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Monday, January 16, 2017

Book Launch: Modernizing China—Investing in Soft Infrastructure

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Global: Iran arrests corruption fugitive, Alireza Monfared, after international manhunt

Monday, January 16, 2017 - No comments

Today's top story
Global: Iran arrests corruption fugitive, Alireza Monfared, after international manhunt
Agence France-Presse
An Iranian man accused of helping to embezzle billions of dollars while the country evaded international oil sanctions has been arrested after a lengthy international manhunt, media reported Monday.
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News from Transparency International

EBRD's first agribusiness transaction in Greece

Monday, January 16, 2017 - No comments
16-01-2017 08:45 AM GMT

€10 million investment in bonds by Loulis Mills flouring company

16-01-2017 09:19 AM GMT

Protection of environment and climate with market-compliant tools

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Make These Simple Changes to Your Home to Save Money

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A typical American family spends nearly $2,000 per year on their home energy bills, but families in energy-efficient homes spend less.
From insulating water pipes to turning down the temperature on your water heater system, here are some tips and tools to consider when making energy efficient improvements to your home.
Looking for more information on housing and community resources? Visit
25% - the energy money you'll save with energy-saving incandescent bulbs, 75%-the energy money you'll save with CFL bulbs, 75%- the energy you'll save with LED bulbs

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SBA Bids Farewell to Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet

Sunday, January 15, 2017 - No comments

The time has come for us to bid farewell to SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet. Before her departure, she issued an Exit Memo about the SBA's accomplishments during the Obama Administration. 

SBA Lending

Did you miss our Twitter chat on using technology to work smarter (not harder)? You can read all of the responses from more than 30 of the leading technology companies here.

The dawn of 2017 likely brings with it new optimism — not just in your personal life, but for your business as well. But are you ready to take on this new year wisely? Before you start making sweeping changes in your small business, take a look at these six tools which can help you along the way. They’ll inform your business decisions (and maybe some personal ones, too.)

Online, mobile and other forms of digital advertising are top-of-mind for most marketers these days. But in the rush to digital, are you forgetting a vital part of marketing? Two recent studies reveal recent that traditional advertising—including print, TV and radio—still has an important role to play in attracting customers. In fact, it may be more important than digital advertising in some cases.


LIVE Webinar | Going Global - Is It the Right Move for Your Company?

Tuesday, January 17, 2017
2:00 PM ET | 11:00 AM PT

If you have global ambitions for exporting your products and services – please join this webinar produced by SCORE, a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration. A Certified Export Expert will present a road map on how to successfully enter the international marketplace.

Learning Center

Are you planning to start your business this year? If so, keep reading.

This course explains the importance of business planning, defines and describes the components of a business plan, and provides access to sample plans and resources that can help you develop a very good business plan.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

With U.S. Support, 'Life is Now Safe' for Communities in Zimbabwe’s Burma Valley

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Posted: 13 Jan 2017 08:46 AM PST
In Shona, the primary language of Zimbabwe, chimbambaira once innocently meant “small sweet potato,” until becoming a slang term for landmines that continue to kill and injure people going about their daily lives.  We recently traveled to Burma Valley in Zimbabwe to see firsthand how U.S. efforts to help Zimbabwe safely clear landmines and unexploded munitions make a life-changing difference for area residents.
The once-thriving farms of Burma Valley, so named by European settlers for its climate’s similarity to Burma, were a prime target for guerrilla fighters during the liberation war of the 1970s. Government forces -- from what was then Rhodesia -- laid landmines in the valley along the border with Mozambique to deter incursions before a 1980 peace agreement ended the conflict.

PM/WRA Fellow Michael Tirre (center) talks to Mrs. Musitarira (in blue) and other Zimbabwean beneficiaries of humanitarian demining assistance. [State Department photo]

As our trucks bounced along dirt roads, we saw the minefield’s strategic location. Forested mountains hug the narrow valley, and another 100 meters from the minefield is the border, merely a formality in this area. Relatives live on both sides, and Mozambican children enter Zimbabwe to attend the nearest school. Before the minefield was cleared, they did so at the risk of their lives.
The minefield held the local communities back from rebuilding and recovering. Land suspected to contain landmines could not be farmed or used by livestock. Collecting firewood was hazardous, and footpaths offered only marginal protection for accessing the local dam and community well.

