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Sunday, December 30, 2012

AFPS Launches 'Year in Photos 2012' Review

AFPS Launches 'Year in Photos 2012' Review

THE EPA AND E. COLI BACTERIA

FROM: U.S. ENVIROMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

EPA Updates Rule for Pathogens in Drinking Water, Sets Limit for E. Coli

WASHINGTON
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has updated the rule for pathogens in drinking water, including setting a limit for the bacteria E. coli to better protect public health.

The Revised Total Coliform Rule ensures that all of the approximately 155,000 public water systems in the United States, which provide drinking water to more than 310 million people, take steps to prevent exposure to pathogens like E. coli. Pathogens like E. coli can cause a variety of illnesses with symptoms such as acute abdominal discomfort or, in more extreme cases, kidney failure or hepatitis.

Under the revised rule, public drinking water systems are required to notify the public if a test exceeds the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for E. coli in drinking water. If E. coli or other indications of drinking water contamination are detected above a certain level, drinking water facilities must assess the system and fix potential sources and pathways of contamination. High-risk drinking water systems with a history of non-compliance must perform more frequent monitoring. The revised rule provides incentives for small drinking water systems that consistently meet certain measures of water quality and system performance.

Public water systems and the state and local agencies that oversee them must comply with the requirements of the Revised Total Coliform Rule beginning April 1, 2016. Until then, public water systems and primacy agencies must continue to comply with the 1989 version of the rule.

The Safe Drinking Water Act requires that EPA review each National Primary Drinking Water Regulation, such as the Total Coliform Rule, at least once every six years. The outcome of the review of the 1989 Total Coliform Rule determined that there was an opportunity to reduce implementation burden and improve rule effectiveness while at the same time increasing public health protection against pathogens in the drinking water distribution systems. EPA’s revised rule incorporates recommendations from a federal advisory committee comprised of a broad range of stakeholders and considers public comments received during a public comment period held in fall 2010.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

U.S. Department of Defense Armed with Science Update

U.S. Department of Defense Armed with Science Update

Weekly Address: Congress Must Protect the Middle Class from Income Tax Hike | The White House

Weekly Address: Congress Must Protect the Middle Class from Income Tax Hike | The White House

OSHA CITES POST OFFICE FOR HEAT-RELATED DEATH

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

Dec. 17, 2012

US Labor Department's OSHA cites US Postal Service
for worker's heat-related death in Independence, Mo.


INDEPENDENCE, Mo. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the U.S. Postal Service Truman Station in Independence, Mo., with a willful violation for failing to protect employees working in excessive heat. OSHA initiated an inspection in July after a mail carrier developed heat-related illness symptoms, collapsed while working his route and was taken to the hospital where he died as a result of his exposure to excessive heat.

"This tragedy underscores the need for employers to take proactive steps to keep workers safe in extreme heat," said Charles Adkins, OSHA's regional administrator in Kansas City. "If this employer had trained workers in recognizing the symptoms of heat stroke, and taken precautions to ensure workers had access to water, rest and shade, this unfortunate incident may have been avoided."

The willful violation addresses the hazard of multiple employees who were required to work during periods when excessive heat advisories and warnings were issued by the National Weather Service. The employer did not have procedures in place to address worker concerns during times of excessive heat. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.


Penalties of $70,000 have been proposed. The Postal Service has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Kansas City, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit
http://www.osha.gov.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Defense Centers of Excellence Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury in the Media Update

Defense Centers of Excellence Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury in the Media Update

President Obama Makes a Statement on Averting Tax Hikes for Middle Class Families | The White House

President Obama Makes a Statement on Averting Tax Hikes for Middle Class Families | The White House

PANETTA ANGRY OVER CHILD DEVELOPMENT CENTER'S PROBLEMS

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Panetta 'Disappointed, Angry' at Child Development Center Lapses
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 19, 2012 - Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta is "deeply disappointed and angry" at lapses at the Fort Myer, Va., child development center, Pentagon spokesman George Little said today.

Two workers at the Fort Myer facility were arrested Sept. 26 for assaulting children under their care. An investigation revealed that other workers had derogatory information in their background that called into question their suitability for working with children, officials said.

"The Army has launched an investigation into hiring processes not only at Fort Myer, but throughout the United States Army military child care system," Little said.

Panetta learned of the problems at the facility yesterday, and immediately ordered the other services to examine their hiring procedures as well.

Little said he has no information that the problems are more widespread. "But let me be very clear: the secretary believes that the care of our children is paramount, ... and he will settle for nothing less than the highest standards of care for our military children," he added.

More than 1 million children belong to U.S. military families throughout the world. "They are part of the DOD family, and we will do whatever we can to protect them, wherever they may be," Little said.

The press secretary said he expects the investigation to move beyond child development centers and cover youth activities programs and the DOD Education Activity facilities on bases and installations around the world.

In addition to looking at the hiring practices, Little said, the secretary is looking into why it took three months for news about the Fort Myer situation to reach him.

"No one likes to be surprised," Little said. "I don't know where the breakdown [in communications] was. It's something we're looking into, and clearly this information didn't get reported up the chain of command as quickly as we think it should have."

West Wing Week: 12/28/12 or "Best of the West (Wing Week)" | The White House

West Wing Week: 12/28/12 or "Best of the West (Wing Week)" | The White House

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Labor Department News Releases Update

Labor Department News Releases Update

U.S. UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE WEEKLY CLAIMS REPORT

FROM: U.S. DEPATMENT OF LABOR
 
SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA



In the week ending December 22, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 350,000, a decrease of 12,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 362,000. The 4-week moving average was 356,750, a decrease of 11,250 from the previous week's revised average of 368,000.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.5 percent for the week ending December 15, unchanged from the prior week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending December 15 was 3,206,000, a decrease of 32,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 3,238,000. The 4-week moving average was 3,219,000, a decrease of 24,750 from the preceding week's revised average of 3,243,750.
UNADJUSTED DATA
The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 440,887 in the week ending December 22, an increase of 39,458 from the previous week. There were 497,689 initial claims in the comparable week in 2011.

The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.5 percent during the week ending December 15, unchanged from the prior week's unrevised rate. The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 3,254,214, an increase of 9,650 from the preceding week. A year earlier, the rate was 2.9 percent and the volume was 3,613,414.

The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending December 8 was 5,475,708, an increase of 73,279 from the previous week. There were 7,231,771 persons claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2011.

Extended Benefits were only available in New York during the week ending December 8.

Initial claims for UI benefits filed by former Federal civilian employees totaled 1,680 in the week ending December 15, a decrease of 374 from the prior week. There were 2,574 initial claims filed by newly discharged veterans, a decrease of 257 from the preceding week.

There were 21,095 former Federal civilian employees claiming UI benefits for the week ending December 8, a decrease of 245 from the previous week. Newly discharged veterans claiming benefits totaled 40,561, an increase of 1,081 from the prior week.

States reported 2,100,243 persons claiming EUC (Emergency Unemployment Compensation) benefits for the week ending December 8, an increase of 3,698 from the prior week. There were 2,926,135 persons claiming EUC in the comparable week in 2011. EUC weekly claims include first, second, third, and fourth tier activity.

The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending December 8 were in Alaska (6.2), New Jersey (3.9), Pennsylvania (3.8), Puerto Rico (3.7), California (3.5), Montana (3.5), Oregon (3.5), Connecticut (3.3), Nevada (3.3), Illinois (3.2), and Wisconsin (3.2).

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending December 15 were in Florida (+5,080), Kentucky (+1,009), Mississippi (+651), Iowa (+646), and Indiana (+549), while the largest decreases were in California (-6,867), New Jersey (-5,101), Pennsylvania (-3,412), New York (-2,938) and Michigan (-2,889).

THE MAGIC FLUTE?

Face of Defense: Marine Discards Flute, Picks Up Reins
By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Samuel Ranney
Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow


MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE BARSTOW, Calif., Dec. 20, 2012 - In 1918, Opha Mae Johnson became the first woman to enlist in the United States Marine Corps. At that time, women were only allowed to perform clerical duties to aid the men who were fighting overseas during World War I

Today, women make up about six percent of the Marine Corps.

