a competition that will engage co-chairs in a participatory planning process to explore the most promising solutions to challenges identified.

U.S. AID TO HAITI

FROM: U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT

Fast Facts on the U.S. Government's Work in Haiti: Global Health

Fact Sheet
Office of the Haiti Special Coordinator
October 22, 2012
The Challenge


Even before the January 2010 earthquake, 40 percent of the Haitian population had no access to basic health services, the infant mortality rate in Haiti was the highest in the Americas, and tuberculosis rates were the highest in the Western Hemisphere. Chronic malnutrition was widespread, with 32 percent of children malnourished; and HIV/AIDS prevalence was 2.2 percent. The earthquake devastated much of Haiti’s health infrastructure, destroying and damaging many clinics and hospitals, disabling thousands of people, and initially displacing 1.5 million to camps, with elevated risks of communicable diseases. A cholera outbreak, which started in October 2010, added additional strain to this overburdened system.

USG Strategy

Prior to the devastating earthquake, the U.S Government provided access to health services for approximately 50 percent of the people of Haiti. After the earthquake, the USG moved quickly to address new health needs such as disability care and infectious disease outbreaks while continuing to provide a basic package of health services, including maternal and child health and more sophisticated immunization, lymphatic filariasis, and HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment services. The USG is also making progress on rebuilding key health infrastructure that was destroyed. In June 2012, the USG and the GOH signed a five year Health Partnership Framework that aims to advance the GOH’s ownership and oversight of an adaptable and self-correcting public health system in Haiti, while also aiming to reduce its dependence on donor support over time. At the end of the five year period, it is expected that the GOH will have made significant strides toward assuming primary responsibility for the management and performance monitoring of the overall health system, as well as increasing its financial support.

Accomplishments
Continued to support 251 primary care and 52 secondary care sites nationwide, providing access to healthcare to nearly 50 percent of the Haitian population and reducing the hospitalized cholera case fatality rate below the international standard of 1 percent. We supported a national measles, rubella, and polio immunization campaign that reached over 90 percent coverage. In April 2012, Pentavalent vaccine was also added to the routine immunizations available in Haiti.
Increased the number of eligible patients on anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment from 60 percent in March 2012 to 65 percent in June 2012. We are working with the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria to reach universal coverage of ARVs for all eligible patients by June 2015, and supported a major reform of the Country Coordinating Mechanism.
Supported St. Boniface Spinal Cord Injury Center to function according to international standards of quality of care. Since the earthquake, St. Boniface has treated 54 spinal cord injury patients. Thirteen still live at the hospital while 41 have already been successfully discharged back into their communities where their families have been trained to care for them. We are expanding disability care through four programs to rehabilitate and reintegrate persons with disabilities into society while building the capacity of governmental and non-governmental institutions to sustainably and effectively support them.
For the first time, 2.2 million Haitians living in Port-au-Prince were administered the medication needed to prevent lymphatic filariasis, supported by the USG. Mass drug administration to prevent lymphatic filariasis has been underway everywhere in Haiti except Port-au-Prince for the last several years. With this final piece in the puzzle, Haiti is on the way to eliminating lymphatic filariasis from the country.
The USG has initiated renovation and reconstruction of the University Hospital (HUEH). The renovated emergency room is expected to open by the end of October 2012, ensuring that Port-au-Prince’s poorest inhabitants have a place to seek critical treatment. The USG has renovated additional centers in Cap Haitian, Quartier Morin, Caracol, Ouanaminthe, St. Marc, Cabaret, and Martissant. The USG has also initiated design work on the National Campus of Health Sciences and the National Blood Bank.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

U.S. Department of Defense Contracts for October 25, 2012

Contracts for October 25, 2012

MSHA WARNS OF WINTER HAZARDS

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

MSHA warns coal mine operators about winter hazards

ARLINGTON, Va.
— The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration has launched its annual "Winter Alert" campaign to call attention to the numerous hazards colder weather typically brings to mining operations around the nation. Statistics show that coal mine explosions occur most often during the colder months, October through March.

"We know this season will bring weather that causes changes in the mining environment and can present certain dangers for working miners," said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "We also know that there are precautions mine operators can take to alleviate these hazards and prevent accidents."

Low humidity and low barometric pressures, combined with seasonal drying of many areas in underground coal mines, have been major factors in past mine explosions. Colder weather brings other potential hazards, such as limited visibility, icy haulage roads and walkways, and the freezing and thawing of highwalls at surface mines, which can make them unstable.

This winter, MSHA encourages miners and mine operators to understand that "Prevention is the Key to a Safe Workplace" by specifying the actions that can prevent serious accidents. MSHA is asking mine operators to ensure that snow and ice in travelways are removed, apply salt and sand where needed, and frequently examine highwalls for stability.

In underground coal mines, mine operators should make certain that there is adequate ventilation, apply liberal amounts of rock dust, conduct frequent and thorough examinations, and be familiar with emergency procedures that prevent ignitions and explosions.