Land being cleared of landmines by NPA in March 2015. [State Department photo]

With U.S. support, Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) surveyed and cleared the landmines, completing operations in 2015. Mrs. Musitarira, a local resident told us, “Life is now safe.” With an infant on her lap, she added, “We were afraid, thinking if I walk in this place I’ll be destroyed… now the children are free; I used to fear when I couldn’t see the children in my vicinity.”

The same land being utilized for homes and farming in December 2016. [State Department photo]

Thanks to mine clearance, Mozambicans can now access the Zimbabwean health clinic six kilometers from the border; the nearest Mozambican clinic is 80 kilometers away. For clearing a minefield only four kilometers in length, there were more than 5,000 beneficiaries. We saw how villagers had built three new homesteads with corrals for livestock and were now able to farm again, raising profitable crops such as maize, beans, tomatoes, watermelons, and passion fruit. The tilled earth gave us hope that chimbambairas can be restored to its original meaning.
PM/WRA Program Manager Dennis Hadrick walks with a young resident along a cleared path. [State Department photo]
Over the last four years, the United States has provided more than $7.6 million for humanitarian demining in Zimbabwe, of which $3 million was provided in 2016. Since 1993, the United States has invested more than $2.6 billion to clear or destroy landmines, unexploded ordnance, and other dangerous conventional weapons and munitions in more than 95 countries.
To learn more about the United States’ global conventional weapons destruction efforts, check out our annual report, To Walk the Earth in Safety, and follow us on Twitter @StateDeptPM.
About the authors: Dennis F. Hadrick serves as a Program Manager in the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) with the Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.  Michael Tirre is a Frasure-Kruzel-Drew Memorial Fellow in PM/WRA.
Editor's Note: This entry also appears in the Department's Foggy Bottom publication on

Renewable Energy’s Low Costs and High Returns

Saturday, January 14, 2017 - No comments
As 2017 begins, there’s never been a stronger economic case for renewable energy than there is today. The conventional wisdom has always been that renewable energy is far more expensive than traditional sources. However, rapid innovations and technological advances have driven down costs to the point that electricity from wind turbines and solar panels is increasingly cost competitive with power generated by traditional energy sources like coal and even gas.
In just the past eight years, according to the investment bank Lazard, the cost of power from onshore wind and solar panels has dropped by as much as 66 percent and 85 percent respectively. And because renewable energy is driven by technology, we can expect its costs will continue to decline.
As prices have plummeted, investors and businesses have taken notice. In 2015, investment in renewable energy hit an all-time high of $288 billion, according to the International Energy Agency. An average of half-a-million new solar panels were installed every single day. And for the first time since the industrial era began, more of the world’s money was invested in renewable energy technologies than in new fossil fuel plants. Nearly 60 of new electric generating capacity in the United States in 2016 came from solar and wind power, according to the Energy Information Agency.
The growth in renewable energy is only just beginning. By 2040, the world will add nearly 5,000 gigawatts of new electricity, according to the International Energy Agency, which is close to doubling the existing global electricity power generation infrastructure that exists today. The cost of bringing this new capacity online is projected to be around $19 trillion. And nearly two-thirds of this investment in new generation is expected to go towards renewables.
This vast new demand for renewables will continue to drive down the cost of electricity, making it easier for businesses — in America and abroad — to compete at home and in the global marketplace.
The renewables revolution is a global phenomenon. Much of the new investment in renewable energy will take place in the developing world. Citizens in China and India, but also in nations across Africa and Latin America are demanding cleaner, less polluted air, as well as greater access to affordable energy. And renewables can help bring clean, inexpensive electricity to hundreds of millions of people around the world, many of whom live in remote communities.
The bottom-up demand for cleaner energy received high-level support from the Paris Climate Accord in 2015, which confirmed countries’ decisions to pursue low-carbon energy policies. The nearly 200 countries that signed the Paris accord committed themselves to reducing their carbon dioxide emissions, in large part, by increasing their use of renewable energy. This sent a powerful signal to the private sector that renewable energy is the energy of the future.
The global demand for renewables is extremely good news for American jobs.
Companies in the United States already make some of the world’s most advanced and competitive solar, wind, battery and energy efficiency products which support hundreds of thousands of quality jobs.
Nearly 800,000 Americans work in the renewable energy sector. What’s more, renewable energy jobs are being added hand-over-fist. Job growth in the solar and wind industries in the United States expanded by more than 20 percent in 2015, which was about 12 times as fast as overall job creation in the U.S. economy that year, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency. Today, more Americans are employed in the solar and wind industries than by the oil and gas extraction and coal mining industries combined.
In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the fastest growing profession in the United States is wind turbine technicians. Additionally, clean energy is creating and supporting jobs, including in manufacturing, all over the country. In the desert outside of Reno, Nevada, thousands of Americans go to work each day at one of the world’s largest lithium-ion battery manufacturing plants. More than 21,000 workers across 43 states work in manufacturing jobs related to modern wind farms.
And American companies continue to push the envelope in developing technologies that can ensure the United States remain a world leader in renewable energy products. For example, U.S. companies are developing satellites that collect solar energy that can be beamed back to earth and transformed into plentiful, affordable electricity.
Renewable energy has always offered environmental benefits. It’s exciting to see today that the business case for renewables is just as compelling. Whether it’s lower electricity costs, higher returns on investment, new jobs, or a healthier planet, the renewable energy revolution is ready to deliver benefits everyone can enjoy.
About the Author: Catherine Novelli serves as Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment.
Editor's Note: This entry also appeared on
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Friday, January 13, 2017

