NASA Television and the agency’s website will air the conclusion of ESA’s (European Space Agency’s) Rosetta mission from 6:15 to 8 a.m. EDT Friday, Sept. 30, with NASA commentary, interviews and analysis of the successful mission. The Rosetta mission will end with the controlled decent of the spacecraft onto the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Geras
By: Leonard Sacks, M.D., and Mili Duggal, Ph.D., M.P.H. Though many people do not know it, FDA does much more to facilitate drug approval than evaluate new drug applications. We are also actively involved in drug development well before the … Continue reading →
Statement: Statement from CIA Director John O. Brennan Regarding the “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act”
The use of resources from multiple habitats has been shown to be important to the production of aquatic consumers. To quantify the support of Great Lakes coastal wetland (WL) and nearshore (NS) habitats to yellow perch, we used otolith microchemistry to trace movements between the habitats. WL and NS water and fish samples were collected from lakes Huron and Michigan for water and otolith trace element analysis. Recently deposited otolith-edge Sr:Ca and Ba:Ca from otoliths were strongly correlated with the chemistry of the water in which fish were caught. In general, Sr:Ca and Ba:Ca in otoliths were significantly greater for individuals collected from WL areas. Because of these observed chemical differences between WL and NS habitats, quadratic discriminant function analysis (QDFA) was used to classify individuals with high accuracy to the habitat from which they were collected. We then combined the predictive abilities of QDFA with the otolith chemistry transect data that represents an individuals’ entire life, to classify habitat use through each fish’s life. Our results suggest larval use of WL habitats as well as three life histories for adult yellow perch. These strategies include (1) fish utilizing WL once annually (2) WL residents (3) WL residence as juveniles followed by movement to nearshore as adults. This application represents a novel use of transect otolith microchemistry to reconstruct fish movements between freshwater environments across entire life spans at fine scales. These results suggest that regular movements of fish may facilitate the production of coastal fishes in the Great Lakes.
Today, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced $10 million in awards to 10 “Big Data Spokes” projects to initiate research on specific topics identified by the Big Data Regional Innovation Hubs (BD Hubs).
Project topics range from precision agriculture to personalized education. The data spokes reflect the unique priorities and capabilities of the four BD Hubs, which represent consortia from the Midwest, Northeast, South and West of the country.
“The BD Spokes advance …
This is an NSF News item.
One Health is a collaborative, transdisciplinary effort working locally, nationally, and globally to improve health for people,animals, plants, and the environment. The term is relatively new (from ?2003), and it is increasingly common to see One Health included by name in interinstitutional research partnerships, conferences, communications, and organizational frameworks, particularly those championed by the human health and veterinary medical communities. Environmental quality is arguably the least developed component within the One Health framework, but can be guided by expertise within the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC). Despite SETAC’s long history of tripartite (academic, government, business) interdisciplinary environmental science activities, the term “One Health” is seldom used in SETAC communications (i.e., many of SETAC’s activities are guided by One Health, but it is called by other names in SETAC’s journals, newsletters, and presentations). Accordingly, the objective of this Focus article is to introduce the One Health concept to the SETAC membership. The article discusses the origins, evolution, and utility of the One Health approach as an organizationalframework and provides key examples of ways in which SETAC expertise can benefit the One Health community. The authors assert that One Health needs SETAC and, to be most effective, SETAC needs One Health. Given that One Health to date has focused too little on the environment, on ecosystems, and on contaminants, SETAC’s constructive involvement in One Health presents an opportunity to accelerate actions that will ultimately better protect human and ecosystem health.
Washington, DC—The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and The Kresge Foundation are partnering to expand support of creative placemaking through the launch of a pilot technical assistance program. In…
SWMM is a dynamic rainfall-runoff simulation model used for single event or long-term (continuous) simulation of runoff quantity and quality from primarily urban areas. The runoff component of SWMM operates on a collection of subcatchment areas that receive precipitation and generate runoff and pollutant loads. The routing portion of SWMM transports this runoff through a system of pipes, channels, storage/treatment devices, pumps, and regulators. SWMM tracks the quantity and quality of runoff generated within each subcatchment, and the flow rate, flow depth, and quality of water in each pipe and channel during a simulation period comprised of multiple time steps. The reference manual for this edition of SWMM is comprised of three volumes. Volume I describes SWMM’s hydrologic models, Volume II its hydraulic models, and Volume III its water quality and low impact development models.
When she announced the Commerce Department’s Digital Economy Agenda a year ago, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker emphasized that broadband Internet access and digital skills are critical to the economy’s success. The digital marketplace has created millions of new jobs in the United States. Digitally connected Americans are the modern workers, creative innovators, and new customers who will help sustain our nation’s global competitiveness.
But what about those Americans who do not use the Internet? Whether by circumstance or by choice, millions of U.S. households are not online, and thus unable to meaningfully participate in the digital economy. Data from NTIA’s July 2015 Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey confirm that the digital divide persists. In 2015, 33 million households (27 percent of all U.S. households) did not use the Internet at home, where families can more easily share Internet access and conduct sensitive online transactions privately. Significantly, 26 million households–one-fifth of all households–were offline entirely, lacking a single member who used the Internet from any location in 2015.