Women serve in hundreds of different jobs in the Corps, including a very prestigious military occupational specialty: the last remaining Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard.

Marine Corps Cpl. Cherisess Paige, a 21-year-old stableman assigned to the mounted color guard here, is one of the first women to receive official orders to the unit.

Such positions had previously only been given to infantrymen, said Marine Corps Sgt. Edgar Torrealba, who's also a stableman with the mounted color guard here.

"My first impression of Paige was that she was a squared-away Marine. She is very knowledgeable and willing to take advice and put it into action," Torrealba said.

Paige, who calls Texas her home, said she was born in Panama and raised as a "military brat" whose father was in the Army.

Paige was seven years old, she said, when she came to America with her family. She excelled academically in high school.

"I was the 'nerd' in high school. I was taking many advanced placement classes and was accepted into a lot of good colleges," Paige said. "My family and friends were surprised when I chose the Marine Corps before finishing school. I wanted to do something stable and have a sure way to pay for college. I also have a lot of respect for the Marine Corps."

Paige joined the Marine Corps in July 2010 as a musician with the band at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms in California.

"I played the flute and the piccolo," Paige said. "I love music and I loved being a part of the Marine Corps Band."

Paige had another passion and an even greater devotion than the one she had for music: horses.

"I love horses. They are, by far, my favorite animal," she said. "I rode my grandma's personal horses every chance I got while growing up."

Paige was first introduced to the Marine Corps' mounted color guard unit in July 2011 during the commanding general's change of command ceremony at Twentynine Palms.

"At first sight I immediately wanted to be a part of the unit. I was amazed," she said. "I put in a request as soon as I could but could not quite leave the band [yet]."

On Jan. 1, 2012, the band at Twentynine Palms was disbanded due to budget cuts. With the elimination of the band came the opportunity Paige was looking for.

"In February 2012, I had been temporarily assigned to the MCG. I was interviewed about my experiences with horses and I also showed my ability to ride, maintain and handle the horses," Paige said.

Paige put down her flute in April and became a part of the last mounted color guard unit in the Marine Corps.

Torrealba said his favorite memory working with Paige was at the Houston Rodeo in Texas. It was Paige's first trip with the unit, he said, and the beginning of a strong bond that she formed with the mounted color guard.

The city of Houston is Paige's favorite memory so far, she said. She explained that although she was still too new to participate in the actual event, it felt great to be a part of it and to help with the preparations.

"I loved my time in Houston. It was a huge event and I got to show my family and friends what I do," Paige said. "They were all very impressed. I cannot wait until next year's [Houston Rodeo] to actually ride in the event in front of my home state."

After her first enlistment concludes, Paige plans on either re-enlisting and returning to the Marine Corps Band or becoming a full-time student and getting her bachelor's degree. Whatever she does, her coworkers believe that Paige has a bright future ahead of her.

"Corporal Paige is an exceptionally hard worker who expects nothing less than perfection on a daily basis. She always goes above and beyond," Torrealba said.

Paige said she loves to serve her country and to travel.

Whether it's playing a musical instrument or riding a mustang -- her coworkers agree that Paige has a flair for entertaining patriotic audiences across America.

"I love what I do as a United States Marine," she said.

 

 

 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

President Obama Speaks to Servicemembers on Christmas | The White House

President Obama Speaks to Servicemembers on Christmas | The White House

LOS ALAMOS NATIONAL LABORATORY'S 2013 GIVING CAMPAIGN

FROM: LOS ALAMOS NATIONAL LABORATORY

Record $3.1 million pledged during Los Alamos National Laboratory’s 2013 employee giving campaign

LOS ALAMOS, NEW MEXICO, December 17, 2012—Los Alamos National Laboratory employees have again demonstrated concern for their communities and those in need by pledging a record $2.13 million to United Way and other eligible nonprofit programs. Los Alamos National Security, LLC, which manages and operates the Laboratory for the National Nuclear Security Administration, plans to prorate its $1 million match among the selected nonprofit organizations, bringing the total donation to $3.1 million.

"I am again touched by the generosity of our employees," said Los Alamos Director Charlie McMillan. "In a challenging year for the Laboratory, they have come through for Northern New Mexico. It speaks to their pride in where they work and live."

"I am truly impressed with the level of participation we achieved during this year’s employee giving campaign. The leadership and dedication across the Lab in supporting the campaign along with all the special events, really made a difference," said Paul Henry, Los Alamos’s principal associate director for Capital Projects and this year’s campaign champion. "The employees at the Lab should be very proud of the fact that we achieved 21 percent participation and raised more than $3.1 million."

Laboratory employee contributions will fund a wide range of programs offered by eligible nonprofit organizations.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

THE ANTARTIC ICE BRIDGE

FROM:  NASA

video


OPERATION ICEBRIDGE: Exploring Antarctica Operation IceBridge is an airbone NASA mission aimed at studying changes in land and sea ice at Earth’s poles. In October and November 2012, IceBridge completed its fourth Antarctic campaign. Twelve of the campaign’s missions focused on changes in land ice, while the remaining four studied the ice that covers the seas of Weddell, Bellingshausen and Amundsen, in the west coast of the continent.

TROOP HOLIDAY GREETINGS

FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
News Service Brings Troops' Holiday Greetings Home
By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service


WASHINGTON, Dec. 23, 2012 - While deployments can be especially difficult for service members and their families during the holidays, the Joint Hometown News Service helps "bring the troops home" by broadcasting them directly into their loved ones' living rooms.

This holiday season, some 1,600 service members sent 15-second televised and radio broadcast holiday wishes home, produced by the news service's holiday greetings program.

Camera crews fanned out to 15 military bases in various countries to capture troops' personalized holiday greetings this year in time-honored annual tradition, and the news service distributed the finished products to nearly 4,500 hometown commercial media outlets such as radio and television stations, said Natasha Schleper, the news service's broadcast chief at Defense Media Activity, Fort Meade, Md.

"It's a big ocean that splits them up," Schleper said of troops and their families. "Even if it's for only 15 seconds, it helps bridge that gap."

The holiday greetings program is a nostalgic one in the Defense Department, she said. "People expect to see them," Schleper said of the holiday greetings crews.

The news service visits different countries each year, Schleper explained, and this year, crews of one to two people recorded greetings in Afghanistan, the United Kingdom, Guam, Korea, Japan, Spain and Greenland.

A crew shot 100 holiday greetings in just two days while in Rota, Spain, she said, and two photographers who were on a news story assignment in Greenland also were able to record holiday greetings at Thule Air Base, which is 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

American Forces Network Pacific and AFN Europe, in addition to various military public affairs offices, also helped shoot greetings in places where the news service crews were unable to travel, she added.

"We're grateful to those folks who helped us," Schleper said. "They have their own missions to accomplish; missions that don't stop while they're assisting us. It's a lot of extra work for them, and we hope they know the families at home appreciate their efforts."

The news service's soldiers and airmen who travel to record the holiday greetings spend about 30 days in the road, with one or two days off during their entire temporary duty, Schleper said, adding that most days are spent traveling.

"It's a tough trip with a lot of obstacles to overcome, and it takes making command decisions and working through any issues that arise," she said, "and issues know where to find [the news service] while on the road, from working through three typhoons in Korea [to] arriving late in the night in Italy, only to find the rental car company closed and no hotel room available."

Monday, December 24, 2012

NORAD IS TRACKING SANTA

http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=118848

SIMULATIONS AND THE BOMB

FROM: U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT

U.S. Nuclear Weapon Computer Simulations
Fact Sheet
Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance
December 20, 2012

Key Point:
Advances in simulation and computing capabilities, aided by investments in the science-based Stockpile Stewardship Program (SSP), provide confidence in the ability to model and evaluate the performance and safety of nuclear weapons without nuclear explosive testing.

Since the end of U.S. nuclear explosive testing in 1992, investments in science-based Stockpile Stewardship have led to dramatic improvements in simulation capabilities. Computers have become at least a hundred-thousand times more powerful, and modern integrated design codes now more realistically capture the behavior of real nuclear devices. As of December 2012, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has the world’s fastest supercomputer used for nuclear weapons simulations and modeling. The supercomputer, named Sequoia, is also the second fastest supercomputer in the world overall. As a result of these advancements, our modern, integrated nuclear weapon design codes have reduced a number of adjustment parameters, which previously required a nuclear explosive test to be calibrated. Weapons designers can now conduct hundreds of calculations to determine where the results are most sensitive to model uncertainties or fundamental data. This is a critical element to inform expert judgment and guide SSP experiments.

