Saturday, February 02, 2008
S&S - Colonel takes over 86th Airlift Wing
Stars and Stripes
Colonel takes over 86th Airlift Wing
By John Vandiver, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Thursday, December 20, 2007
Ben Bloker / S&S Brig. Gen. Rich Johnston, right, the 86th Airlift Wing and Kaiserslautern Military Community commander, talks with Col. Kevin Ross, commander of the 86th Contingency Response Group, during Johnston’s final review of troops Wednesday during a change-of-command ceremony at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
Ben Bloker / S&S Lt. Gen. Rod Bishop Jr., the 3rd Air Force commander, passes the flag Wednesday to Col. William Bender, the new commander of the 86th Airlift Wing and Kaiserslautern Military Community, during a ceremony at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Brig. Gen. Rich Johnston, the outgoing commander, is moving to a position at Headquarters, U.S. Air Forces in Europe.
Ben Bloker / S&S Terry Johnston marshals in the C-130 piloted by her husband, Brig. Gen. Rich Johnston, on his final flight Monday at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Her husband relinquished command of the 86th Airlift Wing and Kaiserslautern Military Community on Wednesday to Col. William Bender. Airman 1st Class Jason Ricke, a C-130 crew chief assigned to the 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, assisted Terry Johnston with marshaling the aircraft. Aircrew members traditionally get hosed down with water after completing their final flight in a unit.
Ben Bloker / S&S A soaked Brig. Gen. Rich Johnston hugs his wife, Terry, after completing his final C-130 flight Monday at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Col. William J. Bender assumed control of the 86th Airlift Wing on Wednesday during a change of command at Ramstein Air Base, where airmen gathered for a ceremony of traditional military pomp.
Bender, whose new job also includes command of the Kaiserslautern military community, replaced Brig. Gen. Richard C. Johnston, who held the post for nearly two years. Johnston will now serve as director of plans and programs for U.S. Air Forces Europe.
“Colonel Bender, you’re inheriting a well-trained, well-disciplined wing,” Johnston told the incoming commander during the ceremony.
Bender, a command pilot with more than 4,000 flight hours, previously served as executive officer to the deputy commander of the European Command in Stuttgart. Before that, Bender commanded the 319th Air Refueling Wing at Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota.
“I am absolutely thrilled to have this opportunity to command this great wing,” Bender said.
The ceremony was attended by a host of German and military dignitaries, including Gen. William E. Ward, whom Bender worked under at EUCOM.
For Bender, the new position means he will lead a wing of four groups, 16 squadrons and three bases in Germany, Spain and Belgium.
Bender said his goal is to press forward with the progress achieved during Johnston’s tenure as commander of both the 86th and the Kaiserslautern Military Community, home to some 53,000 Americans.
The 86th Airlift Wing conducts a variety of airlift, airdrop and evacuation operations in support of humanitarian efforts around the world and the wars in the Mideast.
Bender said his goal is to maximize resources during a time of tightening budgets.
“I will do all I can to marshal the wing’s reserves,” Bender said. “Especially at a time when our nation is at war.”
Delivering needed supplies to war zone commanders will continue to be the primary mission, he said.
“Our mission, the reason we exist, is to support the war-fighting commander,” Bender said.
During his speech, Bender talked about the sacrifices of war and the economic burden on the nation, such as a mounting debt and falling dollar. However, the sacrifices are necessary, he said.
“I ask you to consider what is really at stake. To answer my own rhetorical question: Everything,” Bender told his airmen.
JG - World Trade Organisation (WTO) launches probe of US farm support
World Trade Organisation (WTO) launches probe of US farm support
published: Tuesday December 18, 2007
Susan Schwab, United States trade representative, called the complaint by Brazil and Canada against heavy US farm subsidies an "unnecessary diversion". - Reuters
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) launched an investigation on Monday into multibillion-dollar United States farm subsidies that Brazil and Canada say break international trading rules.
The size of U.S. farm subsidies is a major battleground in the WTO's six-year-old Doha round talks on opening world trade.
Monday's WTO probe of U.S. agricultural support for wheat, corn, rice and other crops comes three days after the U.S. Senate passed a US$286 billion farm bill, following a similar bill from the House of Representatives in July.
The White House has threatened to veto the bills, saying they failed to overhaul crop subsidy rules.
The Canadian and Brazilian complaints to the WTO relate to whether U.S. support topped Washington's limit of US$19.1 billion a year since 1999, except 2003, for the most trade-distorting support.
"Canada estimates that during these years the United States exceeded its WTO commitment levels by billions of dollars each year," the Canadian government said in a statement to the WTO.
Subsidies distort trade by allowing producers to sell their goods more cheaply than those in other countries, who risk going out of business because they cannot compete.
Washington said it was disappointed at the Canadian and Brazilian move, as its farm programmes were designed to comply with WTO rules. It said many of the supports being challenged had already been discontinued.
"This case represents an unnecessary diversion of time, resources and attention from the important tasks before us in the Doha negotiations," said Gretchen Hamel, a spokeswoman for U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab.
Several rich and developing countries joined the case as third parties, allowing them to participate in the panel. They are the European Union, India, Japan, Australia, Argentina, China, Thailand, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile, Taiwan and Nicaragua.
In October, Washington issued figures for 2002-2005 showing that overall trade-distorting support averaged US$15.9 billion a year in the period.
The most trade-distorting forms, known in WTO parlance as 'amber box,' averaged US$10.3 billion.
But 'green box' support, which has minimal impact on trade and so does not come under WTO limits, rose in the period to US$71.8 billion from US$58.3 billion. Ottawa and Brasilia say some supports were wrongly accounted for in that category.
