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April 6 2013

April 8, 2013




Many furloughs will be rolled back

March 31, 2013


The Defense Department and at least a handful of other agencies are rolling back or rethinking plans for civilian employee furloughs in the wake of a newly passed spending bill for the rest of fiscal 2013.

DoD, for example, is cutting the number of furlough days for hundreds of thousands of workers from 22 days to 14 days through September, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced last week.

At the Justice Department, which had begun telling employees in February that they could face up to 14 days of unpaid time off, Attorney General Eric Holder said last week that a final decision will be postponed until mid-April.

And the Border Patrol has decided not to pursue furloughs, said Shawn Moran, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council, the union that represents agents.

All of those steps came after President Obama signed the fiscal 2013 spending measure approved by Congress late last month. The legislation, which replaced a continuing resolution that expired March 27, locks in $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts but also gives select agencies more flexibility in how they can spend the money they have left.

Chief among those agencies is DoD, which gets a transfer of more than $10 billion into the operations and maintenance account that pays civilian salaries. Furlough notices had been set to go out April 5. Now, civilian employees will be told in May that they must take “up to 112 hours or 14 days” off during the final 14 weeks of the fiscal year from June through September, according to a senior DoD official speaking on condition of anonymity.

“It’s good news from where we were two weeks ago,” Hagel said at a Pentagon news briefing.

But some union leaders question why any furloughs are still needed. By Hagel’s count, furloughs will save about $2.5 billion, or roughly one-quarter of the money moved into the O&M account.

Pentagon leaders “have always had the flexibility to impose budget cuts from sequestration in any way they chose,” J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said in a statement. While cutting the number of days off “shows that they’re listening,” he added, “they still haven’t gotten the whole message.”

Although the reduction is a good start, the furloughs will still impose a significant financial hit, especially for workers in lower pay grades who make $30,000 to $40,000 a year, said William Dougan, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees.

“There are a lot of employees in the federal government that live paycheck to paycheck,” he said.

Although some 750,000 DoD civilians are potentially subject to furloughs, senior leaders are still debating how many to exempt. “This is a difficult and complicated decision, and the leadership wants to consider all of the primary and secondary effects,” the Defense official said.

Some unofficial estimates suggest that at least 10 percent of the overall workforce will be spared, including about 5 percent of Navy and Marine Corps civilians and 24 percent of their Army counterparts. When furloughs start in June, local managers will likely decide whether individual workers should either take one day off per week or be allowed to cluster their required time off into larger blocks, the official said.

Also getting a break are some 8,400 Agriculture Department meat inspectors. They had been facing furloughs of up to 11 days, but lawmakers — partly in response to lobbying from the meatpacking industry — redirected $55 million to to keep inspectors on the job full-time.

The $85 billion in cuts, officially known as a sequester, began taking effect March 1. They were required under the 2011 Budget Control Act because lawmakers and the Obama administration could not agree on a way to reduce future deficits by $1.2 trillion through 2021. Absent any changes, the budget act mandates another eight years of sequesters.

While lawmakers from both parties have decried the cuts as “dumb” and “devastating,” they have so far been unable to devise a way out. The challenge looms largest at the Defense Department, which is having to absorb a $41 billion cut, or about 8 percent of its base budget this year.

“We are in triage mode in terms of getting through this year,” Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale said in a webinar last week hosted by the Association of Government Accountants. Besides employee furloughs, he said, the department is laying off temporary workers, ending almost all maintenance at its bases and reviewing and delaying contracts, Hale said. “This is one of the most distasteful tasks that I have had to do in my four years” as comptroller, he said.

For many federal programs, the newly passed spending bill will provide little, if any, relief because it freezes their funding at last year’s levels, minus a 5 percent sequester-related cut.

The Environmental Protection Agency, for example, has shown no sign of reconsidering plans for up to 13 furlough days, said Chuck Orzehoskie, president of the AFGE council that represents 10,000 EPA employees. The Federal Aviation Administration is scheduled to begin furloughs of one day per pay period for all employees on April 21, Doug Church, spokesman for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, said in an email.

Although the Border Patrol has told the union it is canceling planned furloughs, it is still set to eliminate administratively uncontrollable overtime, Moran said. That move will take a much larger bite out of agents’ pay than furloughs, he said.

At Customs and Border Protection, the Border Patrol’s parent agency, spokeswoman Jenny Burke would not confirm any specific steps being taken in response to the spending bill’s passage. CBP officials are “developing a plan to implement this budget in a way that minimizes the impact on operations and our workforce,” Burke said in a statement.

The sequester “is a horrible way to manage government; that’s the bottom line,” said John Palguta, vice president for policy at the Partnership for Public Service. While the repercussions so far may not have registered with the general public, “the impact will become more and more noticeable” the longer the sequester lasts, Palguta said.

Even before the bill’s passage, Holder made an emergency transfer of $150 million to head off daily furloughs of almost 3,600 correctional officers at federal prisons around the country. “This action was necessary to protect the life and safety of our staff, inmates and the public,” he said in the March 28 memo announcing the postponement of a furlough decision for other Justice employees until mid-April.

Holder attributed the delay to the need to assess the impact of the recent budget changes as Justice Department managers work on options “to mitigate the harshest negative effects this fiscal year.”

Among those waiting for an answer is Konrad Motyka, president of the FBI Agents Association. Because lawmakers set aside some $8.2 billion for FBI salaries and expenses in the spending bill, Motyka was hopeful that the bureau’s workforce could avoid furloughs.

“It’s fair to say that the membership is very concerned and watching with apprehension, as is true across the whole federal government,” Motyka said. “Will there be an operational impact? Absolutely.”

Staff writer Andrew Tilghman contributed to this story.


Pentagon Seeks Solutions To UAV Bandwidth Crunch


March 31, 2013



WASHINGTON — The U.S. Defense Department is moving forward with what Pentagon insiders and corporate executives hope will be a solution to a crunch on the bandwidth needed to operate UAVs.

Speaking to a group of satellite company executives March 18, Frank Kendall, defense undersecretary for acquisition, said he is setting a 90-day window for commentary before he and Chief Information Officer Teri Takai begin to develop policy.

“We’re teaming with [the] CIO to come up with a business framework for a smarter way to buy commercial satellite communications,” Charles Beames, principal director for space and intelligence at the DoD office of acquisition, technology and logistics, told Defense News the next day. “[Kendall] gave us 90 days to come back with the answer.

“It’s a big challenge,” Beames added. “It’s an important thing that has to be taken on, and we have an undersecretary that’s excited about doing it.”

Beames was speaking after moderating a panel on UAV bandwidth issues as part of the SATELLITE 2013 Conference and Exhibition in Washington.

In his opening comments on the panel, he said DoD is “getting lots of feedback from industry. We have teams forming up that are going to look at the various aspects of that, and we have 90 days to come back with … how this is going to work.

“What we ultimately want to do is get to a long-term vision, a more seamless architecture in terms of how we provision this,” Beames said in his comments. The goal is to ensure “we have a viable plan for the surge activities. We don’t know what they are, but we know they’ll happen.”

Beames expects the result to be a mix of approaches that best fit the mission at hand. “There will be aspects of this where we buy, there will be aspects of this where we long-term lease, there will be aspects of this where we spot lease,” he said.

With the growing use of UAVs, DoD has frequently found itself short on the bandwidth needed for missions.

Military satellites such as the Defense Satellite Communications System and Milstar do not have the capacity to handle the massive growth of UAV use. In those situations, they buy bandwidth from commercial satellite providers. As much as 90 percent of UAV bandwidth being used in Iraq and Afghanistan was being purchased from commercial satellite companies, according to industry figures.

It’s an expensive process, and one industry executives have been trying to change for years. Rather than pay premiums case by case, they argue, the government should establish a baseline for required UAV bandwidth and enter long-term agreements for the use. It would lower the cost for taxpayers while providing a consistent source of revenue for the providers.


The “pivot” to the Pacific, along with heavier use of UAVs in Africa, is likely to exacerbate the bandwidth crunch. There was significant satellite coverage over the Middle East when the military began using large numbers of UAVs in the region; the same is not true for large chunks of Africa or the Pacific Ocean, where drones would likely be operating. Having a baseline of bandwidth available in those regions could be crucial for future UAV operations.

Philip Harlow, president and CEO of commercial satellite operator XTAR, said the Pentagon knows “they need to be smarter, they have some recommendations, and how do they move it to the next step.”

Harlow was one of five industry executives who penned a letter this year to Kendall in response to the Better Buying Power 2.0 initiative. The letter included seven suggestions for how the Pentagon and commercial satellite operators could work together to drive down costs.

In addition to a more permanent bandwidth baseline, the letter called for an increase in the use of hosted payloads — modules attached to commercial satellites that operate independently of the main system — and the creation of a single office to handle military and commercial satellite operations. Both of those things were addressed by Beames’ panel during the conference as key issues that need to be sorted out.

The good news, as Harlow sees it, is that the Pentagon has reacted positively to the letter, with Kendall’s plan for a 90-day period opening dialogue on the issue. And the budget situation may have actually accelerated DoD’s interest in finding a permanent architecture with its commercial partners.

“Without sequestration, I think it may have moved more slowly,” Harlow said. “In the last 10 years, this is the first time DoD has had to ask for more money than they’re probably going to get. Up to now, it’s ‘you’re at war; let’s write a check.’ I think budget pressures are making it move a little faster.”

Although pleased with Kendall’s plan, Harlow warns that the Pentagon reacts “very cautiously” when it feels pressure to act quickly. “It’s a little bit of a double-edged sword,” he said. “We’d like them to move faster, but we don’t want them to move so fast that they feel totally uncomfortable.”

US announces stricter gasoline standards

by Staff Writers

Washington (AFP) March 29, 2013


US regulators announced on Friday stricter rules on vehicle emissions and a requirement for low-sulfur gasoline as part of President Barack Obama’s efforts to reduce pollution.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal would require a 60 percent reduction in sulfur in gasoline as well as stricter tailpipe emissions standards for cars and light trucks.

“Today’s proposal will enable the greatest pollution reductions at the lowest cost,” the EPA said in a statement.

The proposed standards will reduce gasoline sulfur levels by more than 60 percent — down to 10 parts per million (ppm) in 2017, the EPA said.


The Obama administration has said the proposal would result in a one cent per gallon cost increase at the gas pump and would cost about $130 per car in 2025.

But critics say the price to fuel vehicles will be higher, with industry estimates ranging from six to nine cents more per gallon.

“With $4 dollar a gallon gas the norm in many parts of the country, we cannot afford policies that knowingly raise gas prices,” said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, a Republican from Michigan.

High sulfur content in gasoline creates more pollutants and adds to smog and soot in the air.

Supporters of the new rules hailed the move as a crucial step in Obama’s second term as president, and the equivalent of taking more than 33 million cars off US roads.

“We know of no other air pollution control strategy that can achieve such substantial, cost-effective and immediate emission reductions,” said S. William Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies.

Lawmakers who opposed the release of the proposal, known as Tier 3, said it would raise costs for consumers in an already struggling US economy.

“The EPA continues to disregard the facts and potential economic costs of Tier 3, when consumers and our economy can’t afford gas prices going up even further,” said Louisiana Republican Senator David Vitter.

“This move signals a frightening flood of new rules.”

The proposal now faces a period of public comment before it can be finalized.


Industry watchers ponder future of drones at local conference

Ventura County Star, CA

By Carol Lawrence

Posted March 26, 2013 at 10:24 p.m., updated March 26, 2013 at 10:28 p.m.


Keith Ballenger, an assistant division manager with the Federal Aviation Administration, was among the speakers at Tuesday’s unmanned aircraft systems conference at the Hyatt Westlake Hotel.

Drone manufacturers and users need to be patient while the Federal Aviation Administration goes through the steps to get them safely and properly into the air, an aviation official told industry watchers Tuesday in Thousand Oaks.

Keith Ballenger, an assistant division manger of the Federal Aviation Administration, spoke before an audience of companies that play in one of the nation’s newest technologies — unmanned aircraft systems.

Ballenger’s division handles safety and certifications for the FAA, and that is key to getting unmanned aircraft systems certified and regulated by the federal agency.

Ballenger spoke on the first night of a three-day symposium on drones and their potential for civilian. The event at the Hyatt Westlake Plaza hotel was organized by Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, R-Camarillo, and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

The aviation veteran told the audience what the FAA is up against as it attempts to come up with rules, regulations and ways to evaluate the safety of unmanned aircraft.

“The big quandary within the FAA is: How do we begin to manage that technology?” Ballenger said.

Small unmanned systems, those that weigh less than 50 pounds, are where the FAA will see the bulk of its work, Ballenger said.

The FAA is undergoing what Ballenger called a “huge paradigm shift” as it tries to integrate unmanned aircraft systems into the airspace over the nation used by most civilian aircraft.

Keith Ballenger: “The big quandary within the FAA is: How do we begin to manage that technology?”

Currently, drones fly because they are “accommodated”, but they are not integrated into the national airspace, he said.

“Ultimately, we will have to change the way we do business and the way we provide oversight,” Ballenger said.

Staff and operating reductions will affect the ability to roll out new types of projects, he said.