During regular inspections, MSHA will distribute posters, hardhat stickers and pocket cards with the "Prevention is the Key to a Safe Workplace" theme to miners and mine operators throughout the coal industry.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

U-28A ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION BOARD RESULTS RELEASED

U-28A ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION BOARD RESULTS RELEASED

U.S. Department of Defense Contracts for October 24, 2012

Contracts for October 24, 2012

World Polio Day

World Polio Day

Grâce au MEDES, la réponse sanitaire en Haïti s'améliore

Grâce au MEDES, la réponse sanitaire en Haïti s'améliore

THE MILITARY-MEDIA RELATIONSHIP

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Odierno Shares Views on Military's Relationship With Media

By David Vergun
Army News Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2012 - The biggest challenge in the relationship between the military and the media is working together in an uncertain environment in an age of instant communication, the Army's chief of staff said here Nov. 19.

Gen. Raymond T. Odierno shared his views on military-media relations in remarks and a question-and-answer session with about 60 journalists attending the 10th annual Military Reporters and Editors Conference.

"As we move forward, and as I look at what's going on around the world, the ability to communicate instantaneously is only going to get faster and faster and faster, and the ability to report is going to get faster and faster and faster," he said. "And, the pressure requirements on you and as well as me to understand the environment on what's going on is going to become more important as well. You have to get the story in quickly to be able to publish what you think you're seeing."

In this fast-paced environment, Odierno said, it is inevitable that first reports out will be wrong about 50 percent of the time, due to a variety of circumstances. He said it is up to the military to follow up on those first reports by getting the most accurate information back out to the reporters as the facts become known and available.

"This requires a good interchange, strong relationships and trust to do that," he added. In his experience, the general said, that bond of trust does exist.

"A large majority of [media] people I've associated with over my 36 years in the Army have been very professional," Odierno said. "I don't ever remember a time when that trust was broken, and I think that's important. And, I really, really do appreciate that, and that's the kind of relationship we want to continue as we move forward."

Trust works both ways, he added. The military must provide reporters with all the correct facts they need for their stories in a timely manner, he said, and must rely on reporters, in turn, to maintain operational security.

"Off-the-record sessions were some of the best sessions I've had with reporters," he said. "It gave me the opportunity to discuss what's on my mind, and they discovered and discussed things with me that I didn't know that enabled me to do my job better."

Odierno said the Army must continue to reach out to the media.

"We're going to engage and outreach with you and have a relationship with you here, overseas, during training events, no matter where it is, during tough problems and good problems," he said. "We're going to build a relationship and work together to get you the right facts so your stories are reported accurate, important and cutting-edge."

The Army's relationship with the media has evolved in positive ways, Odierno said, as it now works more closely with reporters and is evolving away from the embedded approach, in which reporters cover warfare with a specific unit. "I think sometimes the media feels trapped," he explained, "because the military says when and where they go and don't go."

The media are moving around more and building networks, he added, but safety and security considerations sometimes will require reporters to embed with units.

Odierno said he has genuine positive feelings for the media.

"As corps commander in Iraq and then Multinational Force Iraq commander, I was impressed with the heroism [of the media] as I watched many people operate, putting their own personal safety at risk, to deliver news to people back in the United States. I learned to respect that," the general said.

The chief of staff admitted that his own efforts to report the news have been less than successful. He said he's had a Facebook page since he served in Iraq, but that his audience is mostly internal. He has had more success reaching an audience outside the Army, he said, with the recent launch of his Twitter account, @GenRayOdierno.

The question-and-answer session touched on a variety of topics, including the new U.S. defense strategy that focuses on the Asia-Pacific region. Odierno said the Army is establishing programs of multilateral engagements throughout that region, including training exercises and humanitarian missions. It is crucial to build more transparency with China, he added, and he held out the possibility that some multinational exercises could include China.

He also touched on the Army's professionalism.

"We have a battle-hardened, battle-tested leader capability that will give us an advantage as we look and adjust to the future," he said, adding that the Army will need these leaders as it adjusts to a more complex world environment.

"What we ask our captains and our lieutenant colonels today is a lot harder than what I had to do when I was a captain or lieutenant colonel, because the world is more complex and difficult, and the challenges they're going to face are more difficult," he said. "They're adaptive leaders who mix the science and art of war together to come up with the right solutions at the right time."

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

U.S. DOD CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER AWARDS WINNERS FOR 2012

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE,

Cyber Pros Earn Kudos at Chief Information Officer Awards

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19, 2012 - For their efforts in cybersecurity, and information technology, management and assurance, finalists emerged as overall winners of the 2012 Defense Department Chief Information Officer Awards during a ceremony here today.

In the ceremony's 12th year, DOD Chief Information Officer Teresa M. Takai and U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, Joint Staff director, presented individual and team awards from more than 100 nominations reviewed by the DOD CIO executive board.

"You represent [more than] 300,000 individuals in the Department of Defense [who] continually work on our communications infrastructure to make sure that information is available," Takai said to attendees. "Our thanks to all the individuals who [ensure] that our warfighters can communicate on a daily basis, often in a contested space, often in very difficult situations ... [so that the] team has the communication necessary to do what they need to do.

In his keynote address, Scaparrotti noted information technology rigors include having to thwart adversaries, often in remote locations, in a fast-paced, ever-changing environment.

"A glance at current events underscores that there are more sustained non-state actors who wish to do us harm," he said. "We are being tested every day and we have a responsibility to secure our interests -- we need to act like an enterprise and work as a team."

Leadership and peers selected the finalists for their initiative and excellence in three primary DOD-CIO objectives: facilitating delivery of mission capabilities to the warfighter, supporting the development of new technology for the warfighter, and guiding IT modernization.