The U.S. 'green box' figures include some direct payments of a type the WTO says should be classified as trade-distorting in a 2004 ruling in a Brazilian case against U.S. cotton subsidies.
The chairman of the agriculture negotiations in the WTO's Doha round talks has suggested that the United States cut its overall trade-distorting support to between US$13 billion and US$16.4 billion, a range Washington has said it could accept, with 'amber box' support falling to a maximum of US$7.6 billion.
Friday, February 01, 2008
DS Special Agent vacancy announcement closes today!
re: "Whoa: Media Big and Clinton State Department Official (and Hillary Adviser) Strobe Talbot Accused of Being Soviet Intelligence Source. . . . "
Nothing in it is particularly surprising if you're an Cold War dinosaur (like me) and have been paying attention for a decade or three.
The only thing I'd add is that former DepSec Talbott is reputed to have been Pres. Clinton's roommate when the former president was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford (?). Which actually meant that the president-to-be slept on his floor. I can't corroborate that, it's just what I recall from the dim recesses of memory. Also, that in years of covering the Soviet Union as a journalist, former DepSec Talbott was never correct in any of his predictions.
Since I've been in D.C. and paying attention for simply years, is it any wonder I have low expectations for political appointees?
Just go read the whole thing.
re: "Any Idiot Can Deny a Visa"
"Like most of my colleagues, I began my Foreign Service career with a consular tour. In order to prepare me, I was trained at the Foreign Service Institute, in the consular course. It was two decades ago, but I still remember the teacher's admonition at the end of the course. "Any idiot can deny a visa," he said. "You were not hired for that. Your job is to issue visas to each and every person who is legitimately qualified to receive one. That requires judgement, skill and the ability to interpret evidence in the context of laws. That is why the Government hired you." "
"When I was a consular officer, I refused nearly fifty percent of the applicants I interviewed. I identified fraudulent documents, entered documented bad cases into the lookout, and even arranged for a couple of people who presented fake passports to be arrested when they left the Embassy.
I kept the bad guys out.
But I never forgot that my job, my real job, was to let the good guys in."
re: "Never Say Die" & "THE FREDHEADS haven't given up."
Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit.
re: "Nigerian Phishing Jackpot Hit In Tragic Child Neglect Case?"
re: "America Should Decide Who Lives and Who Dies"
"There are a lot of evil people in the world there who walk out in the open with no fear. They are called "rulers of other countries." It's time this practiced ends. It's time they end. With all the sniper rifle and bomb technology we have, there is no reason that evil people should rule any country any where in the world... or ever show their face publicly ever again.
It is time America starts systematically killing everyone we know to be bad.
Now, some ask what give us the right to decide who lives and who dies. I answer that the fact that America is superior at everything means we deserve the exclusive right to decide who lives and who dies. Many foreigners are only alive today because America's existence scares away evil, so we deserve to be able to kill many many people in payment for how many we've helped live. If anyone disagrees with this, that's okay; just don't do it vocally if you're a foreign because we can and probably will kill you. That's what you get for getting in the way of solving the problem that evil people are still breathing.
Frank J. 'XX for Some Office
"Genociding evil." "
I never can tell when Frank is kidding.
I think he does kid sometimes.
re: "Former president of Islamic Association for Palestine indicted for naturalization fraud"
"In applying to become a U.S. citizen in 2000, Bushnaq is accused of failing to disclose his affiliations with a series of organizations that the indictment links to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. The indictment clearly defines the IAP as "an overt arm of the covert organization known as the Muslim Brotherhood."
In addition, it alleges that when Bushnaq applied to become a citizen he failed to disclose:
* He was the IAP's president from 1989-1991.
* That he worked under the pseudonym Yaser Saleh.
* He was a board of trustees member for the Al Aqsa Education Fund, "an organization that sought to raise funds for Hamas."
* He was an authorized signatory for the Marzook Legal Fund, established in 1996 to support Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook after his arrest by U.S. authorities."
DA - Passport fees to increase; passport card now available
Passport fees to increase; passport card now available
By JUDY D.J. ELLICH
Daily American Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 29, 2008 11:31 PM EST
Beginning Friday, anyone obtaining a passport will have to dig deeper into their pockets.
Additionally, everyone will have the option to apply for a passport book, a passport card, or both. “Anyone can apply for the passport card after Feb. 1, but they (State Department) will not start distributing them until sometime in the spring,” said Somerset County Prothonotary Angie Svonavec.
Last year was the first time a driver’s license was not enough for Americans to fly to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, and now anyone traveling by land or by sea, including ferries, will also need a passport.
The passport card is half the price of the passport book, and is valid for 10 years for adults and five years for children. But, unlike the book, the card is limited and may only be used for land and sea travel between the United States, Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean.
On Friday, the passport card, which is wallet size, is $45 for adults and $35 for anyone under the age of 16. For passport holders, a card will cost an additional $20.
For first-time applicants, it will cost $100 for adults and $85 for children under the age of 16. The fee is $3 more than last year.
To renew a passport usually costs $75, depending on whether or not it was issued in the last 15 years. The person must have the same name and must have been 16 or older when the passport was obtained. The passport book must be undamaged.
Another change in the passport requirements deals with age and consent. Two parents must consent for children under the age of 16 to obtain a passport. Last year, the age was under 14.
“This was done to protect the children from abduction and address concerns about runaway children,” said Cy Ferenchak, assistant spokesman, Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of State.
Parental abduction is a major concern for the State Department, especially if one of the parents has citizenship in another country, he said.