Reasons for No Internet Use at Home
State personal income growth accelerated to 1.0 percent on average in the second quarter of 2016 from 0.3 percent in the first quarter, according to estimates released today by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Full Text
Dated: SEP 23, 2016 Tiffin Motorhomes, Inc. (Tiffin) is recalling certain model year 2015-2017 Allegro motorhomes manufactured April 1, 2015, to September 16, 2016. The affected vehicles have a tow hitch with a weight c…
Dated: SEP 15, 2016 Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2017 Octane Super Lite travel trailers manufactured June 22, 2016, to June 23, 2016. The labels on the affected vehicles have incorrect tire load range and ti…
Dated: SEP 12, 2016 Honda (American Honda Motor Co.) is recalling certain model year 2014-2015 Grom 125 motorcycles manufactured June 12, 2013, to September 8, 2015, and 2014-2015 NSS300 & NSS300A motorcycles manufacture…
Daily Press Briefing
2:20 p.m. EDT
MR TONER: I have a very brief topper. Secretary Kerry will deliver remarks on the importance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership to our national security, our economic standing at home and abroad, our strategic interests in the Asia Pacific, and our diplomatic leadership around the world. And he’ll do so at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington at 11:00 am on Wednesday, that’s tomorrow, September 28th. And we’ll have a notice to the press with more details on that.
QUESTION: That was brief.
MR TONER: I told you. I strive to be brief in my briefings. Sorry, go ahead.
QUESTION: Well, it is the operative word —
MR TONER: That’s right.
QUESTION: — preceding the gerund —
MR TONER: And too often they’re not.
QUESTION: Let’s start —
MR TONER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Has there been any further contact between the Secretary and Foreign Minister Lavrov? If not —
MR TONER: There – sorry.
QUESTION: Well, go ahead.
MR TONER: No, no. There has not.
QUESTION: Okay. So in the – anticipating that answer, are there any plans to? Or are we in a situation where it’s just hopeless and there’s not any real reason to have a conversation?
MR TONER: I think there are always plans to. And I – while I can’t say with certainty that they’ll talk in the next 24 hours or 48 hours, I certainly know that the Secretary is open to talking to Foreign Minister Lavrov. So I don't want to give the impression that there’s no interest in keeping that channel open. In fact, I think there is. But I think, as I said yesterday, we need to see some measures offered by Russia and on the part of the regime that change the reality on the ground. And that goes without saying, given the continued onslaught of the regime on Aleppo.
QUESTION: Are these teams still meeting in Geneva or is that basically – is the ceasefire or the cessation of hostilities task force or whatever it was called – is that basically a dead item now?
MR TONER: That’s a fair question. I don't know whether they’re still meeting in Geneva. I can take that question.
QUESTION: Well I – two – I mean, there are two parts to it. One, I mean, are they actually talking now? But also does this structure that you guys created —
MR TONER: Are we still – yeah.
QUESTION: — that the ISSG created – is it still alive?
MR TONER: My understanding is that it hasn’t been disbanded, but certainly the – again, we’re under no illusions that the cessation of hostilities, such as we had envisioned it in Geneva ten or so days ago, is still in effect.
QUESTION: Well, how about in Vienna several months ago?
MR TONER: Fair point.
QUESTION: But you’ve said that Secretary Kerry is open to restarting the dialogue. Does that mean he’s waiting by the phone for Lavrov to call him?
MR TONER: Not at all. Not at all. And I —
QUESTION: Or has he made calls that have been refused?
MR TONER: Not at all on either count. Look, I think the Secretary was very clear, both in Cartagena yesterday, in Colombia, but also in his remarks over the weekend that he has not closed the door on this diplomatic process and, as the Secretary of State, he’ll never do that.
He said it would be diplomatic malpractice to do so, and his point is is that, as long as he’s Secretary of State he is going to pursue a diplomatic process that ends the fighting and allows for a peaceful political transition in Syria.
But that said, we’re under no illusions, given the intensity of the conflict in and around Aleppo over the past 72 hours, with barrel bombs, indiscriminate bombings, that we’re anywhere near reaching the seven days of cessation of —
QUESTION: But —
MR TONER: Yeah.
QUESTION: — a Syrian diplomatic process, is that simply the channel between himself and the Russian foreign minister? Or are there other diplomatic initiatives —
MR TONER: No, we continue to consult with other members of the ISSG, and that continues. But —
QUESTION: So in your answer to Matt’s question —
MR TONER: Sure.
QUESTION: — you said obviously he’s still keen to talk, but he’s not going to initiate?
MR TONER: I think, again, where – look, I think where he left it last week and in his most recent public remarks yesterday is: What’s happening in Aleppo is unacceptable, we recognize that the cessation of hostilities is badly weakened, if we could say even that, and that we need to see proposals going forward on how to resuscitate this cessation of hostilities. And what the Secretary talked about was reestablishing credibility in the process. And that’s – he talked about it when he spoke in the Security Council last week, but that’s what we’re looking for.
So we continue to be open to having that dialogue and those discussions with Russia.
QUESTION: And does he believe that Russia does want to restart the dialogue?
MR TONER: Well again, that comes down to – I mean, I think we’re always open to that – or at least we remain open to that. Let me put it that way.
QUESTION: You say the cessation of hostilities is badly weakened, but, I mean —
MR TONER: That may even in itself be overstating it.
QUESTION: Yeah, I mean, isn’t it gone? You have a massive air —
QUESTION: Under —
MR TONER: Understating it. Thank you.
QUESTION: — and ground assault on the largest city in the country.