Individual finalists from first to fifth place are:

-- Miyi J. Chung, Deputy Commander/Technical Director, Defense Information Systems Agency, Pacific Korea Field Office;

-- Sally Mahony, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Capital Planning and Investment Control;

-- U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Leonard Giaquinto, Secretary of the Air Force, Office of the Chief Information Officer A6;

-- U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jerry Martin, Chief Automation Officer, HQ, Army Sustainment Command; and

-- U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Bori Um, Plans and Resources flight commander, 608th Air Communications Squadron.

Team finalists from first to fifth place are:

-- Directorate of Communications, Office of the Defense Representative, Pakistan, (ODRP/J6);

-- White House Communications Agency, Cyber Operations Team, DISA;

-- Office of the Chief Information Officer, Joint Chiefs of Staff (J6);

-- U.S. African Command-U.S. European Command, U.S. Army, Joint Enterprise Network Team; and

-- PEO C41, PMW130, Crypto Modernization Team, U.S. Navy.

U.S. Department of Defense Contracts for October 23, 2012

Contracts for October 23, 2012

Monday, October 22, 2012

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Contracts for October 22, 2012

Contracts for October 22, 2012

ESA Science Programme’s new small satellite will study super-Earths

ESA Science Programme’s new small satellite will study super-Earths

CENTRAL ASIAN AFFAIRS

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE,

Remarks
Robert O. Blake, Jr.
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs


Indiana University's Inner Asian and Uralic Natural Resource Center
October 18, 2012

Thank you for that warm welcome and for inviting me to participate in the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of Indiana University’s Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center and of its rich history as our only national resource center focusing on Inner Asia. I understand we are funding two major university partnership programs between Indiana University and Afghan universities. We are pleased to be part of your wider efforts.

This is a momentous time for the Central Asian region. I am delighted to be with you today to speak about our policy priorities in Central Asia, and why we believe our engagement will lead not to another round of the Great Game, as some have suggested, but rather will contribute to the achievement of a "Great Gain" for Central Asian countries and all those that partner with them.

To that end, I’ll discuss our security engagement in Central Asia, the United States’ commitment to Afghanistan’s security transition, the momentum that we see building around the New Silk Road regional integration vision, and the importance of supporting human rights and democratic reforms and creating space for civil society. By working together with our Central Asian partners, other important countries including China and Russia, and a wide range of other international actors, we can create a prosperous region that offers "great gains" for all. Let me start with security.

U.S. Security Engagement in Central Asia

Security in Central Asia is a key strategic interest for the United States – and of course for each of the Central Asian countries, particularly as they look ahead to the transition in Afghanistan post-2014. Our security cooperation with these nations focuses on enhancing border security, strengthening regional counternarcotics efforts, countering violent extremism, and working towards a stable, secure Afghanistan.

Expanding our cooperation in this arena not only helps countries deal with security challenges; it helps solidify our diplomatic ties and deepen and broaden our partnerships. If a country is willing to cooperate in the area of national security, they are more likely to cooperate in other areas as well. But security cooperation is not the end goal.

Instead, we have built on the momentum created in our security discussions to broaden and deepen our bilateral relationships. Today, we hold Annual Bilateral Consultations (or, in the case of Kazakhstan, a Strategic Partnership Dialogue) with each of the Central Asian states. Through the ABCs, we have established a mechanism through which we review in detail every element of our relationship, from security assistance to economic investment issues, educational and cultural exchanges, to human rights and democratic reform.

It is important to note that we always take into account the political, economic, military and human rights situation of a partner country when deciding what kind of security cooperation to pursue. As an example, we provide only non-lethal assistance to Uzbekistan because of our concerns about its human rights record. But we continue to engage, making it clear that our relationship can reach its full potential only when Uzbekistan meets its human rights obligations.

Turning to some of our specific security priorities, we have excellent cooperation with Kazakhstan on non-proliferation issues ranging from proliferation prevention to improvement of the regulatory framework for strategic trade controls, and we look forward to building on our cooperation on mutual security concerns with complementing progress in human rights, and labor and religious freedoms.

In Kyrgyzstan, which also hosts the Manas Transit Center through which all of our troops going to Afghanistan pass, we are helping the new democratically-elected government to reform the security sector and to address issues related to corruption and rule of law. We are also helping the government improve services for citizens.

The Northern Distribution Network, or NDN, is perhaps the clearest example of the benefits to the U.S. our security engagement with the Central Asian countries has yielded. Over the past year, we have seen how the NDN provided critically important alternate routes for our non-lethal cargo transiting to and from Afghanistan, particularly when we were experiencing challenging moments in our relationship with Pakistan.

Afghan Security Transition

In addition to our important bilateral security relationships, the United States helps facilitate increased regional coordination and support for Afghanistan. The Central Asian countries are vital partners in support of the International Security Assistance Force’s efforts against the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan, especially as Afghanistan increasingly takes the lead for its own security, as it has done now for over 75 percent of its population. None of us has an interest in seeing Afghanistan ever again become a platform from which Al-Qaida or others could attack our homeland.

The Central Asian countries will remain important partners as a NATO Enduring Presence replaces the ISAF mission in 2014, and as Afghanistan embarks upon its Transformation Decade between 2015 and 2024. Afghanistan will increase coordination with NATO on internal security and with its neighbors on shared issues such as border security and combating flows of narcotics and other contraband.

