Seeing an X-Plane's Sonic Boom

12/18/2017: NASA Image of the Day

This schlieren image shows an Air Force Test Pilot School T-38 in a transonic state, meaning the aircraft is transitioning from a subsonic speed to supersonic.

Government at Work - The White House

1/17/17: White House Press Briefing

01/17/2017: White House Press Briefings

White House Press Briefings are conducted most weekdays from the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room in the West Wing.

A Gem from the Archive: Happy Birthday, POTUS!

08/04/2016: White House Video

https://youtu.be/0TEDzAkM8Ps

The President meets with the summer interns of 2009 at the White House, and they surprise him with a birthday serenade and card. His parting words to them are, "The American people are waiting for you, they are ready for your leadership."

Weekly Address: The Honor of Serving You as President

01/14/2017: President Obama's Weekly Address

President Obama delivered his final weekly address thanking the American people for making him a better President and a better man.

Government at Work - Today

Daily Schedule

12/17/2017: US House of Reps

MONDAY DECEMBER 18, 2017
The House will meet at 12:00 p.m. for Morning Hour
Legislative Business will begin at 2:00 p.m.

Suspension of the Rules:
1) H.R. 3759 - RAISE Family Caregivers Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Gregg Harper / Education and the Workforce Committee)

Y N

2) H.Con.Res. 95 - Expressing support for the use of public-private partnerships to bring computer science education to more K–12 classrooms, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Scott Taylor / Education and the Workforce Committee)
Y N
 
3) H.R. 3979 - Keep America’s Refuges Operational Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries / Natural Resources Committee)
Y N
 
4) H.R. 4661 - United States Fire Administration, AFG, and SAFER Program Reauthorization Act of 2017 (Sponsored by Rep. Barbara Comstock / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
Y N
 
5) H.R. 4375 - STEM Research and Education Effectiveness and Transparency Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Barbara Comstock / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
Y N
 
6) H.R. 4254 - Women in Aerospace Education Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Steve Knight / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
Y N
 
7) H.R. 4323 - Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Neal Dunn / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
Y N
 
8) H.R. 1159 - United States and Israel Space Cooperation Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Derek Kilmer / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
Y N

Special Orders: Republicans have the first hour 

Government at Work - Alerts

Eat Well (A Cup of Health with CDC)

11/23/2017: A Cup of Health with CDC

https://www2c.cdc.gov/podcasts/downloader/download.mp3?af=a&f=8647225

From a very young age, we’re encouraged to eat fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, many Americans are not getting the message. In this podcast, Dr. Seung Hee Lee-Kwan discusses the importance of eating enough fruits and vegetables.

FEMA Disaster Recovery Center now open in Ciales

12/17/2017: FEMA Region 2

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The government of Puerto Rico and FEMA opened a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) in Ciales on Sunday, Dec. 17.

English

Europe Travel Alert

11/16/2017: International Travel Alerts

The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the heightened risk of terrorist attacks throughout Europe, particularly during the holiday season.

U.S. citizens should exercise caution at holiday festivals and events.  This Travel Alert expires on January 31, 2018. 

Recent, widely-reported incidents in France, Russia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Finland demonstrate that the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS or Da’esh), al-Qa’ida, and their affiliates have the ability to plan and execute terrorist attacks in Europe. Last year, mass casualty attacks occurred at a Christmas market in Berlin, Germany in December and a nightclub in Istanbul, Turkey on New Year’s Eve. While local governments continue counterterrorism operations, the Department remains concerned about the potential for future terrorist attacks. U.S. citizens should always be alert to the possibility that terrorist sympathizers or self-radicalized extremists may conduct attacks with little or no warning.

Extremists continue to focus on tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities as viable targets. In addition, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, high-profile events, educational institutions, airports, and other soft targets remain priority locations for possible attacks. U.S. citizens should exercise additional vigilance in these and similar locations.

Terrorists persist in employing a variety of tactics, including firearms, explosives, using vehicles as ramming devices, and sharp-edged weapons that are difficult to detect prior to an attack.

If you are traveling between countries in Europe, please check the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate in your destination city for any recent security messages. Review security information from local officials, who are responsible for the safety and security of all visitors to their host country. U.S. citizens should also:

  • Follow the instructions of local authorities. Monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.
  • Be prepared for additional security screening and unexpected disruptions.
  • Stay in touch with your family members and ensure they know how to reach you in the event of an emergency.
  • Have an emergency plan of action ready.
  • Register in our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

We continue to work closely with our European partners and allies on the threat from international terrorism. Information is routinely shared between the United States and our key partners to disrupt terrorist plotting, identify and take action against potential operatives, and strengthen our defenses against potential threats.