Today, weapons designers benefit from better simulation tools and computers capable of running highly detailed calculations. Successes to date indicate that a cadre of world-class scientists and engineers can employ physics-based simulations, modern experiments, validations against collections of re-analyzed data from previous underground nuclear explosive tests, and peer reviews to support stockpile decisions well into the future without the need to return to nuclear explosive testing. These computer simulation advances provide the United States with the ability to monitor and maintain the nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear explosive testing.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

MEMO FROM SECRETARY OF DEFENSE PANETTA OUTLINES POSSIBLE SEQUESTRATION EFFECTS

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Panetta Memo Describes Possible Sequestration Effects

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 20, 2012 - While many remain hopeful that Congress and the administration will reach a deal that avoids sequestration, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has issued a memo describing the potential implications of going over the fiscal cliff.

Planning for the effects of an across-the-board cut in defense spending as part of the Budget Reduction Act of 2011 "is only prudent," said DOD officials. Under the law, the reductions are due to take place Jan. 2, 2013.

Panetta said it is too early to assess what effects sequestration will have. He did say that it will not affect military personnel or military end strength as President Barack Obama announced his intent to exempt the military personnel accounts from sequestration last summer.

The secretary did clarify the potential implications of sequestration in his memo.

"If it occurs, sequestration will reduce our budgetary resources for the remainder of the fiscal year," the memo says. "These cuts, while significant and harmful to our collective mission as an agency, would not necessarily require immediate reductions in spending."

There is no threat of a government shutdown because of sequestration, Panetta said in the memo.

"Everyone will show up for work on January 3, 2013, and continue to drive on," said Army Lt. Col. Elizabeth Robbins, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

The memo states that there will be no immediate civilian personnel actions such as furloughs.

"Should we have to operate under reduced funding levels for an extended period of time, we may have to consider furloughs or other actions in the future," Panetta said in the memo. "But let me assure you that we will carefully examine other options to reduce costs within the agency before taking such actions."

If the department does need to take these actions, affected employees will receive all appropriate notifications, the secretary noted.

The Defense Department is already reducing its budget by $487 billion over 10 years. The Budget Control Act calls for a further $500 billion in cuts at DOD unless Congress and the administration pass a new law averting it.

"Sequestration was never intended to be implemented and there is no reason why both sides should not be able to come together and prevent this scenario," Panetta wrote.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Weekly Address: The President and First Lady Extend a Holiday Greeting and Thank our Troops for their Service | The White House

Weekly Address: The President and First Lady Extend a Holiday Greeting and Thank our Troops for their Service | The White House

GERMAN COMPANY ACCOUSED OF VIOLATING BOOKS AND RECORDS AND INTERNAL CONTROL PROVISIONS OF FCPA

FROM: U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C., Dec. 17, 2012 — The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged Germany-based insurance and asset management company Allianz SE with violating the books and records and internal controls provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) for improper payments to government officials in Indonesia during a seven-year period.

The SEC’s investigation uncovered 295 insurance contracts on large government projects that were obtained or retained by improper payments of $650,626 by Allianz’s subsidiary in Indonesia to employees of state-owned entities. Allianz made more than $5.3 million in profits as a result of the improper payments.

Allianz, which is headquartered in Munich, agreed to pay more than $12.3 million to settle the SEC’s charges.

"Allianz’s subsidiary created an 'off-the-books' account that served as a slush fund for bribe payments to foreign officials to win insurance contracts worth several million dollars," said Kara Brockmeyer, Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s FCPA Unit.

According to the SEC’s order instituting settled administrative proceedings against Allianz, the misconduct occurred from 2001 to 2008 while the company’s shares and bonds were registered with the SEC and traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Two complaints brought the misconduct to Allianz’s attention. The first complaint submitted in 2005 reported unsupported payments to agents, and a subsequent audit of accounting records at Allianz’s subsidiary in Indonesia uncovered that managers were using "special purpose accounts" to make illegal payments to government officials in order to secure business in Indonesia. The misconduct continued in spite of that audit.

According to the SEC’s order, the second complaint was made to Allianz’s external auditor in 2009. Allianz failed to properly account for certain payments in their books and records. The improper payments were disguised in invoices as an "overriding commission" for an agent that was not associated with the government insurance contract. In other instances, the improper payments were structured as an overpayment by the government insurance contract holder, who was later "reimbursed" for the overpayment. Excess funds were then paid to foreign officials who were responsible for procuring the government insurance contracts. Allianz lacked sufficient internal controls to detect and prevent the wrongful payments and improper accounting.

The SEC’s order found that Allianz violated the books and records and internal controls provisions of the FCPA, specifically Sections 13(b)(2)(A) and 13(b)(2)(B) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Without admitting or denying the findings, Allianz agreed to cease and desist from further violations and pay disgorgement of $5,315,649, prejudgment interest of $1,765,125, and a penalty of $5,315,649 for a total of $12,396,423.

The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Irene Gutierrez, Jennifer Baskin and Tracy L. Price of the FCPA Unit.

Friday, December 21, 2012

West Wing Week: 12/21/12 or "We Are There For Them" | The White House

West Wing Week: 12/21/12 or "We Are There For Them" | The White House

Un ángel de nieve por Navidad

Un ángel de nieve por Navidad

SEC. OF DEFENSE ORDERS REVIEW OF CHILD CARE HIRING PRACTICES

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Panetta Orders Review of Child Care Hiring Practices
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 19, 2012 - Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has ordered a review of hiring practices at Defense Department child development centers.

Army officials yesterday announced an immediate investigation into hiring procedures at its child development centers nationwide after identifying potential problems with security background investigations for some CDC employees at Fort Myer, Va.

"Secretary Panetta fully supports this review by the Army and has directed each of the services to conduct a similar review of hiring practices at all DOD child development centers," Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.

In ordering the review, Panetta emphasized the importance of safety.

"Military children are precious members of our DOD family," he said. "As a department, protecting our service members and their families is paramount. That includes doing everything we can to provide for the safety of children attending CDCs throughout the department, and ensuring they are provided with the highest-quality care by dedicated professionals.

"We owe nothing less to the members of our DOD family who have sacrificed so much for this department and this nation," he added.

The Army's Installation Management Command replaced the CDC's management team at Fort Myer in October when concerns were raised about facility leadership, officials said in announcing the Army review. A subsequent review found background issues with some employees, not all of whom were directly responsible for child care, officials said.

"Out of an abundance of caution, we removed those employees and temporarily closed the facility," said Army Col. Fern Sumpter, garrison commander at Fort Myer, adding that children enrolled at the center were moved to another Fort Myer center.

"An investigation was ordered to determine whether background checks were properly done at the time these employees were hired, and whether required procedures were followed. That investigation has just begun," Sumpter said.

Following the initial findings at Fort Myer, Army Secretary John M. McHugh directed a review of management and procedures at all Army child care centers and a review of compliance with those policies and procedures.

"It's a fundamental responsibility to ensure the highest quality of care for the children of our men and women in uniform, many of whom rely on us to care for their children while deployed," he said. "These initial findings are not only troubling, they are unacceptable, and we will make certain that adequate policies and procedures are in place, and that they are strictly followed and fully enforced."

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

DVIDS - Holiday Greetings - Holiday Season 2012

DVIDS - Holiday Greetings - Holiday Season 2012

EPA ANNOUCES UPDATE ON FINE PARTICLE POLLUTION

FROM: U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

EPA Announces Next Round of Clean Air Standards to Reduce Harmful Soot Pollution 

WASHINGTON –
In response to a court order, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today finalized an update to its national air quality standards for harmful fine particle pollution (PM2.5), including soot, setting the annual health standard at 12 micrograms per cubic meter. By 2020, ninety-nine percent of U.S. counties are projected to meet revised health standard without any additional actions

Today’s announcement has no effect on the existing daily standard for fine particles or the existing daily standard for coarse particles (PM10), which includes dust from farms and other sources), both of which remain unchanged.

