Research shows that 97.33% of residents now have access tofixed broadband speeds of 3 Mbps download/768 Kbps upload
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Lansing, MI – New research unveiled by Connect Michigan shows that the broadband availability gap in Michigan is shrinking, with 97.33% of Michigan residents now having access to fixed broadband speeds of 3 Mbps download/768 Kbps upload, compared to 96.45% last October.
“Michigan continues to see marked improvements in broadband access”, said Eric Frederick, Connect Michigan state program manager. “The proliferation of infrastructure coupled with energetic efforts to eliminate barriers to broadband adoption has produced positive results that are reflected in this study.”
Nonprofit Connect Michigan has been working since 2009 to ensure that Michigan residents have access to the economic, educational, and quality of life benefits derived from increased broadband access, adoption, and use. Part of that work includes maintaining detailed analysis of broadband availability across the state to support broadband planning efforts. Through its Connected Community Engagement Program, Connect Michigan is currently working with 25 communities across the state to support comprehensive community broadband planning efforts and provide technical assistance.
Among the findings of the new broadband availability research are:
- 97.33% of Michigan households can access broadband at advertised speeds of 3 Mbps download/768 Kbps upload (excluding mobile and satellite services).
- With the addition of several new fixed wireless provider participants, as well as the installation of additional towers by existing wireless providers, an additional 122,742 Michigan households can now receive fixed wireless broadband service.
Last year, Connect Michigan released an innovative new broadband mapping tool called My ConnectViewTM, offering unmatched views of Michigan’s technology landscape. Residents and businesses are encouraged to use the interactive map to find area providers and help validate the data. To report that broadband is not available in a given area, consumers can fill out a broadband inquiry.
Connect Michigan’s research was conducted as part of the State Broadband Initiative (SBI) grant program for Michigan, funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The data were gathered in accordance with the requirements of the NTIA. The process begins by contacting all known providers in the state and providing information about the broadband mapping project. Information on broadband service areas is collected from each provider through voluntary participation and is subject to confidentiality protections.
Connected Nation strives to maintain a flexible mapping process to be able to collect data from providers in a variety of formats based on providers’ technical capabilities and resources.
By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (Army News Service) — Globally, and across the total force in fiscal year 2013, the Army could engage in nearly 6,000 different activities, in more than 160 countries, and involving as many as 60,000 Soldiers and Army civilians as part of its “regionally aligned forces” concept.
Brig. Gen. Kimberly C. Field, with Army G-3/5/7, spoke May 30, during a media roundtable at the Pentagon to provide an update on the Army’s regionally aligned forces, or RAF, concept.
The general said regionally aligned forces can include Army capabilities in direct support of combatant commanders, or COCOMs, every day. They also include personnel and units assigned to a theater, U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. European Command have the bulk of these.
Regionally aligned forces also include those units in an “allocated” status, given to a combatant commander for a specific mission for a specific period of time and under his direct control, Field said.
“Regionally aligned forces are also the other capabilities that support the combatant commander, but are Army-service retained,” Field said. “These are individuals and small teams providing reach-back support or on regular temporary duty missions to a region, or conducting contingency planning for the combatant commander.”
As the Army draws down from the Middle East, from Afghanistan, Field said the service will likely increase its efforts with RAF.
“We are working hard to respond to the increasing complexity of the global security environment,” she said. “By deliberately aligning forces regionally, the Army meets the enduring needs of COCOMs in a way that ensures responsiveness, consistent availability, and a higher level of training and expertise.”
In April, the Army provided regionally aligned forces to U.S. Africa Command to support the East Africa Response Force there. Stationed in Djibouti, 129 members of the 2-1 Infantry Division are ready to respond as needed to the security of U.S. facilities in Africa, Field said.
“It really was a directive from the Secretary of Defense to look forward, look at these areas that might have a Benghazi-like situation that could happen again, and to pre-position forces to do that,” Field said. “They arrived in April. They train and they stay ready to be able to respond to these crisis.”