For further information:

Government at Work - Archives

Daily Schedule

12/17/2017: US House of Reps

MONDAY DECEMBER 18, 2017
The House will meet at 12:00 p.m. for Morning Hour
Legislative Business will begin at 2:00 p.m.

Suspension of the Rules:
1) H.R. 3759 - RAISE Family Caregivers Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Gregg Harper / Education and the Workforce Committee)

Y N

2) H.Con.Res. 95 - Expressing support for the use of public-private partnerships to bring computer science education to more K–12 classrooms, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Scott Taylor / Education and the Workforce Committee)
Y N
 
3) H.R. 3979 - Keep America’s Refuges Operational Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries / Natural Resources Committee)
Y N
 
4) H.R. 4661 - United States Fire Administration, AFG, and SAFER Program Reauthorization Act of 2017 (Sponsored by Rep. Barbara Comstock / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
Y N
 
5) H.R. 4375 - STEM Research and Education Effectiveness and Transparency Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Barbara Comstock / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
Y N
 
6) H.R. 4254 - Women in Aerospace Education Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Steve Knight / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
Y N
 
7) H.R. 4323 - Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Neal Dunn / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
Y N
 
8) H.R. 1159 - United States and Israel Space Cooperation Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Derek Kilmer / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
Y N

Special Orders: Republicans have the first hour 

The Santillana Codes

11/27/2017: Library of Congress

This is a guest post by Hazel Ceron, external relations intern with the Law Library of Congress. On October 26th, the Law Library of Congress, in collaboration with the Friends of the Law Library of Congress, the Embassy of Tunisia, and the Library’s African and Middle Eastern Division (AMED), hosted a book talk on The Santillana […]

Government at Work - Issues

This Week at State: December 15, 2017

12/15/2017: State Department Blog

Did you miss key foreign policy developments this week? We’ve got you covered. Each week, DipNote recaps the latest U.S.

Climate, Environment, and Conservation: Report to Congress on Eliminate, Neutralize, and Disrupt Wildlife Trafficking Act of 2016 PL 114-231, Sec. 201

11/16/2017: Climate, Environment, and Conservation

November 16, 2017


The Eliminate, Neutralize, and Disrupt (END) Wildlife Trafficking Act (P.L. 114-231) (the "Act") directs the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce, to submit to Congress a report that lists focus countries and countries of concern, as defined in the Act.

Wildlife trafficking remains a serious transnational crime that threatens security, economic prosperity, the rule of law, long-standing conservation efforts, and human health. Wildlife trafficking is one of four areas highlighted in Executive Order 13773, signed by President Trump on February 9, 2017, calling for a comprehensive and decisive approach to dismantle organized crime syndicates.

The Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking (Task Force), co-chaired by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Interior, and the Attorney General, brings together 17 federal departments and agencies to implement the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking (the "National Strategy"). In that implementation, the U.S. government is combating this illicit trade by targeting three strategic priorities: (1) strengthening enforcement; (2) reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife; and, (3) building international cooperation.

The Task Force's work to combat wildlife trafficking is making a difference on the ground at home and worldwide. Task Force efforts and activities are better coordinated across the U.S. government; efficiencies are being identified and exploited, redundancies eliminated, and resources used more strategically; our international outreach continues to expand; and improved coordination with the intelligence community has spotlighted new areas of work. Working in partnership with the private sector, local communities, and non-governmental organizations, the United States has led the way globally, securing agreements and commitments from governments and stakeholders at all levels to take urgent action. Highlights of Task Force efforts are included in the separate Strategic Review, as called for in Sec. 301(d) of the END Wildlife Trafficking Act.

Much work remains, including securing greater involvement from the intelligence community, solidifying coordination of our efforts with those of other governments and donors, strengthening capacity of communities that live with and protect wildlife, and bringing more of those responsible for the illegal trade to justice. We also strive to improve the availability and veracity of information on wildlife trafficking, to close data gaps and enhance our understanding of the breadth of global trade routes. Measuring our success, or failure, is not easy but we continue to work to identify appropriate indictors and metrics. There is no single approach that will solve this daunting challenge: it requires - and will continue to require -steadfast dedication, innovative approaches, and extensive collaboration and cooperation at all levels of government and society.

Focus Countries

Methodology for Determining Focus Countries

The Department of State worked closely with the other agencies of the Task Force to develop and employ a qualitative and quantitative process for identifying focus countries and countries of concern, as defined in Section 2 of the Act. Technical experts and scientists from Task Force agencies began this effort by establishing a process to analyze wildlife trafficking information and subsequently obtaining a set of relevant and available data. This analysis included evaluation of data drawn from public reporting by U.S. government agencies; international entities such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC); and non-government organizations (NGOs) such as the Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS), TRAFFIC, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), and Transparency International.