After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, federal legislation was passed to strengthen U.S. borders.
The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 requires the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the State Department to develop and implement a plan to require all travelers to present a passport, or other document or a combination of documents that show identity and citizenship when entering the United States.
The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative is the administrative arm of the plan to implement this mandate, Svonavec said.
Before the initiative, the office processed about 20 passports a month. That number rose to an average of 100 a month last year.
Svonavec anticipates the processing numbers to decrease this year.
“We don’t foresee a rush in passports this year,” she said.
The processing time is six to eight weeks, she said. At one time last year, it was taking closer to 12 weeks to process passports. With an extra expediting fee of about $60, that time can be narrowed to two weeks, she said.
Last year, when the initiative went into place, the prothonotary’s office processed 828 passports for adults and 111 for children. In 2006, the office processed 721 adult and 86 children passports.
The initiative’s passport requirement does not apply to U.S. citizens traveling to or returning directly from a U.S. territory, Svonavec said. U.S. territories include Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Swains Island and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, according to the State Department.
For additional passport information, go to http://travel.state.gov/passport.
(Judy D.J. Ellich can be contacted at email@example.com. Comment on the online story at dailyamerican.com.)
STL - New Border Crossing Procedures Beginning January 31, 2008
New Border Crossing Procedures Beginning January 31, 2008
January 30, 2008
By Bill Sontag
What is the change beginning January 31, 2008?
Currently, upon entering the United States at a land border port of entry, an individual without documentation can verbally claim to be a U. S. citizen. On January 31, DHS is ending this practice such that oral declarations alone to prove identity and citizenship will no longer be sufficient. Travelers will be asked to present certain documentation from a specified list when entering the United States at land or sea ports of entry.
What is the purpose of the January 31st change?
Close a well-documented security gap, reducing the potential for an individual to gain access to the U.S. by falsely claiming through an oral declaration to be a U.S., Canadian or Bermudan citizen.
Allow U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers to standardize inspections against a narrower class of documents. The Jan. 31 change is a step forward from the largely subjective standard that allows travelers to present an almost limitless array of documents, such as baptismal certificates, to satisfy CBP officers of their citizenship.
Accustom travelers to presenting documentation when entering the United States. This transition period will prepare travelers for the implementation of new secure travel document requirements that will go into effect as early as June 1, 2009.
Who is affected by this change?
This change affects all U.S. citizens entering the United States by land or sea – including pleasure vessel or ferry. It also affects citizens of Canada and Bermuda who are currently exempt from document requirements. Please see the January 31, 2008 Fact Sheet for a specific list of acceptable documents.
Who is NOT affected by this change?
Travelers entering the U.S. by air. All travelers entering the United States by air have been required to present a passport or secure document since January 23, 2007.
o Mexican citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents are not impacted by this change.
· Mexican citizens, including children, are currently required to present a passport with a nonimmigrant visa or a laser visa border crossing card. Lawful Permanent Residents may continue to present their Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card.
· Nonimmigrants who have been required to present a passport and visa, or other travel document, to enter the U.S.
What documents will travelers be asked to present after January 31st?
1. U.S. and Canadian citizens ages 19 and older will be asked to present documentation from a specified list. Please see the Fact Sheet for document options:.
2. U.S. and Canadian children ages 18 and under will only be asked to present proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate.
3. Bermudians should present a passport issued by the Government of Bermuda or the United Kingdom, or a government-issued photo ID along with proof of citizenship.
What happens if I don’t have any documents when I cross the border at a land or sea port of entry?
Travelers who do not have the appropriate documents may be delayed while CBP officers attempt to verify their citizenship and identity. They will also be given the informational tear sheet explaining the new procedures. The intent of this transition is to raise awareness of the change, educate travelers, and allow ample time for travelers to obtain the necessary documents.
How long will the transition period last? What will happen when it ends?
The transition period will last for approximately 18 months at which time the Departments of Homeland Security and State will implement the requirement for secure travel documents, under the congressionally mandated Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI).
When will implementation of the new requirements occur?
Implementation will occur as early as June 1, 2009. At that time, only secure documents meeting identity and citizenship requirements under WHTI will be accepted for cross-border travel through land and sea ports of entry. The public will be given considerable advance notice of the full implementation of new document requirements.
What documents will be acceptable after implementation?
The final land and sea rule for WHTI will describe which documents will be accepted after implementation. Upon publication, a list of those documents will be found on the CBP website. We anticipate that U.S. and Canadian passports; the U.S. passport card; NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST cards; and enhanced driver’s licenses and tribal cards designated by the Secretary will be accepted.
What is DHS doing to facilitate smooth implementation of the January 31 procedures?
Notice and Outreach to the Traveling Public and Border Communities
June 26, 2007:
DHS began providing notice to the traveling public and border communities regarding the Jan. 31 procedures, in conjunction with publication of the WHTI Land/Sea Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and as part of associated outreach.
Ongoing: Since June 2007, DHS has conducted a variety of media interviews and grassroots outreach efforts. Since December, field representatives have been engaged in significant outreach activity at the local level to alert the traveling public to these upcoming changes on January 31, 2008.
December 3, 2007: DHS and CBP issued a press release reminding the traveling public that as of January 31, 2008, all adult travelers should no longer expect that they will be able to prove identity and citizenship by relying on an oral declaration alone. Instead, travelers will be asked to present identity and citizenship document when entering the United States at land and sea ports of entry.
Mid-December 2007: CBP officers have been providing an informational tear sheet regarding the new procedures to border crossers at land and sea ports of entry.