The United States is likely to maintain a presence in Afghanistan, the particulars of which will be negotiated over the next year. We are committed to the success of Afghanistan’s security transition and to regional security, and we have communicated this commitment to our Central Asian partners.

As Secretary Clinton has pointed out many times, a secure, stable, and prosperous Afghanistan can only exist in a secure, stable, and prosperous region. As the security, political, and economic transitions in Afghanistan proceed, its neighbors in Central Asia will have increasingly important roles to play. The leaders of the Central Asian states understand the increasingly intertwined nature of security and the need for regional coordination.

In working with the states that border Afghanistan or are impacted by Afghan security issues, I know that all recognize the depth and complexity of the challenge of ensuring regional security in what is a tough neighborhood. The resolve of the international community to deepen the roots of Afghanistan’s security is strong, as evidenced by the success of last May’s NATO Summit in Chicago. Together, the international community and the Government of Afghanistan agreed to fund the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) at a level of about $4 billion per year, in the period after 2014. In July, in Tokyo, international leaders met again and pledged over $16 billion in civilian aid from more than 70 international donors. But Afghanistan also has responsibilities. That’s why the donors and Afghanistan also agreed on a "Mutual Accountability Framework" to improve governance in Afghanistan.

These are significant contributions, but perhaps just as important is the way in which the international community has rallied to support Afghanistan and the region. Unlike past approaches in the mold of the "Great Game," in which one or a few countries directed top-down change without regard to local input, today’s integrated approach enjoys broad based, regional support.

The New Silk Road: From "Will" to "How"

Security assistance and cooperation with our Central Asian partners are important, but not enough to help ensure future prosperity. As Afghanistan assumes full responsibility for its security, and most foreign troops leave; Afghanistan also will need to transition economically from an aid to a trade-based economy. The best way to achieve that is to integrate Afghanistan into the larger region. The more Afghanistan is integrated economically into its regional neighborhood, the more it will be able to attract private investment, benefit from its vast mineral resources, and provide economic opportunity for its citizens.

That is the essence of the New Silk Road vision, outlined by Secretary Clinton last summer during her landmark speech in Chennai: to strengthen regional economic integration and promote economic opportunity between South and Central Asia with Afghanistan at its center.

Regional governments can do this first through trade liberalization – which includes the reduction of non-tariff trade barriers, improved regulatory regimes, transparent border clearance procedures, and coordinated policies. And second, through energy and infrastructure investment to connect goods, services, and people.

Now, many of you have likely been hearing about the New Silk Road vision for some time and are familiar with how the conversation around the vision has evolved in the last year. Where we used to hear, skepticism and questions about "how can this possibly happen?" we now instead hear, "how can we support efforts that are already underway?"

Today, the states of South and Central Asia agree on the importance of greater cooperation and integration. They are participating actively in regional mechanisms such as the Istanbul Process, in which the countries of the region are strengthening cooperation through seven confidence-building measures, including combating narcotics and terrorism, disaster management, and infrastructure development: And they also embrace the goals of the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan, or RECCA, which is helping to facilitate greater economic integration.

Most importantly, the countries in the region themselves are providing assistance to Afghanistan to help ensure Afghanistan’s future stability, and their own. At the most recent RECCA meeting in March, the countries of the region agreed for the first time to advance a series of projects and reform initiatives that can help unlock the region’s potential for private investment, greater trade and transit, and increased economic growth.

The Central Asian states are taking concrete steps -- and committing their own funds -- to implement the RECCA-V action plan and to enhance their integration with key sectors of the Afghan economy. Let me give you a few examples:

· Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan are providing electricity to meet rising energy demand in Afghanistan, and through projects such as CASA-1000, electrical lines running through Afghanistan could someday transfer surplus hydropower from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

· Uzbekistan has constructed a rail line to Mazar-e-Sharif and is considering its extension to Herat. Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Afghanistan are building another rail line that will provide a new trade route and outlet for Afghan goods through the Caspian.

· Kazakhstan provides assistance to educate Afghan students and has expressed its intention to establish a Central Asia Disaster Management Agency.

When we speak of rail lines, we should not overlook the economic potential of the NDN. The existing infrastructure and transit routes used to transport military cargo can and should be used by the private sector to continue trade across the region, where there is ample opportunity for growth. The economic potential of a more open and integrated region – full of untapped human and natural resources – is virtually unlimited.

Another key piece of regional infrastructure will be pipelines. There has been good progress on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, or TAPI, including the recent roadshow in Singapore, New York, and London with representatives of all four countries. These countries and the participating companies are now in discussions to form a consortium and keep moving forward. As the countries of Central Asia pursue greater energy independence, the strong link between water and energy – something the Soviets capitalized on in establishing the unified, regional grid – will require coordination to ensure growth and stability throughout the region.

Another strong priority to boost regional integration is to open markets through the WTO accession progress. Over the past year, the U.S. has signed bilateral agreements with Kazakhstan and Tajikistan.

Both countries hope to accede in 2013, joining Kyrgyzstan, which has been a member since 1998. And we are encouraged that Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan have begun to review possible accession. Taken together, these efforts are clear signals of a desire to increase trade, both within the region and beyond.

