BMW ( 15V148000 )

Dated: MAR 12, 2015 BMW of North America, LLC (BMW) is recalling certain model year 2015 428i Convertible, 428i xDrive Convertible, 435i Convertible, and 435i xDrive Convertible vehicles manufactured October 22, 2014, to…

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Dated: MAR 12, 2015 Hyundai Translead (HT) is recalling certain model year 2014-2015 Original, Composite, Composite XT, HyCube and Dolly trailers manufactured January 1, 2014, to December 31, 2014 equipped with certain H…

Road Conditions for Remote Trailheads – date posted Mar 30, 2015

After heavy summer rain (July and August) or winter snow (December through March), expect impassable backcountry roads. If clear skies abound after the rain or snow, then it is often just a matter of days until the sun dries everything out. Sometimes, heavy rain or melting snow can lead to flooding, which can cause erosion of the roadbed and can delay access. Snow accumulations have been very low in 2013/2014, so lower elevation dirt roads may be accessible.

Other considerations for visitors travelling on remote backcountry roads include high clearance, such as may be needed on Forest Road 328 to South Bass Trailhead (limestone ledges) and on the final approach to Toroweap overlook (sandstone knobs and ledges).

Finally, consider elevation of the road that you will be travelling on, especially during the winter months. Roads in the 6,500 to 8,000 foot range may be impassable due to a snowpack, where lower elevations roads (below 6,000 feet) will see deteriorated road conditions due to rain.

Always check road conditions with the Backcountry Information Center before heading out to remote trailheads, tell someone where you are going and when you will be back, and be adaptable and prepared for the worst. High clearance, four-wheel drive is usually recommended for roads to remote trailheads.

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It is not uncommon for trees to fall and block access to remote trailheads. When you encounter a road blocked by fallen trees, what should you do?

  • Report the location and diameter of the tree to Grand Canyon park dispatch (928-638-7805) as soon as possible. The park will assign staff to clear the road.
  • If an appropriate (not blocking the road and not damaging vegetation) place to park is available, park your vehicle and continue to the trailhead on foot.
  • Do not drive off-road attempting to bypass the obstacle, doing so can cause resource damage.

Drinking Water outside the Cross-Canyon Corridor – date posted Mar 30, 2015

Hikers should make every effort to obtain recent confirmation of water availability and become familiar with routes to the river before starting any hike. Contact the Backcountry Information Center for recent water reports.

Water available (year-round) on the South Rim at the Backcountry Information Center in the lobby and at Hermits Rest (near the other public amenities). Water available (year-round) on the North Rim outside the Backcountry Information Center.

Additional water bottle filling stations can be found on the Go “Green” and Refill Your Water Bottles web page.

Portion of Pipeline at Phantom Ranch to be Replaced – date posted Mar 30, 2015

Grand Canyon National Park will begin replacing a portion of the Trans-Canyon Pipeline at Phantom Ranch beginning on Monday, January 26, 2015. It is currently anticipated that construction will be complete by the end of July 2015. During this time period all hikers and backcountry users should expect to encounter detours, possible delays, and closures while traveling near the construction zone. Visitors should follow all posted signs, detour routes, and verbal instructions of personnel on-site.

Hikers and backcountry users should be prepared treat creek water while in the inner canyon. Construction will require intermittent shutdown of the pipeline temporarily shutting down the drinking water system along the corridor trails. All hikers should check in at the Backcountry Information Center, prior to starting their hikes, for up-to-date information on trail conditions, construction detours, and water availability.

Phantom Ranch, the Cantina, and the Bright Angel Campground will all remain open during construction. Visitors to the Phantom Ranch area should be aware that work may take place between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. on any day of the week. Moderate daytime noise and dust impacts are expected due to the construction activities and associate equipment use.

Individuals who have campground reservations and have questions about impacts of construction work on their trip should contact the Backcountry Information Center at 928-638-7875. Guests with advance reservations at Phantom Ranch should contact the Xanterra Central Reservations at 1-888-297-2757 with any questions about their reservations.

(more info)

Drinking Water in the Cross-Canyon Corridor – date posted Mar 30, 2015

Grand Canyon National Park will begin replacing a portion of the Trans-Canyon Pipeline at Phantom Ranch beginning on Monday, January 26, 2015. It is currently anticipated that construction will be complete by the end of July 2015. Read the section titled "Portion of Trans-Canyon Pipeline at Phantom Ranch to be Replaced" on this page for more info.

Purified drinking water is usually available year-round at Bright Angel and Indian Garden Campgrounds and at Bright Angel and South Kaibab trailheads.

Grand Canyon’s water supply comes from Roaring Springs, a natural spring located approximately 3,500 feet below the North Rim. Water is delivered via an aging pipeline that suffers multiple breaks a year. When the pipeline breaks, water stops flowing to the North and South Rims and sites along the way. Although large storage tanks provide ample water to rim locations, while the pipeline is being repaired water may or may not be available below the rim in the cross-canyon Corridor. Please remember, when hiking below the rim a method to treat water must always be part of your hiking gear.

The list below shows if water has been turned on or off for the season (if the pipeline is undergoing repairs water may be off temporarily)

  • North Kaibab Trailhead: water turned OFF
  • Supai Tunnel: water turned OFF
  • Roaring Springs Day Use Area: water turned OFF
  • Pumphouse Rest Area: water turned ON
  • Cottonwood Campground: water turned OFF
  • Bright Angel Campground: ON year-round
  • Plateau Point: water turned OFF
  • Indian Garden: ON year-round
  • Bright Angel Trail, Three-Mile Resthouse: water turned OFF
  • Bright Angel Trail, Mile-and-a-Half Resthouse: water turned OFF
  • Bright Angel Trailhead: ON year-round
  • South Kaibab Trailhead: ON year-round

Seasonal water stations are usually turned off for the winter sometime between Oct 10th and 30th dependent on location and associated temperatures.