Based on the analysis of interagency experts, the input from outside experts, and the availability, quality, and consistency of data, the Task Force employed the following process to identify focus countries:

Range States: The Task Force used information from IUCN, CITES, the Endangered Species Act, and seizures reported to CITES to generate a list of wildlife species that are of high conservation concern and are known to be illegally traded based on seizure data as reported to CITES. Experts then used the IUCN Red List and other sources to determine the range states for biologically significant populations of these species.

Seizure Data: The Task Force compiled seizures of trafficked wildlife reported by the U.S. government since 2011, and added seizures that other countries reported to the CITES Secretariat. The seizures were analyzed in a manner that scored countries for being the source country for a seizure (and in some cases the transit or final destination if this information was known), but excluded from scoring the countries that successfully made the seizure.

The Task Force considered both seizures of illegal wildlife and wildlife products, as well as a secondary analysis of only those species identified in the range analysis, with countries being scored based on whichever analysis caused them to be ranked highest.

Recognizing that seizure data only capture a small but unknown percentage of all illegal wildlife trade and that much of that trade may not transit through a country with a strong customs enforcement system, the Task Force then considered additional data available for several key species.

Species Specific Data: The Task Force utilized the rankings listed in the 2016 CITES Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS) report of countries that plays a significant role as a supplier, transit, or consumer country. The Task Force also considered trade and market analyses conducted by NGOs for rhinos, reptiles, birds, and pangolins, as the most trafficked species.

Risk and Enabling Criteria: The Task Force further considered risk and enabling criteria, including Transparency International's Perceptions of Corruption Index; countries that are currently subject to CITES trade suspensions; and a Department of State analysis of the global transportation network that sought to identify key nodes and chokepoints for illegal wildlife trade.

Country-Specific Analysis: The above data sets were scored in a weighted manner, which led to a list of countries where further country-specific analysis was needed. Factors such as range states, seizures, and species-specific criteria were weighted more heavily than additional risk and enabling factors.

Task Force agencies, including those at U.S. overseas missions, reviewed the initial analysis and provided additional information that was often only available locally. These country-specific analyses helped to round out the global data, including by providing information on additional species such as felines, primates, and marine species. Agencies also considered the trajectory of wildlife populations and trafficking's impact on that trajectory, government and private sector efforts to prevent illegal trade, and the presence of legal or poorly regulated domestic markets for species threatened by wildlife trafficking.

The Task Force further evaluated whether governments have recently taken steps to improve legislation, regulations, and/or enforcement and other trends such that the country is stepping up its efforts to combat the illegal trade in wildlife.

2017 Focus Countries

Using the methodology described above, the Department of State, in consultation with the Departments of the Interior and Commerce as well as other agencies of the Task Force, determined the following countries should be listed as focus countries pursuant to Section 201(a) of the Act. In other words, each country listed is a "major source of wildlife trafficking products or their derivatives, a major transit point of wildlife trafficking products or their derivatives, or a major consumer of wildlife trafficking products."

This determination is based on our analysis of the statutory criteria and does not reflect a positive or negative judgment of the listed countries or indicate that these countries are not working diligently to combat wildlife trafficking. Indeed, the United States has longstanding and deep partnerships with many of these countries with respect to combating wildlife trafficking and recognizes the strong political will that already exists in many of these countries to tackle this problem. The Department of State and other Task Force agencies look forward to continuing close and constructive relationships with these countries as we work collaboratively to combat wildlife trafficking.

2017 Focus Country List (in alphabetical order)

Bangladesh
Brazil
Burma
Cambodia
Cameroon
China
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Gabon
India
Indonesia
Kenya
Laos
Madagascar
Malaysia
Mexico
Mozambique
Nigeria
Philippines
Republic of the Congo
South Africa
Tanzania
Thailand
Togo
Uganda
United Arab Emirates
Vietnam

Countries of Concern

Methodology for Identifying Countries of Concern

To identify countries of concern as directed by Section 20 I (b) of the Act, the Department of State, in consultation with the Departments of the Interior and Commerce and other agencies of the Task Force, reviewed publicly available information as well as classified material that indicated the following governments actively engaged in or knowingly profited from the trafficking of endangered or threatened species. This designation does not indicate all parts of the government are or have been involved, but rather that there are serious concerns that either high-level or systemic government involvement in wildlife trafficking has occurred.

2017 Countries of Concern (in alphabetical order)

Democratic Republic of Congo
Laos
Madagascar

The Justice Department’s Antitrust Division Attends Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Meetings

12/04/2017: Department of Justice Antitrust

A delegation from the U.S. DOJ Antitrust Division, including Deputy Assistant Attorney General Roger Alford, is attending meetings of the OECD Competition Committee in Paris this week.