Ballenger gave some tips and warnings to those in the audience on how to navigate through the process of authorizing their unmanned aircraft.

Safety management systems must be looked at early in the manufacturing process so safety is assured throughout the life of the systems, he said.

There are 7,000 manned aircraft at any moment flying in the air over the nation, he said, and the FAA is tasked with figuring out how the unmanned aircraft systems are going to safely fly amid them.

“So integrating the UAS into this system is a very, very difficult problem for us to grasp,” Ballenger said.

Drone manufacturers also face the pending development of operations rules the FAA eventually will undertake, Ballenger said.

Those rules will be frustrating and very expensive to follow and will take time to follow, he said.

Another key to getting the process of getting drones into the air will be the six sites that the FAA chooses for testing them, Ballenger said.


There are 50 applications from 37 states, he said. Ventura County is one, and will compete with at least one other site in California.

The main objective of the test sites is to work out the problems that the FAA foresees with unmanned aircraft systems, he said.

Getting drones approved for flight will entail two components, Ballenger said.

One is the flight standards review, which deals with construction, safety and the operational elements of the systems. Second is the air traffic review, which involves learning how to bring the unmanned systems safely into the air space with piloted aircraft.

Yet perhaps the greatest challenge, Ballenger said, is that each region tasked with approving unmanned aircraft systems has one inspector to help manufacturers with their requests.

“This is an area that’s got to be a huge growth area with the FAA,” he said, to handle those requests and the anticipated growth.

Hadir Alawami, who handles economic development for Thousand Oaks, was at the conference because the city lacks an aerospace industry.

“I’m hoping for some new companies because of this,” Alawami said.

The symposium is a perfect environment for Neuro Logic Systems Inc., a Camarillo manufacturer of visual displays for unmanned vehicles that operate in rugged land and sea environments, said Gary Paz, director of business development and marketing.

His company sells to prime contractors, such as Raytheon and General Dynamics, that supply directly to the federal government. Should Ventura County be designated an FAA test site, Neuro Logic would be impacted “exponentially,” Paz said.

“Because prime contractors would have an arena to test right here in Camarillo,” Paz said, “and it would open a door to civilian applications.”—uavconffaa/?goback=%2Egde_941207_member_227007557#ixzz2PE2SHXBr



Arizona aerospace firms seek FAA approval to test unmanned aircraft

1 April 2013

By Press

By: Steve Shadley

Arizona is among 37 states seeking federal approval for the testing of unmanned aircraft for commercial purposes. The Federal Aviation Adminstration will issue permits for drone operators in six states.

Drones already are used by the U.S. Army at Fort Huachuca near Tucson and to monitor security at the U.S.-Mexico border.

But, the Arizona Commerce Authority and some aerospace companies want permission to begin testing drones for business and civilian operations in other parts of the state. Brian Wimmer is president of the Thompson-Wimmer Defense and Space Company in Sierra Vista and said Ariz. has a good chance of winning FAA approval.

“This really puts Arizona on the cutting edge of having the first crack at testing new systems and solutions provided by all kinds of aviation companies,” Wimmer said.

Wimmer said drones can be used to transport freight, shoot movies and fight wildfires, but the director of the Arizona American Civil Liberities Union said they are concerned drones could be used to collect people’s private information.

The FAA will announce which states get certification to test drones by the end of the year.

Radar to Allow UAS to Fly in National Air Space

Jul 05, 2012| by C. Todd Lopez


WASHINGTON — By March 2014, the MQ-1C Gray Eagle, an Army unmanned aerial system, or UAS, will be able to train in the same airspace as the Boeing 747, with the help of the Army-developed Ground Based Sense and Avoid system.

The Army recently concluded a two-week demonstration of the Ground Based Sense and Avoid system, or GBSAA, at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah. During the demonstration, the Army put the system through multiple training “vignettes” that validated both the design and functionality of the system.

“We are ready to begin the certification process in order to be fielding in March 2014, for the Gray Eagle locations,” said Viva Austin, product director for the Army’s Unmanned Systems Airspace Integration.

The five locations for Gray Eagle basing and training include Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Riley, Kan.; Fort Stewart, Ga.; Fort Campbell, Ky.; and Fort Bragg, N.C. It’s expected the first system will field in March 2014 at Fort Hood. About three months later, the system should field to Fort Riley. All five sites should be equipped with the GBSAA system by 2015, officials said.

The GBSAA is a radar and warning system designed to allow Soldiers to fly unmanned aerial systems, like the Gray Eagle, inside the National Air Space, while still meeting Federal Aviation Administration regulations. The system monitors location and altitude of the UAS and other aircraft, detects possible collisions, and makes recommendations to UAS operators on how to avoid those collisions.

As unmanned aerial systems and the Soldiers who fly them return home from theater, the Army needs a way to keep those UAS operators trained for the next battle, and they need to do that training inside the United States and inside the National Air Space, or NAS.

The Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, requires a pilot be able to “see and avoid” other aircraft flying in the same airspace. But a UAS has no pilot onboard. The Army can get around that by meeting other requirements, however. The Army can fly a UAS in the NAS with a chase aircraft following the UAS, for instance. It is also possible to fly in the NAS if a trained observer is watching the UAS. But the observer must be within one mile and 3,000 feet of the vehicle.

Additionally, the Army can’t fly the UAS in NAS at night.

The GBSAA was developed as an “alternate means of compliance” for the FAA’s “see and avoid” requirement. The system senses other traffic in the area, using a 3D radar system, and uses algorithms to determine if there is danger of collision and how to avoid that danger. That information is provided to the UAS operator.

When the FAA approves the system for use, the Army will be able to train UAS pilots any time of day.

“It’s a significant impact [on training],” said Austin. “It does two things. One is it allows us to not need to put chase planes out to follow the aircraft over. It allows us to not have ground observers standing out there, trying to separate traffic. And it allows us to fly through the night hours, it gives us 24-hour operations, GBSAA allows that and opens it up.”

The recent demonstration of the GBSAA involved seven vignettes at Dugway Proving Ground, involving both live and synthetic UAVs, as well as synthetic “intruders.”

The first three vignettes used real UAS. In vignettes 1 and 2, a real Hunter UAS flew at Dougway against synthetic “intruders” in their airspace. The difference between the two vignettes was the version of the GBSAA used. In both scenarios, the system performed without endangering the mission, but on the second run, the Army Phase 2 Block 0 system’s improved algorithms indicated an earlier, safer departure time between the two intruders.


Vignette 3 pitted two live Shadow UAS against each other. One of the Shadows served as the intruder aircraft, the other was guided by the GBSAA. The operator of that aircraft was warned at an appropriate time and was able to follow the recommended maneuver to avoid the other aircraft.

The next three vignettes showed the adaptability of the Phase 2 Block 0 algorithms. They were flown using synthetic UAS, through the X-Plane system. Each of the three vignettes used replicated airspace over different military installations, including Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, N.C.; Fort Stewart, Ga.; and Fort Drum, N.Y.

Finally, in vignette 7, the GBSAA system was demonstrated again using a synthetic UAS, but was flown against live aviation traffic data around nearby Salt Lake City, and also against recorded air traffic data from Boston’s Logan Airport.

“In both cases we were extremely successful and (it) was even more than we had hoped for,” Austin said.

Austin said it was difficult to get the GBSAA system into a tough situation that it couldn’t handle.

“The hardest part of that was actually trying to get into a situation where the maneuver algorithm was really tested, getting into a red condition,” Austin said. “Big sky theory kind of held true, we almost felt like we were trying to chase people down at that point because air traffic control keeps people separated so well, it was kind of hard to put yourself in a really stressing situation and test those algorithms out really well. It was very safe and we demonstrated that the system and the test bed was really successful.”

Austin did say one thing learned about the GBSAA is that the algorithm used to safely move UAS through airspace does not always do things conventionally, as pilots would do them. Austin said that they will try to work more standard ways into the system, if they can do so without breaking the algorithm.


Army’s ‘sense and avoid’ radar will let drones fly in domestic airspace

By Kevin McCaney

Jul 10, 2012


The Army has completed a two-week trial of its new “sense and avoid” technology for unmanned aerial systems and says UASes could be sharing domestic airspace with piloted craft by March 2014.

The Ground Based Sense and Avoid (GBSAA) system was put through a series of training “vignettes” at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, and successfully steered clear of other aircraft in both live and synthetic (programmed) environments, the Army said.

“We are ready to begin the certification process” with the Federal Aviation Administration for the system, said Viva Austin, product director for the Army’s Unmanned Systems Airspace Integration.

DOD and the FAA have been working together since March on establishing rules to allow drones to perform military training flights in domestic airspace. The GBSAA uses a 3-D radar system to detect other aircraft and software algorithms to identify possible collisions and recommend how to avoid them. It would meet the FAA’s standards, the Army said.


Essentially, the Army uses GBSAA to allow unmanned aircraft to meet the FAA’s “see and avoid” requirements for manned aircraft, which, as the name suggests, means that a pilot must be able to visually identify other aircraft in the same airspace and be able to avoid hitting them.

Until now, that meant having a piloted chase aircraft flying along with the UAS or having a trained observer watching within a distance of about a 1.6 miles. It also meant unmanned craft couldn’t fly at night.

The series of seven vignettes the Army staged tested the system’s algorithms against live and synthetic “intruders.” In one vignette, for instance, two Shadow UAS craft were used against each other, one acting as the intruder, the other under the control of GBSAA. In another vignette, a synthetic UAS was flown against live traffic around Salt Lake City and simulated air traffic from Boston’s Logan Airport.

In every case, the GBSAA-controlled aircraft successfully avoided entanglements with other planes, the Army said.

“The hardest part of that was actually trying to get into a situation where the maneuver algorithm was really tested, getting into a red condition,” Austin said. “Big sky theory kind of held true, we almost felt like we were trying to chase people down at that point because air traffic control keeps people separated so well. It was kind of hard to put yourself in a really stressing situation and test those algorithms out really well. It was very safe, and we demonstrated that the system and the test bed were really successful.”

FAA has yet to approve GBSAA, but the Army expects it to. When that happens, military UASes will be able to fly in National Air Space any time of day or night, the Army said.

The Army said it plans to start with training flights for the MQ-1C Gray Eagle, an extended-range upgrade of the MQ-1 Predator, at five locations: Fort Hood, Texas (which will get the first one in March 2014); Fort Riley, Kan.; Fort Stewart, Ga.; Fort Campbell, Ky.; and Fort Bragg, N.C.

Development of sense-and-avoid systems has been critical to the prospects for using UASes domestically. The Army has been working on it for a while, and GBSAA tracked its first UAS flight in April 2011.

In fact, GBSAA appears to be ahead of schedule. At the AUVSI Unmanned Systems Program Review 2012 conference in Washington, D.C., in March, Army officials said they were hoping to have the system in use domestically by 2015, a year later than now planned.

And if the program proves successful, it’s likely that GBSAA or similar technology would be applied to drones operated by civilian federal agencies, as well as state and local organizations. Many law enforcement agencies are interested in using drones, as are agencies such as NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

But a few things might have to be ironed out before domestic UAS flights become widespread. Bills introduced in the House and Senate propose that law enforcement agencies obtain a warrant before using them for surveillance.

A research team from the University of Texas at Austin recently demonstrated that domestic drones, which use unencrypted Global Positioning System signals, can be hijacked via GPS spoofing.



DOD aiming to lift restrictions on unmanned flights in US airspace

By Henry Kenyon

Mar 08, 2012


Unmanned aircraft operations are a major part of the military’s mission in central Asia. But sooner or later, those forces will return to the United States and have to fly in civilian airspace for training and operational purposes.

By 2015, unmanned aerial systems will be operating from government facilities across the country, said Mary Ottman, the Army’s deputy product director of unmanned systems airspace integration, at a recent conference.

Several Defense Department officials spoke at the conference about how DOD is working with the Federal Aviation Administration and other agencies to develop new techniques and technologies to monitor and manage the flight of UAS across the nation. The integration effort is being driven by legislation to better integrate military and civilian unmanned aircraft into the national airspace.

Because the robot aircraft will have to fly in commercial airspace, DOD is working with FAA to develop rules to govern the flights, Ottman said at the AUVSI Unmanned Systems Program Review 2012 conference in Washington, D.C.

An important part of the effort is ongoing work with the Ground-Based Sense-and-Avoid System (GBSAA), designed to help UAS to navigate commercial airspace. Currently, when unmanned aircraft transit commercial airspace, Ottman said, they require an FAA permit and must be tracked by observers on the ground and by manned chase planes. The GBSAA also uses a triple-redundant radar to track an unmanned aircraft in flight.

“The ultimate goal is that an unmanned aerial system can ‘file and fly’ like a manned system,” said Ottman, adding that DOD must work with the FAA to develop regulatory guidance to better manage UAS transits.

The Army-managed GBSAA system successfully tracked its first UAS flight in April 2011. The program is now working on tracking UAS transit between two points. The system will create a “tunnel” through commercial airspace for the UAS to fly through to its training area, Ottman said.