Water available (year-round) on the South Rim at the Backcountry Information Center in the lobby. Water available (year-round) on the North Rim outside the Backcountry Information Center. Additional water bottle filling stations can be found on the Go “Green” and Refill Your Water Bottles web page.

Plan Ahead and Prepare: A backup method to treat water, should the pipeline break, must always be included as part of your hiking gear. Backcountry hikers should always carry extra water.

Report from the North Rim – date posted Mar 30, 2015

The North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park is closed for the season. Arizona State Route 67, leading to the North Rim closed on December 1, 2014. State Route 67 and all services on the North Rim are expected to re-open for the 2015 season on May 15, 2015.

The North Rim campground and yurt will still be available for winter camping and are accessible via inner canyon trails from the South Rim or by cross-country skiing and snowshoeing- a 45 mile trip from Jacob Lake. To stay at the North Rim during the winter months, visitors will need a backcountry permit, which can be obtained from the Backcountry Information Center located at the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. Permit requests can be faxed year-round to (928) 638-2125. Backcountry permits for North Rim winter camping are also available at Pipe Springs National Monument in Fredonia, Arizona and the Bureau of Land Management Interagency Visitor Center in St. George, Utah.

Trails Update – date posted Mar 30, 2015

Hiking the Corridor? Be sure to visit the Trail Courtesy Practices That Leave No Trace webpage.

Hikers without a permit can stop by the Backcountry Information Center to request a last minute permit. Last minute permits and waitlist numbers are issued by the Backcountry Information Center, located inside the park. The South Rim Backcountry Information Center is open daily, year round, for walk-in visitors from 8 am to noon and 1-5 pm Mountain Standard Time. The North Rim Backcountry Information Center is open daily from mid-May to October 31 for walk-in visitors from 8 am to noon and 1-5 pm Mountain Standard Time.

Organized Group Rim-to-Rim and Extended Day Hike/Run: Any organized, noncommercial, group conducting rim-to-rim and extended day hiking and running, including rim-to-river-to-rim, and rim-to-rim-to-rim in the inner canyon is required to obtain a Special Use Permit from Grand Canyon National Park. The inner canyon is defined as the area below the Tonto Platform (Tipoff and Indian Garden) from the South Rim and below Manzanita Resthouse (Pumphouse Residence) from the North Rim. Any group, regardless of size, which has advertised to the general public, required individuals to sign up prior to participation, or that has an organizer who has been compensated for their services (including subsidized participation in the activity), is required to operate under a Special Use Permit. For more information visit www.nps.gov/grca/parkmgmt/sup.htm

Daily Press Briefings : Daily Press Briefing – March 30, 2015

Marie Harf
Acting Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
March 30, 2015

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Index for Today’s Briefing

TRANSCRIPT:


1:22 p.m. EDT

MS. HARF: Thank you so much and thank you, everyone, for joining the phone briefing today. I hope everyone can hear me. If you can’t, let me know when you ask your question. We used to do these – folks remember – back when I did the Iran talks in Vienna. So thank you for being flexible with us given schedules this week.

Just a quick travel update: No surprise where the Secretary is, as you know, in Lausanne, Switzerland, with Under Secretary Sherman, Energy Secretary Moniz, and the whole negotiating team, meeting with our P5+1 partners and the Iranians to see if we can get a political understanding. The deadline is obviously tomorrow at the end of the day, so I think these next 36 hours are going to be fairly busy ones for all of us – I’m sure all of you as well.

I don’t have much other to say at the top, so if someone wants to go ahead and get us started – it looks like the first question is fittingly from the Associated Press, from Brad Klapper. Go ahead, Brad.

QUESTION: Thanks, Marie. Congratulations on your new title as well. Can you just give us an update on some of the various reports regarding the Iran talks that have come out in the last few days? We just really haven’t had a chance to talk about some of them: One, the issue of enrichment, of the enriched stockpiles that may or may not be shipped out of the country, how much of a setback would it be if Iran refuses to not send that to Russia. And then some of the issues regarding PMDs, Fordow – how confident are you that the parameters of a good deal are still being met?

MS. HARF: Okay. Let me take all of those, and if I forget, I’m sure you’ll follow up. First, on the stockpile question, I’ve talked about this a little bit today already in a couple interviews, but the bottom line is we don’t have agreement on the Iranians – with the Iranians on the stockpile issue. This is still one of the outstanding issues. And the point for us – what’s important to us is that we can get agreement about the path for them to basically get rid of a large part of their stockpile so that the remaining stockpile, when put together with the number of centrifuges, the type of centrifuges, all of the different parts of the equation, gets us to a year breakout time.

So there were a couple things sort of blatantly wrong with that story this morning. First, there had been no agreement up until this point about what the disposition of that stockpile would be. The story said that there was sort of a last-minute – in the last 24 hours – change away from what had already been agreed to. That’s just not true. There hadn’t been an agreement yet. For months, we’ve been talking with Iran about the different ways they can get rid of that stockpile. One is, obviously, dilution in country, as they’ve been doing under the JPOA. One is shipping it overseas. There are others.

But this notion that in the last 24 hours that somehow there’s been a shift in this issue, sort of a hardening of positions, just isn’t true. It’s not accurate with what’s happening inside the negotiating room. This is a remaining issue that we have to resolve but hasn’t, quite honestly, been one of the toughest ones. And so this story was just off on a number of fronts there.

So this is one we have to resolve but we haven’t yet. There’s a number of different ways we can do so. You don’t have to ship it out of the country to get to a year breakout time. You can have some other dispositions for it that get us where we need to be in terms of our bottom line.

