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Secretary Locke Visits Kennedy Space Center Lab, Meets with Displaced Workers on Florida's Space Coast

Phot of Locke in labSecretary Locke visited Florida’s Space Coast today to tour a world-class laboratory at Kennedy Space Center and meet with displaced workers to discuss what the Obama administration, the Commerce Department and NASA are doing to improve the local economy as the Space Shuttle program winds down, and to hear from them about the challenges they’re facing during the transition. Locke stressed the administration’s continued commitment to getting people back to work and preserving the region as a hub for innovation.

During his third visit to the region, Locke toured the Space Life Sciences Laboratory at Exploration Park, a research and technology facility at Kennedy Space Center, and met with recently laid off NASA contractors. He was joined by Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas, Commerce’s Assistant Secretary for Economic Development John Fernandez, NASA Associate Deputy Administrator Charles Scales, and Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana.

Locke and NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr., are co-chairing the President’s Task Force on Space Industry Work Force and Economic Development, a $40 million, multi-agency initiative that is building on and complementing ongoing local and federal economic and workforce development efforts. The Task Force is leading the effort to grow the Space Coast economy and prepare its workers for the opportunities of tomorrow. Its report to the president is due in mid-August. 

 

Federal Science Report Details Fate of Oil from BP Spill

Alternate TextThe vast majority of the oil from the BP oil spill has either evaporated or been burned, skimmed, recovered from the wellhead or dispersed  much of which is in the process of being degraded. A significant amount of this is the direct result of the robust federal response efforts.

A third (33 percent) of the total amount of oil released in the Deepwater Horizon/BP spill was captured or mitigated by the Unified Command recovery operations, including burning, skimming, chemical dispersion and direct recovery from the wellhead, according to a federal science report released today.  See NOAA release

NIST Researchers Measure High Infrared Power Levels from Some Green Lasers

Photo from an ordinary camera shows light from a green laser diffracted into several spots. The green laser pointer is visible in the foreground. (Bottom) The same vignette photographed by a webcam with no infrared-blocking filter reveals intense diffraction spots from 808nm infrared light, invisible to the eye. Green laser pointers have become a popular consumer item, delivering light that’s brighter to the eye than red lasers, but stories have circulated on the Web about the potential hazards of inexpensive models. Now, a team led by physicist Charles Clark at Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) puts some numbers to the problem. In one case, the group found that a green laser pointer emitted almost twice its rated power level of light—but at invisible and potentially dangerous infrared wavelengths rather than green. A new NIST technical note* describes the nature of the problem as well as a home test using an inexpensive webcam that can detect excess infrared light from green lasers.  Read more

Statement From Secretary Locke on the Advance Estimate of Real GDP in the Second Quarter of 2010

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis today released the first estimate of gross domestic product (GDP) for the second quarter of 2010.  Real GDP grew 2.4 percent at an annual rate in the second quarter, following a gain of 3.7 percent in the first quarter.  The annual revision to the national accounts increased the total fall in real GDP during the recession from 3.7 percent to 4.1 percent.  The economy has grown 3.2 percent from a year ago.  Statement

Secretary Locke Visits Louisville to Highlight Partnership Designed to Boost U.S. Exports

Locke discusses Commerce resources available to U.S. companies to help grow business and create jobs

Secretary Locke at Podium with UPS OfficialsToday Secretary Locke visited the UPS Global Operations Center in Louisville, Ky., to highlight opportunities for local Kentucky businesses to sell their goods and services abroad and support job creation in their community. Locke toured the facility and held a discussion with local business owners on how the Commerce Department can help them grow their businesses and create jobs. Expanding on an existing partnership, UPS has joined with the Commerce Department to identify new markets for current exporters and potential candidates to expand their exports with the help of Department resources through the New Market Exporter Initiative.

Commerce’s partnership with UPS is one way the Department is working to achieve the goals of President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI), which aims to double U.S. exports over the next five years in support of 2 million American jobs. Since the president announced the NEI, the Department of Commerce’s Advocacy Center has assisted American companies competing for export opportunities, supporting $11.4 billion in exports and an estimated 70,000 jobs. The Department’s commercial service officers stationed around the world have helped more than 2,000 companies generate $3.8 billion worth of exports. To date, the Commerce Department has coordinated 18 trade missions with over 160 companies to 24 countries.

Joining Locke at for the discussion were Larry Hayes, Secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, Scott Casey, Vice President of Legal & Public Affairs for UPS, and Jerry Plappert, Vice President of Corporate Development for CECO Environmental and Chair of the Kentucky District Export Council. | Read more | Remarks

Secretary Locke Highlights Efforts to Bolster CyberSecurity in the Commercial Arena at Commerce Department Symposium

Secretary Locke aon podiumToday the Commerce Department hosted a public symposium on the protection of consumers’ and the commercial sector’s information from increasingly sophisticated cyber threats. Secretary Locke provided opening remarks at the event, held at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., followed by remarks from U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski.