December 21, 2007: CBP published a notice in the federal register advising the public that, effective January 31, 2008, CBP officers will no longer generally allow travelers claiming to be U.S., Canadian, or Bermudian citizens to establish citizenship by relying only on an oral declaration.
January 18, 2008: DHS issued a press release reminding the traveling public of the Jan. 31 procedures and initiated an intense two-week long media push that includes outreach by regional public affairs officers and travel by headquarters officials, including the Secretary, to the border for public events. · Now until June 2009: DHS is launching a more robust and concerted public education campaign, intended to inform travelers of document requirements which will be implemented next year.Training of CBP Officers
· December 2007: Extensive field guidance (musters, tear sheets for the traveling public, training plans and guidance) was provided to our CBP officers in preparation for the new procedures on Jan. 31.
·January 8: More than 70 CBP Field representatives met in Washington, DC, for detailed training and information sessions about the new procedures, transition efforts and public outreach.
· Ongoing: During the transition, CBP field offices will report on traveler compliance, operational impact, and associated wait times starting on January 31, 2008.
Questions on Specific Documents
What is a Passport Card?
A passport card is a low-cost, limited-use travel document produced by the U.S. Department of State acceptable for land and sea travel within the Western Hemisphere. Applications for the card will be accepted starting February 1, 2008, and the cards will be available for distribution in late spring 2008. See www.travel.state.gov for details.
What is an enhanced driver’s license?
Several states including Washington, Vermont, New York, and Arizona are working with DHS to develop Enhanced Driver’s Licenses (EDLs) for U.S. These documents denote both identity and U.S. citizenship. Several Canadian provinces are also considering production of EDLs for use by Canadian citizens.U.S. and Canadian citizens can use EDLs instead of a passport to cross the sea borders with Canada and Mexico. EDLs include special features that improve security and facilitate travel such as radio frequency technology and a machine-readable zone. citizens.
Will I be able to use an Enhanced Driver’s License at locations outside of my state?
Yes. Enhanced Driver’s Licenses will be accepted for entry into the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean at any land or sea port of entry.
What are the NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST programs?
These cross-border trusted travel programs facilitate land border crossing of prescreened low-risk travelers and commercial truck drivers through exclusive dedicated lanes. Members in these voluntary programs must meet certain eligibility requirements and pay a 5-year membership fee. NEXUS (the northern border program) and SENTRI (the southern border program) are for drivers and passengers; FAST (Free and Secure Trade) is the commercial equivalent for truck drivers.For a complete list of participating locations, eligibility requirements, and application information, please visit the “Travel” link at cbp.gov and click “Trusted Traveler Programs.”
Where can I go to obtain a passport or passport card?
The U.S. Department of State issues passports and passport cards to U.S. Citizens. Visit their web page at www.travel.state.gov for information on locations.
Where can I go to obtain a birth certificate?
You may obtain a birth certificate by contacting the appropriate agency for your state. A listing of agencies may be found through the NationalCenter for Health Statistics at www.cdc.gov/nchs.
Does my birth certificate need to be an original or a certified copy?
DHS recommends that, where possible, an original or a certified copy of your birth certificate be presented. An original or certified copy is generally required to apply for secure, reliable documents, such as the U.S. passport. However, a copy will be accepted during the transition period.
How does REAL ID fit into this?
REAL ID is a nationwide effort to improve the integrity and security of State-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards, which in turn will help fight terrorism and reduce fraud.
DHS recognizes that the changes required to create more secure driver's licenses will not happen overnight. While DHS will accept a driver's license during the transition phase, the traveler must also present proof of citizenship for entry into the U.S.
DHS is working with some states to develop the enhanced driver's license (described above) that, because it meets standards agreed to by both DHS and the state, will meet the criteria of denoting both identity and citizenship. A document that meets only REAL ID standards will not be a WHTI-compliant document, acceptable alone as proof of identity and citizenship.
Questions on Specific Travelers and Populations
How do these requirements affect Native Americans?
The Indian and North Affairs Canada Card and Tribal Enrollment Cards with a photo affixed to the card will be accepted during the transition phase.
Members of the Kickapoo Band of Texas and Tribe of Oklahoma would be permitted to present the Form I-872 American Indian Card in lieu of a passport, as they do currently. DHS encourages tribes to further enhance the security of their identity documents, particularly if they are interested in producing documents that may be accepted for cross-border travel under WHTI. Information is available at cbp.gov.
Will travelers from U.S. territories need to present a passport to enter the United States?
No. U.S. territories are considered a part of the United States. U.S. citizens traveling directly from a U.S. territory are not considered to have left the country and do not need to present a passport. U.S. territories include the following: Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Swains Island and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
How do these requirements affect First Responders or medical emergency situations?
There is no change for standard processing of first responders or medical emergency personnel for January 31.
DHS has had and will continue to have procedures in place to ensure prompt processing for these individuals.Special consideration will continue to be made for urgent medical issues, First Responder situations, and cross-border emergency services.
However, presenting an acceptable document is likely to be the most expedient means of crossing the border for personnel who routinely cross the border.
How will the new requirements affect passengers going on cruises during the transition?
U.S. and Canadian citizens arriving on cruises from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, or the Caribbean will be able to enter or depart the country with proof of identity and citizenship, such as a birth certificate and government-issued photo ID, as provided at www.cbp.gov. Please be aware that you may still be required to present a passport when you dock at a foreign port, depending on the islands or countries that your cruise ship is visiting. Check with your cruiseline to ensure you have the appropriate documents for the stops you’ll be making on your cruise.
How are ferries and small boats (pleasure vessels) affected?