QUESTION: Okay. And then –

MS. HARF: What else? We talked about –

QUESTION: — I think the PMDs and Fordow were kind of two of the other stories that had come up recently.

MS. HARF: So on Fordow, we obviously don’t comment on sort of reports about specifics things that are being discussed inside the room except for very generally. But what we’ve always said about Fordow is it needs to be – it cannot be used to help enrich uranium that could be used for a nuclear weapon. You have to cut off that uranium pathway, that it will have to be converted into something that can’t. So what that looks like we still don’t know.

QUESTION: Mm-hmm.

MS. HARF: But that sort of what we’ve always said. Obviously, that’s still a topic of negotiation.

On PMD, that’s obviously a big area of concern for us as well. We’re working through that issue. I don’t have much else to say about that publicly at this point. Did you have other questions that I –

QUESTION: Yeah. I have just a couple more. I’m not going to do the extended back and forth just because the format’s difficult, I think, for everyone, and thank you that you’re doing this.

Just – is there any talk about a possibility of extension at this point or is midnight tomorrow, I assume Swiss time, the time it has to be agreed?

MS. HARF: Did everyone know that the Swiss actually had – fell back this week, as well? So we have now lost – leaped forward, excuse me – so we’ve lost two hours of time. I just want everyone to know that – here in Switzerland. We had to do it in the U.S. and here. But we’ve said that March 31st is a deadline; it has to mean something and the decisions don’t get easier after March 31st. And so that’s what we’re focused on right now. If we can’t get to an understanding by tomorrow night, we have to look at the path forward and where we are. We’ll make decisions then. I really don’t want to guess about – I mean, honestly, so much can change in the next 36 hours. I don’t want to guess.

But I would remind people that the JPOA, the conditions of it were extended – at the last extension time until the end of June. So on April 1st it’s not like something happens, right, because it’s already been extended until the end of June in terms of the JPOA and it’s still being enforced. I just want to make that technical point, but obviously we will have to look at where we are and see what it looks like and make decisions.

QUESTION: Okay. And then last one: Do you have any comment on the trips – well, the trip already by the Senate majority leader and the upcoming one by the Speaker of the House to Israel? The timing is a bit curious, perhaps. And are you concerned at all about them speaking against your efforts in a foreign country at the time you may or may not be agreeing to a framework nuclear agreement?

MS. HARF: Well, quite honestly, Brad, we’ve been so busy here at these talks, I haven’t been able to pay too much attention to the details of their congressional delegations and what actually is happening with them. But I would say, obviously, in general we support the concept of congressional delegations. It’s important for members of Congress to get out and see the world and talk to our international partners as well. I think in general the U.S. is strongest overseas when we leave politics at the water’s edge and we speak with one voice, even though we disagree on policy sometimes. But quite honestly, I just – I really haven’t been paying too much attention to it.

Look, we’ve said if we can get an agreement, it’s one we know we can defend publicly. I don’t think it’s any secret what some members of Congress or others feel about these negotiations. That’s certainly nothing new. But what we’re focused on here is the talks.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Let’s go to Matt Lee, your esteemed colleague, and then we’ll move away from the Associated Press.

QUESTION: I have a very – my question is very, very short: When are we going home?

MS. HARF: (Inaudible) heard that before, Matt.

QUESTION: That’s it. That’s my only question.

MS. HARF: What did you say? I didn’t hear your question.

QUESTION: When are we going home? (Laughter.)

MS. HARF: I would love to know that answer as much as you would, Matt. We’re going to be here, I think, through tomorrow to see if we can get this done tomorrow, but beyond that, I am being completely honest here: We do not know. I would love (inaudible).

QUESTION: Okay. That’s all I have.

MS. HARF: Great question, Matt. Let’s go to Jo Biddle with AFP.

QUESTION: Hang on a second, I’ve got – where’s the – hello? Can you hear me, or am I on speaker? Can you hear me?

MS. HARF: We can hear you. Speak up a little, Jo.

QUESTION: Okay. Thanks, Marie. I had a couple of questions, quite brief ones. Were you surprised that Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov left this afternoon, less than 24 hours after he came? Does that hamper what you’re trying to do going forward?

MS. HARF: Let’s start there. I don’t think so, honestly. The ministers have come as their schedules allowed, and I think his spokesperson said that he can come back tomorrow. So we are pushing forward to see if we can get this done. He was very helpful when he was here. His experts are still here as well, and their political director, Sergei Ryabkov, and they’ve been a key part of this and certainly bring a lot of expertise. So I don’t think people should read too much into that, but he has said he can come back tomorrow, so –

QUESTION: And I had another question. In your calculations as you think about this going forward, is it better for you to stay here and keep negotiating beyond the deadline if you think you can get something in the next couple of days, or is it better for you – the American delegation – to walk away on the 31st of March, bearing in mind, obviously, the political tensions with the Republicans?

MS. HARF: It’s a great question, Jo, and I wish I could answer it. I really think that we just don’t know where we’re going to be at this time tomorrow, quite honestly, and so we will really have to see tactically and strategically what makes the most sense going forward. I think we will know a lot more at this time tomorrow, probably.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

MS. HARF: Let’s go to Arshad from Reuters. Go ahead, Arshad.

QUESTION: Hi, Marie. There have been a couple of somewhat optimistic public comments lately, one from Foreign Minister Lavrov, who used the word “optimism.” “The main thing that causes optimism is the determination of all ministers to achieve results within the current session,” he said. And –

MS. HARF: I think he also said, “I’m not paid to be optimistic,” as well.

QUESTION: Yes, right, which makes it interesting that he used the word at all.

MS. HARF: It’s because that’s what the reporter said at the spray.

QUESTION: Can I finish? And the Chinese also had a somewhat upbeat assessment about gaps being narrowed. Do you share those assessments, that the gaps are getting smaller and that there’s any reason for optimism here?