The Army total force, including the Army Reserve and the Army National Guard, specifically the State Partnership Program, will provide some 4,500 personnel to the continent in order to conduct 660 activities in 34 countries in support of the combatant command in fiscal year 2013. Most of these forces are based in the continental U.S. until they are needed.
Field said aligned forces in Africa have already been involved in providing training support to Nigeriens who are part of the African-led International Support Mission to Mali, for instance.
“We’ve deployed trainers to Niger, and are working with the Department of State, and we did that on fairly short notice,” she said. “And then there are the smaller things. There are 37 smaller familiarization exercises, one of which, an example, is training Ugandan military police for route security. There are a range of activities.”
The Army is also discussing with the Department of State the idea of providing training support for the United Nations Mission in Darfur.
In fiscal year 2014, Field said, a brigade combat team from 1st Cavalry Division will provide “European Rotational Force” support to U.S. European Command, and will be dual-hatted as the NATO response force. Additionally, III Corps will be aligned with U.S. Central Command.
Right now 1st Corps is already aligned with U.S. Pacific Command, while the 18th Airborne Corps remains in “global” alignment as the Army’s global response force.
Also in fiscal year 2014, the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, with the National Guard, will be regionally with U.S. Southern Command. The unit is preparing now to send Soldiers to Guatemala to mentor and advise military forces there on command and control operations, logistics, communications, and small unit tactics. About 166 Soldiers will participate.
THE RAF PAYOFF
Field said the goal of RAF is to provide better support to COCOMs by providing them with forces prepared with cultural, language and specific mission capabilities that match up with a commander’s particular region of the world.
Those forces will help COCOMs address mutual threats and interests with partners; build capabilities of partners so they can handle things themselves; and increase influence and ability to have access if needed.
Regional alignment leverages the great strengths built in the past ten years of war, Field said.
“It is a fundamental orientation different from other drawdown periods,” She said. “We are staying externally focused, leveraging all we have learned about the human terrain and what strategic landpower means and we’re building on this.”
While the Army is looking in the future to “habitually align” both division and corps-level headquarters with a particular COCOM in order to provide each geographic combatant command a JTF-capable headquarters, Soldiers themselves will likely pass through several units during their Army careers, each unit aligned to a different COCOM.
Field dismissed the idea that the cultural and language training provided to a Soldier when he is aligned with one unit will be wasted when he moves on to another unit. Simply participating in that type of preparation is a payoff for the Army, she said.
“We will give Soldiers who are aligned for that year some culture, some language, some expertise,” she said. “We think the biggest benefit in regional alignment, to the cultural and language aspect of this, is that you now have a force that is much more culturally savvy. [A force] that can get on the ground in a foreign environment and can quickly get situational awareness, situational understanding, a better understanding of the problem they have to solve, and then come up with solutions.”
Senate passes Farm Bill
Farm Bill Debate turns to House
Lyons, Nebraska - On Monday, June 10, the U.S. Senate passed their version of the 2013 Farm Bill by a vote of 66 to 27. The House of Representatives is now likely to take up the Farm Bill as early as next week.
“While there are a number of good provisions in the Senate Farm Bill worthy of note, the question of setting rural priorities that efficiently invest public dollars in farm and rural programs that have a positive impact on rural America is still in question,” said Traci Bruckner, Assistant Policy Director of the Center for Rural Affairs. “Continuing to provide unlimited crop insurance premium subsidies to megafarms while failing to increase our investments in things like conservation and rural development is not good public policy. We can do better than this.”
We applaud the Senate for passing a Farm Bill that for the first time in a generation closes the gaping loopholes that have made a mockery of farm program payment limitations, said Bruckner. And we thank Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) for their tireless advocacy for reducing the subsidies that mega-farms use to drive family farmers out of business.
According to Bruckner, the Farm Bill that passed the Senate Farm Bill does put back some funding for beginning farmer and rancher training, rural small business loans and assistance, grants and loans for small town water and sewer systems, renewable energy and value-added enterprise grants for family farmers and ranchers. These investments are vitally important steps forward for rural America.
