Science and Technology News

Friday, February 26, 2010

Military Scientists Study Ionoshpere

By Bob Freeman
Special to American Forces Press Service

Feb. 26, 2010 - At a facility in a remote part of south-central Alaska, the largest radio transmitter on Earth sends high-frequency signals into the ionosphere to better understand the influence of charged particles on radio communications and satellite surveillance systems. Surprisingly, it also is able to create a mini-ionosphere.

"The High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, a program known as HAARP, is basically a joint Air Force-Navy program to investigate ionospheric physics and radio science," explained James Battis, HAARP program manager at the Air Force Research Laboratory, in a Feb. 24 interview on Pentagon Web Radio's audio webcast "Armed with Science: Research and Applications for the Modern Military."

Battis was joined in the interview by Craig Selcher, HAARP program manager at the Naval Research Laboratory, and Todd Pedersen, a senior research physicist at AFRL.

"The ionosphere is a region of the upper atmosphere where there are a significant number of charged particles," Pedersen said. He explained that energy from the sun, particularly in the ultraviolet wavelengths, strikes atmospheric gas molecules and atoms with enough force to dislodge electrons. This results in a field of negatively charged electrons and positively charged atoms and molecules [ions], maintained in a plasma state, which conducts electrical currents and responds to electric and magnetic fields.

Battis mentioned that radio waves passing through the ionosphere are affected by the charged particles. "This can affect things like the quality of the signal from a satellite to the ground, or short-wave communications from ground to ground," he said.

He added that the signals from satellite-based surveillance and positioning systems also can be affected by the ionosphere.

"When the signals from GPS come down [from the satellite], their paths are actually deflected by the structure of the ionosphere," he said, "and some GPS errors are due to distortions created by the ionosphere." He explained that while these errors may not be significant to the average user, they can be significant for precise military positioning. "That's one of the reasons [the Defense Department] is interested," he noted.

But the scientists all agreed that communications are the major reason for Defense Department interest.

"These are the transmissions which are used to communicate with aircraft and satellites, so the Air Force is interested largely in effects of the ionosphere on communications," Battis said.

The Navy's Selcher agreed. "We have ships all over the globe that we want to be in contact with at all times, so any effect the ionosphere has on communications is something that we want to study," he said.

Battis noted that the research conducted by HAARP will benefit civilian communication systems as well, including those supporting civil aviation and ground communications.

"Satellite radio and satellite television can also be impacted by naturally occurring ionospheric conditions," Selcher added. "And trying to understand those is to begin to learn to predict, and maybe to ameliorate, the problem."

Battis described much of the previous ionospheric research as passive, with the evaluation of ionospheric effects based on the quality of reception of a normally transmitted radio signal. "The radio waves we transmit from the array at our facility actively create processes and interactions with the particles in the ionosphere," he said. "Hopefully, we can learn what the responses are and how to use them to improve transmissions through the ionosphere," he said.

"We have radio-wave sensors which send waves up to the ionosphere and listen for a reflection or an echo off something up there," Pedersen remarked. "And we have passive sensors that will listen to waves produced in the ionosphere, and also optical sensors."

Pedersen explained that when energy is directed at the ionosphere, some of it eventually comes back in the form of radio waves and some in the form of optical emissions.

"When these electrons get moved around by the electric field, they ultimately run into molecules up there, and when they have enough energy they'll become excited and give off light, just like the inside of a fluorescent light bulb," he said.

Battis and Selcher observed that the radio waves emitted from the HAARP array create reactions that mimic natural processes in the ionosphere, but they are more controlled and their time and frequency input is measured, allowing the researchers to differentiate them from natural occurrences and better understand the processes at play.

"You can actually repeat the experiment again and again to verify that you're getting the right data, and that the data means what you think it means," Selcher explained.

Battis described the unique nature of the HAARP array, consisting of 180 transmitters distributed over 35 to 40 acres of land, with a frequency range of 2.65 to 10 megahertz.

"We can actually direct the signal within about 15 degrees of the zenith and move the signal in time," he said. "So we can paint the sky. Similar facilities are typically restricted to three or four frequencies in that band, whereas we're able to do more continuous frequencies."

"That allows you to really expand the kind of experiments that you can do," Selcher added. "You can start sweeping the beam around in space, and you can change frequencies to determine if there's a frequency that has a stronger interaction with the ionosphere."

Pedersen described a surprising advance in the use of HAARP transmitters. He explained that at full power, HAARP is energetic enough that its signals not only light up the gas molecules, they're also able to knock additional electrons off, creating small areas of artificial plasma.

"Sunlight does that, and that's how we get the ionosphere in the first place," Pedersen said. "The aurora also does it. Electrons come shooting in from the aurora, from far out in space, hit the gas molecules, knock electrons off, and create a temporary ionosphere for the duration of time the aurora is there," he explained.

In short, HAARP is able to create a small addition to the ionosphere. "We can add to the ionosphere enough that we can actually start doing experiments in that little spot of plasma that we created from the transmitter," Pedersen said.

Pedersen remarked that the next step was to figure out exactly what's happening in this artificial plasma and how to control it.

"This field has been data-starved for many, many years," Selcher noted, "because there weren't enough facilities that had the kind of power that HAARP has." He explained that theorists proposed many ideas to explain ionospheric interactions, but the data wasn't available to support them. HAARP is changing that.

"It's a nice position to be in as an experimentalist," he said.

(Bob Freeman works in the Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy.)

Military and Social Media

New Policy Authorizes Social Media Access, With Caveats
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 26, 2010 - Attention all Facebookers, Twitter tweeters and YouTubers: a new Defense Department policy authorizes you to access these and other Web 2.0 platforms from nonclassified government computers, as long as it doesn't compromise operational security or involve prohibited activities or Web sites.

Defense Department officials issued the long-awaited policy today, establishing consistent rules for all military members and employers.

Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III, who signed the policy, said it strikes a critical balance between the benefits and potential vulnerabilities of these applications. "This directive recognizes the importance of balancing appropriate security measures while maximizing the capabilities afforded by 21st-century Internet tools," he said.

While authorizing access to these tools, the new policy also recognizes the importance of protecting military networks and operations, explained David M. Wennergren, deputy assistant secretary of defense for information management and technology.

For example, the new policy allows commanders to temporarily limit that access as required to maintain operations security or address bandwidth constraints. It also prohibits malicious activity on military information networks and denies access to sites promoting prohibited activity such as gambling, pornography and hate crimes.

While information sharing may seem the polar opposite of security to some people, Wennergren said the Defense Department can no longer afford to consider just one or the other.

"If you look at either one individually, you will fail," he said. "You will have great security, but no ability to access information sharing. [Or], if you think only about sharing, you will run into issues of operational security and letting bad things into your system. So you can no longer think of them as two separate subjects."

The new policy promotes what Wennergren calls "secure information sharing," providing the balance needed to tap into the capabilities social media networking provides without compromising security.

He emphasized the importance of personal responsibility in using unclassified military networks to access these tools, and said the department will continue to evaluate the policy after it takes effect.

"There's a huge imperative for security," Wennergren said. "It is everyone's responsibility in the department to make sure they are doing all that they can to protect our information and our information systems."

Ultimately, he called responsible, security-conscious use of social media networks a win-win proposition for the Defense Department and its members, enabling them to take full advantage of the power of social media networking.

"The world of Web 2.0 and the Internet provides these amazing opportunities to collaborate," Wennergren said. It not only promotes information sharing across organizational boundaries and with mission partners, but also enables deployed troops to maintain contact with their loved ones at home.

"So if you work on those two pieces" -- access and security -- "this really is giving people this avenue to do amazing things in terms of getting the information shared and making decisions happen much more rapidly," Wennergren said.

Until now, most servicemembers have been able to access social media platforms from their government computers, but policies have not been consistent across the department. The Marine Corps instituted a policy in early 2007 blocking Marines from accessing these sites through the Marine networks. Marines have, however, been permitted to access the sites from personal computers.

Responsible and Effective Use of Internet-Based Capabilities

DOD Releases Policy for Responsible and Effective Use of Internet-Based Capabilities


The directive is consistent with the increased security measures that the Department has taken to secure its networks and reinforces existing regulations related to ethics, operations security, and privacy.

"This directive recognizes the importance of balancing appropriate security measures while maximizing the capabilities afforded by 21st Century Internet tools," said Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn III.

Use of Internet-based capabilities, including SNS, have become integral tools for operating and collaborating across the DoD and with the general public. Establishing a DoD-wide policy ensures consistency and allows for full integration of these tools and capabilities.