MS. HARF: Well, I don’t think that Foreign Minister Lavrov said he was optimistic, and certainly Secretary Kerry did not either. I think we are working hard. There are some big issues that we are not there yet. So I think it’s always fair to say we narrow gaps on some issues, but if we can’t get those last ones done, we can’t get there.

QUESTION: Thanks.

MS. HARF: Let’s go to Joy Lin of Fox News.

QUESTION: Hi there. Thanks for taking our question. There’s speculation Iran is maintaining nuclear facilities outside its borders in North Korea or some other location. Can you at least rule out that possibility?

MS. HARF: I’m sorry, you’re asking if Iran has nuclear facilities in North Korea?

QUESTION: Outside its borders, whether – outside its borders. Let’s start there.

MS. HARF: Whether another country would let Iran build a nuclear facility on its soil? That seems like a –

QUESTION: That’s the speculation.

MS. HARF: — bizarre proposition that I haven’t heard anyone mention.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

MS. HARF: Seems sort of bizarre. I’m happy to look into it if you have more specifics, but that seems fairly unlikely.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Okay, Mike Lavers of the Washington Blade, go ahead

QUESTION: Hi, thank you so much for your – for organizing this, and congratulations again on your new appointment. I wanted to ask a question about Jamaica, if I could. Last week there were LGBT rights advocates who heckled the Jamaican prime minister in New York over what they perceive is your lack of response to LGBT rights abuses on the island. This was a report that a gay teenager was stoned to death. I’m curious if the Secretary is (a) planning to travel to Jamaica with the President on April 9th to attend the Caribbean Community meeting; and then (b), if he is, is he planning on discussing the LGBT rights with the prime minister while in Jamaica?

MS. HARF: Yeah, it’s a great question, Mike, and thanks for it. At this point, the Secretary is not planning to go with the President. Our schedule is obviously very in flux, as I know you know, and we will be going to Summit of the Americas, which I think is right after the President’s trip. So at this point, no scheduled travel. I can check with our team though and see if (inaudible) in any way or if we have concerns, obviously, which I imagine we may. So let me see more broadly if there’s more specifics we can get you. But in terms of the Secretary, at this point, no plans to travel.

Our next question is from Pam Dockins of Voice of America.

QUESTION: Marie, hi. Thank you so much. I have two questions. First of all, a question about the 31st deadline. There have been some reports that the 31st is really more of a hard deadline for the United States and not so much for the other P5+1 negotiators and Iran; the U.S. is focused on it because of possible congressional reaction. Would you agree with that assessment? And then secondly, do the other negotiators there perhaps not feel as strongly as the U.S. does about reaching some sort of agreement by tomorrow evening?

And then secondly, if I could get your reaction to the creation of this joint Arab military force. This came out of the Arab League meeting, of course, over the weekend, and these are U.S. allies. And in particular, could this perhaps cause strain between the U.S. and Iran at a time when you’re trying to negotiate this nuclear agreement?

MS. HARF: Yes. So taking the first question first – and let me know if I miss anything – the 31st we have said is a deadline. And when we announced the second extension last November with – alongside our P5+1 partners and Iran in that joint statement, all of us said that the goal was to reach a political understanding by the end of March and use the last four – or excuse me, three months to finish the annexes and all the technical work. So all of our partners signed up to the notion that the goal was to have an earlier deadline as really an action-forcing mechanism. We’ve all seen through the way negotiations often play out, many decisions get made towards the end as there is some pressure. And so I think all of us felt like that was a good premise upon which to base the schedule for the negotiations after the last extension.

I think it’s no secret that Congress, our Congress certainly, is interested in acting, and we have obviously said we’re very opposed to that action. That puts sort of an additional pressure on our side. But I do think in general, we and our P5+1 partners agree that the decisions for Iran don’t get easier the more you wait – we’ve all said that, and that now is really the time to make these decisions. We’ve been negotiating since September of 2013 when the Secretary met with Foreign Minister Zarif at UNGA, and it’s sort of time to see whether they can make these decisions. And that’s what we’re focused on, obviously, today. But that being said, we aren’t going to rush to accept a bad deal. And so if we can’t get a good deal, we won’t take one, pure and simple. I think we’ve all been clear about that.

On the joint force, obviously we’ve seen the announcement, are aware of the proposal. I understand the details are still being sort of developed for how this might work. I think the precise structure and operational mandate of the new force will be worked out in the coming months, is my understanding. I think we’ll probably wait to see what shape that takes.

We, as the U.S., obviously have significant security cooperation and support to our partners in the region, so we’re obviously involved separately from this new force with our partners there. And in terms of the talks here, we have been very clear that we need to keep regional issues separate from the nuclear issue and this really has to be focused on the nuclear issue. That issue is a difficult enough one on its own; that’s why we’re focused on that here. And what’s happening in the rest of the region hasn’t impacted those talks.

Okay, Molly O’Toole from Defense One.

QUESTION: Hi. You touched on this briefly, but if I could just kind of follow up. So two parts here. There has been some reporting, particularly with The Wall Street Journal article this morning, that the Administration is expressing some openness to a mechanism by which Congress could weigh in on a deal if an outline is reached. Has there been any shift in that position? I know, obviously, there was the statement that the Kirk-Menendez legislation would be vetoed, but has there been any kind of shift in conversations in recent days with Congress about allowing them to weigh in in some way?

MS. HARF: A couple points. The White House has said the President would veto either the Corker bill or the Kirk-Menendez bill if either are brought to his desk, so that position has in no way changed. We are very clear that Congress should not take action while we’re negotiating. It makes the lives of our negotiators – sorry – it makes the lives our negotiators more difficult, it makes the talks more difficult. And that’s, obviously, I don’t think what Congress wants to do, but that’s what it could have – the results that could come from that kind of action.