MR TONER: It’s unacceptable, and that’s absolutely right. What’s happening in Aleppo is unacceptable.
QUESTION: But —
MR TONER: He said as much, and it’s – you’re right, that we – so I guess my point is we cannot look at what is happening and simply turn away and pretend that there is still a credible cessation of hostilities in place.
QUESTION: So if it is unacceptable, is the U.S. Government willing to do anything other than to remain open to resuming a dialogue with Russia to try to stop it, or are you just going to accept it?
MR TONER: Well – sorry, I didn’t know – so we very much call on Russia to stop attacking the civilian residents of Aleppo. We’re going to continue – as I said, Secretary Kerry, Secretary of State Kerry, as the nation’s leading diplomat, is going to continue to pursue the diplomatic options that he has left in front of him. And as he said, he’s going to continue to pursue those until they’re exhausted.
As to what other options or other directions we may go in, I can’t speak to any – or I can’t announce anything or even lean into anything today because, while those discussions continue, and I talked about it yesterday, we’re still pursuing the agreement that we reached in Geneva as the best way forward.
QUESTION: And are any of your Gulf allies now proposing, more vehemently, providing additional arms including, perhaps, MANPADS to the opposition?
MR TONER: I wouldn’t presume to speak on their behalf and I’d have to refer you to them to talk about what they may or may not do. I think speaking broadly we have said that there are scenarios out there where, if this collapses altogether, if it descends further into conflict, that there is that possibility. But I can’t speak to – on behalf of these governments. Please.
QUESTION: A follow up on —
QUESTION: (Inaudible) contingency plans to deal with the humanitarian catastrophe when Aleppo falls?
MR TONER: Well, I mean, I – look, we’re – insofar as we’re, one, announcing more humanitarian assistance, both within and I think Anne just said three quarters, if I’m not mistaken, of that will go inside Syria. We are looking at trying to alleviate the humanitarian suffering and looking towards how that might even increase in the days and weeks ahead.
And I think also we’re going to continue to push hard for humanitarian access. I know the World Health Organization called for, in fact, humanitarian corridors to evacuate the injured from Aleppo. And we certainly support that, but we also would add that you shouldn’t – the injured shouldn’t have to leave their homes to get this kind of treatment, so what we want to see is sustained access.
QUESTION: Twelve hundred million people live in East Aleppo.
MR TONER: I agree, it —
QUESTION: That would be a – if they end up on the road —
MR TONER: I agree.
QUESTION: Turkey’s border’s closed.
MR TONER: I agree, and those are all things we’re looking at and considering going forward, but right now we just want to see an end to the fighting.
QUESTION: Follow-up —
QUESTION: Mark, I wanted to follow up on —
MR TONER: I’ll get to you, I promise.
QUESTION: — Arshad’s question —
MR TONER: Yes, sir.
QUESTION: — and start by reading you some statistics from the White Helmets. This is the unarmed civilian rescue workers in Syria and Aleppo. They said just over the past eight days, a thousand dead, 1,700 airstrikes, 19 of them with bunker-busters; 200 of the strikes with cluster bombs, hospitals now declaring they’re no longer able to take in new patients. Only 30 doctors left in Aleppo.
Is it – setting aside the idea that the ceasefire is not working, is it possible to argue that the atmosphere of the ceasefire has actually made things worse? Has this brief cessation led to an even worse bombardment and humanitarian situation? Of course not intentionally, but —
MR TONER: Right.
QUESTION: — could you not make that argument?
MR TONER: Justin, it’s hard to evaluate what the strategy behind this flagrant onslaught on Aleppo is. We talked a little bit about it yesterday. Whether it’s the regime’s insistence on pursuing a military solution to the conflict there even though they and even though Russia claims to want a political solution and that there is no military solution, it’s really hard to evaluate what’s behind this acceleration and this ramping up of its assaults on innocent civilians in Aleppo. We’re going to continue to push hard through whatever channels we have for the regime to stand down and to try to work, as I said, to put back in place some kind of reduction in the level of violence. But those statistics you read are extraordinary, and you said they’re from the White Helmets?
MR TONER: Yeah. I mean, and we would just obviously – the Secretary attended an event when he was in New York about the White Helmets, and we certainly commend their selfless, courageous efforts in the face of these attacks.
QUESTION: What makes Aleppo different? What makes —
QUESTION: Their commander’s in town —
MR TONER: Sorry. That’s okay.
QUESTION: What makes Aleppo different from the Yezidis who were on Mt. Sinjar, from the Libyans who Qadhafi said he was going to hunt down like rats? What’s the difference here? You have 250,000 people in a defined area that are now surrounded that are subject not just to air, but now to ground assault. What’s – why did the United States deem it to be in the U.S. national interest to intervene in those other circumstances but not in this circumstance?
MR TONER: Well, first of all, I don’t want to necessarily get in the habit of comparing different conflicts and different circumstances, such as the ones you raised, because every set of circumstances is a little bit different. And in the case of Aleppo and the case of Syria, it’s hard to find one that’s more complex. We’ve talked about that. But also the fact that really until the past few weeks, we felt like we were on a firm path towards a possible diplomatic resolution to this. We still believe that’s possible. As I said, we haven’t given up on that process. But that’s where we still are in terms of our approach.