The new policy memorandum is available at: http://www.defense.gov/NEWS/DTM%2009-026.pdf.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Illegal Internet Gambling

Harrisonville Man Pleads Guilty to Illegal Gambling Sports Bookmaking Operation Used Website, Computer Server in Costa Rica

February 25, 2010 - KANSAS CITY, MO—Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Harrisonville, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to conducting an illegal gambling business that relied on a website with a computer server located in Costa Rica.

William D. Cammisano, Jr., also known as “Willie,” 60, of Harrisonville, waived his right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge John T. Maughmer this morning to a federal information that charges him with conducting an illegal gambling business.

By pleading guilty today, Cammisano also agreed to forfeit $60,368 to the government, which represents his share of the profits from the gross wagers of the illegal gambling business. The money was seized by FBI agents while executing a search warrant at Cammisano’s residence on March 31, 2009.

Cammisano admitted that, from March 1, 2006 to March 31, 2009, he conducted an illegal sports bookmaking business in the Kansas City, Mo., metropolitan area. Cammisano was responsible for multiple bettors, primarily located in Kansas City, Mo., area who wagered more than $1,137,632 during the course of this illegal sports bookmaking business. Bookmakers received a percentage of the winnings at the end of each sports season.

Cammisano and other bookmakers provided their bettors with a 1-800 toll-free telephone number and a website. In order to place a wager on a sporting event, the bettor would call the number or access the website, then provide their account number and password. Cammisano and other bookmakers used a separate 1-800 toll-free telephone number, or the website, to track their bettors’ activities and account balances.

Both of the 1-800 numbers routed to a company located in Costa Rica that employed more than five people in the operation of this illegal sports bookmaking business. Under this scheme, the Costa Rican company acted as a virtual wire room for the illegal sports bookmaking operation—taking wagers and keeping electronic records of bettors’ activities and results on a computer server located in Costa Rica. The Costa Rican company did not have an interest in the outcome of the wagers, but charged the illegal sports bookmaking business a fee for managing each bettor’s account.

Cammisano and other bookmakers paid out or collected cash in person from their bettors, usually on a weekly basis.

In separate but related cases involving the same gambling operation, Charles J. Simone, 25, of Liberty, Mo., pleaded guilty on Feb. 18, 2010, to the same charge of conducting an illegal gambling business; Michael V. Badalucco, 26, Michael C. Sansone, 30, and Anthony V. Sansone, 27, all of Kansas City, have pleaded guilty to being bookmakers in the gambling operation.

Under federal statutes, Cammisano is subject to a sentence of up to five years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jess E. Michaelsen. It was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department.

Technology Grant

February 25, 2010 - The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today announced a new competition for grants for the construction of new or expanded scientific research buildings at institutions of higher education and nonprofit organizations. NIST has $50 million available for the cost-sharing grants and anticipates funding 3 to 5 projects with grants of $10 to $15 million each.

The NIST grants will fund new or expanded facilities for scientific research in fields related to measurement science, oceanography, atmospheric research or telecommunications, the research fields of the Commerce Department's three science agencies: NIST, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Candidate projects could include laboratories, test facilities, measurement facilities, research computing facilities or observatories.

You can read more about this in the full NIST news release, "NIST Launches New Competition for Research Facility Construction Grants", at:
http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/releases/ncgp_022510.html

Defibrillators Shocking News

Medical Device Manufacturer Guidant Charged in Failure to Report Defibrillator Safety Problems to FDA Boston Scientific Subsidiary Charged with Federal Crimes Related to June 2005 Defibrillator Recalls

February 25, 2010 - WASHINGTON – Medical device manufacturer Guidant LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Boston Scientific Corporation, was charged today with criminal violations of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act related to safety problems with some of its implantable defibrillators. Guidant LLC formerly did business as Guidant Corporation. The Justice Department filed the criminal information today in connection with an agreement with Guidant to resolve the charges. A formal guilty plea agreement is expected to be filed with the court at a later date. Boston Scientific previously announced in a November 2009 press release that the company would pay $296 million on behalf of Guidant in connection with these charges.

According to the information filed today in federal district court in St. Paul, Minn., Guidant concealed information from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding catastrophic failures in some of its lifesaving devices. The charges were filed following a four-year investigation into Guidant’s handling of short-circuiting failures of three models of implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs): the Ventak Prizm 2 DR (Model 1861) and the Contak Renewal (Models H135 and H155). Guidant issued safety advisories regarding the failures in June 2005.

ICDs are lifesaving devices used to detect and treat abnormal heart rhythms that can result in sudden cardiac death, one of the leading causes of mortality in the United States. The devices, once surgically implanted, constantly monitor the electrical activity in a patient’s heart for deadly electrical rhythms and deliver an electrical shock to the heart in an effort to return the heartbeat to normal. If they fail to operate properly when needed, a person can die within minutes.

The information alleges that beginning in 2002, Guidant became aware that one of its ICDs, the Ventak Prizm 2 DR, was prone to electrical arcing, rendering the device inoperative and unable to deliver life-saving therapy to the patient in whom it was implanted. Guidant changed the design of the Prizm 2 in November 2002 to correct the problem. The information charges that in August 2003, Guidant falsely told the FDA that the design changes did not affect the device’s safety or effectiveness. In fact, the device changes were made to correct this flaw, according to the information.

In early 2004, Guidant allegedly discovered a similar short-circuiting problem with its Renewal 1 and Renewal 2 devices. Following the July 2004 death of a patient associated with a shorted Renewal in Spain, the information charges that Guidant knew that the physician operating instructions for responding to a short-circuit within the device were false and misleading. In an effort to remedy this, Guidant sent a communication by overnight delivery to physicians which the company dubbed a "Product Update." The information alleges that this communication was actually a correction to the device which attempted to mitigate the safety risk posed by the short-circuiting. Guidant was required by law to alert FDA of this action within ten days. The information charges that Guidant failed to make that notification.

Guidant issued safety advisories on the Prizm 2 and Renewal devices in June 2005. FDA classified those advisories as "Class I" recalls, the most serious classification of recall, concluding that there was a reasonable probability that the affected devices could cause serious adverse health consequences or death.

"The government charges that Guidant committed serious crimes by undermining the FDA’s role to guard the American public against potentially dangerous medical devices," said Assistant Attorney General Tony West, who heads the Justice Department’s Civil Division. "Our message is clear: We will vigorously prosecute individuals and organizations who put profit over public health and safety by violating the law."

"The community has the right to expect that companies that violate federal law by submitting false or misleading information to the FDA will be held accountable, particularly when that information relates to lifesaving devices, such as defibrillators," said Frank J. Magill, Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota on this case. "I want to thank the prosecutors and investigators responsible for this challenging investigation that resulted in these charges being filed. For that, we all can be very thankful."

"This investigation highlights the commitment by FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations to pursue those who seek to circumvent FDA's regulatory authority," said Thomas P. Doyle, Special Agent in Charge of the FDA/OCI Washington Field Office. "The FDA relies on information submitted by regulated entities to fulfill our mission of protecting the public health. Device manufacturers are required to be honest and forthright in all dealings with the FDA, including the submission of post-approval reports and notification of corrective actions. Guidant put patients at risk by modifying flawed devices without communicating candidly with the FDA and doctors."

The public is reminded that the charges contained in a criminal information are not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case was investigated by the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations and is being prosecuted by AUSA Robert M. Lewis of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota and Trial Attorneys Ross S. Goldstein and Matthew S. Ebert of the Department of Justice’s Office of Consumer Litigation. Additional assistance is being provided by Steven Tave of FDA’s Office of Chief Counsel.

Regenerative Medicine Shows Promise for Wounded Warriors

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 25, 2010 - Movie-goers have seen the concept play out time and time again on the big screen. Sinister Borg drones reconstitute missing digits and limbs before their eyes in the "Star Wars" series. Alien Jack Jeebs in "Men in Black" regrows his head after it's damaged or blown off. The military is working to bring some of that science-fiction capability to wounded warriors so they can harness their own body's power to regenerate itself and repair disabling and disfiguring battlefield injuries.

The Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine is leading the charge with an ambitious program that aims to help soldiers with burn and blast injuries regrow muscle, skin, tendons, nerves and even bone, said Army Col. (Dr.) Robert Vandre, the project director, based at this western Maryland Army post

"Ultimately, we will be able to grow limbs," Vandre said. "But in the next decade, we should be able to reduce the number of limbs that have to be amputated, just because we will have new ways to fix things that can't be fixed now."

A dentist with a background in combat casualty care research, Vandre said he's been impressed by the way the military has saved warfighters' lives, even those who in past wars would have died from their combat wounds.