QUESTION: So it’s not as if outside of those pieces of legislation another path has emerged over the last few days?

MS. HARF: (Inaudible.) Yeah, so outside of that, obviously – well, first, we have talked to Congress about this issue and consulted with them more than I think any other issue since I’ve been at the State Department, certainly. And if we can get to a comprehensive agreement, then yes, Congress will have a role to play. For starters, they will have a role to play in eventually lifting the sanctions that they put in place that helped get Iran to the table.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: They are the only ones that can lift – ultimately lift, terminate U.S. – the U.S. sanctions that they put in place. And beyond that, we’ll keep talking to them, we’ll keep consulting with them. And I would say that’s a pretty high-class problem if we can get to an agreement.

QUESTION: Right. And –

MS. HARF: So Congress has played a key role in our Iran policy and certainly will continue to.

QUESTION: Sorry, and if I can just follow up with one more – I know I already took a lot of time – regarding – I know you’ve been very adamant that the other issues that are going on in the region, whether it’s Iranian militia’s role in Tikrit or Iran’s role in Yemen, aren’t impacting the talks. But is there any degree to which that is adding pressure to this timeline, given that that could – that that kind of geopolitical pressure in the region could complicate things further if this deadline isn’t reached?

MS. HARF: I really don’t think so. I don’t think it impacts the timeline. I think the fact that Iran, quite candidly, is taking some destabilizing action or supporting people that are in other parts of the region, and the fact that the region is facing a number of challenges right now is one of the main reasons why we actually want to diplomatically prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and that if you can imagine Iran armed with one how much more power they could project in the region and how problematic that would be. So I don’t think it impacts the deadline at all, but I do think that, if anything, it underscores how important it is to resolve this issue and to do so diplomatically.

QUESTION: All right. Thank you.

MS. HARF: Justin Fishel from ABC News.

QUESTION: Marie – that’s right. How are you? Anyways, so Marie, what are the consequences of missing the 31st deadline? Aside from threats from Congress, what will happen when – if you miss the deadline, which you appear to be bracing everyone for? You said the JPOA extends through June, so we can expect talks will continue, or what?

MS. HARF: No. Look, I have said adamantly that we have no idea what will happen if we can’t get this done by the 31st. Obviously, we always are planning for contingencies and we will have to have some more policy conversations inside our Administration, look at where we are with Iran, look at where the talks are, and make decisions about what will happen next.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: I was simply making the logistical point that unlike the two previous extensions, the JPOA does not automatically expire after the extension because we extended it all the way through June. That’s more of a technical point. It deals with things like sanctions waivers and things like that. Everyone will still be bound by it on April 1st. But in terms of a policy decision, we will have to take a very hard look at where we are and we will have to decide what happens next. And I don’t want to predict what that outcome will be, because I can’t.

QUESTION: For those – okay. For those of us not there, how would you describe the mood of the negotiators? I mean, there seemed to be quite a bit of optimism going into the end of last week. How are these foreign ministers and other high-level negotiators in the room behaving? I mean, do they – is the mood optimistic, or how would you describe it?

MS. HARF: I think the mood is serious. I think that the seriousness of what we’re doing, of the fact that we need to see more decisions from Iran, the fact that the other options we have aren’t great and just aren’t as good from a durability perspective, and those are all, I think, weighing on people. I think people are realistic about the challenges in front of this. I think we still see a path to get a political understanding. I want to be very clear about that. There’s still a path to do this. And there’s – I would probably say 50/50 – I don’t know, I never like putting percentages out there – but there’s a chance we will get it done.

QUESTION: You said 50/50. Are you okay with that? I mean –

MS. HARF: So I think we’re very sober in these conversations, but very committed to seeing if we can find a way to get there. And whether that’s the experts working through different technical pieces that can possibly get everyone to yes, that’s part of it. Whether it’s the political directors or different members of the P5+1 trying to figure out ways to get Iran to yes here while maintaining our bottom line, that’s all happening. So I think it well describe this sort of around-the-clock work – very intense, very focused, very serious. But we don’t yet know the outcome.

QUESTION: Forgive me if Molly asked this question: Did the Iranians bring up the alleged drone strike in Tikrit that they claim killed two –

MS. HARF: She did not ask that question.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: To my knowledge, they did not. I have not heard that they did. I would be surprised if they did, but I have not heard that they did.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: And I know DOD has spoken to that, I think, saying that we can say with certainty that the claims of strikes on March 23rd are untrue because the coalition forces did not initiate airstrikes near Tikrit until two days later. So I know they’ve spoken to it, but just to get that on the record.

QUESTION: If you had to break down in layman’s terms just a few lines, the big sticking points so far, your biggest hurdles, without getting into the painful details, what would you say they are? And that’s my last question, thank you.

MS. HARF: It’s hard to say, because everything is so interconnected. And we can have one or two areas where we just can’t come to agreement and we won’t get an agreement. I think I’ll probably leave it at that. I’m probably not going to get more specific.

QUESTION: Yeah, that wasn’t very specific at all. (Laughter.)

MS. HARF: Well, (inaudible) should in no way come as a surprise to you, Justin.

QUESTION: Thank you very much, Marie.

MS. HARF: Said, you’re next.

QUESTION: It’s good to hear your voice. We want you to come home as soon as possible. And on that point –

MS. HARF: So do I, Said. So do I.

QUESTION: And so (inaudible) Matt, so come what may, you guys will come back on the 5th of April?

MS. HARF: No, I didn’t say that. I have – we have no idea what our travel schedule is.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: I would love to be able to promise that, but unfortunately I can’t.

QUESTION: Okay. And my second question is: Do you think or do you believe that the Iranians are sort of trying to squeeze the last drops, so to speak, at the eleventh hour and maybe at the eleventh hour they are going to agree to whatever needs to be agreed to?