Bruckner went on to praise the efforts of Senator John Thune (R-SD) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) for leading a bipartisan group of Senators that secured a sodsaver provision in the Senate Farm Bill that prohibits federal commodity payments on newly broken native sod, and reduces the federal subsidy for crop and revenue insurance by fifty percent on native grass and prairie lands. It also requires that newly broken sod be isolated from other crop acres when calculating insurable yields.
“The sodsaver provision is common-sense legislation that will preserve grazing lands, protect hunting opportunities and conserve vital soil resources,” said Bruckner.
Bruckner indicated that the Farm Bill could come to the floor for debate by the full House of Representatives soon, perhaps as early as next week.
“While timing is never certain, we are encouraged by several forward steps taken in the Senate Farm Bill. The bill isn’t perfect and we have a long row to hoe in the House, but we will continue to work to make greater strides as the Farm Bill moves toward conference committee,” continued Bruckner. “We also look forward to Representative Fortenberry (R-NE) offering an amendment similar to the farm program payment limitations provision offered by Senator Grassley for the Senate Farm Bill. And we hope there are opportunities to cap crop insurance premium subsidies as well as retain the Sodsaver and conservation compliance crop insurance reforms contained in the Senate Farm Bill.”
Regarding his introduction of farm payment limitation legislation, Rep. Fortenberry previously commented, “For the good of all Americans, it is critical that sound public policies create the conditions for continued agricultural prosperity and innovation. While respecting the federal government’s severe budgetary constraints, we need a new farm bill that provides our nation’s farmers adequate protection options, tightens payment limitations, promotes good conservation practices, embraces new domestic and international market opportunities, and helps young and beginning farmers set up agricultural businesses.”
Source: Press Release: Center for Rural Affairs
By Argie Sarantinos-Perrin, PEO C3T MilTech Solutions
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (June, 2013) — Linking people around the globe, milBook, an internal military social media tool similar to Facebook and LinkedIn, recently became the choice site for 41 Army Professional Forums.
“On any particular day, there are about 40,000 people in the Army that log on to all of the forums collectively to find out information,” said Ron Pruyt, knowledge management officer for the Center for Army Lessons Learned, or CALL. “So thousands of people who were on the old Army Professional Forums, or APF, platform and the thousands of users already on the milBook platform can talk together now, [and exchange information] in a way that was not possible before,” he said.
MilBook is a component of milSuite, a DOD-wide, secure suite of four collaboration tools that mirror existing social media platforms, but are located behind the DOD firewall. MilBook, which currently comprises more than 300,000 users, is a central hub for networking professionals with similar interests or work responsibilities. Users create working groups or communities of practice to collaborate and share information.
In addition to milBook, milSuite also includes milWiki, a living military encyclopedia designed for DOD subject matter experts to share their knowledge; milWire, a micro blogging site to share and comment on internal news and events; and milTube, a video-sharing platform for the military workforce. MilSuite is provided by the Army’s Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical Military Technical Solutions Office, and it is accessible to most DOD military, civilian and contractor personnel through Common Access Card authentication at https://www.milsuite.mil.
The APF migration to milBook provides its members a much broader community with which to collaborate at no additional cost. Additionally, CALL will no longer need to purchase, manage and maintain costly servers or hardware to host the forums. The transition also eliminates costs for software licensing fees and the need for additional personnel to support the software and hardware. It is expected that the migration could save CALL an estimated $400,000 each year, one of the biggest factors driving the move to milBook, Pruyt said.
CALL uses the APF to help disseminate knowledge and lessons-learned for the Army. These forums are structured communities of practice that enable Soldiers and civilians across the services to share observations, insights and lessons-learned. CALL was instrumental in the APF migration to milBook and worked with the APF to ensure that all the information and discussions were properly migrated.
The APF itself, which was launched in 2004, was a way for members to share their knowledge and experience with peers throughout the Army to promote professional development. The original four forums had approximately 20,000 members, but current membership has since multiplied to nearly 15 times that, to more than 295,000 users.