"They are alive, but a lot of them still have deformities, or things that are wrong," he said. "What we want to do is to put wounded warriors back together, and restore them to how they were before their injury."

Think of a salamander that's able to regenerate a lost tail, and apply that same amphibian technology to humans, Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Eric Schoomaker said last spring as he unveiled the five-year, $250 million initiative.

The effort has attracted some of the best minds in regenerative medicine, working together through consortiums at Wake Forest and Rutgers universities, and in cooperation with the Army Institute of Surgical Research. Funding comes from the Defense Department, the National Institutes of Health and a broad range of public and private organizations.

But unlike other regenerative medicine programs, which focus primarily on basic research or commercial enterprises, the AFIRM effort is dedicated to "translational research" which Vandre defines as putting research into practice.

"We are aimed completely toward the clinic," he said. "Our goal is to take research being done, get a clinical trial and get it into military patients."

Over the course of the program, AFIRM plans to develop clinical therapies to repair burns; reconstruct the head, skull and face; reconstruct, regenerate or transplant limbs; eliminate scarring as wounds heal; and reduce inflammation around wounds that can damage nerves and kill muscle cells.

The work already is paying off, Vandre said, with three clinical trials under way, and five more to start within the next year.

And it's already showing promise.

Former Marine Josh Maloney, 24, who lost his right hand in a training accident at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., was among the first troops to benefit from the effort. When he received a hand transplant last March at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, his doctors introduced a new protocol that combines cell therapy and a bone marrow transplant.

The goal, Vandre explained, was to get Maloney's body to accept the new hand while reducing the risk associated with toxic anti-rejection drugs. Just 10 days after his transplant, he had some movement in his fingers.

In another trial, researchers used regenerative medicine to get a soldier whose entire thigh muscle had been blown away a roadside bomb to generate new tissue. They applied "extracellular matrix" material a mix of growth factors, protein and connective tissue taken from a pig's bladder to the wound. This, Vandre explained, signaled the body to start the tissue regrowth process.

So far, AFIRM researchers have used the procedure on two patients, and they plan to conduct 15 more surgeries as part of their trial.

In other trials, researchers are constructing "scaffolding" in the exact shape of a nose or other missing or damaged body part, then applying cells on it to grow new tissue. After the new growth is completed, the biodegradable scaffolding material dissolves.

The AFIRM initiative to begin next month shows particular promise for burn patients, whose treatment often requires multiple painful, invasive skin grafts. Researchers will begin "cell spraying," taking a postage stamp-size piece of a burn victim's healthy skin, exposing it to an enzyme that separates the cells from each other, then immediately spraying them onto the damaged skin.

"There's much less pain and cost, and the results look way better," Vandre said of results seen in a previous clinical trial conducted in Australia. "The results are pretty incredible."

Meanwhile, researchers also are looking into ways to reduce the scarring associated with burns. Not only is it unsightly, but it also limits movement and flexibility after patients have healed.

One trial soon to be introduced will involve injecting fat cells under the burn scars a procedure Vandre said dermatologists and plastic surgeons do all the time, with good results.

Vandre gets downright giddy talking about the developments already being seen, and the potential they hold for wounded warriors. It's the ultimate reward for an effort he took on with crusade-like enthusiasm, pitching the concept for an armed forces regenerative medicine program, identifying the government and private-sector funding sources and helping attract what he calls "the Einsteins" in the regenerative medicine field.

"I'm just thrilled that I have been able to have the chance to do something like this, that can mean so much to so many people, and that it's gotten this level of support," he said. Chuckling, he added, "I just think I have the greatest job in the whole world."

Space Science at the Top of the World


By John Ohab

Dr. Todd Pederson, Air Force scientist at the High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP), is back to explain how his cutting-edge research in Greenland is helping satellites and radars better protect our military. Special thanks to Michael Kleiman, 377th Air Base Wing, for co-producing this series.

Dr. Todd Pedersen is a space physicist serving with the Air Force Research Laboratory, Space Vehicles Directorate’s, Battlespace Environment Division, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass. He got his start as an experimenter early in life playing with magnets, wires, and other fun stuff salvaged from old radios, motors, and cars.

It’s August, so during lunch break, I take a short walk down to the beach. Only this is not your ordinary late summer beach.

Sure, it has sand, and some seaweed, but no Frisbees, no volleyball, and no sunbathers. It looks more like a demolition derby after everyone has gone home. But instead of crushed cars strewn about on the sand, the beach is littered with car-sized chunks of ice. Baby icebergs are stranded by the tide. Their parents are out in the bay, towering high enough that the helicopter had to dodge them as it ducked below the fog bank to bring us in a few days before.

I’m in Qaanaaq, a thriving community of several hundred families in northwest Greenland, located nearly 2,500 miles due north of my office in the Boston suburbs. After strolling like Alice in Wonderland through the oversized ice cubes, we head back to the little hut that houses our instruments. That is why we are here, after all. The beach may be empty, but the sky above us is a busy place, filled with satellites and radio waves.

Beyond the bay and the large ice-covered peninsula on its far side is Thule Air Base, home to a huge, pyramid-shaped radar that scans these skies, tracking satellites, and looking out for missiles we all hope are never launched. The satellites and radars are only part of the story. A hundred miles up — in fact, a hundred miles up from anywhere on earth — is the ionosphere, a layer of plasma created when sunlight hits the atmosphere.

Back in Boston, the ionosphere is smooth most of the time, like a good waterskiing pond. It acts like a nice, flat piece of glass in a window or mirror, letting radio waves such as global positioning system signals or radar pulses through or reflecting them, depending on their frequency. Up here near the magnetic pole, however, the ionosphere gets pushed around by the solar wind coming in from the sun, and breaks up into drifting chunks like billows of smoke from a smokestack. This ionosphere doesn’t make very good windows or mirrors.

I am here in Qaanaaq to install equipment — a radar that bounces pulses off the ionosphere called an “ionosonde,” and a low-light imager that captures the faint glow from the turbulent plasma — that lets us monitor these disturbances. If we scientists can understand and maybe even forecast how the ionosphere twists itself into these disruptive tangles, we can help the satellites and radars see through the mess better to protect our homeland and help our troops, ships, and planes find their destinations wherever they are called to serve.

Pirated Computer Software

New York Man Pleads Guilty to Criminal Copyright Infringement for Selling Pirated Computer Software Using the Internet


February 25, 2010 - A New York man pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., to criminal copyright infringement for selling more than $250,000 worth of pirated copies of popular business, engineering and graphic design software programs, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride of the Eastern District of Virginia.

According to court documents, Robert Cimino, 59, of Syracuse, N.Y., advertised the sale of discounted popular software programs on a variety of Internet-based advertising forums, operating under the business name "SoftwareSuite." Customers would contact Cimino by e-mail and would typically pay for the products by PayPal. Cimino would then mail infringing copies of Adobe, Autodesk, Intuit and Quark programs that he had burned to CD or DVD to the customers, including customers in the Eastern District of Virginia. Cimino admitted that from February 2006 to September 2009, he received at least $270,035 from his sales of infringing software products.

Cimino is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga on May 28, 2010. Cimino faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, three years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine, restitution and forfeiture.

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Tyler G. Newby of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay V. Prabhu of the Eastern District of Virginia. The case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

New Leica Zeno GIS Handheld and Software - Dataflow Made Simpler

Leica Zeno GIS provides a one-click automated workflow between the field and office.

(Norcross, GA., 25 February 2010) - Leica Geosystems' new Leica Zeno GIS series enters the U.S. GIS data collection market with rugged products offering the most multi-functional and easiest GNSS/GIS solution available today. Leica Zeno GIS is part of the Leica Viva family of products.

Leica Geosystems' outstanding survey technology is now extended into the GIS market. With the new product introduction of the Leica Zeno GIS series, it is now simpler to manage and maintain assets, inspect infrastructure, respond to emergencies, ensure public safety, explore natural resources and conduct as-built and incident mapping with ease.

Rugged GNSS/GIS handhelds with productive field software

The Leica Zeno 10 provides a color graphic display in portrait format and a numeric keypad. Alternatively, users have the choice to select a full functioned model - the Leica Zeno 15 with a full QWERTY keyboard and a display in landscape format. Both GNSS/GIS devices support:

First fully rugged GNSS/GIS handheld working in the most demanding environments

Dual-constellation (GPS/GLONASS) and SBAS tracking

Zeno Field software based on an OEM version of the popular ESRI ArcPad™ 8 software enhanced with GNSS functionality

An integrated digital camera linking photos to feature locations

High Performance: from sub-meter to decimeter accuracy

Dual-constellation tracking guarantees higher productivity with more satellites available - in particular in urban canyons and in areas where tree canopy blocks the number of visible GPS satellites.