MS. HARF: Look, I don’t want to –

QUESTION: Well, I’m saying that –

MS. HARF: — (inaudible) negotiating strategy is.

QUESTION: Are they sort of maneuvering to get the – all they want, so to speak, and then agree to whatever everybody else agrees to by the – right before the talks end?

MS. HARF: Well, I think – I do think, Said, that the end of negotiations are often the toughest part, because it’s obviously the toughest issues. If they were easier, they would have probably been addressed earlier in the negotiations. I think that – look, the point of this is to see if we can get to a framework that gives all of us our bottom lines that we need. So we need to get to a year breakout and we need to cut off their four pathways. I don’t know what Iran’s bottom lines are; they can speak to that. But if there is an equation that gets us there, that’s what we’re trying to find. And we don’t know if we will yet. And everyone here is – there’s many conversations going on at all different levels; there’s side conversations, there’s meetings, there’s a lot going on here to try and see if we can get there.

QUESTION: And my last question is – somebody said that the last feet up the summit are the most difficult. What are these points? I mean, since you have been negotiating since 2013, as you said, what are the ones that are really major hurdles, so to speak, just to follow up on Justin’s point?

MS. HARF: Yeah. And I – it’s a valiant effort at following up. Look, we’re not – I’m not going to get into specific details about the sticking points. I think in general, we need to make sure that the combination of nuclear-related activities they are allowed to do under their program assures us that their four pathways are cut off and that they are pushed out to a year breakout time, from about two to three months right now. So what combination that is of centrifuges, stockpile; what type of centrifuges; what sort of all of the different components put together gets you to a year breakout. What kinds of research and development they’re allowed to do – that’s a key part of it as well; that’s a tough issue. And then on the Iranian side, obviously, the pace and timing of sanctions relief – not just U.S., but UN and EU as well. So look, these are all interrelated, and it’s really like moving puzzle pieces around, and we have to see if we can find that right combination, and we’re going to try.

QUESTION: And really finally – and really finally, Marie – now, you said that you encourage congressional leaders to go up and see the world. So you’re all fine – I mean, you’re okay with Mr. Boehner going there at this time and perhaps issuing a statement that may be contrary to your diplomatic efforts?

MS. HARF: Well, we certainly believe in the principle that members of Congress –

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: — should travel overseas and meet with other foreign leaders. That’s something we believe in, obviously. As I said, I haven’t been able to pay too much attention to what’s going on in terms of those co-dels, those congressional delegations, but I think that what we’re focused on here really isn’t the politics of any of this; it’s the technical aspects and the science behind it and seeing if we can get to an agreement.

QUESTION: Thank you, Marie.

MS. HARF: You’re welcome. We’ll just do a few more.

Let’s go to Taurean Barnwell from NHK.

QUESTION: Oh hi, Marie. Thank you for doing this in Switzerland at this late hour for us. There’s a lot of talk about deadlines, and there is another deadline coming up tomorrow that I wanted to ask you about, and that’s China’s deadline to become a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. And I just wanted to know if you could provide us any information about if the U.S. has any plans to be a part of this bank, or if there’s any current consultations going on between the U.S. and China about the AIIB.

MS. HARF: Yeah, it’s a really good question. I think our views on the AIIB going forward are going to be informed by its commitments on the standards for governance and environmental and social safeguards that it will adopt and implement. So right now, we’re focusing on meeting our commitments to the existing multilateral development bank. But I think, like the rest of the world probably, the U.S. has a stake in seeing the AIIB complement and work effectively alongside the existing multilateral financial institutions.

So this is something, obviously, we’ll be watching. We welcome new multilateral institutions that strengthen the international financial architecture when they have high standards – the high standards, I think, that the whole world has really built together. So we’ll be watching here and we’ll see. I don’t have anything else to predict, though, for you.

QUESTION: Great. Thank you very much.

MS. HARF: Okay. We’ll do a couple more. Barbara Slavin from Al-Monitor.

QUESTION: Hi, this is a pleasure. I wanted to just ask about –

MS. HARF: It’s fun to do it when you don’t have to be on TV, I can tell you.

QUESTION: I wanted to ask a little bit about the form of an agreement or a framework if one is reached, and in particular on the issue of something like stockpiles. Would it be necessary to actually specify how those stockpiles would be reduced, or is it sufficient for your purposes to simply say that the stockpiles will be reduced through one manner or another to a certain number of kilograms?

MS. HARF: Yeah, it’s a great question, and again, as so many things go with these talks, we really don’t know yet. Obviously, we want to – if we can get to an agreement, we will need to be clear publicly as much as we can about what that looks like. I don’t know what the form of that will take. Obviously, I think the more details that are able to be shared publicly, the better. I think that’s, in general, how we as the negotiating team feel. So we will see. But obviously, I think that we will have to show that we have had agreement or understanding on the major elements that cut off the four pathways and get to a year breakout. So I would imagine you would (inaudible).

QUESTION: And – yeah. And is it fair to say you’re still looking at a – sort of a two-pager, two-three pager?

MS. HARF: Well, I don’t think we ever – anyone ever confirmed that’s what we were looking at. I think we’re still trying to figure out how we will convey this publicly, to be frank, and we’re talking to our partners and to Iran about that right now. Obviously, we’ll have to share everything with Congress – be very open in closed settings with Congress – but I do think there is a sense here among our team, certainly, and in our conversations with others, that we want to be able to spell out specifically as much as possible publicly as we can.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

MS. HARF: Okay. I’m going to do one more. Felicia Schwartz of The Wall Street Journal.

QUESTION: Hi, Marie. Thanks for doing this. I wanted to see, since the talks are nearing the eleventh hour or are in them, if there’s any readouts of calls between the Secretary and partners in the Gulf or Israel to brief them.