"These standards are fulfilling the promise of the Clean Air Act. We will save lives and reduce the burden of illness in our communities, and families across the country will benefit from the simple fact of being able to breathe cleaner air," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.

Fine particle pollution can penetrate deep into the lungs and has been linked to a wide range of serious health effects, including premature death, heart attacks, and strokes, as well as acute bronchitis and aggravated asthma among children. A federal court ruling required EPA to update the standard based on best available science. Today’s announcement, which meets that requirement, builds on smart steps already taken by EPA to slash dangerous pollution in communities across the country. Thanks to these steps, 99 percent of U.S. counties are projected to meet the standard without any additional action.

It is expected that fewer than 10 counties, out of the more than 3,000 counties in the United States, will need to consider any local actions to reduce fine particle pollution in order to meet the new standard by 2020, as required by the Clean Air Act. The rest can rely on air quality improvements from federal rules already on the books to meet this new standard.

The standard, which was proposed in June and is consistent with the advice from the agency’s independent science advisors, is based on an extensive body of scientific evidence that includes thousands of studies – including many large studies which show negative health impacts at lower levels than previously understood. It also follows extensive consultation with stakeholders, including the public, health organizations, and industry, and after considering more than 230,000 public comments.

By 2030, it is expected that all standards that cut PM2.5 from diesel vehicles and equipment alone will prevent up to 40,000 premature deaths, 32,000 hospital admissions and 4.7 million days of work lost due to illness.

Because reductions in fine particle pollution have direct health benefits including decreased mortality rates, fewer incidents of heart attacks, strokes, and childhood asthma, the PM2.5 standards announced today have major economic benefits with comparatively low costs. EPA estimates health benefits of the revised standard to range from $4 billion to over $9 billion per year, with estimated costs of implementation ranging from $53 million to $350 million. While EPA cannot consider costs in selecting a standard under the Clean Air Act, those costs are estimated as part of the careful analysis undertaken for all significant regulations, as required by Executive Order 13563 issued by President Obama in January 2011.

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to review its air quality standards every five years to determine whether the standards should be revised. The law requires the agency to ensure the standards are "requisite to protect public health with an adequate margin of safety" and "requisite to protect the public welfare." A federal court required EPA to issue final standard by December 14, because the agency did not meet its five-year legal deadline for reviewing the standards.

EPA carefully considered extensive public input as it determined the appropriate final standard to protect public health. The agency held two public hearings and received more than 230,000 written comments before finalizing today’s updated air quality standards.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Contracts for December 17, 2012

Contracts for December 17, 2012

Give Green Gifts with Energy Star Products

Give Green Gifts with Energy Star Products

Con la mirada puesta en el eclipse total de Sol

Con la mirada puesta en el eclipse total de Sol

THE ANTI-CHILD LABOR TOOLKIT

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
US Department of Labor releases toolkit to help businesses combat child and forced labor in global supply chains

WASHINGTON
— The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of International Labor Affairs today introduced Reducing Child Labor and Forced Labor: A Toolkit for Responsible Businesses, the first guide developed by the U.S. government to help businesses combat child labor and forced labor in their global supply chains.

"Encouraging businesses to reduce child and forced labor in their supply chains helps advance fundamental human rights that are at the core of worker dignity, whether here in the U.S. or abroad," Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said in a video message announcing the toolkit.

The free, easy-to-use toolkit was unveiled during an event at Labor Department headquarters for representatives of government, industry, labor and civil society organizations that are at the forefront of efforts to prevent labor abuses in the production of goods. Speakers included Carol Pier, acting deputy undersecretary of ILAB; Eric Biel, acting associate deputy undersecretary of ILAB; and David Abramowitz, vice president of policy and government relations at Humanity United.

The toolkit highlights the need for a social compliance program that integrates a company's policies and practices to ensure that the company addresses child labor and forced labor throughout its supply chain. It provides practical, step-by-step guidance on eight critical elements that will be helpful for companies that do not have a social compliance system in place or those needing to strengthen existing systems. An integrated social compliance system includes: engaging stakeholders and partners, assessing risks and impacts, developing a code of conduct, communicating and training across the supply chain, monitoring compliance, remediating violations, independent review and reporting performance.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Navy News Service - Eye on the Fleet Current Collection

Navy News Service - Eye on the Fleet Current Collection

Navy News Service - Eye on the Fleet Current Collection

Navy News Service - Eye on the Fleet Current Collection

U.S. Department of Defense Armed with Science Update: To The Future and Beyond Blue Horizons

U.S. Department of Defense Armed with Science Update

FUTURE WORLDS, PREDICTIONS

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Intelligence Council Poses Four Worlds of the Future

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 13, 2012 - Prediction is an inexact science.

The 1939 New York World's Fair was billed as a look at tomorrow, and nations built pavilions and presented their latest inventions along with how they believed they would change the world.

One large part of the Fair itself was called "Futurama" -- a scale model of what planners believed would be America in 1960. The model had futuristic homes, urban complexes, bridges, dams and an advanced highway system which envisioned speeds of 100 mph.

The visionaries of 1939 did not anticipate suburbs, satellites, an oil embargo, nuclear energy or apparently where all those 100 mph cars were going to park.

The National Intelligence Council, which supports the Director of National Intelligence by providing long-term strategic analysis, has learned from instances like this and presents a range of options in its publication World Trends 2030.

The council posits four possible worlds in 2030: stalled engines, fusion, gini out-of-the-bottle and nonstate world.

"Gini" refers to the gini coefficient, which is a statistical measurement of income inequality.

The stalled engine world predicts a planet where the risk of interstate conflict rises due to a new great game in Asia. This scenario is a bleak one. "Drivers behind such an outcome would be a U.S. and Europe that turn inward, no longer interested in sustaining their global leadership," the report says. This scenario envisions the Euro Zone unraveling, causing Europe's economy to tumble.

The stalled engine world also sees the U.S. energy revolution failing to materialize -- despite current trends that suggest the U.S. will be a future energy exporter.

This scenario is most likely to lead to conflict between nations over scarce resources, but this scenario does not necessarily envision major conflagrations. Economic interdependence and globalization would be mitigating factors.

The fusion scenario represents the other end of the spectrum.

"This is a world in which the specter of a spreading conflict in South Asia triggers efforts by the U.S., Europe and China to intervene and impose a ceasefire," the report says. "China, the U.S. and Europe find other issues to collaborate on, leading to a major positive change in their bilateral relations, and more broadly leading to worldwide cooperation to deal with global challenges."

This scenario sees China adopting political reforms and Chinese leaders managing growing nationalism. Fusion sees more multinational organizations.

"In this scenario, all boats rise substantially," the report says. Developing economies rise, but so do those in developed countries. Under fusion, the American dream remains a reality with the council seeing U.S. incomes rising by $10,000 over a decade.

"Technological innovation -- rooted in expanded exchanges and joint international efforts -- is critical to the world staying ahead of the rising financial and resource constraints that would accompany a rapid boost in prosperity," the report says.

The genie out-of-the-bottle scenario is a world of extremes, but somewhere between the stalled engine and fusion scenarios. This scenario sees winners and losers in the global commons; a core group of the European Union remaining while others -- those not doing well economically -- fall away.

In the "gini" scenario the United States remains the preeminent power but it doesn't play global policeman. Energy producing nations see prices fall while they fail to diversify their economies. "Cities in China's coastal zone continue to thrive, but inequalities increase and split the [Communist] Party," the report says.

Global growth continues, but it is uneven. More countries fail in part because of the failure of international organizations.

"In sum, the world is reasonably wealthy, but it is less secure as the dark side of globalization poses an increasing challenge in domestic and international politics," the report says.

The final scenario -- the nonstate world -- sees nonstate actors taking the lead in confronting global challenges. Nonstate actors include nongovernmental organizations, multinational businesses, academic individuals, wealthy individuals and cities.

"The nation state does not disappear, but countries increasingly organize and orchestrate 'hybrid' coalitions of state and nonstate actors which shift depending on the issue," the report says.

This is a complex and diverse world that favors democracies. "Smaller, more agile countries in which the elites are also more integrated are apt to do better than larger countries that lack social or political cohesion," the report says.