The new Leica Zeno Field software is an OEM version of ESRI ArcPad 8 and provides a full range of functions to easily control the integrated GNSS receiver and to manage the data collection process such as GNSS raw data logging, easy handling of GNSS real-time configurations, feature accuracy management, and an automated workflow between the field and office.

EasyIn - Simplest dataflow between the field and office

With Leica Zeno, Leica Geosystems introduces EasyIn, the simplest dataflow between the field and office. EasyIn simultaneously checks in features and GNSS raw data, automatically post-processes GNSS observations and updates feature vertices to the most accurate location in one easy, automated step.

Together with Zeno Office, users can easily manage feature quality over time and benefit from automated import and export functions to a wide range of different formats such as ArcGIS™ geodatabase, shapefile, dxf, dgn, and dwg. Zeno Office is also available as an extension to ArcGIS Desktop.

More information Comprehensive information including promotion material on the Leica Zeno GIS series can be found at http:// www.leica-geosystems.com/Zeno

Leica Geosystems - when it has to be right

With close to 200 years of pioneering solutions to measure the world, Leica Geosystems products and services are trusted by professionals worldwide to help them capture, analyze, and present spatial information. Leica Geosystems is best known for its broad array of products that capture accurately, model quickly, analyze easily, and visualize and present spatial information.

Those who use Leica Geosystems products every day trust them for their dependability, the value they deliver, and the superior customer support. Based in Heerbrugg, Switzerland, Leica Geosystems is a global company with tens of thousands of customers supported by more than 3'500 employees in 28 countries and hundreds of partners located in more than 120 countries around the world. Leica Geosystems is part of the Hexagon Group, Sweden.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Comcast Hacker Pleads Guilty

February 24, 2010 - PHILADELPHIA—Christopher Allen Lewis, a.k.a. “EBK,” 20, of Newark, Delaware, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to disrupt service at Comcast corporation’s www.comcast.net website, on May 28 and 29, 2008, announced United States Attorney Michael L. Levy. Lewis was charged in November with James Robert Black, Jr., a.k.a. “Defiant,” and Michael Paul Nebel, a.k.a. “Slacker.” Black and Nebel are awaiting court dates.

According to the indictment, the three defendants were associated with the hacker group Kryogeniks and, on May 28, 2008, they used their hacking skills to redirect all traffic destined for the www.comcast.net website to websites that they had established. As a result, Comcast customers trying to read their e-mail or listen to their voice mail were sent to a website where they found a message that read “KRYOGENIKS Defiant and EBB RoXed COMCAST sHouTz to VIRUS Warlock elul21 coll1er seven.”

Approximately five million people per day connected to the Comcast website in May of 2008. These acts resulted in a loss to Comcast of approximately $128,000. The diversion prompted an intensive FBI investigation. Comcast Corporation cooperated in that investigation.

Lewis will be sentenced on May 21, 2010. He faces a maximum possible sentence of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, a $100 special assessment, and up to three years of supervised release. In addition, the court could order restitution.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Albert S. Glenn and Alexander T.H. Nguyen.

International Intellectual Property Crimes and Technology

Attorney General Eric Holder Speaks at the Rio De Janeiro Prosecutor General’s Office

Rio De Janeiro

February 24, 2010 - Thank you very much for your warm welcome, and good morning to my distinguished fellow panelists and to all members of the audience. Thank you, Ambassador Shannon, for that kind introduction, and thank you, Prosecutor General Lopes, for graciously hosting today’s event.

I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to meet with my Brazilian enforcement colleagues to discuss the challenges both our countries face in protecting the intellectual property that is so vital to our economic infrastructure and security. Our countries each need strong enforcement of criminal laws to protect intellectual property rights if we are to continue to foster innovation and creativity, safeguard consumers, and create economic growth.

Intellectual property is a critical component of the economies of both Brazil and the United States. If we cannot provide strong protection of intellectual property rights, our creative industries will suffer. There will be less research and development to foster innovation, and fewer technological advances in computer software and consumer products. And we risk falling behind in achieving much needed advances in new medicines and medical care that our scientists, universities and corporations develop.

Thanks to advances in technologies -- in particular the increasing accessibility of the Internet and improvements in manufacturing, transportation and shipping -- digital content such as business software and movies can be distributed to a worldwide market almost instantaneously. Even small businesses have unprecedented opportunities to market and distribute their goods and services around the world.

Unfortunately, the success of this worldwide, digital marketplace has also attracted criminals who seek to exploit and misappropriate the intellectual property of others. The same technologies that have created unprecedented opportunities for growth in legitimate economies have also created global criminal organizations that are eager to steal the creativity and profits from our domestic industries and workers. As Attorney General, I dedicate much of my time and attention countering the threats posed by these transnational criminal syndicates. These groups, who do not respect international boundaries or borders, have developed sophisticated, efficient and diverse methods for committing almost every type of intellectual property offense imaginable, including:

• widespread online piracy of music, movies, video games, business software and other copyrighted works;



• well-funded corporate espionage;



• sales of counterfeit luxury goods, clothing and electronics, both on street corners and through Internet auction sites; and



• increased international trade in counterfeit pharmaceuticals and other goods that pose a substantial risk to the health and safety of our consumers.

In the United States, we consider the theft of intellectual property to be a threat to our nation’s economic security, as I know you in Brazil do as well. This is a priority concern for President Obama and for me. The Obama Administration has taken a number of significant steps to ensure that protecting intellectual property rights remains a cornerstone of our country’s strategy for economic growth and prosperity. In 2009, President Obama appointed the first-ever Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator to serve in the White House and to work closely with an Advisory Committee composed of high level officials from all federal agencies across the United States. The IP Enforcement Coordinator, Victoria Espinel, will work with the Advisory Committee to develop a government-wide strategic plan to combat intellectual property violations. The plan will focus on all areas of intellectual property, including copyrights, patents, trademarks and trade secrets, both in the United States and abroad, and will include input from the public and from a broad cross-section of industries affected by IP theft.

Last December, Vice President Biden further demonstrated the Administration’s commitment to IP protection by convening an IP summit of high-level cabinet officials, including myself, as well as leaders of many of the IP industries, where he emphasized the importance of stronger enforcement of IP rights and improving government coordination.

And just two weeks ago, I announced the creation of a Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property. This task force will help develop and implement a multi-faceted criminal enforcement strategy with our federal, state and international partners to effectively combat IP crime. Through this new task force, we will seek creative and aggressive enforcement strategies—under both the civil and criminal laws— to combat the ever-growing threat to intellectual property worldwide. Let me be clear again- this is a priority matter for my government.

We are also expanding our efforts to attack IP crime by incorporating the legal tools that we use to attack other types of economic crime, such as with criminal laws against smuggling, money laundering, and fraud. Moreover, because of its high profits and international scope, IP crime has increasingly become the province of international organized crime. That is why I incorporated intellectual property crime into the Department’s International Organized Crime Strategy, a strategy that seeks to identify and target the most serious criminal groups operating throughout the world. The International Organized Crime strategy and initiative bring the best our law enforcement agencies have to offer, working toward a common purpose: to dismantle the most serious organized crime groups wherever they are located throughout the globe, whatever their source of income. Increasingly, our investigations show that many of these crime groups are financing their illicit activities through the theft of intellectual property and sale of counterfeit goods. This poses a significant threat to all our economies, and it challenges us to work together even more to combat global organized crime.

At home, our experience has shown that the increasingly sophisticated and diverse methods of committing intellectual property crime demand a more creative enforcement approach that better targets the skills and resources of our law enforcement community. The Department therefore has created two highly-specialized groups of criminal prosecutors who are devoted to the unique challenges of intellectual property enforcement. The first group is the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, in the Department’s Criminal Division. This group of 40 prosecutors and four highly-skilled Cybercrime Lab specialists focuses exclusively on computer and intellectual property crime. These attorneys prosecute many of the largest criminal IP cases that have international sources or that require multi-district coordination. They also help develop and implement the Department of Justice’s overall IP enforcement strategy nationwide, working closely with federal prosecutors in U.S. Attorney’s Offices throughout the country.

The second group of specialized prosecutors exists in the dedicated network of more than 230 Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP) coordinators and Assistant U.S. Attorneys nationwide who are located in each of our 93 United States Attorney’s Office’s across the country. These CHIP prosecutors receive highly-specialized training and unique resources with which to effectively combat the wide variety of IP crimes committed in their districts.