NAMI Hosts United States Naval Aeromedical Conference

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PENSACOLA, Fla. (NNS) -- More than 300 aeromedical specialists attended a weeklong conference onboard Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, which ended Jan. 13, designed to provide participants the latest information regarding aerospace medicine.

Rear Adm. Rebecca J. McCormick-Boyle, commander, Navy Medicine Education, Training and Logistics Command (NMETLC), was one of a number of featured speakers at the conference which is hosted by the Navy Medicine Aerospace Medical Institute (NAMI). According to Capt. Joseph LaVan, NAMI officer in charge, the event is a critical component in maintaining the continued excellence of Navy Medicine's aerospace community.

"This conference brings together some of the best in aerospace medicine to discuss, analyze, and reinforce the top concerns in our field," LaVan said. "These medical topics are essential to the mission of military aviation across all services, and are a focus of concern at the highest levels in the organization. On top of the opportunity to refine our understanding of these critical areas among aeromedical professionals at all levels, we also had the distinct pleasure of welcoming Rear Admiral McCormick-Boyle, the commander of NMETLC."

In her presentation on the first day of the conference, McCormick-Boyle touched on readiness and partnerships, two of the surgeon general's three strategic goals (the third is health) and the role aeromedical specialists have in achieving those goals.

"It's important that you see yourself in the 'One Navy Medicine' team," said McCormick-Boyle, "and that you connect this conference and your daily responsibilities to the strategic imperatives of the chief of naval operations, the commandant of the Marine Corps, and the surgeon general."

The USNAC is geared toward active-duty and Reserve occupational flight surgeons, senior medical officers, dental officers, ship nurses, medical administration officers, and aerospace medicine technicians (AVTs). The conference is a platform for participants to learn the latest in aerospace medicine, receive briefs on emerging technology, discuss challenges facing carrier and air wing personnel, develop courses of action to improve aeromedical support to fleet, fleet Marine force, and joint warfighters, and hear firsthand from senior leadership.

"As members of the aeromedical community," McCormick-Boyle addressed during her presentation, "you each have a critical role in preparing and sustaining warfighters for their individual and collective operational roles through training, clinical care, research, subject matter expertise, and planning. Your impact is direct and indirect, near term and far term and extremely far reaching."

NAMI is a component of Navy Medicine Operational Training Center (NMOTC), which reports to NMETLC, the sole point of accountability for Navy Medicine education and logistical support.