MS. HARF: Let me see. Let me look at my call list here. The Secretary spoke on Saturday with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal. I don’t have a complete readout of that call. I imagine it was about Yemen, and the Iran talks as well, I’m guessing. We can see if there’s more to share.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: I don’t have any other calls to read out in terms of partners in the region. He did speak with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu last week a couple times as well on – they talk frequently on a range of issues, but I am confident this was one issue that was discussed.

QUESTION: Okay. Thanks.

MS. HARF: And we’ll do one last one, and then really, that’s the last question. From the other Matt Lee of Inner City Press, go ahead.

QUESTION: Great. Thanks a lot, Marie. I really appreciate it. I wanted to ask, actually, about Yemen. There’s this report of an IDP camp in northern Yemen called Haradh that was hit, and MSF said that several dozen people were killed by an airstrike. And I wanted – last week, Jeff Rathke said that the U.S. couldn’t corroborate casualties. But does the U.S. have anything to say about the way in which the campaign is being waged and safeguards that should be in place? And do you – is there any – do you see the situation moving closer toward resuming dialogue between Houthis and Hadi, or further away?

MS. HARF: Well, that’s certainly the goal, right, to get on a path back to political dialogue. So even through the military action that we’re supporting, that is the goal. I think it’s a challenge at the moment given the Houthis’ actions, quite frankly, but we’re trying.

I just saw the report before I got on the phone about the IDP camp, so let me look into that and see if there’s more we can share. I just don’t know the facts on it. But in every conflict, we’ve always been clear that all sides should avoid civilian casualties. That’s certainly – I mean, it’s important for us. We’ve called on all sides in conflicts, including here, to take feasible measures to minimize harm to civilians, so that’s obviously important to us. But let me check on the specifics and see if we can anything back to you after the briefing.

QUESTION: Okay. Thanks a lot.

MS. HARF: Thanks, guys. It looks like those are our questions. We will stay in touch about tomorrow’s briefing. Depending on what happens here, obviously, I’m happy to do a briefing over the phone, but we’ll just keep in touch given we have really no idea what the next 24 hours are going to look like. So appreciate everyone’s patience and for hopping on the phone today, and with that, the daily briefing is over.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:56 p.m.)

 


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2015/03/30 Operating in Contested Environments

DARPA’s System of Systems (SoS) Integration Technology and Experimentation (SoSITE) program aims to develop and demonstrate concepts for maintaining air superiority through novel SoS architectures—combinations of aircraft, weapons, sensors and mission systems—that distribute air warfare capabilities across a large number of interoperable manned and unmanned platforms. The vision is to integrate new technologies and airborne systems with existing systems faster and at lower cost than near-peer adversaries can counter them.

For decades, the United States has successfully countered the threats of competitor nations by harnessing advanced technologies to create exceedingly robust and capable military platforms. But as advanced technologies have become more readily available to adversaries on commercial markets, the Nation’s focus on ever more complex weapons systems has become not just a strength but also a weakness. Effective as they are, U.S. military systems today are often too expensive to procure in the quantities needed, and may take so long to develop that the electronic components they contain are obsolete by the time they become operational.

USAID Acting Assistant Administrator for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance Thomas H. Staal Travels to Kuwait for Syria Pledging Conference


Undefined
Monday, March 30, 2015

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Acting Assistant Administrator for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance Thomas H. Staal and USAID Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance’s Director Jeremy Konyndyk will accompany U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power who will lead the U.S. Delegation to attend the third High-Level International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria in Kuwait City, Kuwait on March 31.

Tournament Earth 2015: The Finals

The championship round of the 2015 tournament has arrived! Which image deserves the crown? The colorful faults in Xinjiang or lightning over Saudi Arabia and Kuwait? Vote for your favorite by Friday at 4 p.m. EDT (8 p.m. UTC) and then check back next Monday when we reveal the winner.

Chemical Characterization of Outdoor and Subway Fine (PM2.5-1.0) and Coarse (PM10-2.5) Particulate Matter in Seoul (Korea) Computer-Controlled Scanning Electron Microscopy (CCSEM)

Outdoor and indoor (subway) samples were collected by passive sampling in urban Seoul and analyzed with computer-controlled scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (CCSEM-EDX). Soil/road dust particles accounted for 42-60% (by weight) of fine particulate matter larger than 1 micrometer (PM2.5-1.0) in outdoor samples and 18% of PM2.5-1.0 in subway samples. Iron-containing particles accounted for only 3-6% in outdoor samples but 69% in subway samples. Qualitatively similar results were found for coarse particulate matter (PM10-2.5) with soil/road dust particles dominating outdoor samples (66-83%) and iron-containing particles contributing most to subway PM10-2.5 (44%). As expected, soil/road dust particles comprised a greater mass fraction of PM10-2.5 than PM2.5-1.0. Also as expected, the mass fraction of iron-containing particles was substantially less in PM10-2.5 than in PM2.5-1.0. Results of this study are consistent with previous studies which showed high concentrations of iron-containing particles in the subway compared to outdoor sites. Passive sampling with CCSEM-EDX offers an inexpensive means to assess PM2.5-1.0 and PM10-2.5 simultaneously and by composition at multiple locations.

i-SVOC — A simulation program for indoor SVOCs (Version 1.0)