Regional mechanisms likewise have an important role to play. The Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Program, or CAREC, facilitated by the Asian Development Bank and led by the countries of the region, is an important part of the New Silk Road vision. CAREC includes Afghanistan and Pakistan and envisions a transformation of the region through transport corridors and energy infrastructure to drive economic growth. By 2020, the CAREC Program will have mobilized $20 billion to improve six corridors that traverse Central Asia.

Three of the CAREC corridors link the economic hubs of Europe and the Russian Federation with East Asia, while the other three link East Asia, Europe, and the Russian Federation with South Asia and the Middle East. The recent signing of the Cross-Border Transport Agreement by Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan under the auspices of CAREC is another good example of progress in this area.

Engaging women in economic activity is another imperative for regional integration. Last year at the Women’s Economic Symposium in Bishkek, we hosted 200 dynamic women business leaders from across the region and invested $1.7 million to provide training and promote women-run business networks and trade hubs. In December, we will hold a similar event in Dhaka, where a major goal will be to link networks of women entrepreneurs from Central and South Asia.

The United States will continue to engage our Central Asian partners and support these initiatives. But we are not alone in our support for the region’s development. In contrast to the politics of the past, when a few great powers treated the region as a chessboard, today we see that deep international coordination is critically important.

Some might argue that even today it would be better if two or three countries imposed a top-down recipe for economic transition and tried to force others to fall into line with that vision. But I would argue the opposite: regional economic transition can succeed only when led by the region, alongside contributions and deep buy-in from the international community.

Whether we are discussing RECCA, CAREC, TAPI, or CASA-1000, I believe the message is clear: the countries of Central Asia and their neighbors recognize the need for greater regional economic coordination, and they see the benefits as well. We support this approach as a mechanism to increase coordination among the Central Asian states, to grow Afghanistan’s economy, and, ultimately, to create a deep network of economic activity that spans from Kazakhstan to Russia, China, Turkey, India and beyond.

Success will depend on the involvement of a wide range of non-governmental partners, including the ADB, World Bank, Aga Khan Development Network and many others. The amount of infrastructure development that is needed in Afghanistan and throughout the region is considerable, and certainly more than any one country or actor can support.

There is much to do. To seize the opportunities for increased integration and cooperation, the region’s countries will need to overcome bilateral obstacles; ensure the rule of law; reduce corruption and non-tariff barriers to trade, such as border crossing impediments, lack of protection for intellectual property and copyrights, and onerous and contradictory foreign investment rules; and they need to address often opaque and unpredictable regulatory environments.

Progress on removing these impediments would spur greater interest by U.S. companies in the region. We already have seen strong indicators of American and other foreign companies’ interest in doing business in Central Asia. At our Annual Bilateral Consultation with Uzbekistan, held in August in Tashkent, we were joined by delegations from twenty-five major American companies like GE and Boeing, all looking to explore opportunities in Central Asia. In Ashgabat this May, more than 100 U.S. companies participated in a U.S. business exhibition, organized by our embassy in Turkmenistan and held in tandem with a forum sponsored by the U.S.-Turkmenistan Business Council.

The Future of Democracy in Central Asia

U.S. engagement in Central Asia on regional economic ties and the stability and security of Afghanistan has brought opportunities for expanded dialogue on human rights and democracy. In FY 2012, we provided $26.6 million in support of democratic reforms, human rights and rule of law, access to information, and civil society. We have seen some progress, but far more needs to be done.

Kyrgyzstan has seen peaceful transitions of power since 2010, testifying to the growing strength of its democratic institutions, in particular the parliament and judicial system, which are receiving strong support from the U.S., although underlying issues of ethnic reconciliation and integration remain unresolved. But all Central Asia states continue to struggle to put into practice the values enshrined in their OSCE commitments, in the UN human rights treaties to which they have acceded, and in their own domestic laws.

We continue to use every opportunity for engagement to urge the Central Asian states to address human rights and democracy concerns and to ensure space for peaceful exercise of fundamental rights, including those of assembly, expression, association, religious belief, and respect for ethnic minorities.

We also continue to emphasize that respect for the right to free speech, free media and peaceful worship reduces the appeal of violent extremism and contributes to sustainable and effective governance over the long-term. Put simply, institutions like a free press and an active civil society, far from being threats, are valuable feedback mechanisms that can help governments be more responsive and avoid the pitfalls of the Arab Spring. Likewise, strengthening the rule of law and democratic institutions will help build transparent and predictable political and investment climates that can promote economic growth benefiting all the citizens of these countries, not just a small elite.

The Annual Bilateral Consultation mechanism that I discussed earlier has been a springboard for deepening our engagement with civil society and advancing democracy and human rights. This August, I had the privilege of co-chairing the first-ever Civil Society Forum held as part of our ABC with Uzbekistan.

For the first time, we witnessed civil society representatives and members of the Uzbek parliament and government speaking frankly with each other. We hope this dialogue can expand and move into joint actions. We have had similarly productive civil society interactions during our consultations with Kazakhstan.

We are also exploring ways to increase our people-to people ties with Central Asia and among Central Asians. To take one example, over 40,000 Americans and Kazakhstanis have participated in State Department-sponsored bilateral exchanges in the last 20 years. In 2011 alone, about 50 American colleges and universities hosted 3,188 students from throughout Central Asia, including 1,890 from Kazakhstan and 560 from Uzbekistan. However, in many cases, the enthusiasm expressed by governments needs to be backed up with increased institutional support for initiatives like the Fulbright program, the English Language Fellows programs, and higher education cooperation.