Ferries and small boats are processed much like land travel, and all individuals traveling by these modes of travel are subject to the new requirements.
What if I have an I-68 registration? Will I still need travel documents?
Yes, boaters who have an I-68 form will need to follow the new travel document procedures. Bear in mind that a NEXUS card is an alternative to a passport for entry into the U.S. for Canadian and U.S. citizens, and ensuring that you have either a NEXUS card or a passport will enable you to continue to utilize telephonic clearance procedures currently in place for I-68 holders. An I-68 form is similar to any kind of vehicle registration, and is not an identity document or a travel document.
Why are travel requirements changing?
For many years, Canadians and U.S. citizens have been exempt from presenting a passport or other secure document to enter the United States. The 9/11 Commission recommended and Congress mandated the requirement that all travelers – including U.S. and Canadian citizens – present a passport or other secure document that denotes citizenship and identity when entering the United States. The Secretary of Homeland Security is moving now to close a significant security gap such that oral declarations alone are no longer accepted as proof of identity and citizenship for entry to the U.S. Secure and reliable documentation is critical for border officials to accurately determine admissibility into the United States. During October to December 2007, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers reported 1,517 cases of individuals falsely claiming to be U.S. citizens. In one of those cases, CBP officials determined that an individual falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen was wanted for homicide in California. This individual was paroled for entry into the U.S. and transported into the custody of the San Diego Sheriff’s Department. This requirement was successfully instituted for air travel on January 23, 2007. Compliance with the requirement has been, and continues to be, extremely high – over 99%.
How will the Departments of Homeland Security and State increase the security of our borders without causing backups at the land borders?
DHS is using a practical approach to increasing the security of our borders. DHS and the Department of State are utilizing radio frequency Identification (RFID) technology to help speed processing at the border by eliminating manual data entry and queuing a traveler’s information to the border officer as the traveler’s vehicle approaches the inspection booth. The technology also automates searches for any outstanding/arrest warrants and conducts standard criminal checks so that we can facilitate the processing of legitimate travelers while focusing our attention on higher-risk individuals. This technology has been used in the Trusted Traveler programs since 1995, and is also used in everyday applications such as toll tags, metro cards, and building passes.
re: "What Part Of Not Authorized Did Khalilzad Not Understand?"
S&S - Schweinfurt, Baumholder brigades to stay. Army delays relocation until at least 2012.
Stars and Stripes
Schweinfurt, Baumholder brigades to stay
Army delays relocation until at least 2012
By Lisa Burgess, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Thursday, December 20, 2007
ARLINGTON, Va. — Two brigade combat teams slated to move to the United States will remain in Germany until at least 2012, service leaders announced Wednesday.
The Army has received permission from President Bush to delay the relocation of the Schweinfurt-based 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division and the Baumholder-based 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division.
The two brigades also will be reorganized and reflagged as “heavy brigade combat teams,” Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Richard Cody told Pentagon reporters.
In fiscal 2012, one of the heavy brigade combat teams will be permanently relocated back in the United States, at Fort Bliss, Texas, he said.
The following year, fiscal 2013, the other unit will go to White Sands Missile Range, N.M. Which will go where has yet to be determined, Cody said.
For soldiers and their families who are currently members of the 1st Infantry or the 1st Armored, today’s announcement means that “if you’re there now, you’ll probably rotate out on time,” Cody said.
Cody discussed the two Germany units during a briefing announcing the Army’s new unit stationing plans to accommodate 74,200 additional soldiers across all three components — active, Guard and Reserve.
U.S. Army Europe leaders had just received the announcement and had yet to evaluate its impact on U.S. Army Europe and its mission, Lt. Col. Richard W.
Spiegel, a U.S. Army Europe spokesman, said in a written statement Wednesday.
But overall, the leaders support the decision, Spiegel said.
“Retaining two brigade combat teams gives the USAREUR commander increased capability and flexibility to continue providing the best trained and ready forces to the war on terror as well as supporting the EUCOM commander’s theater security cooperation missions, which is vital to building and maintaining alliances and partnerships in our area of responsibility,” Spiegel said.
Gen. John Craddock, the top U.S. military commander in Europe, has repeatedly said he hoped Defense Secretary Robert Gates would halt the ongoing drawdown of Europe-based troops to the continental United States.
In June, Craddock offered Gates a troop-to-task analysis he had conducted to determine future troop needs in Europe that recommended such a halt.
Shortly after taking command of the U.S. European Command and NATO’s military forces last December, Craddock, who is also the supreme allied commander Europe, expressed concern that he did not have enough Europe-based forces to conduct ample bilateral and multilateral military engagements with U.S. allies.
The 1st Infantry Division was moved from Würzburg, Germany, to Fort Riley, Kan., in 2006 as part of a reduction in Army forces from 62,000 to about 43,000 in the past three years. Multiple deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq have also lessened the ability of Europe-based troops to train with European allies.
JG - Jamaica, Brazil sign first air services agreement
Jamaica, Brazil sign first air services agreement
published: Tuesday December 18, 2007
The governments of Jamaica and Brazil on Friday signed the first air services agreement, which will open the doors for direct flights between the two countries.
The agreement marks the beginning of better relations between the two countries and an increase in tourism and investment opportunities for Jamaica.
Jamaica commenced its air services negotiations with Brazil in November 2005, finalising an agreement text in August 2006.
Minister of Transport, Mike Henry, signed on behalf of the Jamaican government, while Cezar Amaral, ambassador of Brazil, signed for that country.
Mr. Henry was unable to confirm how soon flights would commence between the two countries and which airlines were on-board.