The meeting is part of a broader effort to use the Internet to foster innovation and economic growth. The symposium was organized by the Commerce Department’s Internet Policy Task Force and featured senior government and private-sector leaders in a wide-ranging discussion of issues, best practices, and strategies for responding to cyber threats. 

Other administration and Congressional officials who addressed the symposium included U.S. Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra, and Commerce Department General Counsel Cameron Kerry.  Panel discussions featured senior officials from the White House, the Department of Homeland Security, the Commerce Department and private-sector executives.  Remarks  |  Read more

Commerce Secretary Locke Meets With U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board in New Orleans

Visiting New Orleans today, Secretary Locke met with the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board to discuss how government and industry leaders can support travel and tourism in areas impacted by the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill.

“Jobs are the number one priority of the Obama administration and the travel and tourism industry plays a key role in that effort,” Locke said. “It's clear we are going to need a proactive and aggressive approach to expand travel and tourism both in the Gulf and throughout the United States.”

In addition to the board’s central discussion on improving the industry in the Gulf, members also addressed tourism policies and other nationwide issues. The travel and tourism industry is a significant contributor to trade and economic development in the United States, and the board will play a key role in the development of the administration’s export policies.

Today’s meeting was the second of the current board, made up of 27 industry leaders.  Read more

Secretary Locke Unveils Official Portrait of Former Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez

Locke, Gutierrez and members of the Gutierrez family applaudingSecretary Gary Locke welcomed former Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez to the Commerce Department today for the unveiling of his official portrait. Speaking at the ceremony attended by Gutierrez’s friends, family and former colleagues, Locke thanked the 35th Secretary of Commerce for the guidance he gave him when Locke became Secretary and honored him for his many achievements during his tenure.

Gutierrez served under President George W. Bush from February 2005 to January 2009. During his government service, he was the administration’s point person on comprehensive immigration reform, DR-CAFTA and the Colombia Free Trade Agreement, and he co-chaired the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba. He also led many high-level trade missions, including the first-ever domestic trade mission to the Gulf region in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Before coming to Commerce, Gutierrez was chairman and CEO of the Kellogg Company.

Portrait of Carlos M. GutierrezAlso in attendance at the ceremony were former Commerce Secretaries Barbara Franklin, Norman Mineta and Don Evans, as well as Congressman John Dingell. Gutierrez’s former Executive Assistant, Pat Thorne, sang the national anthem.

Gutierrez now serves on the board of trustees for the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Bipartisan Debt Reduction Task Force.

Breaking the Language Barrier: NIST Tests Afghan Language Translation Devices for U.S. Troops

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Image from video clip showing characters from For the past four years, scientists at Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have been conducting detailed performance evaluations of speech translation systems for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Previous systems used microphones and portable computers. In the most recent tests, the NIST team evaluated three two-way, real-time, voice-translation devices designed to improve communications between the U.S. military and non-English speakers in foreign countries.

Traditionally, the military has relied on human translators for communicating with non-English speakers in foreign countries, but the job is dangerous and skilled translators often are in short supply. According to NIST’s Brian Weiss, the DARPA project, called TRANSTAC (spoken language communication and TRANSlation system for TACtical use), aims to provide a technology-based solution. Currently, the focus is on Pashto, a native Afghani tongue, but NIST has also assessed machine translation systems for Dari—also spoken in Afghanistan—and Iraqi Arabic.Image of U.S. Marine and Afghan talking on cell phone

All new TRANSTAC systems all work much the same way, says project manager Craig Schlenoff. An English speaker talks into the phone. Automatic speech recognition distinguishes what is said and generates a text file that software translates to the target language. Text-to-speech technology converts the resulting text file into an oral response in the foreign language. This process is reversed for the foreign language speaker.  Read more  |  video

Locke Meets With Korea's Minister of Knowledge Economy and China's Minister of Science and Technology at the Commerce Department

 

Locke and ChoiU.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke met with Korea’s Minister of Knowledge Economy (MKE) Kyunghwan Choi and China’s Minister of Science and Technology (MOST) Wan Gang today in separate meetings at the Commerce Department. 

This was the first meeting between Locke and Choi and the first meeting of the Commerce-MKE Committee on Commercial Cooperation, a committee created through a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the U.S. and Korea in June 2009.  Locke and Choi confirmed the importance of further strengthening U.S.-Korea commercial relations and working together on trade and investment issues. The pair also expressed support for removing barriers to trade and finding a way forward on the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA). Following their meeting, Locke and Choi each spoke at the opening session of the Committee, which then held working-level subcommittee break out meetings.

Later in the afternoon, Locke met with China’s Minister of Science and Technology Wan Gang. Locke and Wan have previously met twice in China. Wan is in Washington, D.C. for the first-ever Clean Energy Ministerial – which Locke spoke at today – hosted by U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Wan has served as MOST since April 2007.  Read more