Sense and avoid

Sense-and-avoid technology is another key part of allowing more UAS flights in civilian airspace, according to Joe Sciabica, executive director of the Air Force Research Lab (ARL), who also spoke at the AUVSI conference. The technology consists of automated air and ground monitoring systems such as GBSAA as well as software and sensors installed on robot aircraft that allow them to detect and maneuver to avoid collisions. While UAS are remotely piloted, Sciabica said that automated collision-avoidance systems are necessary.

These capabilities will provide unmanned aircraft with more situational awareness than manned aircraft. “That is critical in the air,” he said.

Besides flight, the movement of UAV platforms on the ground at military and civilian airports need to be worked out. Sense-and-avoid procedures must be understood and laid out for everyone, Sciabica said.

The Army also is working with the FAA on “safe” states that will ultimately allow UAS to maneuver around any civilian aircraft that wanders into training airspace, Ottman said. Work on lateral UAS transit is not restricted to the Army. The Air Force and Marine Corps are also involved in developing these systems, she added.


Full testing of the GBSAA is scheduled to begin sometime from 2013 to 2015 at the Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah, Ottman said. The OSD has funded a testbed platform and MIT Lincoln Labs is developing sense and avoid algorithms. Plans are also underway for a GBSAA demonstration for this summer, she said.

The goal of these tests is to certify and field the system. Each service is working on a part of the sense-and-avoid technology, with the Army the lead for the GBSAA program. But Ottman added that there is a need to coordinate and work on standards to receive FAA certification.

The ARL plans to conduct flight tests later this year on a sense-and-avoid technology that it will transition to its Global Hawk program in 2013, Sciabica said. The future goal for the Air Force is to develop an integrated live and virtual training range. This will allow the service to incorporate UAS platforms into exercises and train both UAS and manned aircraft pilots to operate in this new environment, he said.

There is also increased interest in UAS systems from state governments. Some 22 states are interested in setting up UAS test sites, said Steve Pennington, the Air Force’s director of Bases, Ranges and Airspace, and active executive director of the DOD Policy Board on Federal Aviation.

The government is currently developing criteria for UAS test sites. One of the benefits of the sites would be to provide a testing area for both military and civilian use, he said.


Hagel warns of big squeeze at the Pentagon

March 31, 2013

By Thom Shanker

New York Times



Ending his first month as defense secretary, Chuck Hagel invited six young enlisted personnel for lunch in his private Pentagon office. Without military or civilian aides, Hagel himself took extensive notes as the sergeants and petty officers poured out their concerns about pay, benefits, training and sexual assault — issues that would decide whether they make the military a way of life or just a way station in life.

At the end of the 90-minute session, which was held on Thursday, Hagel, a former enlisted soldier who was wounded twice in Vietnam, surprised them with a promise. “Remember, you always have a friend in the secretary of defense,” one of those present quoted him as saying.

Even so, Hagel did not hide the quiet storm that is gathering, one that will test his empathy with the enlisted ranks as he begins to make tough calls over coming weeks about further shrinking the Pentagon after more than a decade of war and free spending.

Even more, as President Barack Obama — who has placed some of the military’s long-favored weapons programs in his sights — continues to negotiate with Congress over a spending and revenue deal, Pentagon officials acknowledge they are bracing for a protracted period in which they may have to manage even larger budget reductions than anticipated.

“There will be changes, some significant changes,” Hagel warned at a news conference last week. “There’s no way around it.”

Senior military commanders know the meaning of those words from Hagel: the former soldier may have to fire more soldiers and reduce or reject more weapons programs.

Hagel is expected to begin outlining those changes in a major speech this week that will differ in tone and substance from the dire warnings about budget cuts heard before his arrival. The message is that while the leadership hopes to dampen the impact of across-the-board spending cuts, there is a new Pentagon reality, and everyone must deal with it. Hagel, whose acceptance of the need to shrink the Pentagon is in step with Obama’s self-declared strategy to avoid large overseas land wars, will start to outline a rethinking of military policy to fit smaller budgets.

Already, Hagel directed Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Ashton B. Carter, the deputy defense secretary, to conduct a sweeping “Strategic Choices and Management Review” due by the end of May.

Their challenge is to trim the Pentagon while also assuring that the military continues to attract high-quality personnel and can maintain American and allied security around the world.

That lesson was made violently obvious on Hagel’s first overseas trip, when he went directly to Afghanistan, rejecting the comfortable stops in allied nations that are usually tacked on to war-zone travels. He chose a consciously understated public demeanor as he kept a grueling schedule that was interrupted by suicide bombings and caustic comments from a complex ally, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan. It was only after the trip ended that aides disclosed that Hagel had made a high-stakes gamble: He asked to halt a bilateral session at Karzai’s palace to hold an unscheduled one-on-one meeting with the Afghan president. A contentious problem was the hand-over of a detention facility at Bagram, which for the Afghans had become a touchstone of sovereignty and pride — but for the NATO alliance carried risks of letting dedicated enemies back into the fight.

The detention issue roiled relations between Washington and Kabul for the next weeks, a time in which Hagel and Karzai spoke by phone three times. But only two of those calls have been disclosed, and even those were distilled down to diplomatic pablum.

Although the heavy daily duty of negotiating with the Afghans was carried out by Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the top NATO commander, and the American ambassador, James B. Cunningham, senior alliance officials now say that it was the secret call between Hagel and Karzai that broke a deadlock that had become less about security than policy and personalities.

Senior Pentagon officials say that Hagel’s public air of understatement during his first days in office — which appeared as caution or even uncertainty — can be attributed less to his bumpy road to confirmation than to the time needed to find his stride.

“I did not know him well before the nomination, and then the things that I had heard about him, well, I was somewhat apprehensive,” said Rep. Howard P. McKeon, R-Calif., who is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

The two have spoken several times since, including when their visits to Kabul overlapped.

McKeon said he has come around on Hagel, swayed in part by the defense secretary’s announcement that reversed an Obama administration decision that had canceled an expansion of missile defenses. Hagel instead ordered the Pentagon to spend $1 billion to deploy more interceptors along the Pacific Coast to counter the growing reach of North Korea’s weapons. And Pentagon officials have disclosed that Hagel’s next foreign trip will open with an alliance-building visit to Israel.

“I’m feeling pretty good about where he is heading now,” McKeon said.


European industry flocks to cheap U.S. natural gas

Washington Post

By Michael Birnbaum, Updated: Monday, April 1, 3:42 PM

LUDWIGSHAFEN, Germany — This sprawling chemical plant along the Rhine River has been a jewel of Germany’s powerful manufacturing economy for more than a century. But a widening chasm between energy prices in Europe and the United States has European industry scrambling to make emigration plans.


A natural gas boom in the United States has sent manufacturing costs plummeting, and European companies are setting sail across the Atlantic to stay competitive. U.S. natural gas prices have fallen to a quarter of those in Europe, a gap that has swiftly widened in the past three years as shale gas has taken off. Many companies expect a long-term realignment.

The shift toward investment in the United States is another testament to the far-reaching effects of newly unlocked American energy reserves, made possible by new applications of technology that have lagged in Europe. Energy-intensive industries such as steel and chemicals are particularly affected, because they use natural gas as a raw material and a power source. But many analysts say those industries are simply the vanguard of a broader shift, because the boom has given an advantage to all U.S.-based manufacturing through lower electricity prices.

As billions of dollars pour into the United States, the outflow from Europe is costing jobs and weighing on decisions there about ambitious and expensive green-friendly policies.

“It’s become clear, with the drop in gas and electricity prices in the United States, that we are, at the moment, at a significant disadvantage with our competitors,” said Gordon Moffat, the general director of Eurofer, the main lobby group for European steel manufacturers. “The reality will hit home in Europe as regards climate policy. There will be modifications in order to take better account of our industrial realities.”

The price gap has opened quickly, leaving companies that make investment decisions years in advance scrambling to catch up. As recently as 2007, U.S. natural gas prices were only about 20 percent lower than Europe’s, not enough to fundamentally reshape markets.

But with the tremendous boom in U.S. shale gas production, U.S. prices last year dropped to a quarter of the European price, and most analysts expect American prices will stay low even if they rebound from their rock-bottom levels.

Gas prices in Asia are even higher than in Europe, further channeling investment to the United States. The International Energy Agency forecasts that by 2015, the United States will become the world’s largest gas producer, overtaking Russia, which supplies Europe with most of its natural gas.

“The differentials in the costs are just so big that it’s definitely driving the investment” to the United States, said Will Pearson, an energy analyst at the Eurasia Group, an economic consultancy.

Here in Ludwigshafen, where BASF, the German chemicals giant, operates one of the largest chemical plants in the world, many people see the United States as the land of the future. The company has announced plans for wide-ranging expansion in America, and in October, it started work on a new formic acid plant in Louisiana, where it will manufacture a chemical used to de-ice runways, tan leather and preserve animal feed. Since 2009, BASF has channeled more than $5.7 billion into new North American investments.

Top BASF officials warn that if Europe continues with its current environmental and energy policies, a chain reaction will eventually send more and more production to the United States. As one company after another moves, their suppliers also will be forced to relocate.

“It’s a very slow process, but it’s a continuous one,” said Harald Schwager, the head of BASF’s European operations. “Once a customer of ours decides to build a new factory in the U.S., then this customer will request from us to be close by with our production. And so over time, you see a self-accelerating process, which will move production into the U.S.”

For now, the complex in Ludwigshafen, which is a warren of spaghetti-twisting pipes and chimneys that makes chemicals for everything from diapers to foam to car parts, is expanding slightly. Few of the 38,000 workers at the plant, spread over a site eight times larger than Washington’s Mall, see any immediate threat to their jobs. But nervous union officials see the American expansion as a threat.

“Normally these would be good times right now. But we look into the future, and the prognosis is not so positive,” said Robert Oswald, the head of BASF’s union. “If the energy prices remain so much lower in the United States than here, of course that will endanger jobs.”

The price gap between the United States and Europe may eventually narrow. U.S. demand for natural gas may increase, driving up prices, as more manufacturers build factories to take advantage of the cheaper energy. The Obama administration also is considering proposals to sharply increase natural gas exports, which could raise prices domestically and push them down in Europe and Asia.

The increase in global natural gas supply has pushed prices modestly lower in European contracts with Russia. Europe also is using far more coal, which is cheaper but much dirtier than gas. And there is new pressure to start tapping into Europe’s limited shale gas resources, despite environmental concerns.

But the momentum favors the United States, and a growing number of European manufacturers have announced plans to invest there. One is Austrian steelmaker Voestalpine, which last month announced that it would build an iron -ore processing plant in Texas to take advantage of the low energy prices. The plant will cost $715 million and create 150 jobs. The company aims to almost double its total turnover by 2020, largely through U.S. expansion, and it has largely abandoned making any major new investments in Europe.

“We should not expect that the current production level of European industry will remain the same in the next 10, 20 or 50 years,” Voestalpine chief executive Wolfgang Eder said in an interview. “We will have to downsize industrial facilities in Europe in the long term.”

Royal Dutch Shell announced plans last year to build a multibillion-dollar petrochemical plant in Pennsylvania that will employ several hundred full-time workers, as well as up to 10,000 people during construction.

Some German lawmakers say they want to find a way to balance environmental considerations with economic ones.

“We are suffering from the high energy prices, our companies are affected by it, because there are German companies that are deciding in favor of other locations and do not want to set up their business in Germany,” German Economy Minister Philipp Roesler said at a conference in Munich earlier this year. “The challenge is to promote and expand renewable energies without jeopardizing competitiveness.”


North Korea Vows to Restart Nuclear Facilities

By AP / HYUNG-JIN KIM and FOSTER KLUGApril 02, 2013Add a Comment

(SEOUL, South Korea) — North Korea said Tuesday it will escalate production of nuclear weapons material, including restarting a long-shuttered plutonium reactor, in what outsiders see as Pyongyang’s latest attempt to extract U.S. concessions by raising fears of war.

A spokesman for the North’s General Department of Atomic Energy said scientists will quickly begin work “readjusting and restarting” a uranium enrichment plant and a graphite-moderated, 5-megawatt reactor that could produce a bomb’s worth of plutonium each year. Experts considered the uranium announcement to be a public declaration from Pyongyang that it will make highly enriched uranium that could be used for bomb fuel.

The plutonium reactor began operations in 1986 but was shut down in 2007 as part of international nuclear disarmament talks that have since stalled. It wasn’t immediately clear if North Korea had already begun work to restart facilities at its main Nyongbyon nuclear complex. Experts estimate it could take anywhere from three months to a year to reactivate the reactor.

The announcement will boost concerns in Washington and among its allies about North Korea’s timetable for building a nuclear-tipped missile that can reach the United States, although it is still believed to be years away from developing that technology.

The nuclear vows and a rising tide of threats in recent weeks are seen as efforts by Pyongyang to force disarmament-for-aid talks with Washington and to increase domestic loyalty to young North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by portraying him as a powerful military commander.

Hwang Jihwan, a North Korea expert at the University of Seoul, said the North “is keeping tension and crisis alive to raise stakes ahead of possible future talks with the United States.”

“North Korea is asking the world, ‘What are you going to do about this?'” he said.