While many of the APF concentrate on Army knowledge management concepts and doctrine, there are several staff function-related forums, as well as operationally-specific forums. One of the largest forums included in the milBook migration, referred to as S-1 Net, is an Army staff element that is responsible for all personnel-related actions within the Army. With 104,000 members, S-1 Net provides numerous resources including: the latest personnel guidance from the Army; unit-level best practices and lessons-learned; a forum for human resources questions and answers; and promotion letters and lists. The members of this forum will now be able to leverage the capabilities of milBook to collaborate and share this information.
The APF migration to milBook also provides a centralized location in which to retain information and a single tool for users to access. Because milBook is built around familiar Web 2.0 concepts, users can also control how they create, share and consume content.
Since milBook is accessible across the DOD, migrating the APF increases the Army’s visibility and gives other services an opportunity to learn and benefit from Army practices and lessons-learned.
“In our current operational environment, where joint operations are the norm, it is increasingly important for the Army to engage the other services, especially in questions of a joint nature,” said Tom Curran, milSuite project director. “MilBook was designed as a DOD-wide collaboration tool to enable users from all services to communicate across geographic boundaries.”
By reading a discussion thread on milBook recently, the Air Force Software Organizational Development Office discovered information about a government off-the-shelf product, the Rapid Online Content Creation Environment, or ROCCE. By using the ROCCE to deploy a web-based training and development application, the Air Force not only avoided paying licensing fees, which saved an average of $10,000, but also the usual review process required by the government for a new product, which would have taken a year.
As part of the larger milBook community, APF members now have access to other users and unlimited content from across the far corners of the DOD that otherwise would not have been available to them.
“We have people accessing the forums from Africa, Afghanistan and Iraq, all over the world,” Pruyt said. “Chances are, when a user has a question or a problem, someone else has experienced the same situation and the APF gives them the ability to share their best practices.”
The U.S. government is secretly negotiating this treaty with Pacific nations. Here are a few highlights of what whistleblowers have revealed is in the treaty:
- Corporate nationhood. The TPP will empower corporations to take real nations (including the U.S.) to court and overturn their laws.
- Job offshoring. The TPP will create incentives for more exporting of jobs.
- Damage to food safety.
- Damage to environmental protections.
- Enrichment of drug companies at the expense of human health.
- Banning some generic drugs.
- Further deregulating banks. (Read that one twice if you have to! We’re not making this up!)
- Forbidding the breaking up of too-big-to-fail financial firms, making them legally too big to fail.
- Censoring the internet by effectively creating SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) despite its failure in Congress as a result of strong public opposition.
Please forward this email widely to like-minded friends.
WASHINGTON (June , 2013) — The Army published a new handbook this month to provide leaders of all levels with the information and tools needed to address today’s cybersecurity challenges, and to ensure organizations adopt the necessary practices to protect their information and the Army network.
“We must change our culture, enforce compliance, and ensure that people are accountable for proper security procedures,” Secretary of the Army John McHugh said in a Feb. 1 memo mandating Information Assurance/Cybersecurity awareness training.
Currently, all Army commands are developing Information Assurance/Cybersecurity awareness training to address areas of weakness identified by the Army Information Assurance Self-Assessment Tool. During the Army Cybersecurity Awareness Week, Oct. 15-18, commanders will train personnel based on command plans and highlight the importance of individual responsibilities.
“Beyond required security training, we need you to make certain that all of your Soldiers, civilians, and contractors understand the threat they pose to operational security by not complying with IA/Cybersecurity policies and practices,” McHugh said, addressing all Army leaders.
McHugh also directed all commands to incorporate Information Assurance into their command inspection programs.
More information and guidance are on the Army Information Assurance One-Stop Shop portal which is CAC accessible.