Of course, prosecutors are only part of the equation. Without skilled and dedicated investigative agents, there would be no cases to prosecute, and certainly fewer cases prosecuted successfully. Therefore, the Department works hand-in-hand with our law enforcement investigative partners in a variety of ways, including through the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center). The IPR Center is led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and includes investigators and analysts from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Food and Drug Administration, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, all working together to combat counterfeiting and online piracy.

We work hard to ensure that our prosecutors, agents and analysts have the training, technical and legal expertise to keep pace with the IP criminals. We measure our success by the quality of our prosecutions and the deterrent impact they achieve by convicting and jailing these offenders.

And our enforcement efforts require constant vigilance. The theft of a single trade secret can completely destroy a small up-and-coming company that seeks to profit on its creativity and ideas. When the trade secret is stolen to benefit another foreign power, our competitiveness in the world economy – and even our national security – can be threatened. Counterfeit drugs that are intended to treat serious illnesses and health conditions attack the very foundations of public health and safety in our countries. This is simply unacceptable.

Of course, we all know that the international scope of IP crime is very wide, and its penetration into our societies is deep. We thus have a responsibility to work with our law enforcement colleagues in other countries to disrupt the production and smuggling of counterfeit and pirated goods from their source organizations and illegal businesses. To that end, the Department partners with our foreign law enforcement counterparts whenever possible.

I am pleased that we have also worked so well with our colleagues here in Brazil over the course of many years. For example, in December 2008, the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division worked closely with Brazilian law enforcement to present a series of well-attended training programs in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Brasilia, which focused on the technical aspects of investigating IP crime – especially computer forensic analysis. The program appeared to have been well received, and we appreciated the opportunity to share ideas on computer forensic examinations and online investigative techniques.

We have also worked well together in the area of cybercrime and electronic evidence collection. While it will be difficult to leave Rio, I am looking forward to traveling to Brasilia tomorrow to attend the REMJA meeting of Ministers of Justice and Attorneys General of the Americas under the Organization of American States (OAS). We have worked hard through this organization’s Working Group on Cybercrime to develop stronger, harmonized laws to facilitate the collection and exchange of electronic evidence in all areas of the law, including computer and intellectual property crime. We appreciate Brazil’s contributions to the Working Group and to the numerous seminars the Working Group has organized throughout the Americas.

Like the United States, I know well that Brazil has also suffered the effects of IP crime. Counterfeit products and pirated versions of copyrighted works directly undermine your economy and creative industries. But Brazil is rising to face those challenges through the groundbreaking work of the National Council to Combat Piracy & Counterfeiting (CNCP). Our colleagues on the CNCP bring creativity and hard work to bear on the task of protecting IP rights. Since 2004 you have increased enforcement actions; you have helped to amend the law to reflect the new and changing relationship between IP and technology, and you have conducted public awareness and education campaigns to make Brazilian citizens aware of the economic harm and personal risks associated with counterfeit goods and pirated works.

I also want to acknowledge the enforcement efforts of our hosts today from the Office of the Prosecutor General for Rio de Janeiro. The state of Rio is a shining example of how law enforcement officials can reduce the flow of fake goods in our economies through targeted actions that have a large deterrent effect, and make criminals aware that IP crimes are treated no less seriously than narcotics or firearm offenses, or frauds and other economic crimes.

We applaud those efforts and the significant results they have achieved. But we can and must do more. We are not close to all that we can, and should, do. Brazil and the United States have taken leadership roles in the world in tackling the problems of counterfeiting and piracy, and as leaders we should work together at every opportunity to reach our goals. It is against this backdrop, that I am very excited to work with Brazil on developing a regional approach that brings together law enforcement experts from across the Americas with a mutual goal of increasing international cooperation in combating IP crime in the region. I look forward to finding additional opportunities to collaborate on the protection of intellectual property rights and other areas of shared interest.

Thank you, again, for your gracious hospitality today. I look forward to working with all of you in the months and years ahead and build a stronger partnership between our great two nations.

Webinar on Mobile Technology

Mobile devices can play an important role in enhancing access to psychological health and traumatic brain injury care and resources for service members, veterans and families.

The National Center for Telehealth & Technology, a DCoE component center, is piloting mobile applications for psychological health and traumatic brain injury care. This technology can help support warriors, veterans and their families from the palms of their hands whether in theater or at home. This webinar will discuss T2’s efforts.

All service members, family members, government employees, health care providers, subject matter experts and anyone interested in the psychological health of service members are encouraged to join.

To register for this event or for more information e-mail us at: DCoE.MonthlyWebinar@tma.osd.mil.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

HAARP’s Antenna Array: The Test Kitchen in the Sky

By John Ohab

February 23, 2010 - Dr. Todd Pederson at the HAARP Antenna Array north of Gakona, Alaska.  Dr. Todd Pedersen is a space physicist serving with the Air Force Research Laboratory, Space Vehicles Directorate’s, Battlespace Environment Division, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass. He got his start as an experimenter early in life playing with magnets, wires, and other fun stuff salvaged from old radios, motors, and cars.

It’s the week before Thanksgiving, but the temperature is already 37 degrees below zero. The dashboard lights dim as the rental car engine slowly turns over, but thankfully, it starts and I am on my way for another day.

Every bit of snow tracked into the car on my boots over the last two weeks is still there on the floorboards, frozen squeaky solid. It is enough if the heater will keep a spot on the windshield, in front of me, clear of snow and ice. The tires thump as I drive slowly up the hill—-they will go back to being round after they warm up a bit and can flex a little more, but for now, the side frozen flat against the ground all night stays flat.

The blue-gray twilight over the volcano reflects off the shiny ice covering the highway. In Japan, this mountain would overshadow Mt. Fuji, but here, looking out over the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park in south central Alaska, it’s just another 15,000 foot volcano. But I’m not here for the scenery, and certainly not here for the weather. I’m here for the ionosphere, and a huge 30-acre antenna array that lets us do experiments with it.

I arrive at the HAARP facility–the fancy name for the antenna array and its associated power supplies and instruments–40 minutes later, look at the latest readings from the instruments on the Web site, and start planning the details of the evening’s experiment.

The ionosphere is a plasma, created by sunlight, and in this part of the world, electrons shooting down to form the aurora. Unlike plasmas created in laboratories, light bulbs, and gift-shop gizmos here on Earth, the ionosphere isn’t trapped inside a bottle and has no walls to siphon off the particles. It’s the same problem as trying to make clouds in a jar. Instead of a cloud in the middle, all the moisture sticks to the edges and you just get foggy glass.

The big antenna out there sends out radio waves at just the right frequencies to resonate with the ionospheric plasma, kind of like wiggling a block of jello. When everything works just right, the wiggling can break the plasma up into long parallel strands like a handful of uncooked spaghetti. Only these noodles are 20 or 30 miles long and start 100 miles up. The same thing also happens naturally, as the ionosphere rises and falls and gets pushed around by currents in the solar wind and upper atmosphere.

As you might expect, the bundles of plasma spaghetti do not play nicely with radio waves passing through them, so an ionosphere full of these is unkind to global positioning system signals, radar beams, and satellite links our high-tech troops depend on to keep the pointy end pointed at the bad guys and the good guys safely out of harm’s way. The big antenna array out there is the only lab we have where we can actually study the ionosphere through controlled experiments–a test kitchen in the sky if you will.

Another glance at the Web site shows today’s ionosphere developing very nicely. Tonight, I’ll add a little FM sweep at 2.9 Megahertz to the recipe. It might be perfect with spaghetti.

HTS Announces Vehicle Identity Recognition (VIR) Suite in Conjunction with License Plate Recognition Systems

February 23, 2010 – Hi-Tech Solutions Ltd. (HTS), a developer and provider of optical character recognition (OCR) computer and vision systems, today announced the VIR (Vehicle Identity Recognition) suite, to be implemented in conjunction with the company’s License Plate Recognition (LPR) systems. The new suite comprises recognition of vehicle manufacturer logo (car model), vehicle body and plate color, special icons on the plate itself (such as handicap) and country or state name. VIR, to be added as an option to the company’s LPR systems, will be launched at InterTraffic 2010, to be held March 23-26 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

VIR allows for comparison of more than one parameter with respect to a given vehicle’s identity and can therefore provide a more complete picture and higher accuracy.

The vehicle logo, color and country or state name recognition capabilities greatly enhance and improve verification and classification of the vehicle and help check correlation between the car type, license plate number, and data stored on police and homeland security databases, allowing an immediate alert when a suspicious vehicle passes through the system. HTS offers an interface that can communicate with local law enforcement agencies as well as national agencies such as the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).