The unidentified North Korean atomic spokesman said the measure is meant to resolve the country’s acute electricity shortage but is also for “bolstering up the nuclear armed force both in quality and quantity,” according to a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

The statement suggests the North will do more to produce highly enriched uranium, which like plutonium can be used to make nuclear weapons. Uranium worries outsiders because the technology needed to make highly enriched uranium bombs is much easier to hide than huge plutonium facilities. North Korea previously insisted that its uranium enrichment was for electricity _ meaning low enriched uranium.

Kim Jin Moo, a North Korea expert at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses in South Korea, said that by announcing it is “readjusting” all nuclear facilities, including a uranium enrichment plant, North Korea “is blackmailing the international community by suggesting that it will now produce weapons-grade, highly enriched uranium.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday that North Korea appears to be “on a collision course with the international community.” Speaking in Andorra, the former South Korean foreign minister said the crisis has gone too far and international negotiations are urgently needed.

China, Pyongyang’s only major economic and diplomatic supporter, expressed unusual disappointment with Pyongyang. “We noticed North Korea’s statement, which we think is regrettable,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei. Seoul also called it “highly regrettable.”

The North’s plutonium reactor generates spent fuel rods laced with plutonium and is the core of Nyongbyon. It was disabled under a 2007 deal made at now-dormant aid-for-disarmament negotiations involving the North, the U.S., South Korea, Japan, China and Russia.

In 2008, North Korea destroyed the cooling tower at Nyongbyon in a show of commitment, but the deal later stalled after North Korea balked at allowing intensive international fact-checking of its past nuclear activities. Pyongyang pulled out of the talks after international condemnation of its long-range rocket test in April 2009.

North Korea “is making it clear that its nuclear arms program is the essence of its national security and that it’s not negotiable,” said Sohn Yong-woo, a professor at the Graduate School of National Defense Strategy of Hannam University in South Korea.

Pyongyang conducted its third nuclear test in February, prompting a new round of U.N. sanctions that have infuriated its leaders. North Korea has since declared that the armistice ending the Korean War in 1953 is void, shut down key military phone and fax hotlines with Seoul, threatened to launch nuclear and rocket strikes on the U.S. mainland and its allies and, most recently, declared at a high-level government assembly that making nuclear arms and a stronger economy are the nation’s top priorities.


The Korean Peninsula is technically is a state of war because a truce, not a peace treaty, ended the Korean War. The United States stations 28,500 troops in South Korea as a deterrent to North Korea.

Washington has said it takes the threats seriously, though White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday the U.S. has not detected any military mobilization or repositioning of forces from Pyongyang.

The North’s rising rhetoric has been met by a display of U.S. military strength, including flights of nuclear-capable bombers and stealth jets at annual South Korean-U.S. military drills that the allies call routine but that Pyongyang claims are invasion preparations.

South Koreans are familiar with provocations from the North, but its rhetoric over the last few weeks has raised worries.

” This is a serious concern for me,” said Heo Jeong-ja, 70, a cleaning lady in Seoul. “The country has to stay calm, but North Korea threatens us every day.”

Earlier Tuesday, a senior South Korean official told foreign journalists that there had been no sign of large-scale military movement in North Korea, though South Korea remains alert to the possibility of a provocation. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly to the media.

North Korea added its 5-megawatt plutonium reactor to its nuclear complex at Nyongbyon in 1986, and Pyongyang is believed to have exploded plutonium devices in its first two nuclear tests, in 2006 and 2009.

There had long been claims by the U.S. and others that Pyongyang was also pursuing a secret uranium program. In 2010, the North unveiled to visiting Americans a uranium enrichment program at Nyongbyon.

Analysts say they don’t believe North Korea currently has mastered the miniaturization technology needed to build a warhead that can be mounted on a missile, and the extent of its uranium enrichment efforts is also unclear.

Scientist and nuclear expert Siegfried Hecker, one of the Americans on the 2010 visit to Nyongbyon, has estimated that Pyongyang has 24 to 42 kilograms of plutonium — enough for perhaps four to eight rudimentary bombs similar to the plutonium weapon used on Nagasaki in World War II.

It’s not known whether the North’s latest atomic test, in February, used highly enriched uranium or plutonium stockpiles. South Korea and other countries have so far failed to detect radioactive elements that may have leaked from the test and which could determine what kind of device was used.


Cyber criminals tying up emergency phone lines through TDoS attacks

By InfoWorld Tech Watch

Created 2013-04-01 01:07PM


Credit: Matjaz Boncina

Emergency-service providers and other organizations are being targeted with TDoS (telephony denial of service) attacks, according to a security alert from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the FBI [1] obtained by security expert Brian Krebs [2]. TDoS attacks use high volumes of automated calls to tie up target phone systems, halting incoming and outgoing calls.

“Dozens of such attacks have targeted the administrative PSAP [public safety answering point] lines (not the 911 emergency line),” according to the alert. “It is speculated that government offices/emergency services are being ‘targeted’ because of the necessity of functional phone lines.”

Emergency service providers aren’t the only organizations being targeted: “Many similar attacks have occurred targeting various businesses and public entities, including the financial sector and other public emergency operations interests, including air ambulance, ambulance and hospital communications.”

Perpetrators are using the attacks to extort cash from target organizations, according to the alert. They start with the organizations receiving a call from a representative from a purported payday loan company, during which a caller — usually speaking in a “strong accent” — demands payment of $5,000 for an outstanding debt, according to the alert.

Failing to get payment from an individual or organization, the perpetrator launches a TDoS attack. The attacks can last for several hours. They may stop for a period of time, then resume — and once an organization is attacked, it may suffer random attacks over weeks or months.

“According to a recent report [3] from SecureLogix, a company that sells security services to call centers, free IP-PBX software such as Asterisk, as well as computer-based call-generation tools and easy-to-access SIP services, are greatly lowering the barrier-to-entry for voice network attackers,” Krebs wrote.

This article, “Cyber criminals tying up emergency phone lines through TDoS attacks [4],” was originally published at [5]. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog [6]. For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter [7].


    Source URL (retrieved on 2013-04-02 07:00AM):




    Sequestration Could Lead to Job Losses, Defense Comptroller Says

    By Kedar Pavgi

    April 1, 2013


    Defense Department workers could face job losses in fiscal 2014 if across-the-board cuts from sequestration continue on pace, Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale warns.

    Defense’s fiscal 2014 budget proposal will include cuts, but it also would retain a level of spending that the Pentagon considers necessary to fulfill its mission, Hale said Thursday during a webinar hosted by the Association of Government Accountants and the American Society of Military Comptrollers. But if Congress rejects the budget plan, the department will be forced to “look at other longer-term choices besides furloughs,” including “involuntary separations,” he added.

    “We’ll have to get smaller and we’ll have to look at some areas where we can take some more risk, get rid of more overhead and make a lot of other tough decisions,” he said.

    Last week, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced a reduction in furlough days planned for civilian employees from 22 to 14. Hagel said the continuing resolution passed by Congress allowed some transfer authority, shifting $10 billion into the military’s operation and maintenance accounts, but not enough to avert the worst consequences of sequestration. Civilian furloughs are now expected to begin mid-June, with some exceptions for positions in the intelligence, public safety and health fields.

    Hale said the budget cuts would be extremely detrimental for certain missions and for long-term readiness. He cited the example of Air Force cuts in pilot training, which he said would force the Pentagon to spend more money later retraining pilots who lose their certifications.

    “We are in triage mode in terms of getting through this year,” Hale said of the budget process. “But these near-term actions won’t solve the problems of sequestration.”

    He also said civilian hiring freezes and other cuts were eliminating job opportunities for returning veterans. Hale noted 40 percent of Defense’s workforce is composed of veterans, who would bear the brunt of budget cuts.

    “At the very time we are trying to increase job opportunities for veterans, we are severely cutting back on one of the main places they can be hired,” he said.



    Ohio transportation bill adds UAV provision

    Apr 2, 2013, 2:19pm EDT

    Tristan Navera

    Staff Reporter- Dayton Business Journal

    Buried in the 600-page transportation budget Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed into law Monday were provisions which may advance state efforts to develop a local test site for unmanned air systems.

    The extensive provisions of Ohio House Bill 51 lay out the transportation budget for next year. Among them are several amendments which will allow the Ohio Department of Transportation authority to conduct testing of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS).

    In addition to allowing ODOT to use UAVs for research, the bill allows it to partner with other in-state agencies and share information. It also allows ODOT to partner with agencies in Indiana.

    Ohio state Sen. Chris Widener, R-Springfield, who’s district includes Clark, Madison and Greene counties, praised the language, which was introduced late as an amendment.

    “Ohio’s high-tech research capabilities, along with our military and aviation resources, make our state an ideal location for a UAV test site,” Widener said. “The changes made in the transportation budget regarding UAVs and information sharing will help give us an edge in growing the UAV industry here in Ohio. This field holds enormous potential to bring jobs and economic investment to our state, and I commend state officials for taking swift action to ensure these types of projects choose Ohio.”

    The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International released a report last month noting the emerging UAV and UAS industry could add 100,000 jobs and $81 billion in economic impact nationally by 2025, following the integration of UAVs into the national aerospace in 2015. Ohio would gain 2,700 jobs and $2 billion in economic impact, according to that study.

    In the meantime, the Federal Aviation Administration is selecting six test sites for UAVs and UAS. Ohio and Indiana have partnered



    The climate may be heating up less in response to greenhouse-gas emissions than was once thought. But that does not mean the problem is going away

    The Economist

    Mar 30th 2013 |From the print edition


    OVER the past 15 years air temperatures at the Earth’s surface have been flat while greenhouse-gas emissions have continued to soar. The world added roughly 100 billion tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere between 2000 and 2010. That is about a quarter of all the CO put there by humanity since 1750. And yet, as James Hansen, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, observes, “the five-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade.”

    Temperatures fluctuate over short periods, but this lack of new warming is a surprise. Ed Hawkins, of the University of Reading, in Britain, points out that surface temperatures since 2005 are already at the low end of the range of projections derived from 20 climate models (see chart 1). If they remain flat, they will fall outside the models’ range within a few years.

    The mismatch between rising greenhouse-gas emissions and not-rising temperatures is among the biggest puzzles in climate science just now. It does not mean global warming is a delusion. Flat though they are, temperatures in the first decade of the 21st century remain almost 1°C above their level in the first decade of the 20th. But the puzzle does need explaining.

    The mismatch might mean that—for some unexplained reason—there has been a temporary lag between more carbon dioxide and higher temperatures in 2000-10. Or it might be that the 1990s, when temperatures were rising fast, was the anomalous period. Or, as an increasing body of research is suggesting, it may be that the climate is responding to higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in ways that had not been properly understood before. This possibility, if true, could have profound significance both for climate science and for environmental and social policy.

    The insensitive planet

    The term scientists use to describe the way the climate reacts to changes in carbon-dioxide levels is “climate sensitivity”. This is usually defined as how much hotter the Earth will get for each doubling of CO concentrations. So-called equilibrium sensitivity, the commonest measure, refers to the temperature rise after allowing all feedback mechanisms to work (but without accounting for changes in vegetation and ice sheets).

    Carbon dioxide itself absorbs infra-red at a consistent rate. For each doubling of CO levels you get roughly 1°C of warming. A rise in concentrations from preindustrial levels of 280 parts per million (ppm) to 560ppm would thus warm the Earth by 1°C. If that were all there was to worry about, there would, as it were, be nothing to worry about. A 1°C rise could be shrugged off. But things are not that simple, for two reasons. One is that rising CO levels directly influence phenomena such as the amount of water vapour (also a greenhouse gas) and clouds that amplify or diminish the temperature rise. This affects equilibrium sensitivity directly, meaning doubling carbon concentrations would produce more than a 1°C rise in temperature. The second is that other things, such as adding soot and other aerosols to the atmosphere, add to or subtract from the effect of CO. All serious climate scientists agree on these two lines of reasoning. But they disagree on the size of the change that is predicted.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which embodies the mainstream of climate science, reckons the answer is about 3°C, plus or minus a degree or so. In its most recent assessment (in 2007), it wrote that “the equilibrium climate sensitivity…is likely to be in the range 2°C to 4.5°C with a best estimate of about 3°C and is very unlikely to be less than 1.5°C. Values higher than 4.5°C cannot be excluded.” The IPCC’s next assessment is due in September. A draft version was recently leaked. It gave the same range of likely outcomes and added an upper limit of sensitivity of 6°C to 7°C.

    A rise of around 3°C could be extremely damaging. The IPCC’s earlier assessment said such a rise could mean that more areas would be affected by drought; that up to 30% of species could be at greater risk of extinction; that most corals would face significant biodiversity losses; and that there would be likely increases of intense tropical cyclones and much higher sea levels.

    New Model Army

    Other recent studies, though, paint a different picture. An unpublished report by the Research Council of Norway, a government-funded body, which was compiled by a team led by Terje Berntsen of the University of Oslo, uses a different method from the IPCC’s. It concludes there is a 90% probability that doubling CO emissions will increase temperatures by only 1.2-2.9°C, with the most likely figure being 1.9°C. The top of the study’s range is well below the IPCC’s upper estimates of likely sensitivity.