By Spc. Margaret Taylor, 129th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
Soldiers from Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), secure a landing zone for Afghan Air Force Mi-17 helicopters outside the village of Hesarak, Nangarhar Province…
Soldiers of Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), board a CH-47 Chinook during a night air assault operation from Forward Operating Base Connolly, Nangarhar Province…
An Afghan National Army soldier from 1st Kandak, 4th Brigade, 201st Corps, poses for a photo while he waits for an Afghan Air Force Mi-17 helicopter to transport him back to Forward Operating Base Connolly after successfully completing a clearing…
Afghan National Army soldiers with 1st Kandak, 4th Brigade, 201st Corps, await Afghan Air Force Mi-17 helicopters for transport to Forward Operating Base Connolly after successfully completing an Afghan led clearing operation near the village of…
Afghan village elders gather at the local police station during a key leader engagement at Hesarak, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, May 17, 2013. The elders discuss what effect the presence of military forces in Hesarak has had. Soldiers from Alpha…
Afghan village elders gather at the local police station during a key leader engagement at Hesarak, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, May 17, 2013. The elders discuss what effect the presence of military forces in Hesarak has had.
Afghan National Army soldiers from 1st Kandak, 4th Brigade, 201st Corps, look out for enemy activity from a watch tower outside the village of Hesarak, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, May 15, 2013. The improved fighting position helped the ANA provide…
Soldiers of Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), look out for enemy activity near the village of Hesarak, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, May 15, 2013. U.S. Army…
Afghan Air Force Mi-17 helicopters prepare to drop off supplies for Afghan forces outside the village of Hesarak, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, May 15, 2013. The Afghan Air Force continues to increase their support role throughout the province.
Spc. Andrew Landish and Spc. Tyrel Fisher, members of 2nd Platoon, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), prepare to launch a mortar strike from the village of Hesarak…
Afghan National Army soldiers from 1st Kandak, 4th Brigade, 201st Corps, climb into an Afghan Air Force Mi-17 helicopter for transport to Forward Operating Base Connolly after a successfully leading and executing a clearing operation near the village…
NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Dozens of Afghan National Army soldiers, Afghan Uniformed Police, and a smattering of U.S. Army Soldiers serving as mission advisors, sat by their heavy packs on the gravel, talking and laughing in quiet anticipation, waiting for a sound.
After several hours of checks and double-checks, roll calls and final updates from the command center, the punchy staccato of rotors came faintly in the distance. Louder and louder the noise sounded, until the roar deafened and the dusty prop-wash buffeted those waiting at the landing zone for the choppers.
Into the helicopters the Soldiers went, and then, shortly before one in the morning, the air assault to Hesarak began.
Flying from Forward Operating Base Connolly, the mission, which occurred May 15-18, was an Afghan-led operation joining Afghan National Security Forces with U.S. Army advisers to drive back insurgents harassing the inhabitants of Hesarak, an isolated, agricultural district in western Nangarhar.
“They’ve been having problems out there with the district center being constantly under fire, or being harassed,” said Capt. Justin Burney, battalion fire support officer, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), of White Bluff, Tenn. “The objective was to have the ANA (Afghan National Army) go through the area surrounding the district center and clear it of all enemy personnel.”
Burney managed the indirect fire systems to support the operation from Forward Operating Base Connolly.
“This is the ANA and the AUP (Afghan Uniformed Police) trying to establish a base of security,” Burney said. “They go out there and clear an area to show the people that they can still secure them; they can still provide safety and protection.”
Soldiers from Alpha Company, 1st Bn., 327th Inf. Regt., and Security Force Advisory and Assistance Team Blackhorse, 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry Regt., 1st BCT, 101st Abn. Div., joined ANA soldiers of the 1st Kandak, 4th Brigade, 201st Corps, and AUP personnel in the effort.
Soldiers and supplies were delivered to Hesarak in three waves. The first landed in a wheat field in the early hours, May 15; the second arrived shortly before noon that same day; the final dropped its passengers and cargo before dawn, May 16.
Under cover of darkness, the first wave slogged its way across freshly watered fields, up and down walled terraces, and through a maze of irrigation systems to the objective.