He, however, noted that the Government has taken steps to ensure that the national carrier, Air Jamaica, is not left vulnerable despite increased competition.
"The Government has acknowledged the desire to take steps to protect the country's national carrier, even as we accept the liberalisation of air services in some respects," he said.
According to Ambassador Amaral, the agreement not only lays the foundation for increased travel between Jamaica and Brazil, but also has the potential to improve cultural exchange between the two nations.
Jamaica has had similar agreements with more than 17 countries, including Canada, the United States, Norway and Cuba.
Thursday, January 31, 2008
DS Special Agent vacancy announcement closes Feb. 1!
re: "What Happened at Minot--an In From the Cold Special Report"
"Proponents of reducing our nuclear stockpile have seized on the incident to support their cause. In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed earlier this month, a number of former Secretaries of State, Defense Secretaries and National Security advisers cited the mishap as another reason to move toward eliminating nuclear weapons around the globe. If the U.S. Air Force can lose six of its nukes, the thinking goes, we can only wonder about nuclear security in places like Pakistan.
But such comparisons are both specious and invalid. In reality, the six nuclear missiles never left the Air Force chain of custody. There was never any danger of them falling into the wrong hands; the greatest danger was the potential release of radioactive material into the environment had the bomber crashed. And despite its advanced age, B-52 accidents are exceptionally rare."
"(T)he infrequency of nuclear accidents does not mitigate the gravity of what happened in North Dakota last summer. As a retired nuclear expert observed, “short of actually detonating a weapon, losing control of nuclear warheads is about as bad as it gets.” Experts interviewed by In From the Cold agreed that such an incident was previously considered “unthinkable,” due to the strict accountability and control procedures already in place."
"As a result of the Minot accident, the service announced new rules for handling and accounting for nuclear weapons, which went into effect earlier this month. Under the revised directive, “nuclear and non-nuclear munitions/missiles” will not be stored in the same “storage structure, cell, or [underground storage site].” Prior to the change, both types of munitions could be stored in the same facility.
Additionally, new procedures also call for all non-nuclear missiles to have “stanchions/cones, ropes and placards” on them to clearly indicate the missile is not armed with a nuclear warhead. A placard will have the missile’s warhead status marked with labels like “trainer” or “empty.” Previously, airmen relied on a numeric code to determine the weapons warhead status.
According to Air Force Times, the new guidance also limits airmen handling or maintaining nuclear weapons to a 12-hour shift, under most circumstances. While an extended shift can be ordered by commanders to “advance defense readiness conditions, actual emergencies ... or to resolve an unexpected event,” it cannot exceed 16 continuous hours."
"(T)here is the larger question of how the Air Force (and DoD) will manage the nuclear weapons career field. With the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s--and demise of Strategic Air Command—the nation’s nuclear arsenal was reduced, and there was less emphasis on maintaining the personnel and resources needed to support those weapons systems.
More than fifteen years later, nuclear technicians had become, in the words of a retired senior NCO a “drag on resources” because (typically) they didn’t deploy in support of the Global War on Terror. And, when nuclear techs did serve in Iraq or Afghanistan, their assignments were often unrelated to their career field, working as interrogators or guarding POWs.
Sometimes, their stateside assignments aren’t much better. One veteran of a northern-tier bomber base notes that many young nuclear technicians cross-train into a new job or separate from service, rather than accept an assignment at a “cold weather” base, or an overseas locations. Retirement-eligible personnel often exit as well, finding civilian life preferable to moving their families to Minot, Grand Forks, or F.E. Warren.
Similar trends can be found among officers in the nuclear career field. One DoD consultant reports that many officers view nuclear assignments as a “pain” and a potential career-ender, if major mistakes happen on their watch. He says that many munitions officers take nuclear positions as a “square filler” and move on to better assignments at the first opportunity. As a result, experience levels among officers and senior enlisted personnel have gradually declined."
re: "Back to the Embassy of the Future"
"The CSIS Commission is not the first distinguished panel of experts to peer into the future of the U.S. embassy. Way back in 1986 a very similar study was conducted by the National Academy of Sciences, which also produced a report titled “The Embassy of the Future,” that you can read here. Oddly, the new EOTF report never cites its forerunner, the old EOTF, even though they both cover some of the same ground, and even though the old EOTF set the course that the Office of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) has been following all these years."
A shock to the system, I know, but people really have thought about these issues before, and made reasoned decisions and policies based on those studies. This doesn't mean the issues can't (or shouldn't) be revisited from time to time, to ensure that old assumptions are still valid, but it would have been nice to know the "experts" had a clue about the whys and wherefors of what had come before them.
"Both reports place strong emphasis on the same two key matters: on the selection of new embassy construction sites (meaning, exactly where in a city the new office compound ought to be located), and on risk-acceptance as the basis for making decisions about security. The reports conflict only on the matter of whether or not to collocate all the embassy functions in a city into a single location. The old EOTF gathered all offices and activities under one roof in order to avoid having multiple soft targets outside of the new secure compounds, but the new EOTF would have both a secure central compound and several small satellite offices for public outreach and "distributed presence." By the way, I very much like the new EOTF recommendations for that distributed presence, even though implementing them will require changing some current security standards and even a U.S. law (the Secure Embassy Construction and Counterterrorism Act, Public Law 106-113). It seems to me a reasonable risk, and a more appropriate venue for conducting public diplomacy."
That's right, colocation. It's not just a good idea, it's the law!
Again, an policy whose underlying assumptions it does no harm to reevaluate every decade or two, just to make sure they're still valid. Like my colleague TSB, I can see the value of a more "distributed presence" template, but even the present system does allow for exceptions and waivers to the policy.