VIR is a valuable contribution to law enforcement and homeland security organizations, helping them to detect vehicles with false license plates, such as stolen cars, people who are trying to evade highway speed cameras or toll collection, people who replace their license plate with a stolen one to steal fuel from gas stations, etc. In controlled areas such as airports, license plate recognition systems with the vehicle logos recognition feature can be installed at access lanes, automatically monitoring the vehicles entering and exiting the area, detecting any discrepancies between the vehicle type and its license plate number.

The suite also increases the efficiency of toll road operators, who can bill for road usage more effectively for toll roads that are used by residents of number of neighboring states or countries.

“VIR is state of the art technology, and special algorithms were developed by HTS’s R&D department,” said Meta Rotenberg, VP Business Development, HTS. “We had to meet many challenges. For example, vehicle manufacturer logos vary in size, shape and color and unlike license plates, car logos can be located in different places on the vehicle, or even separated from the car body and placed on the hood.”

HTS’s proprietary vision-based LPR devices read and identify plate numbers and letters, and record the information in real time for further processing according to customer’s needs and specifications. The LPR system comprises software and hardware, configured to the site specifications.

About Hi-Tech Solutions Ltd. (HTS)
A leading developer and supplier of proprietary optical character recognition (OCR) and computer vision systems for a wide range of applications in the security, automation and management fields for the ports and traffic markets. HTS has successfully implemented commercial Container Code Recognition (CCR) and License Plate Recognition (LPR) systems in ports, traffic and security sectors in 40 countries worldwide, and has established partnerships with top-tier global companies. For more information, visit www.htsol.com .

Bomb Scare: An ODD Solution: A new and better way to detect explosives

Picture this. It’s a typical fall morning in downtown Washington, DC. You just exited the metro, and you’re walking to your office. You smile at the newspaper seller, inhale the aroma from a nearby coffee shop, and wait for the "Walk" signal that you never seem to make.

Then something catches your eye: Is that an unattended lunchbox underneath a park bench? Upon closer look, you notice that the box is misshapen and appears to be leaking. You immediately pull out your cell phone and dial 9-1-1.

For anyone who has spent a significant amount of time in an urban setting, the scene of a bomb squad responding to a report of a suspicious package is all too familiar. But just how do they determine if that lunchbox is someone’s leftovers or a lethal weapon? The most common way is an imaging technique called spectroscopy.

As its name suggests, spectroscopy uses the color spectrum to shed light on a package’s makeup. Since it uses visible light only, spectroscopy can’t see through a lunchbox. What it can see is residue, or microscopic schmutz, on the box’s outer layer, which can provide telltale clues about what’s inside.

Using spectroscopy, the bomb squadder will beam a laser at the package, then compare the reflected "light signature"—an optical fingerprint, if you will—against a library of known signatures for chemical compounds, such as nitroglycerin. If there’s nitro inside, chances are that some of it will be found in the package’s residue.
This method presents two problems. First, there’s distance. Many threat detection methods require either the person or the detector to be physically near the bomb, making spectroscopy extremely dangerous. Second, approaches like spectroscopy, which rely on reflected light, often are not sensitive or selective enough, especially in the real world where chemical signatures may overlap or be contaminated. Think of light signatures as fingerprints. Capturing a fingerprint from a clean surface is not especially difficult—all one needs is some cellophane tape. But in real life, surfaces are anything but clean, and dust, French fry grease, or even ink stains can cause a backpack or lunch pail to bear small deposits of several different chemicals, each with a unique optical fingerprint. To minimize false alarms, a detector must be both sensitive and selective.

"Spectroscopy is good, but it only gets you so far," says Eric Houser, a program manager in the Explosives Division of the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate (S&T). The wave of the future may lie in a technology called optimal dynamic detection (ODD), which overcomes many of spectroscopy’s limitations.

The ODD project began in the summer of 2008, when researchers from Princeton University and Los Alamos National Laboratory pitched the concept to S&T. As a result, the Directorate signed a contract to fund research at the two labs for a proof of concept. A year and a half later, after several rounds of successful tests, researchers have successfully demonstrated the science of ODD. The goal now: to develop a portable prototype in the next three years that can be field-tested.

But back to the science, which of course is the real eye-opener. "At the risk of oversimplifying, this is quantum control applied to explosives detection," warns Houser.

Here’s how ODD works:

1. A bomb technician beams a "raw" laser pulse toward a suspicious bag, looking for a specific explosive.

2. The pulse passes through an electro-optical filter, gaining clarity as it is bent through lenses, reflected by mirrors and amplified by chips. When the technician tunes the laser to a new frequency, the filter reshapes the laser’s pulse. As it is bent, reflected, and electronically processed, the pulse changes amplitude.

3. The shaped pulse hits the chemical environment around the lunchbox and excites the energy state of the material of interest, emitting an energy "signature." Since the pulse was precisely defined, so is the signature.

4. A second laser, called an analyzing "probe," is beamed through the excited molecules, measuring its spectrum. The probe beam passes into an electro-optical detector stationed on the other side of the target.

5. The pulse laser’s final shape is stored and analyzed. If the signature looks like that of an explosive, it can conclusively be traced to the explosive molecules that emitted it, which may be found on the bag’s fabric or zipper.

In this way, ODD reduces background signals, which interfere with the identification process of a potential bomb, and amplifies the return signal, which illuminates the threat. The light energy going in is precisely defined, which makes it easier than spectroscopy to read the energy coming out.

"In evaluating a potential bomb, you’re looking for a needle in a haystack," explains Houser. "ODD helps bring the needle to the forefront." In a word, ODD offers control. And with greater control comes greater accuracy. The result may well save precious minutes when a minute saved can means scores of lives.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ice Shelves Disappearing on Antarctic Peninsula

Glacier Retreat and Sea Level Rise are Possible Consequences

February 22, 2010 - Ice shelves are retreating in the southern section of the Antarctic Peninsula due to climate change. This could result in glacier retreat and sea-level rise if warming continues, threatening coastal communities and low-lying islands worldwide.

Research by the U.S. Geological Survey is the first to document that every ice front in the southern part of the Antarctic Peninsula has been retreating overall from 1947 to 2009, with the most dramatic changes occurring since 1990. The USGS previously documented that the majority of ice fronts on the entire Peninsula have also retreated during the late 20th century and into the early 21st century.

The ice shelves are attached to the continent and already floating, holding in place the Antarctic ice sheet that covers about 98 percent of the Antarctic continent. As the ice shelves break off, it is easier for outlet glaciers and ice streams from the ice sheet to flow into the sea. The transition of that ice from land to the ocean is what raises sea level.

“This research is part of a larger ongoing USGS project that is for the first time studying the entire Antarctic coastline in detail, and this is important because the Antarctic ice sheet contains 91 percent of Earth’s glacier ice,” said USGS scientist Jane Ferrigno. “The loss of ice shelves is evidence of the effects of global warming. We need to be alert and continually understand and observe how our climate system is changing.”

The Peninsula is one of Antarctica’s most rapidly changing areas because it is farthest away from the South Pole, and its ice shelf loss may be a forecast of changes in other parts of Antarctica and the world if warming continues.

Retreat along the southern part of the Peninsula is of particular interest because that area has the Peninsula’s coolest temperatures, demonstrating that global warming is affecting the entire length of the Peninsula.

The Antarctic Peninsula’s southern section as described in this study contains five major ice shelves: Wilkins, George VI, Bach, Stange and the southern portion of Larsen Ice Shelf. The ice lost since 1998 from the Wilkins Ice Shelf alone totals more than 4,000 square kilometers, an area larger than the state of Rhode Island.

The USGS is working collaboratively on this project with the British Antarctic Survey, with the assistance of the Scott Polar Research Institute and Germany’s Bundesamt fűr Kartographie und Geodäsie. The research is also part of the USGS Glacier Studies Project, which is monitoring and describing glacier extent and change over the whole planet using satellite imagery.

Inquiry into Lower Meiron School District Activating Web Cams on Student Issued Computers

United States Attorney Michael L. Levy and FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Janice Fedarcyk announced today that the United States Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation would be involved in the inquiry into allegations that the Lower Merion School District activated web cams on computers issued to students. Ordinarily, federal law enforcement agencies do not confirm the existence of an investigation. The Department of Justice does have an exception for matters that have already received substantial publicity, or where the community needs to be reassured that law enforcement is investigating the incident.