Conclusions

As I look toward the future, I am optimistic about the future of the region and the United States’ continued commitment to the stability and growth of Central Asia. Today we enjoy regular, sustained contacts with all the Central Asian states on a broad and deep range of issues. The agenda and candor of our dialogue increase every year. Our assistance to the region in the areas of economic development, health and education, border security, counter-narcotics, democratic reform, and strengthening civil society will continue to play an important part in advancing our objectives.

In any diplomatic relationship, one must establish a common framework of trust, a mechanism for communication, and a vision for the future that benefits all peoples. We have come a long way in establishing these with our Central Asian partners, and today, we look forward to a future where the countries and people of Central Asia work together and with the international community for peace and security, democracy and improved governance, economic development and prosperity.

The good news is that the United States is not alone in its desire to see a better, more prosperous future in Central Asia and the wider region. We will continue to work with a wide range of actors, through mechanisms such as the Istanbul Process, the Heart of Asia conference series, and RECCA to build an integrated economy that offers great gains for all, including economic prosperity, increased stability, and a greater voice for civil society. Although the pace of change can be slow and the challenges substantial, I am more convinced than ever that principled, persistent, consistent, and constructive engagement with our partners will bring the change we seek.

Thank you.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

REWARDS FOR AL-QAIDA TERRORIST OFFERS

FROM: U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT

Rewards for Justice - al-Qaida Reward Offers

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
October 18, 2012

The Department’s Rewards for Justice program is offering rewards for information on two key Iran-based facilitators and financiers of the al-Qaida terrorist organization.

The U.S. Department of State has authorized a reward of up to $7 million for information leading to the location of Iran-based senior facilitator and financier Muhsin al-Fadhli and up to $5 million for information leading to the location of his deputy, Adel Radi Saqr al-Wahabi al-Harbi.

Al-Fadhli and al-Harbi facilitate the movement of funds and operatives through Iran on behalf of the al-Qaida terrorist network. Both men are wanted by Saudi authorities in connection with their terrorist activities, and al-Fadhli is wanted by authorities in Kuwait on terrorism-related charges.

Al-Fadhli reportedly has replaced Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil (better known as Yasin al-Suri) as al-Qaida’s senior facilitator and financier in Iran. Al-Fadhli was among the few trusted al-Qaida leaders who received advance notification that terrorists would strike the United States on September 11, 2001. He raised money to finance the October 6, 2002 attack on the French ship MV Limburg off the coast of Yemen, which killed one, injured four crew members, and released 50,000 barrels of crude oil along 45 miles of coastline.

In February 2003, al-Fadhli and three other suspects were convicted in a Kuwaiti court and sentenced to five years imprisonment for providing funding for terrorist activities and military training in Afghanistan for purposes of terrorism. In June 2005, Saudi authorities placed him on their list of wanted terrorists in connection with a series of al-Qaida attacks in Saudi Arabia. On February 15, 2005, the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated al-Fadhli under E.O. 13224, which provides authority to sanction terrorists and those who support terrorists or terrorist acts.

Al-Qaida elements in Iran, led by al-Fadhli, are working to move fighters and money through Turkey to support al-Qaida-affiliated elements in Syria. Al-Fadhli also is leveraging his extensive network of Kuwaiti jihadist donors to send money to Syria via Turkey.

Additionally, he has assisted al-Qaida in moving multiple operatives from Pakistan via Iran and Turkey to destinations in Europe, North Africa, and Syria, and is believed likely to continue moving experienced al-Qaida operatives to reinforce and gain influence in these areas.

Al-Fadhli was born April 24, 1981 in Kuwait. He has used the aliases Muhsin Fadhil ‘Ayyid al Fadhli, Muhsin Fadil Ayid Ashur al Fadhli, Abu Majid Samiyah, and Abu Samia.

Adel Radi Saqr al-Wahabi al-Harbi is an Iran-based al-Qaida facilitator and deputy to al-Fadhli. In this role, al-Harbi facilitates the travel of extremists to Afghanistan or Iraq via Iran on behalf of al-Qaida and is believed to have sought funds to support al-Qaida attacks.

Al-Harbi was previously placed on the Saudi Ministry of the Interior’s January 9, 2011 list of wanted terrorists and was charged with traveling to Afghanistan to join al-Qaida and providing technical support on the Internet to the terrorist group. He was born on December 1, 1986 in Saudi Arabia and has used the aliases Abu Ali Muharib, Adel Radhi Sager Alharbi, and Muharib.

More information about these individuals is located on the Rewards for Justice web site at
www.rewardsforjustice.net. We encourage anyone with information on these individuals to contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate, any U.S. military base, or Rewards for Justice via the website (www.rewardsforjustice.net), e-mail (RFJ@state.gov), or mail (Rewards for Justice, Washington, DC 20520-0303, USA). Individuals in Afghanistan may call the RFJ tip line at 0700 108 600. All information will be kept strictly confidential.

The Rewards for Justice program is administered by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Since its inception in 1984, the program has paid more than $100 million to more than 70 persons who provided actionable information that put terrorists behind bars or prevented acts of international terrorism worldwide.




GREAT LAKES PROGAM EARNS GOLD MEDAL

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Great Lakes Recreation Programs Earn Gold Medal
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 17, 2012 - Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill., is the first military installation to earn top honors in the National Gold Medal Grand Plaque Award of Excellence in Park and Recreation Management competition conducted by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association.