"(T)he new EOTF makes a big point about the operational necessity of locating new embassy office buildings in highly accessible central downtown sites, rather than on the edges of cities (where they tend to be located now). That's fair enough. But the panel seemed to assume that security requirements for setback distance are the main reason why we have usually picked remote locations; therefore, the argument goes, if the security folks would only accept a little more risk we could have our new embassies downtown. Actually, setback requirements are only part of the reason new embassies tend to be located far from downtown. The Office of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) has determined that they need a minimum site size of 10 acres - and more than that for a large embassy - in order to have a functional compound with all the supporting infrastructure (warehouse, motor pool, utility structures, parking, etc.) that new embassies require. The security requirement for setback between a new office building and the street is only 30 meters, and that could be met with a site far smaller than 10 acres. Indeed, we have some existing embassies on sites of less than 3 acres that nevertheless have full setback."
Sadly, the U.S. Government lacks eminent domain powers in other countries, or the site selection process would be ever so much easier.
"Have you ever tried to find a suitable and affordable new construction site of at least 10 acres in the central business district of an overseas city? I have, and can testify that it is, most of the time, impossible. Selecting a site is a very picky business. In addition to the size requirement, we also need our site to have particular soil conditions (to ensure the new building won't sink), an unobstructed satellite 'look' (for communications), a lack of certain undesirable neighbors and nearby industrial hazards, a lack of site pollutants that would require environmental remediation (a big issue in many third-world cities), multiple approach routes (to avoid transit choke-points), and to be available for purchase 'in fee simple' or else in consecutive 99-year leases (to prevent any future legal encroachment on the site). If we have all those requirements met, the purchase price of the site must be within the U.S. Government's independent assessment of its fair market value, or else we are precluded from purchasing it."
"Despite the best intentions of all concerned to find a downtown site for new embassies, most of the time it won't be feasible."
"Regarding the new EOTF's second big point, the need for risk acceptance vice risk avoidance, I have a mixed reaction. I fully support risk-based decision making and think we need more of it in the embassy arena, especially as a counterweight to the heavily standards-based approach used by the Overseas Security Policy Board [see more on the OSPB here]. However, the new EOTF panel makes the mistake of not appreciating how much risk acceptance has already gone into creating the current embassy security requirements.
Take the issue of blast protection, for example. It is far from a secret that new embassies are constructed to withstand bomb blast; what is something of a secret is exactly how large a blast they are designed to withstand. That design-basis threat explosive charge weight is, in fact, a risk-based requirement, since it was derived from a statistical assessment of probability [you'll have to take my word on that, since I can't cite an open source]. "
"The OSPB has made its own informed judgment as to how much blast risk to accept in new embassy construction. The specific charge weight they chose isn't important [and it's not 200 pounds]. My point is simply that the new embassy construction process currently does accept risk, even in this critical area.
It works the same way with most embassy security standards. They were developed through a risk-based process that aligns the protection they provide to the actual attacks that embassies abroad have historically experienced, and therefore you get a reasonable level of protection that is commensurate to the threat. Again, you'll have to take my word on that, but I believe it should be obvious to anyone who thinks it through that even the most troglodyte security type [that's not a dis, since I'm one myself] realizes embassy office buildings can't be made invulnerable, or even close to it, but must accept risk as a daily reality."
TSB just keeps being right. Risk management, risk avoidance, risk acceptance, these all address the same issues by establishing a rational framework for making defendable and explicable decisions when weighing competing interests and making security decisions whose effects will endure for decades.
"the new EOTF report also featured a heavy sprinkling of architectural snobbery"
Having read who would be on the committee (I read her book), I wasn't the least surprised at this observation.
It's like this: after two of our embassies were destroyed (along with a lot of local civilian collateral deaths and woundings) on 8/7, the decision was made to greatly accelerate the new embassy construction program. (To be frank, prior to 8/7 there simply wasn't funding or other support to do more than a handful of major construction projects at a time.) One of the ways the vastly upscaled new construction program undertaken by OBO was able to accomplish this was by adopting a Standard Embassy Design approach. That meant no more one-of-a-kind, work-of-art, reputation-making, monuments-to-an-architect's-ego embassy projects.
Memo to architects overly impressed with your role: Get over your bad selves.
USA-T - Passport fees go up Friday; border ID required Thursday
Passport fees go up Friday; border ID required Thursday
Attention, world travelers:
Just a reminder that later this week the U.S. government is raising passport fees and requiring you to show proof of citizenship when entering the country by land or sea.
Passports and renewals will cost more starting Friday, the Los Angeles Times reports. If you're 16 or older, a new passport will cost $100, a $3 increase, the State Department announced today. Under 16 passports will rise $2, to $85. Renewals will cost $75, up $8.
Another important change affecting parents and teens: Both parents will have to appear in person when applying for a passport for a child under 16. Until now, that requirement had applied only for children under 14. The State Department says the change seeks to prevent abductions and thwart runaways from leaving the country.
Forms for passports and the new passport card will be available Friday at the the State Department's Web site. The cheaper passport card, which can be used for certain land or sea border crossings, is expected to debut in spring.
Also, say good-bye to the care-free days of opening your mouth to declare your citizenship at the northern and southern borders. Starting Thursday you'll have to show proof of citizenship (a birth certificate or passport) plus a government-issued photo ID (a driver's license, for instance).