By its nature, the nonstate world would be uneven and would carry its own dangers. Some global problems would be solved because the networks would coalesce to solve them but others would not. Security threats would increase because not all nonstate actors are benign. Access to lethal and disruptive technologies could expand, "enabling individuals and small groups to perpetuate violence and disruption on a large scale," according to the report.

The four worlds suggested in the report could happen or something altogether different may occur also. The report notes that unplanned, unforeseen events can change all of this.

The example of the New York World's Fair extends here too. While the Fair opened in 1939, it reopened in 1940. Two nations that sponsored buildings in 1939 -- Czechoslovakia and Poland -- had ceased to exist when the Fair returned in 1940.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Weekly Address: Nation Grieves for Those Killed in Tragic Shooting in Newtown, CT | The White House

Weekly Address: Nation Grieves for Those Killed in Tragic Shooting in Newtown, CT | The White House

Ministerial Plenary Co-Chairs Fact Sheet: About the GCTF

Ministerial Plenary Co-Chairs Fact Sheet: About the GCTF

Ministerial Plenary Co-Chairs Fact Sheet: International Center of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism

Ministerial Plenary Co-Chairs Fact Sheet: International Center of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism

U.S. SUPPORTS CENTRAL AMERICA AND CARIBBEAN SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES WITH GRANTS

FROM: U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT

U.S. Supports "Sustainable Communities in Central America and the Caribbean" Grants Through the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA)

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
December 11, 2012

In a ceremony today at the headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS), Ambassador Carmen Lomellin, U.S. Permanent Representative, announced U.S. support for Sustainable Communities in Central America and the Caribbean, a competitive grants program to enhance hemispheric cooperation on sustainable community development in the context of the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA).

Technical review panels selected 14 non-governmental organizations from 10 countries in Central America and the Caribbean to receive grants of up to $50,000. Announced at today’s ceremony, these grants will support innovative community-level initiatives linked to the following priority areas: 1) Clean energy and energy efficiency; 2) Resilience to natural hazards; 3) Sustainable transport solutions; and 4) Waste management and recycling (including electronic waste). Specific projects range from an effort to strengthen the network of micro-hydroelectric systems in the Dominican Republic to the development of a Sustainable Transportation Plan in St. Kitts and Nevis that emphasizes bicycling and walking.

During his keynote address, U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative Lawrence J. Gumbiner highlighted U.S. government support for collaborative efforts in the Americas to further creative solutions to global challenges such as climate change and the rising demand for energy and water resources. The Sustainable Communities project will strengthen the capacity of civil society groups to contribute to sustainable development, he added. Gumbiner noted the wealth of knowledge and experience on sustainable city and community development in the hemisphere and invited representatives of OAS Member States, and members of their civil society and private sector, to explore how their countries can contribute to the project by sharing technical expertise and best practices with project implementers.

The OAS Department of Sustainable Development will implement the Sustainable Communities project. A steering committee made up of U.S. technical agencies and U.S.-based NGOs evaluated project proposals and will respond to specific requests for technical assistance from project implementers.

THE MILITARY ELECTRICAL COMPLEX

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

by jtozer
Soldiers Using Sunlight To Improve Combat Capability
Soldiers are enlisting the sun’s power in Afghanistan.

Ten solar generators are now providing Special Forces soldiers in distant outposts the energy they need to accomplish their mission. And, these generators are allowing them precious more time to train Afghan forces and win the friendship of local Afghans.

The key benefit of solar is savings in fuel. Fuel makes up a significant portion of weight and volume that has to be transported great distances to remote locations in Afghanistan and elsewhere

"During World War II, we used (an average of) one gallon of fuel per day, per soldier," said Richard G. Kidd IV, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for Energy & Sustainability, with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the

Army for Installations, Energy & Environment. "We now use (an average of) 20 gallons per day, per soldier, and in Afghanistan, over 40 percent of that fuel is used to produce electricity.
"With solar power, we are cutting the supply of fuel needed in half, from 40 to 20 percent," he added. That is the first of at least five benefits, he said.
Because the solar generators, which are hybrid — solar/diesel — don’t need as much fuel as traditional diesel generators, soldiers are spending less time moving to drop zones, securing those areas so aircraft can land or airdrop and collecting and transporting the fuel back to the outpost, according to Kidd, who has been working with others in the Army’s Installations, Energy & Environment Department, G3/4 and contract personnel, to field these devices.

And secondly, those air assets that would have been used to transport fuel are now available for other important missions, he added.

Each 28-kilowatt mobile solar generator system can provide power for about 30 soldiers, according to Dennis Bohannon, a spokesman for the Army’s Installations, Energy & Environment Department.

"The 10 systems now in Afghanistan can provide about 700 megawatt hours per year, saving approximately 460,000 gallons of fuel," he said. "That is equal to pulling 185 M978 Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical fuel trucks out of our convoys per year. In terms of cost these systems pay for themselves in fuel savings in about two-and-a-half months."

Each solar system is completely contained in a 20-foot container — solar panels, batteries, communications gear and generator, according to Dan Rice, president, SunDial Capital Partners, the company that makes the patented technology.

The SunDial systems proved themselves after a very successful two year Special Operations Forces-run program in Afghanistan. They were shown to reduce fuel significantly, save taxpayer dollars and increase combat capability, according an April 2012 U.S. Special Operations Command report "Mobile Smart Power Initiative," initiated by now-retired Adm. Eric T. Olson,

USSOCOM commander.
A third savings, Kidd said, is in repair costs and down-time.
"The majority of our (traditional diesel) generators are ‘wet stack,’" he said, "meaning they are (prone) to breaking down sooner. We’re also overtaxing our generator mechanics, who are having a difficult time repairing them all."

Wet stacking is a condition where unburned fuel is discharged through the exhaust system, which happens when the engine is running at the low-end capacity of its maximum output, he explained. "Generators like to operate at 75 to 80 percent (capacity), not the 20 to 30 percent they often run at."

The new solar generators are "networked together in an intelligent manner so that one generator will service the whole load all the time," thereby utilizing greater capacity, he said.

"If more power is needed, they come on-line in a staggered manner" so each is operating at the ideal capacity that will extend the life of the generator, as well as save some of the fuel which would otherwise be discharged through the exhaust, he said.

Of course when the sun is shining, the batteries are being charged so no fuel is needed and when the sun is not shining, the batteries will continue to provide stored power until it is expended.

A fourth benefit, Kidd said, was "unintended" but, nonetheless, welcome.

Soldiers in Afghanistan are using some "sophisticated" electronic equipment such as sensors and cameras "requiring high-quality power to maintain consistency in hertz and frequency," he said.

"You don’t get that (quality) when you’re connected to (diesel) generators, but you do when you’re connected to batteries. So, operational readiness rates of sensors and communications equipment have gone up dramatically wherever solar has been deployed."

A fifth benefit is that soldiers who have solar generators now have not only enough power for themselves, but enough to supply local Afghan villages, he said, and "this will help Special Forces’ public engagement and village stability missions."

Kidd said the Army intends to make this technology more widely available, not only to the operating forces, but eventually to the installations. These and other renewable energy sources systems are being tested and the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force is working to deliver these as soon as possible, he said.
"We’re on the cusp of making intelligent, informed, power management a feature on the battlefield," Kidd concluded.

Friday, December 14, 2012

U.S. Department of Defense Contracts for December 14, 2012

Contracts for December 14, 2012

Il fiume Po

Il fiume Po

SEC CHARGES NASHVILLE MAN WITH INSIDER TRADING IN TURBOCHEF TECHNOLOGIES, INC., SECURITIES

FROM: U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

On November 29, 2012, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged John H. Pamplin, Jr. of Nashville, Tennessee with insider trading in the securities of TurboChef Technologies, Inc. ("TurboChef"). According to the complaint, Pamplin was the Chief Information Officer for Atlanta-based TurboChef until March 2008, when TurboChef terminated him. Through his relationships with current and former TurboChef employees, Pamplin gained access to material nonpublic information regarding TurboChef’s pending acquisition by The Middleby Corporation of Elgin, Illinois. The SEC alleges that Pamplin repeatedly pressed several of his former coworkers for information on the progress of the proposed acquisition and, based on the information he learned, liquidated more than 6,000 shares of TurboChef common stock and used those proceeds and most of his liquid assets to buy more than $100,000 of out-of-the-money TurboChef call options with near term expirations. Pamplin’s options trading resulted in a profit of $68,000─six times the profit he would have earned had he merely held his TurboChef common shares─when the shares rose in the wake of the August 12, 2008 acquisition announcement.