Now, that doesn’t mean we’re not mindful – I don’t know how anyone could not be – of the tremendous humanitarian suffering that’s going on right now in Aleppo, and that’s why we’re working so hard to ramp up our assistance but also to gain access for humanitarian convoys. And I would just finish by saying we’re continuing to weighing all – we continue to weigh all options. Those discussions are ongoing. I don’t want to rule anything out, but right now we’re focused on the diplomatic one.
QUESTION: When you say you don’t want to – I’m sorry, the last one from me.
MR TONER: Yeah, please.
QUESTION: When you say you don’t want to rule anything out, Secretary Powell once stood at that exact podium and said in early 2003, “The time for diplomacy is over.” Is it conceivable to you, since you don’t want to rule anything out, that the Administration may come to the conclusion that having expended five years of effort on diplomacy and particularly three and a half under Secretary Kerry, that the time for diplomacy is over and that you need to make use of other elements of national power? Or is that not conceivable to you?
MR TONER: I think those – again, as part of, frankly, a healthy debate within any Administration, those conversations are always ongoing – how you approach or how you resolve an issue like this or a problem like this, a conflict like this. Ultimately, that’s a decision for the President to make.
QUESTION: A Reuters article – co-authored by Arshad, by the way – cites U.S. officials who believe the Gulf states may soon begin to arm Syrian rebels with MANPADs to shoot down aircraft. One U.S. official was quoted as saying, “The Saudis have always thought that the way to get the Russians to back off is what worked in Afghanistan 30 years ago: negating their air power by giving MANPADS to the Mujahideen,” end quote. About two weeks ago, U.S.-backed rebels drove U.S. Special Forces out of the town of Al-Rai, shouting, “Infidels, crusaders, dogs, pigs” at them – their words. In light of the fact that some rebels are quite openly anti-American, are you worried that these MANPADS could one day be used to shoot down U.S. planes?
MR TONER: So first of all, I’m not going to confirm what anonymous U.S. officials may or may not have said. I think I’ll just answer your question more broadly by saying that we cannot dictate what other countries – and I’m not naming names – but may or may not decide to do in terms of supporting certain groups within Syria.
QUESTION: So you will not try to stop them from providing rebels with MANPADS, with anti-aircraft weapons?
MR TONER: I’m not saying that at all. What I’m saying is ultimately, and we’ve talked about this, is that you may have a further deterioration on either side, both among the opposition but also by the regime. And by deterioration I mean more arming and more conflict between them, an intensification of the conflict.
As to the specific comments that were made about what or may – what may or may not be provided to – by governments to different rebel groups, I’m just not in a position to confirm or speak to that from this podium. Sorry.
QUESTION: Does the Administration do anything to stop its allies from providing these powerful weapons to rebels in Syria?
MR TONER: What we’re engaged with – our allies, and frankly, all of the members of the ISSG, which is, as we know, not necessarily all like-minded governments or nations, but they all share, purportedly, a common vision for the outcome that they want to see in Syria. We’re in consultation with all of those governments at all times, including last week in New York. What came out of that ISSG meeting last week in New York was a recommitment, even in the face of what was happening in Syria then and has intensified and worsened over the ensuing days – was a commitment to the Geneva agreement that we’re – that would put in place seven days, followed by establishment of a JIC, followed by the grounding of Syrian regime’s air power.
QUESTION: Just to follow up on Justin’s question —
MR TONER: Yep.
QUESTION: — does the Administration see what’s happening in Aleppo as a qualitative difference from the violence we’ve seen over the past years? I mean, that’s what’s suggested by the reaction in the Security Council on Sunday – the anger about the bunker busters and the allegations of war crimes against Russia. So is this seen as a change, a qualitative change?
MR TONER: I think – without necessarily trying to characterize it, I think we said it’s a violation of international law, as I think – as Secretary Kerry put it in speaking at the UN last week. I think he called it a flagrant violation of international law when you’ve got indiscriminate attacks against civilian populations, strikes that are hitting civilian targets, hospitals, et cetera. There has been an alarming increase in both the intensity and the targeting of these attacks. I don’t think – as I said, I think we’re all aware of that in this room.
QUESTION: But if there’s an alarming increase in the intensity and the targeting and the introduction of new, more powerful weapons, you still continue with the same strategy? I mean, if the situation has gotten that much worse, the same strategy is somehow supposed to deal with it?
MR TONER: Barbara, what I would say to that is we are within the State Department focused on the diplomatic side of this equation and we’re continuing to pursue the diplomatic options that are available to us. We worked through many months to reach the agreement that was reached in Geneva with the Russians. We still believe it’s a viable path forward despite – or in spite of the increased fighting that we’ve seen over the past week or so. We need to get back on track. What we’ve talked about, how to get there – the Secretary suggested some proposals, but we need to see Russia’s response to those proposals.
MR TONER: Of course.
QUESTION: Do you have any information from Tony Blinken’s meetings in Turkey today? There’s been a – the Turkish president has called a meeting of his top officials, all of his top officials tonight with no suggestion of what it’s about. But the speculation is that it’s possibly off the back of Mr. Blinken’s meeting and it’s about Turkish participation in Raqqa.
MR TONER: I don’t – I mean, I don’t have much of a readout. I apologize. He’s, obviously, as you mentioned, in Ankara, along with Special Presidential Envoy Brett McGurk and Deputy Assistant Secretary Jonathan Cohen and the Commander of the Operation Inherent Resolve Lieutenant General Townsend. He is meeting – I think he’s discussing with Turkish officials plans to take back Mosul, Raqqa, and Dabiq, and he’s had meetings today with Turkish officials, focused on the details of how to implement those plans, along with – or with – in cooperation with our Turkish partners. I know he visited also the Turkish parliament earlier today, which was, as we know, damaged in the attempted coup earlier this year. If I can get a further readout or additional readout, we’ll certainly make that available to you guys.