NAMI, NMOTC, and NMETLC are all part of the Navy Medicine team, a global health care network of Navy medical professionals around the world who provide high-quality health care to more than 1 million eligible beneficiaries. Navy Medicine personnel deploy with Sailors and Marines worldwide, providing critical mission support aboard ships, in the air, under the sea, and on the battlefield.

For more information, visit, or

For more news from Navy Medicine Education and Training Command, visit

SECNAV Presents High-Level Awards to Naval Special Warfare Commands

Friday, January 13, 2017 - No comments

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- On Jan. 13, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus presented eight Navy Crosses and eight Silver Stars to active-duty and former members of East and West Coast Naval Special Warfare Commands at a ceremony in Virginia Beach, Virginia. One Navy Cross and one Silver Star were presented posthumously.

"Today we honor some of our nation's finest heroes, not just for their individual acts of courage and bravery in the face of danger, but for the everyday selflessness that they and their peers demonstrate," said Mabus. "This generation of Sailors, and particularly those serving as part of our Naval Special Warfare team, is an extraordinary group of men and women who have given so much to our country. Although today we recognize these individuals for their heroism and valor in combat, we are also honoring the Sailors and Marines who fought beside them and those who are still in the fight."

These awards were upgrades to previously awarded medals for valor in combat and upgraded as a result of the Department of the Navy's Post 9/11 Valor Awards Review Panel. This panel reviewed award nominations from combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to ensure members were appropriately recognized for acts of valor.

The Department of the Navy reviewed more than 300 valor awards and the review was completed Nov. 15. 

The Navy Cross, the U.S. Navy's second highest decoration, is awarded for extraordinary heroism while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States. The act must be performed in the presence of great danger or at great personal risk.

The Silver Star is awarded for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States, while engaged in military operations with a friendly force. It is the fourth highest military honor that can be awarded to a member of the U.S. Armed Forces and the third highest award for valor.

First-Citizens Bank & Trust Company, Raleigh, North Carolina Assumes All of the Deposits of Harvest Community Bank, Pennsville, New Jersey

Friday, January 13, 2017 - No comments

First-Citizens Bank & Trust Company, Raleigh, North Carolina Assumes All of the Deposits of Harvest Community Bank, Pennsville, New Jersey

Harvest Community Bank, Pennsville, New Jersey, was closed today by the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with First-Citizens Bank & Trust Company, Raleigh, North Carolina, to assume all of the deposits of Harvest Community Bank.
The four branches of Harvest Community Bank will reopen as branches of First-Citizens Bank & Trust Company during their normal business hours. Depositors of Harvest Community Bank will automatically become depositors of First-Citizens Bank & Trust Company. Deposits will continue to be insured by the FDIC, so there is no need for customers to change their banking relationship in order to retain their deposit insurance coverage up to applicable limits. Customers of Harvest Community Bank should continue to use their existing branch until they receive notice from First-Citizens Bank & Trust Company that it has completed systems changes to allow other First-Citizens Bank & Trust Company branches to process their accounts as well.
This evening and over the weekend, depositors of Harvest Community Bank can access their money by writing checks or using ATM or debit cards. Checks drawn on the bank will continue to be processed. Loan customers should continue to make their payments as usual.
As of September 30, 2016, Harvest Community Bank had approximately $126.4 million in total assets and $123.8 million in total deposits. In addition to assuming all of the deposits of the failed bank, First-Citizens Bank & Trust Company agreed to purchase essentially all of the assets.
Customers with questions about the transaction should call the FDIC toll-free at 1-800-913-3067. The phone number will be operational this evening until 9:00 p.m., Eastern Time (ET); on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., ET; on Sunday from noon to 6:00 p.m., ET; on Monday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., ET; and thereafter from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., ET. Interested parties also can visit the FDIC's website at
The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $22.3 million. Compared to other alternatives, First-Citizens Bank & Trust Company's acquisition was the least costly resolution for the FDIC's DIF. Harvest Community Bank is the first FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the first in New Jersey. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was Fort Lee Federal Savings Bank, FSB, Fort Lee, on April 20, 2012.

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