Levy said, “We intend to work as a team with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, the Montgomery County Detectives, and the Lower Merion Police Department to determine if any crimes were committed. The issues raised by these allegations are wide-ranging and involve the meeting of the new world of cyberspace with that of physical space. Our focus will only be on whether anyone committed any crimes. At this point, very few facts are known. Our first responsibility will be to conduct an orderly investigation to learn the facts. Only then, will we be able to make any judgments regarding violations of the laws. We do not intend to comment any further before our investigation is complete.”

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Leadership

According to a recent reader of Leadership: Texas Hold ‘em Style, “I want to weigh in on this book written by Raymond Foster and his cohort Andrew Harvey. I returned to school last year after 30 years of working and raising my family. In the process I have bought a plethora of books in the last year or so. I bought this book as I studied leadership from a an academic point view as well as using it in my profession. I have enjoyed a great career in law enforcement and in recent years I find myself in positions of leadership, both at work and within our police union. With the advent of the current economic crash leadership skills are in huge demand. I can't believe I waited to read this book until now. I needed to read this book years ago as I found myself leading people through these times.

But hey, better late than never! The authors of this book are incredibly educated and insightful in their perceptions and philosophies on leadership. They are not writing from theory, they are writing from experience, adding to the credibility factor of this book! The poker analogies used in this book are awesome and very to the point. They take the topic of leadership and deliver their thoughts in a down to earth fashion that anyone can comprehend and apply. This book is so easy to read but yet makes one ponder and consider some very insightful principles. They both have had success in their lives and know from which they speak. I would recommend this book to anyone considering taking a leadership role. It is a meat and potato approach that should be mandatory reading for every leadership course.


Buy it, read it, apply it, and live it! Great book!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Military Eases Thumb Drive, Flash Media Bans

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Feb. 19, 2010 - New guidelines from U.S. Strategic Command officials allow servicemembers to use "thumb drives" and other flash media to store computer data under specific circumstances. Strategic Command officials banned use of thumb drives and flash media in November 2008, after the use of the media infected a number of Defense Department computer systems. Computers users had to turn to alternative means to transfer data from one machine to another.

Now, the command has lifted the ban on the devices under carefully controlled circumstances, said Navy Vice Adm. Carl V. Mauney, Stratcom's deputy commander.

The command issued an order Feb. 12 that allows "a return to limited use of removable devices under very specific circumstances and guidelines," Mauney said.

"This is not a return to 'business as usual,'" the admiral emphasized. "There remain strict limitations on using these devices."

In a telephone interview, Mauney said units in active operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere will get priority in implementation of the new guidelines.

"In terms of the mechanics, we've put together several small kits of the equipment that's needed and we'll be transitioning those to people out in the theater in Afghanistan in particular to help certain groups facilitate their use," Mauney explained. The kits will contain hardware and software to ensure the safe use of removable media, he added, and scans and filters are included in the process.

After extensive testing of mitigation measures, Defense Department officials decided to make the technology available again on a very limited and strictly controlled basis, the admiral said.

"Since the order restricting use of removable media, [the Defense Department] developed capabilities and processes that allow safe use of these devices," Mauney said. "Removable media use will be limited to mission-essential operations, and only after strict compliance requirements are met."

The order calls on combatant commands, the services and Defense Department agencies to establish approval authorities for determining whether flash media may be used.

"The commanders and directors can decide that the measures that we're using already meet their needs," Mauney said. "In fact, when we're traveling, ... we look to see how people are doing in moving around their information. People have trained themselves and are able to do it, and are effective and efficient. I think, initially, some will look at this and say they are good with what they are doing. It's proven, and they may opt not to do this."

The removable media will be a tremendous help in Afghanistan and Iraq, Mauney said. "We think there will be some ground to be gained there," he added.

Use of the devices under the new guidelines is restricted to operational mission requirements, Mauney said, and only properly inventoried, government-procured and owned devices will be allowed for use in Defense Department information systems. Servicemembers and civilians will not use personally owned devices on any Defense Department network or in any Defense Department computer, he said.

Computer users also will not use Defense Department thumb drives and flash media on nongovernment networks or computers without authorization from an approval authority, the admiral said.

Defense Department officials say they're urging all computer users to be responsible and to do the right thing for cybersecurity. Mauney said the Defense Department has the means and the right to scan the department's computers, and randomly selected users and drives will be subject to periodic auditing.

Joint Task Force Global Network Defense is the operational command that will oversee the program.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pregnant? Text 4 Baby's Health

Pregnant women and new mothers can now receive free text messages that will help keep them and their babies in good health.

The Military Health System is proud to rank among the government partners in this new program, which works like this:

By texting BABY to 511411 on a mobile phone (or BEBE for a version in Spanish), pregnant women will begin receiving three free SMS text messages each week that are timed to their due date or baby's date of birth. These messages focus on topics critical to maternal and child health, including birth-defect prevention, immunization, nutrition, seasonal flu, mental health, oral health, and safe sleep. Messages will also connect women to prenatal and infant care services and other resources.

Called Text4baby, the program is a mobile health partnership that includes private and public organizations including the Department of Health and Human Services, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and founding corporate sponsor John and Johnson. Government and nonprofit health experts ensure that the text messages being sent contain accurate health information.

"Text4baby is the first free mobile health service to be taken to scale in the United States," said U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra. "We know that mobile phones hold tremendous potential to inform and empower individuals," said Chopra. "Text4baby represents an extraordinary opportunity to expand the way we use our phones, to demonstrate the potential of mobile health technology, and make a real difference for moms and babies across the country."

For more info, visit text4baby.org.

Another Shackleton Explores Antarctica: CDR Scott Shackleton

By John Ohab
February 18, 2010:

Q: What is your job, and what unit are you deployed from?

A: I am a Naval Reservist assigned to Military Sealift Command (MSC) as a Ships Operation Officer. My role in Antarctica is in support of Operation Deep Freeze, the Department of Defense‘s annual delivery of fuel, equipment and supplies required to sustain the scientist and support personnel conducting vital research across the Antarctic continent. In McMurdo, I serve as the liaison between the MSC vessels (United States Naval Ship Paul Buck, American Tern), the Navy sailors offloading the vessel and the scientific support staff receiving the materials. I also track vessel safety concerns, monitor weather updates, assist with specialty cargo requirements, and provide daily situation reports on the offload/backload progress. I am currently deployed from Sealift Logistic Command Pacific (SEALOGOPAC) Headquarters Unit out of San Diego, California.

I’m a licensed Third Assistant Engineer in the US Merchant Marine, and have worked with MSC and the merchant marine industry for over 20 years. I have deployed in support of MSC vessels to a variety of places around the world including Haiti, Thailand, Korea, Kuwait and Australia. I have wanted to support Operation Deep Freeze since I learned of the mission back in 1992. I have strong family ties to Antarctica, being a distant relative of Sir Ernest Shackleton, the famous Antarctic Explorer. I have heard the stories of his great adventures since I was a small child… I have always wanted to venture down to Antarctica and experience it for myself. I am honored and privileged to be given this assignment and have enjoyed every minute of my tour down in Antarctica.

Q: How does the extreme environment impact your job?

A: The extreme environment has a huge impact on our operation. The ice and cold creates a very treacherous and dangerous working environment. Safety is our number-one concern. We have a number of personnel who are required to work long hours in these severe conditions. We need to constantly monitor our operation to ensure that all of our personnel are working and maintaining a safe work environment. The weather down in McMurdo Station can change in an instant; it is not uncommon to see the temperature shift down by as much as 20 degrees in just a matter of minutes. We frequently operate our offloads in temperatures well below freezing. With the short window of opportunity to offload the vessel, it requires that we maximize every available minute of the operation. Good communications between the vessel, the cargo handling personnel, and shore side facility is critical. We all work together to complete the mission as efficiently and safely as conditions allow.

CDR Shackleton stands at the geographic South Pole. Courtesy Pacific Command.

Q: What is your favorite part about being in Antarctica?

A: Without question my favorite part of Antarctica is the incredible beauty. Everywhere you look there are magnificent and majestic views. Snow covered mountains surround McMurdo Sound, rising thousands of feet from the ocean reaching high into the clouds. Active volcanoes vent off their steam and the large ice fields reflect the bright rays of a never-setting sun. The unique lifestyle of the Emperor Penguins and the local seals allow a rare look into the animals that survive in this harsh environment. The other thing I love is the opportunity to relive the incredible history of Antarctica. Remnants of the first Antarctic explorers still exist, preserved in time by the humidity free environment. It is an awesome experience to walk into Scott’s Discovery Hut and see this historical structure just as it was left by these early explorers over 100 years ago. You can’t help but feel that the spirit of these great explorers is still present in this amazing place.

Q: What are some of the unique challenges of living and working in Antarctica that most people wouldn’t think about?