Posted by Michael Winter at 05:51 PM/ET, January 29, 2008 in Travel Permalink
LAT - U.S. passport fees set to rise
U.S. passport fees set to rise
By Jane Engle, Los Angeles Times Staff WriterJanuary 29, 2008
Click to Enlarge
Everything you need to know about U.S. passport rules
The cost of getting a passport will hit $100 starting Friday. The increase is one of a series of changes this week that affect U.S. citizens traveling outside the country.
Saying it needs more money "to cover the cost of providing efficient and secure passport services," the U.S. State Department said today that it will raise passport fees from $97 to $100 for adults and from $82 to $85 for children younger than 16. It said renewals, now $67, would cost $75.
In another change that takes effect Friday, both parents will be required to appear in person -- or one parent in person with required documentation -- when applying for a passport for a child under 16. The current cutoff is age 14. The change is aimed at protecting children from abduction and "to address concerns regarding runaway children," the State Department said.
Starting Friday, the State Department expects to have new forms for downloading from its website, www.travel.state.gov, that can be used to apply for passports and a new passport card, said assistant spokesman Cy Ferenchak. The passport card, expected to be issued in the spring, is a less expensive document that will be accepted for certain border crossings by land or sea.
Ferenchak said the new forms have also been sent to thousands of passport acceptance facilities, such as post offices, throughout the country.
In yet another change, starting Thursday, the government plans to end what it calls "the routine practice of accepting oral declarations alone at land and sea ports of entry." That means that U.S. citizens will be expected to present at least a birth certificate, or other proof of citizenship, plus a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver's license, to cross borders by land or sea.
For an online Q&A on new passport rules, go to latimes.com/passportupdate.
re: "Wrestling With Mohammed"
S&S - U.S. military: First group graduates from prison school. Detainees at jail in Iraq attended a 7-week session in basic education at Camp Bucca.
Stars and Stripes
U.S. military: First group graduates from prison school
Detainees at jail in Iraq attended a 7-week session in basic education at Camp Bucca
By Joseph Giordono, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Wednesday, December 19, 2007
The U.S. military says the first group of detainees to attend a seven-week education program at one of the military prisons in Iraq has “graduated.”
Dubbed “The Hasty School,” the program at Camp Bucca gave prisoners “seven weeks studying Arabic, English, math, science, geography and civics to a first to third-grade level,” according to a news release issued Tuesday.
Military officials said the program was part of several initiatives to steer prisoners away from violence or crime. Other initiatives have included education programs and youth art contests.
“Many of those we hold in the detention facilities are illiterate, disillusioned and angry, and some have become security threats to Iraq because they felt they had no other way to make a living or were influenced by radicals,” Maj. Gen. Douglas Stone, commander of Task Force 134, which oversees the American detention system in Iraq, said in the statement.
“The educational programs can provide detainees with a basic education and an opportunity to succeed when they are released. We are helping them learn to read, write and be productive in a non-aggressive environment.”
In August, the military announced it had opened the first detention facility meant specifically to house juvenile prisoners. According to the American command in Baghdad, the Dar al-Hikmah facility houses some 600 detainees from 11 to 17 years old and provides “basic education instruction.”
There are some 17,000 prisoners in the U.S. system in Iraq; that number has risen over previous years as a result of the “surge” in Baghdad and other locations.
The Camp Bucca education program is housed in a building constructed by the prisoners, officials said Tuesday.
Bucca also has the Inner-Compound School, “which is taught by both hired and detainee teachers in 17 compounds to more than 3,000 detainees at Camp Bucca, and a work and vocational training program that enables detainees to send money home to support their families,” the military said.
In late October, officials said Camp Bucca — the largest U.S. prison in Iraq — is undergoing more than $110 million worth of work that will allow the military to expand the prison population from 20,000 to 30,000.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is overseeing the Camp Bucca projects.
The camp “has grown steadily since its inception in 2003 as a British-run camp, growing even in the face of now long-abandoned plans to close it down,” the release announcing those projects read.
The camp became the focus of U.S. military prison operations in Iraq after the return of Abu Ghraib to the Iraqis in 2006.
JG - 'Gov't should ratify human rights court'
'Gov't should ratify human rights court'
published: Tuesday December 18, 2007
The Jamaican Government has been advised to seriously consider ratifying the jurisdiction of the Inter American Court of Human Rights.
Santiago Canton, executive secretary of the Inter American Commission on Human Rights, made the recommendation Saturday night, while speaking at a seminar on human rights at the Norman Manley Law School, University of the West Indies, Mona campus.
Mr. Canton, the keynote speaker, said that Jamaica is among the 34 member states of the IACHR, the nation has not signed off on allowing the Inter American Court of Human Rights to hear cases in this regard.
He argued that, though this may appear to be a small matter, it is one that affects the holistic interaction of the IACHR among all its members.
"The challenge for the IACHR is that not all member states are signatories to the instruments, so the system is not truly universal. This, as opposed to the European Union where all states must ratify," he said. "This affects how the member states interact."
In the question and answer segment of the seminar, the keynote speaker also mentioned that there was little Caribbean participation in the IACHR despite the fact that more than ten of its members states are located in the region. He said that, with Jamaica ratifying the jurisdiction of the court, it would send a positive signal to the rest of the IACHR states in the Caribbean that have yet to ratify. He was careful to highlight, however, that a failure to ratify the court did not mean that a state was 'anti-human rights'.
Kellesha Clarke, president of the Norman Manley Law School Human Rights Committee, said despite being taken aback by the below expected turnout for the seminar, the event could be considered a success which raised several points worth considering.
"Mr. Santiago raised the point that law schools in the Americas and Canada all have courses dedicated to human rights," Ms. Clarke said. "There is no such course here at the Norman Manley Law School which may be a deficiency that we need to consider."