    This study has not been peer-reviewed; it may be unreliable. But its projections are not unique. Work by Julia Hargreaves of the Research Institute for Global Change in Yokohama, which was published in 2012, suggests a 90% chance of the actual change being in the range of 0.5-4.0°C, with a mean of 2.3°C. This is based on the way the climate behaved about 20,000 years ago, at the peak of the last ice age, a period when carbon-dioxide concentrations leapt. Nic Lewis, an independent climate scientist, got an even lower range in a study accepted for publication: 1.0-3.0°C, with a mean of 1.6°C. His calculations reanalysed work cited by the IPCC and took account of more recent temperature data. In all these calculations, the chances of climate sensitivity above 4.5°C become vanishingly small.

    If such estimates were right, they would require revisions to the science of climate change and, possibly, to public policies. If, as conventional wisdom has it, global temperatures could rise by 3°C or more in response to a doubling of emissions, then the correct response would be the one to which most of the world pays lip service: rein in the warming and the greenhouse gases causing it. This is called “mitigation”, in the jargon. Moreover, if there were an outside possibility of something catastrophic, such as a 6°C rise, that could justify drastic interventions. This would be similar to taking out disaster insurance. It may seem an unnecessary expense when you are forking out for the premiums, but when you need it, you really need it. Many economists, including William Nordhaus of Yale University, have made this case.

    If, however, temperatures are likely to rise by only 2°C in response to a doubling of carbon emissions (and if the likelihood of a 6°C increase is trivial), the calculation might change. Perhaps the world should seek to adjust to (rather than stop) the greenhouse-gas splurge. There is no point buying earthquake insurance if you do not live in an earthquake zone. In this case more adaptation rather than more mitigation might be the right policy at the margin. But that would be good advice only if these new estimates really were more reliable than the old ones. And different results come from different models.

    One type of model—general-circulation models, or GCMs—use a bottom-up approach. These divide the Earth and its atmosphere into a grid which generates an enormous number of calculations in order to imitate the climate system and the multiple influences upon it. The advantage of such complex models is that they are extremely detailed. Their disadvantage is that they do not respond to new temperature readings. They simulate the way the climate works over the long run, without taking account of what current observations are. Their sensitivity is based upon how accurately they describe the processes and feedbacks in the climate system.

    The other type—energy-balance models—are simpler. They are top-down, treating the Earth as a single unit or as two hemispheres, and representing the whole climate with a few equations reflecting things such as changes in greenhouse gases, volcanic aerosols and global temperatures. Such models do not try to describe the complexities of the climate. That is a drawback. But they have an advantage, too: unlike the GCMs, they explicitly use temperature data to estimate the sensitivity of the climate system, so they respond to actual climate observations.

    The IPCC’s estimates of climate sensitivity are based partly on GCMs. Because these reflect scientists’ understanding of how the climate works, and that understanding has not changed much, the models have not changed either and do not reflect the recent hiatus in rising temperatures. In contrast, the Norwegian study was based on an energy-balance model. So were earlier influential ones by Reto Knutti of the Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science in Zurich; by Piers Forster of the University of Leeds and Jonathan Gregory of the University of Reading; by Natalia Andronova and Michael Schlesinger, both of the University of Illinois; and by Magne Aldrin of the Norwegian Computing Centre (who is also a co-author of the new Norwegian study). All these found lower climate sensitivities. The paper by Drs Forster and Gregory found a central estimate of 1.6°C for equilibrium sensitivity, with a 95% likelihood of a 1.0-4.1°C range. That by Dr Aldrin and others found a 90% likelihood of a 1.2-3.5°C range.

    It might seem obvious that energy-balance models are better: do they not fit what is actually happening? Yes, but that is not the whole story. Myles Allen of Oxford University points out that energy-balance models are better at representing simple and direct climate feedback mechanisms than indirect and dynamic ones. Most greenhouse gases are straightforward: they warm the climate. The direct impact of volcanoes is also straightforward: they cool it by reflecting sunlight back. But volcanoes also change circulation patterns in the atmosphere, which can then warm the climate indirectly, partially offsetting the direct cooling. Simple energy-balance models cannot capture this indirect feedback. So they may exaggerate volcanic cooling.

    This means that if, for some reason, there were factors that temporarily muffled the impact of greenhouse-gas emissions on global temperatures, the simple energy-balance models might not pick them up. They will be too responsive to passing slowdowns. In short, the different sorts of climate model measure somewhat different things.

    Clouds of uncertainty

    This also means the case for saying the climate is less sensitive to CO emissions than previously believed cannot rest on models alone. There must be other explanations—and, as it happens, there are: individual climatic influences and feedback loops that amplify (and sometimes moderate) climate change.

    Begin with aerosols, such as those from sulphates. These stop the atmosphere from warming by reflecting sunlight. Some heat it, too. But on balance aerosols offset the warming impact of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Most climate models reckon that aerosols cool the atmosphere by about 0.3-0.5°C. If that underestimated aerosols’ effects, perhaps it might explain the lack of recent warming.

    Yet it does not. In fact, it may actually be an overestimate. Over the past few years, measurements of aerosols have improved enormously. Detailed data from satellites and balloons suggest their cooling effect is lower (and their warming greater, where that occurs). The leaked assessment from the IPCC (which is still subject to review and revision) suggested that aerosols’ estimated radiative “forcing”—their warming or cooling effect—had changed from minus 1.2 watts per square metre of the Earth’s surface in the 2007 assessment to minus 0.7W/m ² now: ie, less cooling.

    One of the commonest and most important aerosols is soot (also known as black carbon). This warms the atmosphere because it absorbs sunlight, as black things do. The most detailed study of soot was published in January and also found more net warming than had previously been thought. It reckoned black carbon had a direct warming effect of around 1.1W/m ². Though indirect effects offset some of this, the effect is still greater than an earlier estimate by the United Nations Environment Programme of 0.3-0.6W/m ².

    All this makes the recent period of flat temperatures even more puzzling. If aerosols are not cooling the Earth as much as was thought, then global warming ought to be gathering pace. But it is not. Something must be reining it back. One candidate is lower climate sensitivity.

    A related possibility is that general-circulation climate models may be overestimating the impact of clouds (which are themselves influenced by aerosols). In all such models, clouds amplify global warming, sometimes by a lot. But as the leaked IPCC assessment says, “the cloud feedback remains the most uncertain radiative feedback in climate models.” It is even possible that some clouds may dampen, not amplify global warming—which may also help explain the hiatus in rising temperatures. If clouds have less of an effect, climate sensitivity would be lower.

    So the explanation may lie in the air—but then again it may not. Perhaps it lies in the oceans. But here, too, facts get in the way. Over the past decade the long-term rise in surface seawater temperatures seems to have stalled (see chart 2), which suggests that the oceans are not absorbing as much heat from the atmosphere.

    As with aerosols, this conclusion is based on better data from new measuring devices. But it applies only to the upper 700 metres of the sea. What is going on below that—particularly at depths of 2km or more—is obscure. A study in Geophysical Research Letters by Kevin Trenberth of America’s National Centre for Atmospheric Research and others found that 30% of the ocean warming in the past decade has occurred in the deep ocean (below 700 metres). The study says a substantial amount of global warming is going into the oceans, and the deep oceans are heating up in an unprecedented way. If so, that would also help explain the temperature hiatus.

    Double-A minus

    Lastly, there is some evidence that the natural (ie, non-man-made) variability of temperatures may be somewhat greater than the IPCC has thought. A recent paper by Ka-Kit Tung and Jiansong Zhou in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences links temperature changes from 1750 to natural changes (such as sea temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean) and suggests that “the anthropogenic global-warming trends might have been overestimated by a factor of two in the second half of the 20th century.” It is possible, therefore, that both the rise in temperatures in the 1990s and the flattening in the 2000s have been caused in part by natural variability.

    So what does all this amount to? The scientists are cautious about interpreting their findings. As Dr Knutti puts it, “the bottom line is that there are several lines of evidence, where the observed trends are pushing down, whereas the models are pushing up, so my personal view is that the overall assessment hasn’t changed much.”

    But given the hiatus in warming and all the new evidence, a small reduction in estimates of climate sensitivity would seem to be justified: a downwards nudge on various best estimates from 3°C to 2.5°C, perhaps; a lower ceiling (around 4.5°C), certainly. If climate scientists were credit-rating agencies, climate sensitivity would be on negative watch. But it would not yet be downgraded.

    Equilibrium climate sensitivity is a benchmark in climate science. But it is a very specific measure. It attempts to describe what would happen to the climate once all the feedback mechanisms have worked through; equilibrium in this sense takes centuries—too long for most policymakers. As Gerard Roe of the University of Washington argues, even if climate sensitivity were as high as the IPCC suggests, its effects would be minuscule under any plausible discount rate because it operates over such long periods. So it is one thing to ask how climate sensitivity might be changing; a different question is to ask what the policy consequences might be.

    For that, a more useful measure is the transient climate response (TCR), the temperature you reach after doubling CO gradually over 70 years. Unlike the equilibrium response, the transient one can be observed directly; there is much less controversy about it. Most estimates put the TCR at about 1.5°C, with a range of 1-2°C. Isaac Held of America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently calculated his “personal best estimate” for the TCR: 1.4°C, reflecting the new estimates for aerosols and natural variability.


    That sounds reassuring: the TCR is below estimates for equilibrium climate sensitivity. But the TCR captures only some of the warming that those 70 years of emissions would eventually generate because carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for much longer.

    As a rule of thumb, global temperatures rise by about 1.5°C for each trillion tonnes of carbon put into the atmosphere. The world has pumped out half a trillion tonnes of carbon since 1750, and temperatures have risen by 0.8°C. At current rates, the next half-trillion tonnes will be emitted by 2045; the one after that before 2080.

    Since CO accumulates in the atmosphere, this could increase temperatures compared with pre-industrial levels by around 2°C even with a lower sensitivity and perhaps nearer to 4°C at the top end of the estimates. Despite all the work on sensitivity, no one really knows how the climate would react if temperatures rose by as much as 4°C. Hardly reassuring.



    Hagel Outlines Plan for Defense Cuts

    April 3, 2013, 1:12 p.m. ET


    WASHINGTON—Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Wednesday outlined his vision for reducing defense spending in the coming years, saying he was taking a hard look at weapons programs, overhead and personnel.

    Despite other efforts in recent years to cut underperforming weapons programs, Mr. Hagel said projects remained that were “vastly more expensive and technologically risky than what was promised or budgeted for.”

    The Pentagon is keeping details of its proposed cuts under wraps until the Obama administration unveils its budget next week. But defense analysts said Mr. Hagel’s speech indicates military forces will be cut more deeply and that some high-profile weapons systems, like the Army’s ground-combat vehicle or light tactical vehicle, are likely to be cut back or delayed significantly.

    Mr. Hagel sketched his views in an address at the National Defense University in Washington that marked his first major speech as defense secretary.

    He said in prepared remarks that the 10-year, $500 billion in across-the-board spending cuts taking effect this year and known as the sequester halted many essential activities and necessitated further cuts in immediate spending plans. Although the sequester could be replaced with a more comprehensive deficit-reduction deal, Mr. Hagel said there was no question the department needed to work harder at “matching missions with resources.”

    The Pentagon, Mr. Hagel said, will begin “another hard look at personnel” examining to see if it must cut personnel, alter pay and benefit structures, and reduce health-care costs. Mr. Hagel also signaled that he will review whether the military had too many officers and whether some duties being done by uniformed military could be moved to civilians.


    He also promised a look at the organization of the Defense Department, saying the effort to make the military services work together more efficiently had led to new organizations being layered on top of old ones.

    “The last major defense reorganization…was drafted at the height of the Reagan defense buildup and focused on improving jointness and establishing clear operational chains of command,” Mr. Hagel said. “Cost and efficiency were not major considerations.”

    Mackenzie Eaglen, a defense analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, said Mr. Hagel’s assessment that efficiencies alone won’t sufficiently reduce Pentagon spending was accurate.

    “What really matters most is not this speech but rather what comes over next week in President Obama’s 2014 budget proposal that actually starts to tackle these areas of bureaucratic creep,” Ms. Eaglen said. The Pentagon, she said, should look to trim the staff of the Defense secretary, currently at some 5,000 people.

    Ms. Eaglen also predicted that given the reluctance of President Barack Obama’s administration to use ground forces, the Army would face some of the deepest cuts. “It seems ripe that Army modernization programs will be a key target for cuts,” she said.

    Even as he laid out the broad cuts to come, Mr. Hagel argued for further innovation. He noted that in prior periods of reduced spending, the military had developed weapons and strategies that later proved invaluable. Aircraft carriers were developed before World War II, and drones emerged during the post-Cold War drawdown.

    “The United States military has always proved capable of adapting to new realities, even when resources were relatively scarce,” Mr. Hagel said.


    New Defense Chief Signals ‘Fundamental Change’ to Military Hardware, Personnel

    By Spencer Ackerman


    1:14 PM


    Former Defense Secretary Bob Gates canceled scads of dubious, expensive weapons systems and began preparing for big budget cuts. His successor, Leon Panetta, managed those budget cuts, but didn’t cancel any more big-ticket items. Their new successor, Chuck Hagel, used his first major speech as defense secretary to signal that he wants to be more Gates than Panetta.