The SEC’s complaint alleges that Pamplin violated Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 ("Exchange Act"), and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, which prohibit trading on the basis of material nonpublic information. The SEC is seeking permanent injunctive relief, disgorgement, prejudgment interest, and civil penalties.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

U.S. Department of Defense Armed with Science Update

U.S. Department of Defense Armed with Science Update

U.S.-YEMEN OPEN SKIES AGREEMENT

FROM: U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT

United States and Yemen Initial Open Skies Agreement
Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
December 12, 2012


Today, delegations representing the United States and the Republic of Yemen initialed the text of a U.S.-Yemen Open Skies Agreement. The Agreement, which will be applied on the basis of comity and reciprocity pending entry into force, will liberalize our bilateral aviation relationship.

This agreement facilitates the potential for expansion of air service between our two countries while continuing to safeguard aviation safety and security. As with all such agreements, several steps must be taken before foreign carriers may commence service from their home country to the United States. These steps include obtaining (from the Department of Transportation) economic authority to operate in the U.S.; the Federal Aviation Administration issuing a favorable assessment of the host country’s civil aviation authority safety oversight practices; and, timely carrier notification to the Transportation Security Administration about the new service and verification by the TSA that the carrier has adopted and implemented a TSA-accepted security program for all operations landing and taking off in the United States.

U.S.-SEYCHELLES OPEN SKIES AGREEMENT

FROM: U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT

United States of America and Seychelles Initial Open Skies Agreement
Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
December 12, 2012

 

Today, delegations representing the United States and the Seychelles initialed the text of a U.S.-Seychelles Open Skies Agreement. The Agreement, which will be applied on the basis of comity and reciprocity pending entry into force, will liberalize our bilateral aviation relationship.

This agreement will allow for the strengthening and expansion of our trade and tourism links with the Seychelles, to the benefit of American and Seychellois businesses and travelers. It will provide a basis for the expansion of air service and should encourage increased price competition by airlines, while safeguarding aviation safety and security.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

US Navy Videos: GPS

US Navy Videos

DOD Contracts for December 12, 2012

Contracts for December 12, 2012

Diabetes, 24-7

Diabetes, 24-7

FDIC INSTITUTIONS EARNED OVER $37 BILLION IN THIRD QUARTER OF 2012

FROM: U.S. FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION

FDIC-Insured Institutions Earned $37.6 Billion in the Third Quarter of 2012

Number of "Problem" Institutions Fell Below 700 for the First Time in Three Years
Commercial banks and savings institutions insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) reported aggregate net income of $37.6 billion in the third quarter of 2012, a $2.3 billion (6.6 percent) improvement from the $35.2 billion in profits the industry reported in the third quarter of 2011. This is the 13th consecutive quarter that earnings have registered a year-over-year increase. Increased noninterest income and lower provisions for loan losses accounted for most of the year-over-year improvement in earnings. Also noteworthy was a decline in the number of banks on the FDIC's "Problem List" from 732 to 694. This marked the sixth consecutive quarter that the number of "problem" banks has fallen, and the first time in three years that there have been fewer than 700 banks on the list. Total assets of "problem" institutions declined from $282 billion to $262 billion.

"This was another quarter of gradual but steady recovery for FDIC-insured institutions," said FDIC Chairman Martin J. Gruenberg. "Signs of further progress were evident in a number of indicators, such as loan growth, asset quality and profitability."

More than half of all institutions (57.5 percent) reported improvements in their quarterly net income from a year ago. Also, the share of institutions reporting net losses for the quarter fell to 10.5 percent from 14.6 percent a year earlier. The average return on assets (ROA), a basic yardstick of profitability, rose to 1.06 percent from 1.03 percent a year ago.

Third-quarter loan loss provisions totaled $14.8 billion, which was 20.6 percent less than the $18.6 billion that insured institutions set aside for losses in the third quarter of 2011. Net operating revenue (net interest income plus total noninterest income) totaled $169.6 billion, an increase of $4.9 billion (3.0 percent) from a year earlier, as gains from loan sales rose by $3.9 billion. Net interest income was $746 million (0.7 percent) higher than in the third quarter of 2011.

Asset quality indicators continued to improve as insured banks and thrifts charged off $22.3 billion in uncollectible loans during the quarter, down $4.4 billion (16.5 percent) from a year earlier. The amount of noncurrent loans and leases (those 90 days or more past due or in nonaccrual status) fell for the 10th consecutive quarter, and the percentage of loans and leases that were noncurrent declined to the lowest level in more than three years (since the first quarter of 2009).

Financial results for the third quarter of 2012 are contained in the FDIC's latest Quarterly Banking Profile, which was released today. Also among the findings:

Total loan balances increased. Loan balances posted their fifth quarterly increase in the last six quarters, rising by $64.8 billion (0.9 percent). Loans to commercial and industrial borrowers increased by $31.8 billion (2.2 percent), while residential mortgages rose by $14.5 billion (0.8 percent) and auto loans grew by $7.4 billion (2.4 percent). However, home equity lines of credit declined by $12.9 billion (2.2 percent), and real estate construction and development loans fell by $6.9 billion (3.2 percent).

"More than 55 percent of all banks reported loan growth," Chairman Gruenberg noted. "Small banks are also increasing their lending, including their loans to small businesses."

The flow of money into deposit accounts increased. Total deposits increased by $181.7 billion (1.8 percent) in the third quarter, after rising by only $61.5 billion in the second quarter and $74.7 billion in the first quarter. Deposits in domestic offices increased by $146.5 billion (1.6 percent), while deposits in foreign offices increased by $35.2 billion (2.5 percent). The amount of deposits exceeding $250,000 in noninterest-bearing transaction accounts, which have temporary unlimited coverage under the Dodd-Frank Act, increased by $110.9 billion (8.0 percent) in the third quarter after rising by $65.5 billion the previous quarter.

The number of bank failures fell for the eighth time in the last nine quarters. Twelve insured institutions failed during the third quarter. This is the smallest number of failures in a quarter since the fourth quarter of 2008, when there were also 12. An additional seven banks have failed so far in the fourth quarter, bringing the year-to-date total to 50. Through December 4, 2011, there had been 90 failures year-to-date.

The Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) balance continued to increase. The unaudited DIF balance — the net worth of the fund — rose to $25.2 billion at September 30 from $22.7 billion at the end of June. Assessment revenue and fewer expected bank failures continued to drive growth in the fund balance. The contingent loss reserve, which covers the costs of expected failures, fell from $4.0 billion to $3.6 billion during the quarter. Estimated insured deposits grew 2.3 percent in the third quarter.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

US Navy Videos

US Navy Videos

DOD Contracts for December 11, 2012

Contracts for December 11, 2012

VECTOR-BORNE DISEASES

FROM: NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
Emerging Vector-Borne Diseases Create New Public Health Challenge
Land-use change, globalization of trade and travel, and social upheaval drive emergence of diseases

Human activities are advancing the spread of vector-borne, zoonotic diseases such as West Nile virus, Lyme disease and dengue fever, report scientists publishing a series of papers today in the journal The Lancet.

Vector-borne zoonotic diseases result from disease-causing agents or pathogens that naturally infect wildlife, and are transmitted to humans by carriers such as mosquitoes and ticks. In short, they're diseases transmitted between animals and humans.

Widespread land-use change, globalization of trade and travel, and social upheaval are driving the emergence of zoonotic diseases around the world, said biologist Marm Kilpatrick, who studies the ecology of infectious diseases at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Kilpatrick co-authored one of several papers in The Lancet, along with Sarah Randolph of the University of Oxford. The Lancet papers are part of a special series in the journal focused on emerging zoonotic diseases.