QUESTION: Change of subject?
MR TONER: Yeah, let’s finish up with Syria. Please.
QUESTION: Just on the 364 million, I just wanted to follow up on another question.
MR TONER: Yeah. Sure.
QUESTION: If three-fourths of that money is going to be spent inside Syria and humanitarian aid convoys are getting bombed, I mean, how do you spend that money inside Syria and what do you spend it on? Do you have sort of details?
MR TONER: So – and I’m not sure that Anne mentioned this, but we are going to put out a fact sheet, or it should be out now already, about the 364 million. And in that fact sheet, it does talk a little bit about who we work with, the different operations of the United Nations that Anne mentioned, and other international organizations, NGOs as well, that through these organizations we’re able to provide assistance to, I think, 14 governorates in Syria, supporting – helping alleviate critical humanitarian needs.
But you’re absolutely right that there are parts of Syria that still remain what we call besieged areas, and we still don’t have full, unlimited access to those areas, so that remains a challenge. But there are areas, obviously, where at least some humanitarian assistance is able to filter in, and always in the goal – our goal, rather, in providing that humanitarian assistance is to be able to keep people in place. We don’t want to see people displaced, either internally or obviously to the countries and regions that border Syria, but even beyond that to Europe and elsewhere. But we’re going to continue to work through our partners on the ground in Syria. We are able to provide, as I said, limited – and there’s people who can – far more expert who can talk about how we do that. But we are able to work, obviously, within a very challenging security environment, or these people are able to work to provide some humanitarian assistance. But again, it’s not enough. It’s not full access.
QUESTION: Okay. But has that been cleared with the government? I mean, aid in Syria has been sort of a central part of this conflict and is sometimes – the government accuses aid groups or feels that aid is going to rebels. I mean, it’s —
MR TONER: Right.
QUESTION: Surely there must be a concern that this could only exacerbate the conflict?
MR TONER: Well, and it certainly speaks to, again, the courage of some of these aid groups, including the UN, but also these NGOs that operate in that kind of environment. They continue to —
MR TONER: — God bless you – they continue to push the boundaries and continue – and I think that was evident last week, when, right after the attack on that aid convoy headed to Aleppo, I think 24 to 48 hours later, they were again staging convoys to try to get access to some of those places in Syria. I think that speaks to the courage of these individuals.
QUESTION: Okay. But have you cleared this aid with – has there been any coordination with the government?
MR TONER: I think I’d have to leave it to the UN and to the NGOs themselves to talk about whatever clearances or – but my understanding is that they would always seek, first and foremost, to have the authorization of the Syrian Government to operate within whatever geographical area they’re operating in, just as we attempted to do last week for this aid convoy that was struck. So bearing in mind – I’ll get to you in a second. I’m going to —
QUESTION: Yeah. Of the dying days of the ceasefire, the narrative from U.S. officials is we’d leave the door open but our patience isn’t limitless. But now it’s more a question of: well, it would be malpractice to close the window at any time to any kind of peaceful solution. Is the idea of the patience being limitless now being dropped and you’re saying now, in fact, it is limitless, you’ve got to keep the window open?
MR TONER: Well, again, I think we are at a difficult juncture, but that’s often the case in conflict zones, and certainly one as complex as Syria. And despite all of the setbacks and all of the challenges, we still believe it’s worthwhile to pursue a diplomatic process that was worked out with Russia to the agreement and consent of the other members of the ISSG and, frankly, that many within the moderate Syrian opposition had also bought into.
But again, recognizing that, when you’ve got the moderate opposition under attack in Aleppo and elsewhere, they’re not going to adhere to any ceasefire or cessation of hostilities. And we talked a little bit about this dynamic yesterday. That just exacerbates what’s already a difficult situation, because they’re under attack by the regime – of course they’re going to defend themselves.
So I don’t know how to put it in a way that conveys the sense that we are trying to always resuscitate the diplomatic process that we believe can eventually lead to a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Syria, but we also recognize that it’s gotten very hard.
QUESTION: My question is about Panama’s expedition request.
MR TONER: Let’s get finished with – on these other questions, because – I’m sorry, sir. Our common procedure is to move through all the different regions.
MR TONER: Yes.
QUESTION: And I wondered, is that – since Deputy Secretary of State Blinken and McGurk had arrived – just arrived in Turkey, I wondered, is that something that they helped clarify? And in any case, does that Turkish statement about the YPG satisfying their geographical requirements – does that indicate that the U.S.-Turkish dispute over the YPG role in fighting ISIS has been largely resolved, or is it still an issue?
MR TONER: Well, so we also saw those remarks yesterday and it was gratifying to see that they also confirmed what we had been saying for some time, which was that in the past – not sure of the timeframe, but the past weeks or so that we’ve seen them – these groups – Syrian Kurdish groups who had been fighting in that area, again, adhere to their commitments that they made to us and withdraw from the area around the Euphrates – east of the Euphrates. So that’s a good thing.