    Hagel told an audience at the National Defense University today that the onset of deep, congressionally mandated and across-the-board cuts to the Pentagon budget will prompt him to re-evaluate the military’s hardware, its personnel size, its expensive benefits systems and its bureaucracy — and “challenge all past assumptions” about them.

    “This effort will by necessity consider big choices that could lead to fundamental change and a further prioritization of the use of our resources,” Hagel said. “Change that involves not just tweaking or chipping away at existing structures and practices but, where necessary, fashioning entirely new ones that are better suited to 21st-century realities and challenges.”

    As one of his earliest acts in office, Hagel ordered a review of the defense strategy the Obama administration rolled out last year, following on Panetta’s warning that the budget cuts might render it obsolete. Hagel didn’t go that far — his goal, he said, was to “better execute the strategic guidance set out by the president” — but said that he would now examine “the full range of options” that undergird a strategy emphasizing the western Pacific region, launching military assets from the sea, and lots of robots. Yet Hagel briefly mentioned some “core strengths” of the U.S. military that might end up newly emphasized in Hagel’s review: “leader development, training, mobility and logistics, special operations forces, cyber, space, and research and development.”

    The speech had much to offer dovish defense analysts who argue that the Pentagon still suffers from too much overhead bloat and commitment to un-strategic weapons systems. Hagel referred to previous rounds of weapons cancelations as “pruning” and said he was concerned that “the military’s modernization strategy still depends on systems that are vastly more expensive and technologically risky than what was promised or budgeted for.” He singled out no major weapons system, but he probably got the attention of military offices working on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the Army’s forthcoming Ground Combat Vehicle.

    Without getting specific in a speech that mostly was about broadcasting intent, Hagel skewered a few sacred Pentagon cows. He worried that the military’s expensive benefits system was crowding out core missions to prepare for, deter and wage conflict. He said the Pentagon’s bureaucratic acquisitions system was ensuring that new programs “take longer, cost more and deliver less than initially planned and promised.” He said he would take “another hard look at personnel,” hinting that he’s willing to cut the size of the services and their civilian supporters. “Reducing layers of upper and middle management,” particularly from headquarters staffs, will also be part of Hagel’s new review, he said, pointedly noting that the Pentagon had not restructured its institutions since before the Berlin Wall fell.

    But Hagel also tempered much of his criticisms. The reviews might determine that dramatic changes are “unwise, untenable or politically impossible,” he said. His speech also rejected doing less around the world, saying that the United States lacked the “luxury of retrenchment”: “If we refuse to lead, something, someone will fill the vacuum.” And there was an olive branch to congressional hawks who don’t like Hagel. “If we get time and flexibility to implement savings, we could limit the impact of spending reductions on force structure and modernization while still making a significant contribution to deficit reduction,” he said. Translated from the politician, Republicans need to raise taxes if they don’t want deeper defense cuts.

    Hagel may have provided few specifics in the speech, and Pentagon chiefs’ ambitious priorities have a tendency to get ground down by daily bureaucratic resistance and real-world crises. But next Wednesday, the Pentagon plans on releasing its first budget under his tenure. Critics have pointed out that his deployment of new Alaska-based missile interceptors to guard against North Korea’s renewed bellicosity represent the kind of short-sighted thinking his speech criticized. His budget documents will provide a better sense of whether they’re an exception or the rule.

    Yet Hagel has not described the Pentagon cuts in the hysterical language Panetta employed to avert them. His speech underscored that he sees them as a challenge to be managed — and perhaps more. “The Department must understand the challenges and uncertainties, plan for the risks,” Hagel said, “and, yes, recognize the opportunities inherent in budget constraints and more efficient and effective restructuring.” That’s been a task that has vexed his predecessors.


    How do You Create U.S. Cyber Guidelines for Foreign Firms?


    By Aliya Sternstein

    April 3, 2013


    Fitting foreign companies critical to U.S. society into a domestic cybersecurity framework will be tricky, said a U.S. pharmaceutical executive helping to form the guidelines.

    On Wednesday, government and industry leaders met for the first time to try hammering out voluntary security standards for private sector networks. A policy is due by November, under a Feb. 12 cyber executive order covering “critical infrastructure” American sectors that sustain economic and national security.

    “What happens if we have a non-U.S. company operating critical infrastructure,” questioned Terry Rice, Merck chief information security officer, who also has experience consulting critical infrastructure defense contractors. There is no answer yet as to how the guidelines will apply to those organizations, he said.

    Merck, headquartered in New Jersey, spends about $8 billion annually on medical research and development, according to the manufacturer. U.S. corporations repeatedly complain that foreign firms, particularly Chinese-owned entities, are pilfering this proprietary, expensive data, the national intelligence director has reported.

    Commerce Department Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank, earlier in the day, had said the security standards policy will be “a living framework” that adapts to morphing threats.

    The National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is steering the negotiations, is in the difficult position of formulating cross-industry controls that the White House would prefer Congress mandate. Many companies have shunned the idea of government-regulated computer security.

    On Wednesday, NIST officials noted that perhaps the forthcoming policy could prove useful in shaping cyber guidelines for all firms, worldwide.

    Merck falls under the critical infrastructure category because it produces vaccines and other treatments that protect Americans from the aftereffects of terrorist attacks, disease outbreaks and natural disasters.

    But the company also runs a consumer products division to turn out, for instance, Coppertone sunscreen that Rice said he worries could be subject to “restrictive requirements.” Rice cautioned the standards could impede business unconnected to Merck’s critical infrastructure responsibilities.

    After standards are settled on, the Homeland Security Department will execute the program and offer incentives, such as liability protections and tax incentives, Commerce officials said. NIST, a Commerce agency with a favorable reputation among businesses, began outreach work last month at a briefing organized by lobbying firm Venable LLP.



    US NIST: Industry should lead creation of cybersecurity framework

    The voluntary standards should serve companies’ cybersecurity needs, officials say

    By Grant Gross, IDG News Service

    April 03, 2013 02:31 PM ET


    IDG News Service – The U.S. government agency leading an effort to create a voluntary cybersecurity framework for companies operating critical infrastructure wants to hear ideas about what to include in those standards.

    The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology, tapped by President Barack Obama to steer the standards effort in a February executive order, needs the best ideas from businesses, officials with the agency said during a workshop Wednesday.

    “Protecting America’s businesses and America’s infrastructure from attacks is crucial to ensuring our economy continues to grow,” said Rebecca Blank, acting secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, NIST’s parent agency. “The question is, how do we do that? There’s only one viable answer: together.”

    NIST needs businesses to tell it which best practices and standards should be included in the framework, Blank added.

    NIST’s job in the development of the framework is to support businesses and operators of critical infrastructure, NIST Director Patrick Gallagher said. NIST will develop the framework based on the cybersecurity needs of industry, he said.

    “This framework … is one that has to be baked into your businesses and to your interests and to be put into practice in your daily lives,” he told attendees of Wednesday’s workshop. “We will not be seeking to tell industry how to build your products or to run your business; instead we are relying on critical infrastructure industries to dictate their needs for technology products and services.”

    During the framework development process, participants should aim for a flexible set of guidelines, said Russell Schrader, associate general counsel for global enterprise risk at Visa. “One size does not fit all,” he said. “We need things that will enhance, rather than detract, from operational goals of business.”

    Schrader also called on NIST and other participants to build on existing cybersecurity programs and to aim for standards with global scalability. “One of the things we need to be careful about is to avoid confusing, duplicative, or even oppositional, standards and requirements across geographies,” he said.

    In February, NIST issued a request for information focused on the cybersecurity challenges businesses face and what steps they are taking now to protect their cyberassets. Comments are due by Monday.

    Comments from Wednesday’s workshop will be included in NIST’s documents used as a foundation for developing the cybersecurity framework, Gallagher said.

    Wednesday’s workshop in Washington, D.C., served as an introduction to the standards development process, with NIST planning three more workshops in other cities to focus on the actual creation of the standards. The next workshop will be at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh in late May.




    GE’s New “Brilliant” Wind Turbine Put to the Test

    By James Montgomery, Associate Editor,

    April 3, 2013 | 1 Comment


    New Hampshire, USA — Earlier this year GE launched its new 2.5-120 wind turbine targeting low-wind-speed sites (7.5 m/s average wind speed, for IEC Class III and DiBT WZ2 environments), offering what it says will be better efficiency (25 percent) and power output (15 percent) than its current model, the 2.85-103.

    The new system is now installed at a test site in Wieringermeer, The Netherlands (about 50 km north of Amsterdam), where it will be tested and validated through this fall.

    GE touts its new turbine’s pedigree as not just intelligent or smart, but downright “brilliant” due to its utilization of the “Industrial Internet” to help manage the intermittency of wind-produced energy, explained Keith Longtin, GM of wind products at GE, in an interview when the turbine was first announced. The system analyzes tens of thousands of data points per second with sensors on the turbines tracking everything from wind speed and direction to blade pitch, communicating with other turbines to share and compare performance data and more intelligently support voltage. “If the turbine knows what’s going on with other turbines, it may not have to shut down,” he explained. That also could expand to wind farms communicating with each other, across grids and county lines with different regulations.

    That communication should also save time and money on the servicing side. If a turbine does indeed require maintenance, data about the problem is sent to the service technician who can figure out what parts to bring to specifically address a problem — or whether an on-site fix is required at all.

    The turbine integrates a small amount of energy storage (100-350kW) and “some forecasting algorithms” to predict power output in 15-30 minute stages. That’s not overnight arbitrage on a megawatt-scale, but it does serve to “strengthen the grid for a short period of time,” Longtin explained.

    It’s the “next chapter of where we’re taking the business,” he said.

    The 2.5-120 is also taller than other turbines at 139 meters, with 120-meter rotors and 58.7-meter blades. Capacity factor exceeds 45 percent, which in a ~7 meters/second environment translates to more than 10 GWh/year, according to Longtin. (Power generation starts at 3 m/s, he noted.)


    Remarks As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, National Defense University, Washington, DC, Wednesday, April 03, 2013


    General, thank you. I am very proud to be here. I am proud to be among all of you who give so much every day and will continue to contribute to our country and making a better world. And I thank you for that service.

    For a fancy general, to give such an overstated introduction to a retired Army Sergeant is something that I rarely get. But I am very appreciative of the generous introduction and to you, General, and all of your staff and colleagues here. Thank you for what you continue to do for our country in this important institution, an institution, I think, as important for our country and the development not only of our leaders, but the leaders of other nations who are represented here today.

    I think it is one of the wisest investments our country has made and will continue to make in developing our leaders, helping other nations develop their leaders, based not just on military doctrine, but on the principles and values of mutual respect and dignity and the rule of law. And this facility, this institution, has done that very effectively for many, many years, so I thank you all.

    Generations of our military leaders have come to this institution here at Fort McNair to receive training and education they needed to succeed not just in combat, but in their daily lives. The responsibilities you all will take on will be immense. Every day you will face decisions with real implications for the safety and welfare of our troops and the security of our nation.

    As you move onward and upward in your careers, I would urge you to always keep three questions in mind before making a decision:

    •    Does this help protect national security?

    •    Is this in America’s strategic interests, which includes the political, economic, and moral dimensions of our interests and our responsibilities?

    •    Is this worthy of the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform, and their families?

    These questions speak to the Department of Defense’s most basic responsibilities – defending the nation, advancing America’s strategic interests, and keeping faith with its quiet heroes.

    How we fulfill these enduring responsibilities at a time of unprecedented shifts in the world order, new global challenges, and deep global fiscal uncertainty is the subject of my remarks today.

    I want to focus on challenges, choices and opportunities:

    •    the challenges posed by a changing strategic landscape and new budget constraints;

    •    the choices we have in responding to these challenges, and;

    •    the opportunities that exist to fundamentally reshape the defense enterprise to better reflect 21st century realities.

    NDU is an appropriate venue for this discussion because the success of these efforts ultimately rests on the abilities and judgments of our military and civilian leaders. Those here today.

    As President Dwight Eisenhower said during a visit to these grounds more than fifty years ago, “the wise and prudent administration of the vast resources required by defense calls for extraordinary skill in meshing the military, political, economic, and social machinery of our modern life…so that the greatest effective use is made of resources with a minimum of waste and misapplication.”

    As a former Army Officer who graduated from this campus shortly before the onset of the Great Depression, Eisenhower knew of what he spoke.

    The security landscape of 2013 is of a far different character than the world of 1960, or even the world of a few years ago. But Eisenhower’s words still ring true today. The United States is emerging from more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the threat of violent extremism persists and continues to emanate from weak states and ungoverned spaces in the Middle East and North Africa.

    There also stands an array of other security challenges of varying vintage and degrees of risk to the United States: the proliferation of dangerous weapons and materials, the increased availability of advanced military technologies in the hands of state and non-state actors, the risk of regional conflicts that could draw in the United States, the debilitating and dangerous curse of human despair and poverty, as well as the uncertain implications of environmental degradation.

    Cyberattacks – which barely registered as a threat a decade ago – have grown into a defining security challenge, with potential adversaries seeking the ability to strike at America’s security, energy, economic and critical infrastructure with the benefit of anonymity and distance.