“That was the worst part of the mission: the movement in,” said Spc. Vang Seng Thao, combat camera, 55th Signal Company, Combat Camera, 21st Signal Brigade, 114th Signal Battalion, of Fort Meade, Md. “There were freshly irrigated wheat fields, it was very muddy. Every time you would step, your boots would get stuck in the mud, or you’d be tripping on rocks.”
Not only was the ground treacherous; the weight of the packs Soldiers carried had a tendency to pitch people off balance.
“Some guys were carrying M240Bs with all the extra ammo for those, so they were carrying well over 100 pounds,” Thao said. “Everything else after that was a breeze because we didn’t have all the extra weight.”
Near dawn on May 15, one of the platoons took enemy contact. Sporadic barrages of small arms fire continued throughout the day, with each platoon eventually making contact with the enemy.
There were no U.S., ANA, or AUP casualties, even with the insurgents’ continued attacks. The insurgents, on the other hand, took several.
Beating back the forces harassing the district center was a key part of the mission, but it wasn’t the only part.
Rotating in AUP replacements — the first in six months or more — meeting with local leaders, engaging the Afghan Air Force to help with the airlift, and allowing Afghan forces to take another step toward the front were critical aspects as well.
May 16, a large group of local leaders got together to discuss Hesarak with Afghan and U.S. forces.
“The ANA commander spoke a lot about how Heserak is just as important to the ANA as, say, Jalalabad or Bagram,” Thao said. “They’re still in Afghanistan, they’re Afghan citizens, and they’re going to be protected by the Afghan Army.”
Not only will the ANA and AUP provide support, but the Afghan Air Force will as well.
While U.S. Army Soldiers conduct air assault missions with the support of CH-47 Chinook helicopters from 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, ANA personnel came in on Mi-17 helicopters, which are Afghan Air Force assets.
Though Army and Air branches of the Afghan military in this region are just beginning to work on missions together, the combined mission to Hesarak was a success.
“This is the second time, I believe, since we’ve been here that we were actually able to request and get the Afghan Air Force,” said Capt. John Reinke, team leader, SFAAT Blackhorse, of Greensboro, Ga.
With this mission ANA soldiers took another step toward the front of the column, first by reassuring local leaders of continued ANA involvement, but also by leading foot patrols around Hesarak.
“The patrols were, in a sense, run by the ANA to show that they could do their jobs,” said Thao, who accompanied the Soldiers of Alpha Company’s 2nd Platoon to record their particular mission of clearing and securing a portion of the village. “So whenever we did go on patrols, the ANA were in the front to get the experience and show that they knew exactly what they needed to do.”
Afghan soldiers leading all aspects of a mission is something units like the Blackhorse SFAAT have been working toward throughout their time in country.
“What we’re starting to do is have a smaller and smaller adviser footprint forward of the Kandak because they’re capable of providing mission command forward,” said Reinke. “Now we’re starting to work back at the Kandak headquarters to ensure they’re able to mirror the systems that we’ve been able to develop with them over the past six or seven months.”
The approximately 80-hour mission allowed Afghan forces to show just how far they’ve come, but also where they still need to go.
“In the short run, we’ve been successful in establishing a presence and clearing through certain areas,” Burney said. “It is the hope that the ANA will continue to do this, especially pushing out west in places like Hesarak.”
LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Rick Snyder announced that five Michigan cities have been approved to receive $100 million for blight elimination efforts under a pilot program approved today by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
The demolition funds will be used in the cities of Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Pontiac and Saginaw.
“This will be a major expansion of an ongoing effort by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority and other state partners to aggressively address blight,” Gov. Rick Snyder said. “We will be stabilizing neighborhoods with a large-scale demolition of the abandoned properties that foster crime and push down property values. Getting rid of these properties will encourage more people to stay in their homes and be part of the effort to improve their neighborhoods.”