We certainly – as we said at the time, the last thing we want to see is these forces come into conflict with Turkish forces who are on the ground, as well. And we also called for a de-escalation at the time and urged that all of the parties there keep their eye on the prize, so to speak, in keeping the pressure on Daesh, keeping the pressure on destroying and dislodging Daesh, because that’s the overarching security concern. So even as Turkey sought to re-establish control over its border region and you had these various groups, including the Syrian Kurds, working to liberate areas also in northern Syria that were Daesh-controlled, we didn’t want them to come into conflict. Again, it speaks to the complexity of the battlespace there.
Your last question has —
QUESTION: Well —
MR TONER: — oh, is it all – look, we’re going to continue to – sorry, I didn’t mean – I just remembered what you asked – so we’re going to continue to have those conversations, as you saw last week, with Turkish authorities. And we have Deputy Secretary Blinken in Turkey today with a group of government officials and military officials. And we’re going to work closely with Turkey to de-conflict and to coordinate on efforts to secure their borders, but also to drive out and destroy Daesh.
QUESTION: But do you think you’re making progress towards that goal? Is that what that statement might indicate?
MR TONER: Look, I think we’re – I think we’re —
QUESTION: Give you a chance to say yes.
MR TONER: I know. (Laughter.) I’m always careful, you’re a spokesperson. I think we – I don’t want to say “making progress.” I think we’re pleased to see the confirmation, as I said, from the remarks from the Turkish Government yesterday. We’re going to continue to keep up our engagement with Turkey and with YPG forces in order that there is no kind of conflict – conflict there.
QUESTION: Can I ask a couple of different questions? Are we ready to move on?
MR TONER: (Laughter.) That’s the idea of the briefing.
MR TONER: Yeah.
MR TONER: I think I do.
QUESTION: Okay. Because opposition —
MR TONER: Yeah.
QUESTION: — and civil society are saying that there is some movement by the – to expand the presidential power.
MR TONER: Yeah.
QUESTION: I wonder if you have anything.
MR TONER: So we are aware, as you noted, that Azerbaijan conducted a constitutional referendum yesterday. It came off without any security incidents. I think the Venice Commission – it was in the – or on the ground, rather, noted that the process would have benefitted from greater public discussion in the lead-up to the vote. We would urge the government to address reports of voting irregularities, and we do remain committed to helping Azerbaijanis build a stronger democracy and encourage political transparency and dialogue within the country.
You had other questions?
QUESTION: Yeah. Can I ask about Afghanistan?
MR TONER: You certainly can.
QUESTION: First, I’m wondering if you —
QUESTION: Sorry. Can I ask one more about Azerbaijan?
MR TONER: Of course.
QUESTION: Is it good that one family has ruled this country for so long and that the son of the previous ruler can now rule it for even longer?
MR TONER: I think our focus, Arshad, is on how do we improve the institutions and how do we improve or work with the Azerbaijani people and government to improve the process, the democratic process. It’s not for us to dictate what the outcome of that democratic process may or may not be, except to say that where there are irregularities they should be investigated, where there are glitches in the process they should be looked at and improved.
QUESTION: But the question is more – is it a democratic process?
MR TONER: Well, again, I think we’re looking at the election that took place yesterday, and I think we found that it was marred by some reports of voting irregularities, and that’s what we’re going to —
QUESTION: Yeah. But when you have situations where people are put in a position where they’re able to be presidents for life, is that – is that democracy?
MR TONER: Again, I think in any of these kinds of situations, Matt, we’ve – Azerbaijan is not unique in having longstanding presidents or heads of state.
QUESTION: Not at all. I’m not saying it’s unique at all. I’m just wondering —
MR TONER: But no, no, no, let me – but let me finish. No, no. Let me finish.
QUESTION: — in the case where you have —
MR TONER: But I think that our point of concern is always in trying to work within the structures that are there to improve the democracy or democratic institutions, to improve and work where we can to improve to the process, rather than we can’t dictate that term limits.
QUESTION: Can we move on?
MR TONER: We can.
MR TONER: Let me see if I have anything on that. You’re talking about – where was this again?
MR TONER: Oh, yes, I do. So you’re talking about reports and the outpost near Kunduz, right?
MR TONER: Well, we’ve seen reports, obviously, that Afghan soldiers were killed. I believe it’s reportedly an insider attack.
MR TONER: We certainly offer our condolences to their families, loved ones, and colleagues. I would say attacks like this only strengthen the resolve, we believe, of Afghans who are fighting with bravery and with determination on the battlefield every day. We believe that Afghanistan’s security forces remain determined and resolved to fight for the security for their country and their citizens. And we’re going to – we, the U.S., and obviously with our NATO allies and partners, are going to remain committed to supporting those forces, making sure that they’ve got the capabilities and the training to carry out their mandate.
QUESTION: And then another question on Afghan.
MR TONER: Sure.
QUESTION: Its national unity government is nearing a two-year completion of its term. What is your assessment on the political reforms required by that deal in Afghanistan?
MR TONER: Sure. So you’re right that President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah developed a new electoral decree when they were – came into office, and that will determine the process for selecting new members of the Independent Elections Commission as well as the Electoral Complaints Commission. And these are important bodies, because they’ll manage the elections, and they have to be viewed as credible by Afghans if future elections are to meet even a minimal threshold of success. So we are urging, and continue to urge, both leaders to make more rapid progress on that front.