"Increasing human population, and the urbanization and agricultural intensification of landscapes, put strong selective pressure on vector-borne pathogens to infect humans--and to be transmitted by vectors and hosts that live around humans," Kilpatrick said.

"Humans are altering the environment and moving ourselves and other organisms around the globe at an ever-increasing pace," said Sam Scheiner, a program director for the Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases (EEID) program at the National Science Foundation. "Our fast-track has led to a growing disease threat."

EEID is a joint effort with NSF and the National Institutes of Health. At NSF, the Directorate for Biological Sciences and Directorate for Geosciences fund the program.

EEID funded much of the research discussed in The Lancet papers. "These papers show how and why zoonotic diseases are emerging, and what we need to know to ease the disease burden," said Scheiner.

The papers "offer a bridge between ecologists and clinicians whose combined efforts are needed to address the ongoing challenges of emerging zoonotic diseases," said Kilpatrick.

Added scientist Peter Daszak, president of the EcoHealth Alliance in New York City and author of a paper in the series, "Pandemic zoonoses such as SARS, Ebola and HIV/AIDS are devastating when they emerge. What this series shows is that we have new ways of predicting their origins, of discovering them even before they reach our population--truly a brave new world for pandemic prevention."

There are roughly two types of emerging infectious diseases: introduced and locally emerging.

Introduced diseases arise from the spread of a pathogen to a new location, as when West Nile virus arrived in New York in 1999 and subsequently spread across North America.

Locally emerging diseases increase in importance in areas where they are endemic, as with Lyme disease in the United States during the past three decades.

These two types of emerging diseases can differ markedly with respect to infection dynamics or the number of cases over time, Kilpatrick said.

"Introduced diseases often cause a big spike in infections, and then decrease substantially. Locally emerging diseases often show a steady, sustained rise."

The movement of pathogens by global trade and travel results in the emergence of diseases in new regions.

Once established, introduced pathogens often evolve to take advantage of their new environments, including new hosts and vectors.

With much of the landscape shaped by human activities, pathogens may thrive by infecting hosts and vectors that do well in man-made environments.

Emergence of endemic vector-borne diseases can result from changes in land use, such as movement of people into new habitats, or environmental changes that affect wild animals that serve as natural hosts--and the insect vectors that spread the disease to humans.

Although vector-borne diseases are sensitive to climate, climate change does not appear to be a major driving force behind emerging diseases.

"So far, climate change has been a relatively minor player compared to land use and socioeconomic factors in the emergence of vector-borne disease," Kilpatrick said.

Social and economic changes, ranging from economic downturns to displacement of populations by armed conflict, frequently precipitate disease outbreaks through their effects on public health systems, sanitation systems, behavioral patterns and uses of natural environmental resources.

The incidence of any vector-borne disease involves a complex interplay of multiple factors affecting animal hosts, vectors and people.

Kilpatrick and Randolph emphasize that control of these diseases requires combined efforts by clinicians and public health officials to treat patients; promote behavior likely to minimize the risk of infection; and advise on efforts to reverse the ecological drivers of transmission through vector control, urban planning and ecological restoration.

The Lancet papers are published ahead of a special 20th anniversary symposium to be held on Dec. 11 and 12, 2012, in Washington, D.C.

The symposium is hosted by the National Academies' Institute of Medicine's Forum on Microbial Threats. The symposium will take a retrospective look at the Institute of Medicine's 1992 report on Emerging Infections and its 2003 report on Microbial Threats to Health, as well as its creation of the forum in 1996.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Parachute

Parachute

DEFENSE LOGISTICTS 2012 PANEL DISCUSSION

FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Officials Laud Defense Transportation, Distribution Collaboration Efforts
By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2012 – In a panel discussion at Defense Logistics 2012, Donald Stanton, assistant secretary of defense for transportation policy, and leaders from U.S. Transportation Command and Defense Logistics Agency lauded combined cost-saving efforts of inter-service, inter-agency and industry partners.

Stanton said coordination with the joint staff and services, combatant commands, and agencies including the State Department, the office of logistics management, the Federal Aviation Administration and Maritime Administration has resulted in the development of key efficiencies programs.

"One of the most important things we do is work directly with Transcom on maintaining the health and viability of the civil reserve air fleet and the voluntary intermodal sealift agreement," Stanton said. "We’re leaving no stone unturned in the interagency process … for ways for us to look out for more cargoes for our colleagues in the VISA and CRAF programs."

The CRAF, according to Stanton, consists of 29 carriers and 352 wide bodies, while VISA is comprised of 54 companies, 130 ships and mariners who can provide emergency response.

Stanton explained that efficiency initiatives include developing the maritime security program, strategic ports, defense transportation coordination, and the surface transportation strategy working group.

Cost-sharing with organizations such as the State Department, U.S. Postal Service and the Defense Department has unearthed significant government-wide efficiencies, Stanton said.

"When it makes sense, we will try to combine our operations," Stanton said.

Other measures include improvements to the container management program, approval for operational support aircraft and the space-available policy, he added.

Stanton also shared the successes of the President’s campaign to cut waste.

"This is an effort to look at the use of military aircraft or non-tactical vehicles for executive transportation and make sure we’re not using more than we need," Stanton said. "There are quarterly reports that have to be done in order to try and save the taxpayers money."

Stanton also noted that Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta’s vision involves not only cost-savings, but accountability, as outlined in the financial improvement audit readiness program.

"The secretary of defense is committed to making all defense programs corporate audit ready," Stanton said. "Starting in 2014 some will be transitioned over, and by 2016 everybody will be in this new audit standard."

The benefits that stem from collaboration efforts across the enterprise are visible and significant, Stanton said.

"It shows that the DOD is really trying … to reach out and do efficiencies for the department itself, but also to help our CRAF and VISA readiness partners," Stanton said.

Transcom Rear Adm. William Brown, director of strategy, policy, programs and logistics directorate, said the synergies and elimination of duplication efforts to provide the best transportation services and value extend beyond combat missions to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief contingencies.

The admiral praised the collaborative development of a global campaign plan for distribution that coordinates the activities of combatant commands, services, defense agencies, coalition partners, agencies and the commercial sector.

"It’s a collaborative effort of all the distribution enterprise … the transporters, processes that go into the system, the policies," Brown said. "The idea is to assess the plans and then assess the vulnerabilities in our global distribution network."

As technology drives the logistics and transportation realms to a faster decision cycle, collaboration will be more vital than ever, said Brig. Gen. Susan Davidson DLA Distribution, Logistics Operations commander.

"It really is always about getting the things to the war fighters on time, whether it’s war fighting in pumping water out of tunnels in New York City or war fighting with trigger pullers in any kind of theater," Davidson said. "You can get it fast, you can get it cheap or you can get it good -- pick two; we have to do all three."


Sunday, December 9, 2012

U.S. Department of Defense Armed with Science Update

U.S. Department of Defense Armed with Science Update

THE U.S. SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION APPROVES OVER $42 MILLION IN DISASTER LAOANS IN NEW JERSEY

FROM: U.S. FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY

Over $42 Million In Disaster Loans Approved In New Jersey, SBA Urges Submission Of Applications Before December 31 Deadline

TRENTON, N.J. -- The U.S. Small Business Administration has approved over $42.3 million in disaster assistance loans for 653 New Jersey residents and businesses affected by Hurricane Sandy. The deadline to apply for physical damage is December 31, 2012. Those affected by the disaster are encouraged to apply now and may apply for disaster loans electronically from SBA’s website at
https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.

Applicants do not have to wait for insurance to be settled before applying. No one is obligated to take a loan if it is offered, but if you don’t accept a loan, you may not be eligible for FEMA’s Other Needs Assistance. However, it is important for businesses and residents to maximize their recovery resources and take time to submit their SBA disaster applications before the December 31 deadline.

SBA offers the following types of low-interest, long-term loans to cover uninsured losses:

Home Disaster Loans: to homeowners to repair disaster-damaged real estate and replace damaged contents. Renters are also eligible for their contents loss.

Business Physical Disaster Loans: to businesses to repair disaster-damaged property and repair/replace damaged business contents including inventory, machinery and equipment. Businesses of any size are eligible. Private, non-profit organizations such as charities, churches, etc., are also eligible.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs): to help small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes meet their ordinary financial obligations that cannot be met as a direct result of the disaster.