    The world today is combustible and complex, and America’s responsibilities are as enormous as they are humbling. These challenges to our security and prosperity demand America’s continued global leadership and engagement, and they require a principled realism that is true to our values.

    The United States military remains an essential tool of American power, but one that must be used judiciously, with a keen appreciation of its limits. Most of the pressing security challenges today have important political, economic, and cultural components, and do not necessarily lend themselves to being resolved by conventional military strength. Indeed, the most destructive and horrific attack ever on the United States came not from fleets of ships, bombers, and armored divisions, but from 19 fanatical men wielding box cutters and one-way plane tickets.

    So our military must continue to adapt in order to remain effective and relevant in the face of threats markedly different than those that shaped our defense institutions during the Cold War.

    Since 9/11, the military has grown more deployable, more expeditionary, more flexible, more lethal, and more professional. It has also grown significantly older – as measured by the age of major platforms – and enormously more expensive in just about every area.

    Today America’s defense institutions are emerging, and in some cases recovering, from more than a decade of sustained conflict while confronting new strategic challenges – and doing so with significantly less resources than the Department has had in the past.

    As this audience knows, this process of change and realignment is already well underway. It began under Secretary Gates, who recognized that what he called the post-9/11 “gusher” of defense spending was coming to an end. Under his leadership, the Department worked to reduce overhead costs within the military services, and canceled or curtailed a number of major modernization programs that were performing poorly or poorly suited to real-world demands.

    The realignment continued under Secretary Panetta, who worked closely with the President and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to craft new defense strategic guidance and a defense budget which reduced the Department’s planned spending by $487 billion over ten years. Even while reshaping the force to become smaller and leaner, this budget made important investments in the new strategy – including rebalancing our defense posture to the Asia-Pacific and prioritizing critical capabilities such as cyber, special operations, and unmanned systems.

    So the Department of Defense has been preparing for this inevitable downturn in defense budgets, and has taken significant steps to reduce spending and adapt to the new strategic environment.

    Nevertheless, a combination of fiscal pressures and a gridlocked political process has led to far more abrupt and deeper reductions than were planned for or expected. Now DoD is grappling with the serious and immediate challenge of sequester – which is forcing us to take as much as a $41 billion cut in this current fiscal year, and if it continues, will reduce projected defense spending by another $500 billion over the next decade.

    The sequester cut, because it falls heavily on operations and modernization accounts, is already having a disruptive and potentially damaging impact on the readiness of the force.

    The Department has already made many cuts, including cuts to official travel and facilities maintenance. We have imposed hiring freezes and halted many important but non-essential activities. However, we will have to do more. Across-the-board reductions of the size we are looking at will demand that we furlough civilian personnel, which could affect morale and may impact productivity. Cuts will fall heavily on maintenance and training, which further erodes the readiness of the force and will be costly to regain in the future. As the Service Chiefs have said, we are consuming our readiness. Meanwhile, our investment accounts and the defense industrial base are not spared damage as we take indiscriminate cuts across these areas of the budget too.

    These are the challenges that face us right now, and I am determined to help the Department get out ahead of them. General Dempsey has said that we need to “lead through” this crisis. I have told our senior leadership – the Joint Chiefs, the Service Secretaries, and the Undersecretaries of Defense – we are in this together, and we will come out of it together.

    The task ahead for the Department is to prepare for the future, but not in a way that neglects, or is oblivious to, the realities of the present. We are therefore undertaking a process to develop choices, options and priorities to deal with further reductions in the defense budget that could result from a comprehensive deficit reduction deal or the persistence of sequester level cuts – all anchored by the President’s strategic guidance.

    My goal in directing this Strategic Choices and Management Review – which is being led by Deputy Secretary Carter, who is working with General Dempsey – is to ensure that we are realistically confronting both our strategic and fiscal challenges. It is not to assume or tacitly accept that deep cuts – such as those imposed by sequester – will endure, or that these cuts can be accommodated without a significant reduction in military capabilities. At the same time, we cannot simply wish or hope our way to carrying out a responsible national security strategy and its implementation. The Department must understand the challenges and uncertainties, plan for the risks, and, yes, recognize the opportunities inherent in budget constraints and more efficient and effective restructuring.

    This exercise is also about matching missions with resources – looking at ends, ways, and means. This effort will by necessity consider big choices that could lead to fundamental change and a further prioritization of the use of our resources. Change that involves not just tweaking or chipping away at existing structures and practices but where necessary fashioning entirely new ones that are better suited to 21st century realities and challenges. All of this with the goal of ensuring that we can better execute the strategic guidance set out by the President.

    In order for this effort to succeed, we need to be steely-eyed and clear-headed in our analysis, and explore the full range of options for implementing our national security strategy. We need to challenge all past assumptions, and we need to put everything on the table.

    For example, it is already clear to me that any serious effort to reform and reshape our defense enterprise must confront the principal drivers of growth in the Department’s base budget – namely acquisitions, personnel costs, and overhead.

    In many respects, the biggest long-term fiscal challenge facing the Department is not the flat or declining top-line budget, it is the growing imbalance in where that money is being spent internally. Left unchecked, spiraling costs to sustain existing structures and institutions, provide benefits to personnel, and develop replacements for aging weapons platforms will eventually crowd out spending on procurement, operations and readiness – the budget categories that enable the military to be and stay prepared.

    If these trends are not reversed, former Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead warned, DoD could transform from “an agency protecting the nation to an agency administering benefit programs, capable of buying only limited quantities of irrelevant and overpriced equipment.”

    Thanks to the efforts of my predecessors and other DoD leaders, we have made strides in addressing some of this internal “crowding out” in the budget. Much more hard work, difficult decisions and strategic prioritizing remains to be done. Deep political and institutional obstacles to these necessary reforms will need to be engaged and overcome.

    I’m concerned that despite pruning many major procurement programs over the past four years, the military’s modernization strategy still depends on systems that are vastly more expensive and technologically risky than what was promised or budgeted for. We need to continually move forward with designing an acquisition system that responds more efficiently, effectively and quickly to the needs of troops and commanders in the field. One that rewards cost-effectiveness and efficiency, so that our programs do not continue to take longer, cost more, and deliver less than initially planned and promised.

    With full recognition for the great stresses that our troops and their families have been under and been under for nearly twelve years of war, and for the essential contributions civilian employees make to the Department’s mission, fiscal realities demand another hard look at personnel – how many people we have both military and civilian, how many we need, what these people do, and how we compensate them for their work, service, and loyalty with pay, benefits and health care. This will involve asking tough questions.

    Tough questions such as:

    •    What is the right mix of civilian and military personnel across the Department and its various components?

    •    Within the force, what is the right balance between officers and enlisted?

    •    Without necessarily accepting the oft-stated claim that there are more than 300,000 service members performing civilian and commercial functions, what is the appropriate distribution of troops performing combat, support and administrative duties?

    There will likewise have to be close scrutiny of DoD’s organizational chart and command structures, most of which date back to the early years of the Cold War. The last major defense re-organization, Goldwater-Nichols, was drafted at the height of the Reagan defense buildup and focused on improving jointness and establishing clear operational chains of command. Cost and efficiency were not major considerations.

    Goldwater-Nichols succeeded in its purpose by strengthening the Joint Staff and the Combatant Commands, but it went about doing this by layering joint organizations and processes atop service organizations and atop processes. The elevation of the former did not automatically lead to the diminution of the latter.

    Today the operational forces of the military – measured in battalions, ships, and aircraft wings – have shrunk dramatically since the Cold War era. Yet the three and four star command and support structures sitting atop these smaller fighting forces have stayed intact, with minor exceptions, and in some cases they are actually increasing in size and rank.

    More broadly, despite good efforts and intentions, it is still not clear that every option has been exercised or considered to pare back the world’s largest back-office. Prior efficiency campaigns yielded substantial savings from the services, and some from the DoD-elements known as the “Fourth Estate,” which consists, as you all know, of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Combatant Commands and the defense agencies and field activities – the Missile Defense Agency as well as those that provide health care, intelligence, and contracting support.

    We need to relook at funding for these activities, which won’t be easy. With respect to the fourth estate, former Secretary of Defense Gates compared the process of looking for savings to “going on an Easter Egg hunt” – an image for this time of year. Secretary Panetta was more blunt – he called the Pentagon quote a “big damned bureaucracy.” It doesn’t sound like Panetta at all! Wherever you are, Leon, know that we are quoting you.

    The military is not, and should never be, run like a corporation. But that does not mean we don’t have a good deal to learn from what the private sector has achieved over the past 20 to 30 years, in which reducing layers of upper and middle management not only reduces costs and micromanagement, it also leads to more agile and effective organizations and more empowered junior leaders.

    In light of all these trends, we need to examine whether DoD is structured and incentivized to ask for more and do more, and that entails taking a hard look at requirements – how they are generated, and where they are generated from.

    It could turn out that making dramatic changes in each of these areas could prove unwise, untenable, or politically impossible. Yet we have no choice but to take a very close look and see how we can do all of this better.

    In order to address acquisition, personnel, and overhead costs in smart ways that have not been done before we need time, flexibility, and the support and partnership of Congress. We also need long-term budget certainty.

    One of the biggest problems that sequester has brought is that it is requiring immediate, deep and steep cuts. This means that the Department will by necessity have to look at large cuts to operations and modernization to find savings that can be quickly realized.

    The kinds of reforms the Department needs in other areas would take some time to implement, and take longer for significant savings to accrue. If we get time and flexibility to implement savings, we could limit the impact of spending reductions on force structure and modernization while still making a significant contribution to deficit reduction.

    By contrast, the cuts required by sequester afford neither time nor flexibility. These quick and dramatic cuts would almost certainly require reductions in what have long been considered core military capabilities and changes in the traditional roles and missions among the uniformed services.

    Regardless, we will need to take a critical look at our military capabilities and ensure that our force structure and modernization plans are directly and truly aligned with the President’s strategy. That includes taking a new look at how we define and measure readiness and risk, and factor both into military requirements. It also includes balancing the competing demands of capacity and capability – how much of any given platform we need, and how much capability it needs to have to fulfill real-world missions.

    The size and shape of the force needs to be constantly re-assessed, to include the balance between active and reserve, the mix of conventional and unconventional capabilities, general purpose and special operations units, and the appropriate balance between forward stationed, rotationally deployed, and home-based forces. We also need to re-assess how much we can depend on our allies and partners, what can we anticipate from them in capabilities and capacity, and factor these calculations into both our short and long-term planning.

    A thorough examination of the way our military is organized and operates will also highlight our inherent strengths. Our strategic planning must emphasize these strengths, which include leader development, training, mobility and logistics, special operations forces, cyber, space, and research and development.

    Another core strength we have is that the United States military has always proved capable of adapting to new realities, even when resources were relatively scarce.

    Consider that in the lean interwar years between World War I and World War II during the Great Depression, a group of farsighted officers – with virtually no funding or prospect of promotion – and you remember in your history how long General Eisenhower was a lieutenant colonel, a good example of what we’re talking about. They conceived important new platforms and operating concepts for armored warfare, amphibious assault, aircraft carriers, submarines, and long-range bombers – all of which proved decisive in the Second World War.

    After the Korean War, President Eisenhower’s “new look” defense strategy controlled the growth of defense spending – then exceeding 10 percent of GDP – while investing in the kind of strategic and long-range capabilities that were critical during the Cold War and are still employed in various forms today.

    As the military grappled with incredible challenges to morale and readiness after Vietnam it also made the transition to an all-volunteer force and protected key investments in technologies like stealth, precision weapons, and platforms like the F-16 and Abrams tank.

    Even during the 1990s procurement holiday, we invested in satellite guidance and networking systems, as well as remotely piloted aircraft that have been game-changers during the last decade of war.

    The goal of the senior leadership of this Department today is to learn from the miscalculations and mistakes of the past drawdowns, and make the right decisions that will sustain our military strength, advance our strategic interests, and protect our nation well into the future.

    Let me now conclude with some comments on America and its role in the world.

    During this period of budget turmoil, and after a financial crisis and a decade where our country has grown weary of war and skeptical of foreign engagements, questions arise about the merits of America’s global leadership.

    America does not have the luxury of retrenchment – we have too many global interests at stake, including our security, our prosperity, and our future. If we refuse to lead, something, someone will fill the vacuum. The next great power may not use its power as responsibly or judiciously as America has used its power over the decades since World War II. We have made mistakes and miscalculations with our great power. But as history has advanced, America has helped make a better world for all people with its power. A world where America does not lead is not the world I wish my children to inherit.

    More than a century ago on this campus, while laying the cornerstone on the building which now bears his name, President Theodore Roosevelt declared that the United States had “by the mere trend of events, been forced into a position of world power.” He went on to say that America “cannot bear these responsibilities aright unless its voice is potent for peace and justice…with the assured self-confidence of the just man armed.”

    What distinguishes America is not our power, for the world has known great power. It is America’s purpose and our commitment to making a better life for all people. We are a wise, thoughtful and steady nation, worthy of our power, generous of spirit, and humble in our purpose. That is the America we will defend together, with the purpose and self-confidence of the “just man armed.”