We also – as you know, there’s going to be the Brussels conference next week looking for donor commitments for Afghanistan, and that’s going to strengthen Afghan institutions, spur economic growth, support the Afghan Government’s reform agenda, and send a strong signal to the Afghan people and the region that the international community remains committed to a stable and prosperous Afghanistan. But, ultimately, these are conversations that need to be had among Afghans and Afghan leaders. I’d refer you to the Government of Afghanistan to talk about their political and reform agenda.
QUESTION: What is going —
MR TONER: A couple of questions – go ahead.
QUESTION: What is going to happen after two years is up? I mean, is the U.S. going to broker extension of the deal?
MR TONER: I’m not going to predict what role, except to say that we’re – we remain committed to working with the Afghan Government and leadership in trying to continue along the reform agenda that they’re working on, but also, as you note, to ensure the smooth democratic transition to the next government.
QUESTION: Staying in the region, but a different issue.
MR TONER: Yeah. So I’ll take one, two, and then back to you for the last —
MR TONER: Please.
QUESTION: On – India today said that talks and terror cannot go together and as such, India informed that it will not be participating in the regional South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit, which was scheduled to be held in Pakistan next month – in November, I think. So what’s your take on that? U.S. is —
MR TONER: I’d refer you —
QUESTION: — observer to that.
MR TONER: Sure. Yeah, I’d refer you to the Government of India to comment on their decision not to attend this meeting. We’ve —
QUESTION: What is observer take on it? Because you are an observer, you go —
MR TONER: We are.
QUESTION: — there, U.S. goes there, every —
MR TONER: I mean, look, what I would say more broadly is – and we’ve said it many times from the podium – is we want to see closer relations and a normalization of relations, frankly, between India and Pakistan. It would be the – to the benefit of the region. And we want to see de-escalation in the political discourse between the two countries and greater communication and coordination between them.
QUESTION: What is your prescription for de-escalation of tension?
MR TONER: What is the —
QUESTION: Your prescription for de-escalation of tensions?
MR TONER: It’s not for us, necessarily, to offer a prescription. I mean, I think we would – and we’ve said, again, many times that we want to see a de-escalation and that’s, obviously, facts on the ground or actions on the ground, but also within – with – that applies to the rhetoric that’s flying back and forth as well.
And again, I mean, it’s in both countries’ mutual interest to put aside tensions, work towards putting aside tensions and de-escalating tensions, and establish more normal channels of communication.
QUESTION: But do you think talks and terror can go together? Talks and terror can go together simultaneously?
MR TONER: I – I’m not sure what your reference is or what your inference is.
QUESTION: There can be terrorist attack coming from across the border at the same time (inaudible) —
MR TONER: Well, I mean, clearly we’ve talked about that before is, while we’ve seen Pakistan make progress on some of the terrorist groups operating within its own borders and carrying out attacks within Pakistan’s borders, that we continue to put pressure on Pakistan to respond to those groups who are, quote/unquote, “seeking safe haven on Pakistan’s borders,” that – who are intent on carrying out attacks elsewhere in the region.
MR TONER: So you’re talking about the actions that were announced yesterday —
MR TONER: — I think by the Department of Treasury and Justice. Nothing to preview at this point in time, but we’d refer you to the Department of Treasury for talking about – more about implementing those actions taken yesterday.
QUESTION: Second question and the last week, South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se mentioned about – after UN General Assembly, he noted that North Korea should be disqualified from UN member status. What is your comment on his mention?
MR TONER: You’re talking about his remarks —
QUESTION: About disqualified North Koreans —
MR TONER: Yeah. I mean, I think the call we heard from – or of – from the foreign minister – was it foreign minister’s remarks? I’m sorry.
MR TONER: Yeah – last week from Korea was a natural result of North Korea’s continued dangerous provocations in the region. North Korea’s actions continue to undermine stability on the peninsula, undermine the credibility and authority of the international system that has repeatedly warned North Korea to abandon its nuclear missile program. So in general, we think it’s important for the international community to explore options to impose real costs and consequences on North Korea’s bad behavior. But I’d refer you to the North – or the – to the Korean Government to – for details on their statement.
QUESTION: Do you think the North Korea should be deprived of the qualification in member of United Nations?
MR TONER: Again, I think – I’m not going to speak directly to that statement by Korea, the Korean Government – or foreign minister, rather. I think I’d just spoke to it more broadly that as North Korea continually violates the international system, it’s incumbent on the international community to look at ways to hold them to account.
Please, sir. Last question.
QUESTION: Okay, thank you. The question is about the extradition request by Panama for the ex-president of their country, Ricardo Martinelli. And I’d like to ask you what you can tell us about the process today, a little bit more broadly if there are any – if you see any diplomatic obstacles, requests for asylum, immunity, or anything like that.
MR TONER: Yeah. This is an extradition request by the Panamanian Government for —
MR TONER: Yeah. So we wouldn’t necessarily speak to the details of any extradition request. That’s usually kept confidential because it is a legal process and a determination made through a legal process. I’d refer you to the Department of Justice. They may be able to provide you more of a status check if that – as that request moves forward, but beyond that I can’t really speak to it.
QUESTION: Well, Mark, you really didn’t think you were going to get away with that, did you – not being challenged?
MR TONER: Get away with? Oh.
MR TONER: Challenge away, Matt.
QUESTION: Well, I’m just thinking about one extradition request that you have been —
MR TONER: And I said “usually.”
MR TONER: And that was an exception.