Program i-SVOC estimates the emissions, transport, and sorption of semivolatile organic compounds (SVOCs) in the indoor environment as functions of time when a series of initial conditions is given. This program implements a framework for dynamic modeling of indoor SVOCs developed by the author, and covers six types of indoor compartments: air (gas phase), air (particle phase), sources, sinks (i.e., sorption by interior surfaces), contaminant barriers, and settled dust. Potential applications of this program include: (1) use as a stand-alone simulation program to obtain information that the current equilibrium models cannot provide, including evaluation of the effectiveness of certain pollution mitigation methods such as variable ventilation rates, source removal, and source encapsulation; (2) reducing the uncertainties in the existing multimedia models; and (3) use as a front-end component for stochastic exposure models to provide information about the SVOC distribution in indoor media in the absence of experimental data. This program is intended for advanced users, who are involved in and familiar with indoor environmental quality (IEQ) modeling or indoor exposure assessment. Because dynamic modeling of SVOCs in indoor media is a relatively new research field, a number of issues need to be resolved in future research. For example, efforts should be made to reduce the uncertainties in parameter estimation. There is a need to develop a data and knowledge base for key parameters for modeling indoor SVOCs, including, but not limited to, solid-air partition coefficient, solid-phase diffusion coefficient, and gas-phase mass transfer coefficient.

Evaluating Cost when Selecting Performance Reference Compounds for the Environmental Deployment of Polyethylene Passive Samplers

A challenge in environmental passive sampling is determining when equilibrium is achieved between the sampler, target contaminants, and environmental phases. A common approach is the use of performance reference compounds (PRCs) to indicate degree of equilibrium. One logistical issue associated with using PRCs is their sometimes exorbitant cost. To address PRC expense, this investigation (1) compared the performance of inexpensive PRCs (deuterated PAHs) and expensive PRCs (13C-labelled PCBs) to estimate dissolved PCB concentrations in freshwater and marine deployments, and (2) evaluated the use of smaller quantities of PRC relative to regular amounts used for estimating dissolved PAH and PCB concentrations. Saltwater and freshwater site differences between total dissolved PCB concentrations calculated using the two classes of PRCs were less than 0.1 ng/L and approximately 0.4 ng/L, respectively. No statistical differences were detected between total dissolved PAH and PCB concentrations for the three quantities of PRCs evaluated (i.e., regular, large, and small). In both investigations, individual dissolved PCB congeners and PAH compounds demonstrated comparable behavior as total dissolved concentrations. This research provides evidence that using inexpensive and smaller quantities of PRCs can yield cost savings of approximately 75% without sacrificing scientific accuracy, especially when considering total dissolved PCB concentrations.

Evidence for triclosan-induced activation of human and rodent xenobiotic nuclear receptors

The bacteriostat triclosan (2,4,40-trichloro-20-hydroxydiphenylether) (TCS) decreases rat serum thyroxine via putative nuclear receptor (NR) interaction(s) and subsequent transcriptional up-regulation of hepatic catabolism and clearance. However, due to the evolutionary divergence of the constitutive androstane and pregnane-X receptors (CAR, PXR), TCS-mediated downstream effects may be species-dependent. To test the hypothesis that TCS activates xenobiotic NRs across species, cell-based NR reporter assays were employed to assess potential activation of rat, mouse, and human PXR, and rat, mouse, and three splice variants of human CAR. TCS activated hPXR, acted as an inverse agonist of hCAR1, and as a weak agonist of hCAR3. TCS failed to activate rPXR in full-length receptor reporter assays, and instead acted as a modest inverse agonist of rCAR. Consistent with the rat data, TCS also failed to activate mPXR and was a modest inverse agonist of mCAR. These data suggest that TCS may interact with multiple NRs, including hPXR, hCAR1, hCAR3, and rCAR in order to potentially affect hepatic catabolism. Overall these data support the conclusion that TCS may interact with NRs to regulate hepatic catabolism and downstream thyroid hormone homeostasis in both rat and human models, though perhaps by divergent mechanisms.

Age-Dependent Changes in Human Hepatic CYP2C8 and 1A2 Expression

Predicting age-specific metabolism of pyrethroids is important in evaluating age-related sensitivity. Our goal is to use an in vitro to in vivo extrapolation (IVIVE) approach to predict pyrethroid metabolism for different ages incorporating enzyme ontogeny and expressed enzyme kinetic data. Multiple CYP and carboxylesterase enzymes are responsible for metabolism of pyrethroids in humans. This study aimed to determine age-dependent expression levels of human hepatic CYP2C8 and 1A2, for which only limited ontogeny data were available, to support IVIVE. Liver microsomal fractions were prepared using liver samples from 224 subjects with ages ranging from 8 weeks gestation to 17 years after birth. The CYP2C8 and 1A2 protein levels were measured by quantitative western blotting. Overall, CYP2C8 and 1A2 expression were detected in 68% and 70% of samples, respectively. However, the percentage of samples with detectable CYP2C8 and 1A2 protein increased with age from 16-20% in fetal samples (n=80) to 92-100% in postnatal samples (n=144). The median CYP2C8 expression was significantly greater in samples after 35 postnatal days (n=122) than in fetal and neonatal samples (birth to 35 days postnatal, n=102) (0 vs. 13.78 pmol/mg microsomal protein; p<0.0001). In contrast, the median CYP1A2 expression was significantly greater in samples after 4 months postnatal age (n=79) than in fetal and younger samples (birth to 3 months postnatal, n=145) (0.0095 vs. 1.909 pmol/mg microsomal protein; p<0.0001). CYP2C8 expression in samples older than 6 months postnatal age showed values comparable with mature levels. However, CYP1A2 expression increased linearly as a function of postnatal age. There was no significant difference in enzyme expression among ages for either enzyme. The protein levels of CYP2C8 significantly correlated with those of CYP2C9, CYP2C19, and CYP3A4 (p<0.05). Our study provided key data for IVIVE modeling of age-dependent pyrethroid metabolism and indicated that CYP2C8 and 1A2 ontogeny appear to be controlled by different mechanisms (supported by the Council for Advancement of Pyrethroid Human Risk Assessment, LLC).