    Thank you, and I would be happy to take your questions.


    Cheap Drones Made in China Could Arm US Foes

    By Jeremy Hsu, TechNewsDaily Senior Writer |

    Cheap drones made in China could end up arming potential U.S. foes such as North Korea, Iran and terrorist organizations.

    China already makes drones that don’t quite match up to U.S. military drones, but for a fraction of the cost. The Chinese military envisions such unmanned autonomous vehicles (UAVs) scouting out battlefield targets, guiding missile and artillery strikes, and swarming potential adversaries, such as U.S. carrier battle groups.

    “In whatever future conflict scenario we’re in five or 10 years from now, the proliferation of UAVs is going to complicate things for the U.S. military,” said Ian Easton, a research fellow at the Project 2049 Institute.

    China has built a huge military-industrial complex to support its growing drone fleet, which consisted of about 280 military drones as of mid-2011, according to a report released by the Project 2049 Institute on March 11. Chinese manufacturers supplying the military and state agencies also have begun seeking foreign buyers in a global drone market that aerospace and defense market research firm Teal Group estimates to be worth $89 billion over the next 10 years.

    Retired Chinese generals have stated on Chinese state television station CCTV that Chinese drone technology lags American technology by about five years, Easton said. However, Chinese manufacturers are touting their plans to build drones five or even 10 times cheaper than comparable U.S. drones, whose hardware alone costs $5 million to $10 million. [Video: RoboBees: Design Poses Intriguing Engineering Challenges]

    The idea of cheap, China-made drones may not tempt countries such as Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia or NATO allies that want to buy the best U.S. or Israeli drone hardware. Instead, China is seeking buyers in the Middle East and Africa at glitzy expositions such as China’s biennial Zhuhai Air Show.

    “In the area of the Middle East, there could be direct competition, and the Chinese would have an advantage because they can apparently make UAVs cheaper,” Easton told TechNewsDaily. “For countries that don’t demand the best technology, good enough would be good enough.”

    That means countries such as Syria might obtain Chinese drones for the surveillance or oppression of their own citizens, Easton said. He added that Chinese drones also could end up in the hands of North Korea or Iran — regional hotspots where the U.S. military may potentially find itself embroiled in future conflicts.

    Iran has already sold its own crude drones to countries such as Syria and organizations such as Hezbollah, a militant group based in Lebanon and backed by Iran. In addition, China-made drones would allow countries like Iran and North Korea to obtain technology which Western countries refuse to sell.

    “It’s bad enough that China has that kind of capability, but the same capability could end up in the hands of the Iranians or North Koreans or a terrorist group like Hezbollah that Iran is cooperating with,” Easton said.

    The U.S. has already shown the world how battlefield drone surveillance and drone strikes can prove both effective and controversial. Still, the U.S. military faces a new challenge in detecting swarms of China-made drones during future conflicts, Easton said. Some drones may go undetected by radar because they can fly extremely low and may come in small sizes.



    North Korea asks embassies to consider moving diplomats out

    April 5, 2013

    By Guy Faulconbridge and Ronald Popeski | Reuters –


    LONDON/SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea has asked embassies to consider moving staff out and warned it cannot guarantee the safety of diplomats after April 10, Britain said, amid high tension and a war of words on the Korean peninsula.

    The requests come on the heels of declarations by the government of the secretive communist state that real conflict is inevitable, because of what it terms “hostile” U.S. troop exercises with South Korea and U.N. sanctions imposed over North Korea’s nuclear weapons testing.

    “The current question was not whether, but when a war would break out on the peninsula,” because of the “increasing threat from the United States”, China’s state news agency Xinhua quoted the North’s Foreign Ministry as saying.

    It added that diplomatic missions should consider evacuation. North Korea would provide safe locations for diplomats in accordance with international conventions, Xinhua quoted the ministry as saying in a notification to embassies.

    Britain said its embassy in Pyongyang had been told by the North Korean government it “would be unable to guarantee the safety of embassies and international organizations in the country in the event of conflict from April 10th”.


    “We believe they have taken this step as part of their continuing rhetoric that the U.S. poses a threat to them,” Britain’s Foreign Office said.

    It said it had “no immediate plans” to evacuate its embassy and accused the North Korean government of raising tensions “through a series of public statements and other provocations.”

    A Polish spokesman said Warsaw saw the latest statements by Pyongyang as “an inappropriate element of building up the pressure and we obviously think that there is no risk from outside on North Korea”. He added that the Polish embassy saw no need to move staff out.

    “This question has been directed to all embassies that are on the ground in Pyongyang,” a Swedish Foreign Office official said.

    Under the Vienna Convention that governs diplomatic missions, host governments are required to help get embassy staff out of the country in the event of conflict.

    Russia’s Foreign Ministry said North Korea had “proposed that the Russian side consider the evacuation of employees in the increasingly tense situation”, according to a spokesman for its embassy in Pyongyang.

    Moscow said it was “seriously studying” the request. A statement from its foreign ministry said Russia hoped all parties would show restraint and considered “whipping up military hysteria to be categorically unacceptable.”



    In a fusillade of statements over the past month, North Korea has threatened to stage a nuclear strike on the United States, something it lacks the capacity to do, according to most experts, and has declared war on South Korea.

    Military analysts say North Korea might be able to hit some part of the United States, but not the mainland and not with a nuclear weapon.

    The threats against the United States by North Korea’s young leader Kim Jong-un are “probably all bluster”, said Gary Samore, until recently the top nuclear proliferation expert on President Barack Obama’s national security staff.

    The North Koreans “are not suicidal. They know that any kind of direct attack (on the United States) would be end of their country,” he added.

    On Friday, South Korean media reported that North Korea had placed two of its intermediate-range missiles on mobile launchers and hidden them on the east coast of the country in a move that could threaten Japan or U.S. Pacific bases.

    The report could not be confirmed.

    Speculation centered on two kinds of missiles, neither of which is known to have been tested.

    One is the so-called Musudan missile which South Korea’s Defence Ministry estimates has a range of up to 3,000 km (1,865 miles). The other is the KN-08, believed to be an inter-continental ballistic missile.

    The North has always aggressively condemned the regular military exercises held by U.S. forces and their South Korean allies, but its reaction to this year’s has reached a blistering new pitch.

    “The rhetoric is off the charts,” said Victor Cha, former director for Asian affairs at the White House National Security Council.

    The verbal assaults from Pyongyang have set financial markets in South Korea, Asia’s fourth largest economy, on edge.

    South Korean shares slid on Friday, with foreign investors selling their biggest daily volume in nearly 20 months, hurt after aggressive easing from the Bank of Japan sent the yen reeling, as well as by the tension over North Korea.

    “In the past, (markets) recovered quickly from the impact from any North Korea-related event, but recent threats from North Korea are stronger and the impact may therefore not disappear quickly,” Vice Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho said.

    Kim Jong-un, 30, is the third member of his dynasty to rule North Korea. He took over in December 2011 after the death of his father Kim Jong-il, who staged confrontations with South Korea and the United States throughout his 17-year rule.

    Some fear the young leader of the isolated communist state may view the risk of conflict as one worth taking.

    “We don’t understand this new guy at all. And if the North Koreans move to provoke the South, the South is going to retaliate in a way we haven’t seen before,” Cha said.




    What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls

    Rasmussen Polls

    Bottom of Form

    Saturday, April 06, 2013

    Americans like a level playing field, but that’s not what they see these days.

    As April 15 approaches, half of Americans think they are paying more than their fair share in taxes to Uncle Sam

    Forty-eight percent (48%) think the federal government puts more focus on making Wall Street profitable than on making sure the U.S. financial system works well for all Americans. 

    Scott Rasmussen’s weekly newspaper column says that to fight inequality, it’s time to end the college admissions scam.  There is a problem when “some people earn big bucks simply because they can game the system in ways that aren’t available to most Americans,” he says. “In America today, one of the biggest parts of gaming the system unfairly can be traced to the elite universities.”

    Seventy-one percent (71%) believe accepting only the most qualified students for admission is better than giving preference to alumni families, just 23% mistakenly believe that’s the way it works. Most Americans don’t think it’s fair for colleges to give special treatment to children of large donors

    On other topics, most Americans don’t believe the federal government has the constitutional authority to tax bank deposits as they did in Cyprus to help fund a bank bailout. But 46% think it’s at least somewhat likely that the U.S. government will try to tax money in individual bank accounts

    Fewer than half of voters now believe the federal government should have the final say when it comes to environmental protection, and they remain critical of the Environmental Protection Agency and its impact on the economy. 

      In advance of Friday’s disappointing report on job creation, the Rasmussen Employment Index had fallen for three straight months. Workplace confidence in the labor market is at the lowest level since November.

    There also is growing concern about the long-term prospects for the economy. Only 36% of Americans now think the U.S. economy will be stronger five years from today.  That’s the lowest level of long-term confidence we’ve ever measured. Sixty-four percent (64%) felt that way in early March 2009, but confidence has been declining ever since. Looking in the short term, 32% say the U.S. economy will be stronger a year from today, but 46% feel it will be weaker. 

    Americans remain pessimistic about the housing and stock markets, too. Just 19% think the stock market will be higher a year from today. Nearly half (48%) of adults still think it will take housing prices more than three years to recover from the downturn that began in 2008.

    On Friday, 27% of consumers said their personal finances are getting better, but 38% felt they are getting worse. 

    Fifty-nine percent (59%) of all Americans think it’s at least somewhat likely that the United States will soon face another financial industry meltdown similar to the 2008 crisis. 

    Most voters (55%) still believe policies that encourage economic growth are more important than those promoting economic fairness, but they’re also less convinced that there is a conflict between the two

    Most Americans continue to see poverty as a problem in the United States, but only 10% actually claim they are living in poverty. 

    America Works founder Peter Cove joins Scott Rasmussen on this weekend’s edition of What America Thinks to discuss his life’s work fighting poverty and how his private company is finding jobs for many thought to be unemployable. Democratic consultant Emily Tisch Sussman and the Winston Group’s Kristen Soltis Anderson are also on hand to discuss the ongoing debate over gun control.

    The weekly television show, hosted by Scott Rasmussen, is carried on 62 stations around the country. WKYT, in Lexington, Kentucky is the newest affiliate. Beginning this week, the CBS station will air the show at 9:30 on Sunday morning. Find a station near you.

    Support for requiring a strict background check to buy a gun remains high, but 51% of voters believe these checks will not reduce the level of violent crime in America.

    Forty-one percent (41%) think the federal government should maintain a database with the names and addresses of all gun owners in the United States. Slightly more (47%) disagree and oppose a government database of all gun owners. Most Democrats strongly favor such a database, but most Republicans and unaffiliated voters are opposed.

    Forty-four percent (44%) of all voters believe it is at least somewhat likely that the government will try to confiscate all privately owned guns over the next generation or so.

    This distrust of government is a major factor in the immigration debate as well.

    Most voters are willing to support immigration reform only if it includes both border security and a way for some illegal immigrants to remain in the country.  While 59% favor a comprehensive reform plan, just 26% support a plan without tougher border control. Only 39% favor a plan that would secure the borders but does not allow illegal immigrants who are otherwise law-abiding to stay here. A big problem for reformers, though, is that most voters don’t trust the government to really try to secure the border.

    Most voters continue to like the health care they get but remain more critical of the overall U.S. health care system.  However, the majority also still expects the system to get worse in the near future as President Obama’s health care law kicks in.

    The president continues to earn just over 50% job approval in the daily Presidential Tracking Poll. But for the month of March, Obama’s total Job Approval Rating fell another point from 53% in February to 52%. In December, it reached 56%, the highest level since May 2009. Prior to the election, that rating had remained in the narrow range of 44% to 49% for two years straight.

    Democrats lead Republicans again this week on the Generic Congressional Ballot

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    In other surveys last week:

    — Thirty-five percent (35%) of Likely U.S. Voters say the country is heading in the right direction. That compares to 29% a year ago at this time.

    –Following the recent major computer attack on South Korea, Americans continue to worry about the safety of this nation’s computer systems, and 55% believe a foreign attack on them should be viewed as an act of war. 

    — While most voters continue to view global warming as a serious problem, 61% think it is more important to find news sources of energy than to fight climate change.  This question was asked in the context of the Keystone XL pipeline which most voters want built.

    Most Americans don’t approve of the decision to tax bank accounts as part of a bank bailout in Cyprus but think it’s likely other European countries will resort to similar plans to fight their massive deficit problems. 

    — Belief in the importance of Easter is down slightly, but nearly half of Americans still planned to attend a religious service to celebrate the holiday last Sunday. 

    — At the beginning of the week, 61% of American Adults had filed their federal income taxes

    Subscribers to Rasmussen Reports receive more than 20 exclusive stories each week for less than a dollar a week. Please sign up now. Visit the Rasmussen Reports home page for the latest current polling coverage of events in the news. The page is updated several times each day.

    Wall Street Journal profile called Scott Rasmussen “America’s Insurgent Pollster.” The Washington Post described him as “a driving force in American politics.”  If you’d like Scott to speak at your conference or event, contact Premiere Speakers Bureau.



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