QUESTION: And can you explain to us why that was an unusual – why that is an exception other than the fact that you guys think that it serves your interest to talk about that one and not necessarily to talk about this one?
MR TONER: Well, I —
QUESTION: And for those who may not know what I’m talking about —
MR TONER: As much as we – so he’s talking about Gulen.
QUESTION: — it’s Gulen.
MR TONER: Yeah. So as much as we’ve acknowledged that such an extradition request was made, I don’t think we’ve gotten into the details or the nitty-gritty.
QUESTION: You talked about dossiers being delivered and at one point it wasn’t enough to be a —
MR TONER: But —
QUESTION: — a formal request, then it became enough to be one.
MR TONER: But I think what – sure, Matt. So first of all, he’s welcome to go to the Department of Justice and see what they can give him in terms of where the status of this is. I just don’t – I don’t have that information in front of me. But normally we don’t talk about extradition requests.
MR TONER: Well, again, I think it was – first of all, it was a political upheaval for the country that created a great deal of public outcry within Turkey and allegations and requests that the Turkish Government made about this extradition. So given all that, we responded in a very measured way but said in a very measured way publicly that we were going to evaluate this as we evaluate all extradition requests.
Now, you – you’re right, we did confirm once we received that, because as the Secretary said in the immediate aftermath of that failed coup attempt when asked about this very subject – would we extradite Gulen – we said – he said there’s a process here. We respect that treaty that we have with Turkey, and when we get a request, we’ll —
MR TONER: — vet that. Sorry.
MR TONER: Yes, is create a huge – (laughter).
QUESTION: — is to have public – political upheaval and a lot of angry complaints, public complaints from the government and – is that correct? That’s what tips the —
MR TONER: That’s – anyway.
QUESTION: That’s what tips – makes the case?
QUESTION: Once the DOJ and the State and the courts are finished, then the Secretary of State signs off on the extradition.
MR TONER: I think that’s how the process works, yes.
QUESTION: So we’ll —
QUESTION: I got one more on Latin America —
MR TONER: Please, sir.
MR TONER: I closed my book, come on.
MR TONER: Sure. Of course, of course.
QUESTION: And the meeting that Secretary Kerry had with President Maduro last night.
MR TONER: Yeah.
QUESTION: I saw the readout, which was, shall we say, sparse on details, to say the least. And I don’t have – I only have one question about it; others might have other questions. But I just – did the case of Josh Holt, the American who’s been in prison there – did the Secretary raise that with President Maduro?
MR TONER: I know we’re following this case as closely – we do raise him regularly with Venezuelan authorities. I can’t confirm that was raised directly with President Maduro in the meeting yesterday.
QUESTION: You can?
MR TONER: I cannot. So I’ll take the question.
QUESTION: Do you know why? This is a pretty high-profile case.
MR TONER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Do you know why it wouldn’t have been raised, why the Secretary wouldn’t have raised it?
MR TONER: I can’t speak to it. I wasn’t there, so I don’t know how long the meeting was. I don’t know how – I just can’t. I’m sorry.
QUESTION: Well —
MR TONER: I mean, I don’t know why it wouldn’t have been raised.
QUESTION: Can —
MR TONER: I can’t confirm that it wasn’t raised.
QUESTION: Right. Well, can someone look into it? Just because the cases of Americans who are in prison —
MR TONER: Of course. Of course. And —
QUESTION: — this is your – what you say is your highest obligation.
MR TONER: And what I can say is that we call on the Venezuelan Government to respect due process and human rights. And as you note, we do take the welfare of American citizens very seriously.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR TONER: Thanks, guys.
(The briefing was concluded at 3:07 p.m.)
DPB # 164
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Over the years, I have often been asked whether the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) will fund clinical trials of natural products. The answer is, “Yes.” NCCIH funds clinical research of natural products, including herbal products, botanicals, products marketed as dietary supplements, and probiotics.
The tri-annual public meeting of the National Council on the Arts scheduled for Friday, October 28, 2016, will be webcast at arts.gov from 9:00 am to 11:30 am ET.
Following opening business and updates from Chairman Jane Chu, the meeting will feature four presentations:
The purpose of this Program Solicitation is to select an organization (Cooperator) to produce and coordinate the three-day 2018 POL National Finals competition of state and jurisdictional champions of the POL program, in conjunction with the National Endowment for the Arts and its partners. That…
Speeches: CIA Director John Brennan Speaks at the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York City (September 26, 2016). Here are his remarks, as prepared for delivery.
The emissions of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners from 13 caulk samples were tested in a micro-chamber system. Twelve samples were from PCB-contaminated buildings and one was prepared in the laboratory. Nineteen light ballasts collected from buildings that represent 13 different models from five manufacturers were tested in 53-liter environmental chambers. The rates of PCB congener emissions from caulking materials and light ballasts were determined. Several factors that may have affected the emission rates were evaluated. The experimentally determined emission factors showed that, for a given PCB congener, there is a linear correlation between the emission factor and the concentration of the PCB congener in the source. Furthermore, the test results showed that an excellent log-linear correlation exists between the normalized emission factor and the vapor pressure (coefficient of determination, r2 ≥0.8846). The PCB congener emissions from ballasts at or near room temperature were relatively low with or without electrical load. However, the PCB congener emission rates increased significantly as the temperature increased. The results of this research provide new data and models for ranking the primary sources of PCBs and supports the development and refinement of exposure assessment models for PCBs.