Interest rates are as low as 1.688 percent for homeowners and renters, 3 percent for non-profit organizations and 4 percent for businesses with terms up to 30 years.

The filing deadline to return applications for physical damage is December 31, 2012. The deadline to return economic injury applications is July 31, 2013.

SBA customer service representatives are available at all Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) throughout the state and at the ten Business Recovery Centers (BRCs) in Atlantic City, Hackensack, Cape May, Newark, Jersey City, Piscataway, Lincroft, Manahawkin, Paterson and Plainfield.

SBA’s partners including counselors with the New Jersey Small Business Development Center (NJSBDC), SCORE, SBA Women’s Business Center and SBA’s Veteran’s Business Outreach Center are available to help business owners prepare needed financial information at no charge.

Details on the locations of Centers and the loan application process can be obtained by calling the SBA Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955, TTY 800-877-8339 or by sending an email to
disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

Loan applications can be downloaded from www.sba.gov. Completed applications should be mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

DVIDS - Video - Joint Press Conference

DVIDS - Video - Joint Press Conference

Weekly Address: Congress Must Extend the Middle Class Tax Cuts | The White House

Weekly Address: Congress Must Extend the Middle Class Tax Cuts | The White House

U.S. PACIFIC COMMAND WANTS COLLABORATION AND TO AVOID CONFRONTATION

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE 

Pacific Command Seeks Collaboration, not Confrontation
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2012 - The United States would like China to be a constructive influence on the world stage, and the U.S. Pacific Command is stressing cooperation and collaboration, not confrontation, in the region, Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III said here today.

The admiral, the commander of U.S. Pacific Command, said the command is moving forward on the U.S. move to rebalance forces to the Pacific.

"The rebalance draws on the strengths of the entire U.S. government, including policy, diplomacy, trade and, of course, security," Locklear said during a Pentagon news conference.

The rebalance is not aimed at any one nation or region, the admiral said. The strategy underscores that the United States is and will remain a Pacific power.

Locklear stressed that rebalancing is not so much about equipment or troops -- although they play a part -- but about relationships. Rebalancing to the Pacific came from the defense strategic guidance released in January. Pacom's mission is to strengthen relationships in the region, adjust U.S. military posture and presence, and employ new concepts, capabilities and capacities.

This will "ensure that we continue to effectively and efficiently contribute to the stability and security of the Asia-Pacific as we protect U.S. national interest," the admiral said. "The keys to success will be innovative access agreements, greatly increased exercises, rotational presence increases and efficient force posture initiatives that will maximize the dollars that we are given to spend."

China is increasingly asserting itself in the region, but the admiral said he has good relations with Chinese leaders. China has undergone a power transfer and the Peoples' Liberation Army has new commanders.

There are territorial disputes between China and other nations in the South China Sea and the East China Sea. Locklear reiterated the U.S. position on these disputes. He said America does not take sides but does want to see issues resolved peacefully.

"We call on all the parties there, including the Chinese, to ensure that, as they approach these problems, that they do so in a way that avoids conflict, that avoids miscalculation, that uses the vehicles available today through diplomacy and through those legal forums that allow them to get to reasonable solutions on these without resorting to coercion or conflict," the admiral said.

In addition to asserting what it believes is its role in the region, China has also embarked on an effort to modernize its military. The latest indicator was the landing of a naval variant of the J-15 jet on Beijing's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.

"If I were China and I was in the economic position that China is in and I was in a position of where I have to look after my global security interests, I would consider building an aircraft carrier, and I might consider building several aircraft carriers," Locklear said.

It's not so much having such a military capability, but what China does with it that concerns the admiral.

Aircraft carriers have a role in maintaining the peace. "If the issue is that [the Chinese] are not part of that global security environment, then I think we have to be concerned about [Chinese aircraft carriers]," Locklear said.

India is another rising world power and Pacom is working closely with the government there to cement the military relationship between the world's two largest democracies.

"We very much support India taking a leadership in the security issues in and around the Indian Ocean," the admiral said. "We are looking for opportunities to participate and interoperate with them where we can."

JURY HAS GUILTY VERDICT FOR INVESTMENT ADVISER AND HIS FIRM

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

Jury Returns Verdict of Liability Against Massachusetts Investment Adviser and his Advisory Firm

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced that, on November 26, 2012, a federal court jury in Boston, Massachusetts returned a verdict of securities fraud liability against registered investment adviser EagleEye Asset Management, LLC, and its sole principal, Jeffrey A. Liskov, both of Plymouth, MA, in connection their fraudulent conduct toward advisory clients. The trial was presided over by U.S. District Court Judge William G. Young.

In its complaint, the Commission alleged that, between at least November 2008 and August 2010, Liskov made material misrepresentations to at least six advisory clients to induce them to liquidate investments in securities and instead invest the proceeds in foreign currency exchange ("forex") trading. The forex investments, which were not suitable for older clients with conservative investment goals, resulted in steep losses for clients, totaling nearly $4 million, but EagleEye and Liskov came away with over $300,000 in performance fees, in addition to other management fees they collected from clients. Liskov’s strategy was to generate temporary profits on client forex investments to enable him to collect performance fees, after which client investments invariably would sharply decline in value. According to the Commission’s complaint, Liskov made material misrepresentations or failed to disclose material information to clients concerning the nature of forex investments, the risks involved, and his poor track record in forex trading for himself and other clients. The Commission’s complaint further alleged that, in the case of two clients, without their knowledge or consent, Liskov liquidated securities in their brokerage accounts and transferred the proceeds to their forex trading accounts where he lost nearly all client funds, but not before first collecting performance fees for EagleEye (and ultimately himself) on short-lived profits in the clients’ forex accounts. The complaint alleged that Liskov accomplished the unauthorized transfers by doctoring asset transfer forms. On several occasions, Liskov took old forms signed by the clients and used "white out" correction fluid to change dates, asset transfer amounts, and other data. Liskov also used similar tactics to open multiple forex trading accounts in the name of one client, thereby maximizing his ability to earn performance fees for EagleEye (and ultimately himself) on the client’s investments, all without disclosing this to the client or obtaining the client’s consent. The Commission alleged that, as a result of this conduct, EagleEye and Liskov violated Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder and Sections 206(1) and 206(2) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. The Commission also alleged that EagleEye failed to maintain certain books and records required of investment advisers in violation of Section 204 of the Advisers Act and Rule 204-2 thereunder, and that Liskov aided and abetted EagleEye’s violations of these provisions.

After an eight day trial, the jury deliberated for approximately four hours before rendering its verdict of liability against Liskov and EagleEye under Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5 thereunder as to four clients and under Section 206(1) of the Advisers Act as to five clients. The Court will decide the Commission’s claims under Section 204 of the Advisers Act and Rule 204-2 thereunder and will hold a hearing on the Commission’s request for injunctive relief, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains plus prejudgment interest thereon, and the imposition of a monetary penalty against both EagleEye and Liskov, based on the jury’s verdict. The case was tried by Deena Bernstein and Naomi Sevilla of the Commission’s Boston Regional Office.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The leading cause

The leading cause

JUDGE REMOVED FROM HASAN CASE

FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Military Judge Removed From Hasan Court-martial
From a Fort Hood News Release

FORT HOOD, Texas, Dec. 4, 2012 - Citing the appearance of bias, the highest military appellate court yesterday ordered the removal of Army Col. Gregory Gross as trial judge in the court-martial of an Army psychiatrist accused in a November 2009 shooting spree at a deployment center here.

Maj. Nidal M. Hasan is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder.

The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, which sits in Washington, D.C., said in its 10-page opinion that because of a variety of factors, a reasonable person "would harbor doubts about the military judge's impartiality." The court did not say that the trial judge was actually biased, officials noted, but instead ordered the removal for the appearance of bias. The court also set aside the six previous contempt convictions against Hasan, who has refused orders from Gross to shave his beard and conform with Army grooming standards in the courtroom, though it did not issue a ruling on whether Hasan has a right to wear his beard under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

A new trial judge will be detailed to the court-martial and will decide on the matter when the case goes back on the record in open court.

NYU Medical Center Receives $114 Million

NYU Medical Center Receives $114 Million