“Neighborhoods across Michigan continue to struggle with the damaging effects caused by vacant and abandoned properties, which hurt home values and weaken efforts to revitalize communities,” said Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Neal S. Wolin. “The Hardest Hit Fund is a federal program that enables states to take the local actions that they determine will best prevent foreclosures and strengthen the housing recovery. With these federal dollars, Michigan will launch a program to address neighborhood blight to help communities hit hard by the crisis and contribute to broader efforts under way.”
“Today’s announcement that Michigan will receive $100 million in federal funds to clean up blight in communities across the state is welcomed news,” said Congressman Dan Kildee (D-Flint). “Freeing up federal money to revitalize and invest in cities, including both Flint and Saginaw in my congressional district, will strengthen neighborhoods and unlock greater opportunity for all homeowners. Since being sworn into Congress, one of my top priorities has been to secure this money to ensure cities and towns have the resources necessary to remove and repurpose abandoned homes. I’m pleased that the partnership between my office, the State of Michigan and the Treasury Department has resulted in millions of dollars in much-needed funds.”
Step Forward Michigan, administered by MSHDA, has established several programs to steady the state’s housing market under the Troubled Asset Relief Program. The Hardest Hit Fund was created under that federal law in 2010. The $100 million blight elimination program will be designed to further enhance neighborhood recovery in these targeted areas.
“Modifying the program to add blight removal offers a more holistic approach to helping our Hardest Hit communities recover,” said MSHDA Executive Director Scott Woosley. “Members of our team have learned as we’ve dealt with the foreclosure crisis that there is a direct link between foreclosure and blight. This program is a critical next step in ridding these areas of abandoned homes, blight and the resulting crime and safety concerns that continue to drain property values. Inaction only would lead to more people walking away from their homes.”
While this money will be set aside to address the needs in five of the hardest hit cities, the program will be part of an ongoing state effort to bring resources for demolition statewide. Recent programs include NSP1, NSP2, CDBG and most recently, the $25 million in foreclosure settlement funding. Woosley said MSHDA will continue to pursue funding opportunities to deal with any outstanding needs.
Snyder said there also are other opportunities for the state to step up its fight against blight, including a proposal now pending in the Legislature that would bar individuals with unpaid taxes or who own blighted houses from buying more property at auction. The bill, SB295, would prevent speculators from degrading good neighborhoods and encourage current owners to prevent blight by cleaning up their properties.
All of the Step Forward programs will continue to focus on and support foreclosure prevention across Michigan.
In addition to reducing crime in neighborhoods, blight reduction is expected to provide a fiscal boost to each city and its surrounding county.
“One of the objectives of this new program is to improve the tax base of each of the target cities,” said State Treasurer Andy Dillon. “Since reducing blight has been known to increase property values within communities, this program will eventually translate into increased property tax collections. Additional revenues for these five cities will help ensure citizens receive the critical municipal services they need and expect.”
Some processes and procedures still need to be established. MSHDA will work with the U.S. Treasury and in concert with the five cities to hammer out those details. Demolition projects are expected to be under way this summer.
By Roger Teel, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command Public Affairs
- TALOS is an advanced infantry uniform that promises to provide superhuman strength with greater ballistic protection.
Warrior Web Project
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is working on the Warrior Web Project, which has many of the attributes of the Army’s Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit concept.
Future force Soldiers
The future warfighter uniform will incorporate new helmet technologies, sensors, communication devices, hearing protection and more.
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Army researchers are responding to a request from the U.S. Special Operations Command for technologies to help develop a revolutionary Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit.
The Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, or TALOS, is an advanced infantry uniform that promises to provide superhuman strength with greater ballistic protection. Using wide-area networking and on-board computers, operators will have more situational awareness of the action around them and of their own bodies.
The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, known as RDECOM, is submitting TALOS proposals in response to the May 15 request.
“There is no one industry that can build it,” said SOCOM Senior Enlisted Advisor Command Sgt. Maj. Chris Faris during a panel discussion at a conference at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., recently, reported Defense Media Network.