Officials announced the annual awards yesterday during the NRPA's annual conference in Anaheim, Calif.

This is the first year the awards have included an Armed Forces Recreation Award category for military morale, welfare and recreation programs. Great Lakes was one of four Grand Plaque finalists in the military category, along with MWR programs at Fort Knox, Ky., and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and Naval Base San Diego in California.

The military category recognizes recreation programs for service members, their families, retirees, reservists, and civilian employees. Military installations around the world submitted applications demonstrating their recreation programs' excellence and innovation in long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship and other categories, officials said.

NRPA officials also recognized three other Defense Department recipients in its National Awards categories:

-- Armed Forces Recreation Achievement: Jeffrey B. Sias, Naval Station Rota, Spain;

-- Excellence in Military Recreation: Fort Knox Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Community Recreation Division; and

-- Excellence in Water Safety: Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce

Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce

Saturday, October 20, 2012

FANG Challenge: Design a Next-Generation Military Ground Vehicle


U.S. Department of Defense Contracts for October 19, 2012

Contracts for October 19, 2012

MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO CONSPIRING WITH IRANIAN OFFICIALS TO ASSASSINATE SAUDI AMBASSADOR TO U.S.

FROM: U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT
Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Man Pleads Guilty in New York to Conspiring with Iranian Military Officials to Assassinate Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States

Manssor Arbabsiar, aka Mansour Arbabsiar, pleaded guilty in federal court in the Southern District of New York to participating in a plot to murder the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States while the Ambassador was in the United States. Arbabsiar, a 58-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen holding both Iranian and U.S. passports, was arrested on Sept. 29, 2011, at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. He pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge John F. Keenan.

The guilty plea was announced by Attorney General Eric Holder; Michele M. Leonhart, Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration ( DEA); Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York; and Stephen L. Morris, FBI Houston Special Agent in Charge.

Arbabsiar pleaded guilty to a superseding information that charges him with three counts. Count one charges Arbabsiar with traveling in foreign commerce and using interstate and foreign commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire. Count two charges him with conspiring to do so. Count three charges Arbabsiar with conspiring to commit an offense against the United States, namely, an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries. He faces a maximum potential sentence of 25 years in prison (10 years on counts one and two, and five years on count three). Arbabsiar is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Keenan on Jan. 23, 2013, at 11:30 a.m.

In connection with his guilty plea, Arbabsiar admitted that, from the spring of 2011 to the fall of 2011, he conspired with officials in the Iranian military who were based in Iran, to cause the assassination of the Saudi Arabian Ambassador while the Ambassador was in the United States. Arbabsiar acknowledged that at the direction of these co-conspirators, he traveled to Mexico on several occasions during 2011 in order to arrange the assassination of the Ambassador. Arbabsiar admitted that, with his co-conspirators’ approval, he had arranged to hire a DEA confidential source (CS-1), who claimed to be a representative of a drug cartel, and CS-1’s criminal associates, to murder the Ambassador. Arbabsiar further admitted that he agreed to pay $1.5 million to CS-1 and had discussed with CS-1 a plan to murder the Ambassador at a restaurant in Washington, D.C. -- a plan that was approved by Arbabsiar’s co-conspirators. Arbabsiar then arranged for a $100,000 down payment, in two installments, to be wired to CS-1.

As noted in the complaint and indictment previously filed in Manhattan federal court, t he Qods Force is a branch of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The Qods Force conducts sensitive covert operations abroad, including terrorist attacks, assassinations and kidnappings, and is believed to have sponsored attacks against Coalition Forces in Iraq. In October 2007, the U.S. Treasury Department designated the Qods Force under Executive Order 13224 for providing material support to the Taliban and other terrorist organizations.

"A little more than a year after his arrest, Manssor Arbabsiar has admitted to his role in a deadly plot approved by members of the Iranian military to assassinate a sitting foreign Ambassador on U.S. soil," said Attorney General Holder. "Today’s plea and the disruption of this plot should serve as a reminder of the exceptional efforts of our law enforcement and intelligence agencies in protecting America against terrorist attacks and in holding accountable those who plan such actions."

"The dangerous connection between drug trafficking and terrorism cannot be overstated, and this case is yet another example of DEA’s unique role in identifying potentially deadly networks that wish to harm innocent Americans and our allies worldwide," said DEA Administrator Leonhart. "Using DEA’s elaborate and sophisticated investigative expertise to infiltrate violent drug and terror organizations globally, we successfully identified this threat and worked closely with the FBI to prevent a potentially deadly outcome." ‪

"Thanks to the collaborative efforts of many U.S. law enforcement and intelligence professionals, this international assassination plot hatched in Iran was thwarted before anyone was harmed and a key conspirator has pleaded guilty. This case underscores the evolving threat environment we face and the need for continued vigilance at home and abroad," said Assistant Attorney General Monaco.

U.S. Attorney Bharara stated: "As was originally charged, and as Arbabsiar has now admitted, he was the extended murderous hand of his co-conspirators, officials of the Iranian military based in Iran, who plotted to kill the Saudi Ambassador in the United States and were willing to kill as many bystanders as necessary to do so. Arbabsiar traveled to and from the United States, Mexico and Iran and was in telephone contact with his Iranian confederates while he brokered an audacious plot. The audacity of the plot should not cause doubt, but rather vigilance regarding others like Arbabsiar, who are enlisted as the violent emissaries of plotting foreign officials. This office will continue to pursue the co-conspirators in this plot and others in Iran or elsewhere who try to export murder. Thanks to the great work of the FBI, DEA and the prosecutors in this office, Mr. Arbabsiar must now answer for his conduct."