A: Some of the unique challenges of an Antarctic summer would have to include the 24-hour sun light. It works well for our ship operation because no one actually has to work a night shift. However, it can wreak havoc on your sleep patterns. You typically have to block off your window to prevent the bright sunlight form invading your sleep. After a few days you can usually adjust but I always find it strange to step out at two in the morning to a bright sunny day.

The other unique challenge is living in a city where everyone eats and lives together. There is only one place in McMurdo to go when you are hungry. The galley here at McMurdo is an around-the-clock operation. It becomes the primary social and meeting space for everyone at the station. At the peak of the season, the galley staff feeds over 1,000 people per meal. You never know who you will meet when you sit down at a table. Everyone at McMurdo has a great story of how they ended up down here. The berthing spaces are located right across the street from the galley so, depending on your job, your entire world may be limited to a 100-yard triangle. I can imagine that many people may find the boundaries of the McMurdo station to be very confining. There is actually a lot to do in your free time; it just depends on how adventurous you are.

Q: Any advice for those east coast U.S. people currently experiencing the “Snowpocalypse”?

A: I guess my best advice to those folks who are digging out from the snow storm back east is to just be patient. Wait for the storm to completely subside before you trek out to find your drive way. Dress appropriately and never put yourself or your family into harm’s way unless you absolutely have to. The difference of waiting a few hours to travel may be the difference between life and death. Force yourself to enjoy the unexpected time off. It’s a great opportunity to catch up on a good book or spend some quality time with your family. In the end, it will only be a matter of a few days before you’re back into your regular routine.

Digital Billboard Publicity Helps Capture FBI Fugitive

February 18, 2010 - NEWARK, NJ—Kevin Cruise, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Newark Division, announced the capture of Ronald Johnson, a fugitive wanted by the East Orange Police Department for armed robbery, and also by New Jersey State Parole for a violation of parole. The arrest occurred approximately 11:00 a.m. at 171 Isabella Avenue in Newark, New Jersey without incident and was executed by FBI agents and task force officers, U.S. Marshals, and officers from the office of New Jersey Parole.

The FBI worked the matter as a fugitive investigation on behalf of the East Orange Police Department. Since February 4, 2010, Johnson had been featured on the Clear Channel Outdoor digital billboards throughout Northern New Jersey, which includes locations on Routes 80, 280, 78, 287, and the New Jersey Turnpike, northbound and southbound. The Newark office of the FBI received a tip from a citizen who saw Johnson’s picture featured on the billboards and pointed law enforcement in the right direction.

“This is a great example of how technology is helping to build the relationship between the public and law enforcement and make our communities safer. We all owe Clear Channel a debt of gratitude for their assistance—assistance they provide the FBI and the taxpayers free of charge. This capture also demonstrates that the public can make a difference in their community by simply staying alert and picking up the phone when they see something that doesn’t look right. There is no room for apathy in today’s fast-paced world.”

“When law enforcement agencies team up to share resources and manpower, the public is made safer,” said New Jersey State Parole Board Chairman Yolette C. Ross. “This fugitive was captured due to our innovative partnership and lots of hard work. I commend all of the parole and police officers who pursued this case to its successful conclusion.”

The FBI’s partnership with Clear Channel began when an executive from the company approached the FBI in 2007 and offered to provide space on their collection of digital billboards in 20 locations throughout the country to help capture fugitives and rescue kidnapped children. As of January 30, 2009, the billboards directly resulted in the capture of 14 fugitives. That number has since grown higher. In New Jersey, the fugitive announcements are issued by the FBI and a request is made to the New York City office of Clear Channel Outdoor. On January 15, 2010, Clear Channel and the FBI teamed up to unveil a digital billboard in Times Square in New York City that features FBI fugitives from all around the country.

For more information on the FBI partnership with Clear Channel Outdoor, visit www.fbi.gov. If you have information regarding any fugitive featured on a digital billboard in New Jersey, please contact the FBI at 973-792-3000. Citizens are reminded that they should never attempt to apprehend a fugitive themselves. In the event of an emergency, call 911.

California Man Sentenced to Prison for Selling “Cracked” Software Online

February 18, 2010 - BOSTON, MA—A California man was sentenced on February 16, 2010 to six months in prison for running a business in which he sold illegally copied software via the Internet.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and Warren T. Bamford, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Boston Field Division, announced today that MARK PTASHNE, age 51, of Winchester, California, was sentenced on February 16, 2010 before U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf to six months in prison, to be followed by three years' supervised release, ordered to pay a $20,000 fine and forfeit $26,700. PTASHNE had pled guilty earlier to a one-count Information charging him with criminal copyright infringement.

At his August, 2009 change of plea hearing, the prosecutor told the Court that, had the case proceeded to trial, the evidence would have shown that from 2001 to 2007, PTASHNE sold software programs at far below the retail price. PTASHNE had not bought this software from the manufacturers or through any legitimate channels but rather had illegally downloaded the software from websites or obtained it from other individuals. The software PTASHNE sold was all “cracked”—meaning that the security devices the manufacturers used to prevent people from illegally copying the software had been broken or circumvented. PTASHNE downloaded and offered for sale more than 3,000 cracked software programs, which had a combined retail value of more than $2 million.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Bookbinder in Ortiz’s Computer Crimes Unit.

Two Former Executives of Video Relay Services Company Plead Guilty to Defrauding FCC Program

February 18, 2010 - WASHINGTON—Irma Azrelyant and Joshua Finkle, the former co-owners of New York and New Jersey-based Deaf and Hard of Hearing Interpreting Services Inc. (DHIS), pleaded guilty today to engaging in a conspiracy to defraud the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Video Relay Service (VRS) program of more than $7 million, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division.

Today, Azrelyant, 47, and Finkle, 41, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Joel A. Pisano in Trenton, N.J., to conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Azrelyant and Finkle were indicted on Oct. 29, 2009, along with DHIS assistant bookkeeper and video interpreter coordinator Oksana Strusa, as well as video interpreters Natan Zfati, Alfia Iskandarova and Hennadii Holovkin.

In pleading guilty, Azrelyant and Finkle admitted that beginning in approximately October 2007 and continuing through approximately July 2009, they conspired with others to pay individuals to make fraudulent VRS phone calls that were processed through DHIS, and that were billed to the FCC through VRS provider Viable Communications Inc. (Viable). According to the guilty pleas, Azrelyant and Finkle made VRS calls to prerecorded messages and other numbers for the sole purpose of generating VRS minutes and also coordinated with others to generate illegitimate VRS minutes that would be billed to the FCC. Azrelyant and Finkle also admitted to processing illegitimate VRS calls that were routed to DHIS by Viable.

According to the indictment, VRS is an online video translation service that allows people with hearing disabilities to communicate with hearing individuals through the use of interpreters and web cameras. A person with a hearing disability who wants to communicate with a hearing person can do so by contacting a VRS provider through an audio and video Internet connection. The VRS provider, in turn, employs a video interpreter to view and interpret the hearing disabled person’s signed conversation and relay the signed conversation orally to a hearing person. VRS is funded by fees assessed by telecommunications providers to telephone customers, and is provided at no cost to the VRS user.

According to information contained in the plea documents, Azrelyant and Finkle admitted that their role in defrauding the FCC’s VRS program led to a total of between $7 million and $20 million in fraudulent billing to the program. At sentencing, Azrelyant and Finkle each face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, as well as mandatory restitution and forfeiture. Sentencing is set for June 29, 2010 at 10 a.m.

Co-defendants Strusa, Zfati, Iskandarova and Holovkin are scheduled to stand trial on May 24, 2010, on the charges in the indictment. An indictment is merely an accusation, and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty at trial beyond a reasonable doubt.

In addition to the indictment charging Azrelyant, Finkle, Strusa, Zfati, Iskandarova and Holovkin, five indictments were unsealed on Nov. 19, 2009, charging an additional 20 people with engaging in a scheme to steal millions of dollars from the FCC’s VRS program. In all, the indictments charge owners and employees of the following six companies with engaging in a scheme to defraud the FCC’s VRS program:

• Viable Communications Inc., of Rockville, Md.;
• Master Communications LLC, of Las Vegas;
• KL Communications LLC, of Phoenix;
• Mascom LLC of Austin, Texas;
• Innovative Communication Services for the Deaf Corp. (ICSD), of Miami Lakes, Fla.; and
• Deaf Studio 29 of Huntington Beach, Calif.

These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Hank Bond Walther and Trial Attorney Brigham Cannon of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. The cases are being investigated by FBI’s Washington Field Office, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Department of Justice Fraud Team and the FCC Office of Inspector General.