The request, currently posted on Federal Business Opportunities, is looking for technology demonstration submissions from research and development organizations, private industry, individuals, government labs and academia to support the command-directed requirement issued by Adm. William McRaven, USSOCOM commander.
“[The] requirement is a comprehensive family of systems in a combat armor suit where we bring together an exoskeleton with innovative armor, displays for power monitoring, health monitoring, and integrating a weapon into that — a whole bunch of stuff that RDECOM is playing heavily in,” said. Lt. Col. Karl Borjes, an RDECOM science advisor assigned to SOCOM.
TALOS will have a physiological subsystem that lies against the skin that is embedded with sensors to monitor core body temperature, skin temperature, heart rate, body position and hydration levels.
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are currently developing armor made from magnetorheological fluids — liquid body armor — that transforms from liquid to solid in milliseconds when a magnetic field or electrical current is applied. Though still in development, this technology will likely be submitted to support TALOS.
“RDECOM cuts across every aspect making up this combat armor suit,” Borjes said “It’s advanced armor. It’s communications, antennas. It’s cognitive performance. It’s sensors, miniature-type circuits. That’s all going to fit in here, too.”
SOCOM demonstrations will take placeJuly 8-10, at or near MacDill Air Force Base.
The request asks participants to submit a white paper summary of their technology by May 31, describing how TALOS can be constructed using current and emerging technologies. A limited number of participant white papers will be selected and those selected will demonstrate their technologies.
The initial demonstration goal is to identify technologies that could be integrated into an initial capability within a year. A second goal is to determine if fielding the TALOS within three years is feasible.
U.S. Army science advisors, such as Borjes, are embedded with major units around the world to speed technology solutions to Soldiers’ needs. The Field Assistance in Science and Technology program’s 30 science advisors, both uniformed officers and Army civilians, provide a link between Soldiers and the RDECOM’s thousands of subject matter experts.
The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America’s Soldiers.
RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army’s premier provider of materiel readiness — technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment — to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.
LAKE NORMAN, N.C. — “It has come to our attention that the government put out a competitive bid that may drastically effect a benefit for people that are diabetic and use their Medicare Insurance to help receive supplies for testing their blood sugar levels and staying healthy,” said John White, The National Association of Conservative Seniors (NAOCS) founder and president. “Our goal is to provide them information that will enhance these years, making it easier for them to focus on the things that matter most to them: their health, family, friends, faith and country.”
NAOCS offers American senior adults a conservative alternative for collective political influence, insurance and healthcare discounts, travel benefits and timely information for those that depend on Medicare as their primary insurance. At NAOCS, seniors gain information and membership benefits while working together to protect conservative American values.
“A great many diabetics use mail order companies to deliver their supplies directly to their homes. These companies provide a much-needed service that seems to work very well by making it easier for these people to manage their health. These reliable firms take care of everything, from providing the supplies to billing Medicare for reimbursement. In our opinion, this process provides patients with an easier life style and less stress on their families,” said White. One resource for details about these services is at www.Medicare.gov.
Most importantly, on April 9 the government published a list of 26 mail order companies that were approved to make these supplies available. The “competitive bid” literally dropped the supplier list from over 900 to 26. Because of this serious cut in suppliers, on July 1, 2013, many Americans may not be receiving supplies as expected, and it is questionable if these 26 companies can provide uninterrupted service, know who all needs supplies, or be able to meet the demand.
NAOCS is initiating a call to action for all of its thousands of members and all seniors on Medicare to call their elected officials about this serious health matter. If the government can cut this important benefit, what’s next?
NAOCS has relationships with accredited suppliers that provide these diabetic products on a national level and have included a toll-free number for people to call to determine their continued delivery and eligibility.
”The government is saying that this process will save us all money, but in reality it will cost us more if these people cannot manage their heath and other more serious issues start to occur,” said White.
“We believe in America now, and we believe in America’s future. Together we can ensure that the values our nation is built upon will continue for our children, grandchildren and generations to come.”
Source: Press Release – National Association of Conservative Seniors