"Today’s guilty plea entered by Mr. Arababsiar is the culmination of exceptional intelligence and law enforcement efforts," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Morris. "I would like to thank the investigators, analysts and task force officers at the FBI and DEA in Houston, our Legal Attaché Office in Mexico City, and all partners in the Intelligence Community who worked tirelessly on this case. Of special note I’d like to recognize the exemplary leadership from Department of Justice’s National Security Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York."

According to the complaint and indictment filed in Manhattan federal court, as well as the information to which Arbabsiar pleaded:

Arbabsiar met with CS-1 in Mexico on multiple occasions between May 2011 and July 2011. During the course of these meetings, Arbabsiar inquired as to CS-1’s knowledge with respect to explosives and explained that he was interested in, among other things, attacking an embassy of Saudi Arabia and the murder of the Saudi Ambassador to the United States. In a July 14, 2011, meeting in Mexico, CS-1 told Arbabsiar that he would need to use at least four men to carry out the Ambassador’s murder and that his price for carrying out the murder was $1.5 million. Arbabsiar agreed and stated that the murder of the Ambassador should be handled first, before the execution of other attacks that Arbabsiar had discussed with CS-1. Arbabsiar also indicated that he and his associates had $100,000 in Iran to pay CS-1 as a first payment toward the assassination.

During the same meeting, Arbabsiar also described to CS-1 his cousin in Iran, who he said had requested that Arbabsiar find someone to carry out the Ambassador’s assassination. Arbabsiar indicated that his cousin was a "big general" in the Iranian military; that he focuses on matters outside of Iran and that he had taken certain unspecified actions related to a bombing in Iraq.

In a July 17, 2011, meeting in Mexico, CS-1 noted to Arbabsiar that one of his workers had already traveled to Washington, D.C., to surveil the Ambassador. CS-1 also raised the possibility of innocent bystander casualties. Arbabsiar made it clear that the assassination needed to go forward, despite mass casualties, telling CS-1, "They want that guy [the Ambassador] done [killed], if the hundred go with him f**k ‘em." CS-1 and Arbabsiar discussed bombing a restaurant in the United States that the Ambassador frequented. When CS-1 noted that others could be killed in the attack, including U.S. senators who dine at the restaurant, Arbabsiar dismissed these concerns as "no big deal."

On Aug. 1 and Aug. 9, 2011, Arbabsiar caused two overseas wire transfers totaling approximately $100,000 to be sent to an FBI undercover account as a down payment for CS-1 to carry out the assassination. Later, Arbabsiar explained to CS-1 that he would provide the remainder of the $1.5 million after the assassination. On Sept. 20, 2011, CS-1 told Arbabsiar that the operation was ready and requested that Arbabsiar either pay one half the agreed upon price ($1.5 million) for the murder or that Arbabsiar personally travel to Mexico as collateral for the final payment of the fee. Arbabsiar agreed to travel to Mexico to guarantee final payment for the murder.

On Sept. 28, 2011, Arbabsiar flew to Mexico. Arbabsiar was refused entry into Mexico and was placed on a return flight destined for his last point of departure. On Sept. 29, 2011, Arbabsiar was arrested by federal agents during a flight layover at JFK International Airport in New York. Several hours after his arrest, Arbabsiar was advised of his Miranda rights and he agreed to waive those rights and speak with law enforcement agents. During a series of Mirandized interviews, Arbabsiar confessed to his participation in the murder plot.

Arbabsiar also admitted to agents that, in connection with this plot, he was recruited, funded, and directed by men he understood to be senior officials in Iran’s Qods Force. He said these Iranian officials were aware of and approved of the use of CS-1 in connection with the plot; as well as payments to CS-1; the means by which the Ambassador would be killed in the United States and the casualties that would likely result.

Arbabsiar also told agents that his cousin, who he had long understood to be a senior member of the Qods Force, had approached him in the early spring of 2011 about recruiting narco-traffickers to kidnap the Ambassador. Arbabsiar told agents that he then met with CS-1 in Mexico and discussed assassinating the Ambassador. Arbabsiar said that, afterwards, he met several times in Iran with Gholam Shakuri, aka "Ali Gholam Shakuri," a co-conspirator and Iran-based member of the Qods Force, and another senior Qods Force official, where Arbabsiar explained that the plan was to blow up a restaurant in the United States frequented by the Ambassador and that numerous bystanders would be killed. The plan was approved by these officials.

In October 2011, after his arrest, Arbabsiar made phone calls at the direction of law enforcement to Shakuri in Iran that were monitored. During these phone calls, Shakuri confirmed that Arbabsiar should move forward with the plot to murder the Ambassador and that he should accomplish the task as quickly as possible, stating on Oct. 5, 2011, "[j]ust do it quickly, it’s late…" Shakuri also told Arbabsiar that he would consult with his superiors about whether they would be willing to pay CS-1 additional money. Shakuri, who was also charged in the plot, remains at large. The charges against Shakuri are merely accusations, and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.