U.S. CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG, CHAIRMAN OF THE INDIAN & ALASKA NATIVE AFFAIRS SUBCOMMITTEE, ASKS OBAMA TO PAY UP ON CONTRACT SUPPORT CLAIMS
Washington, D.C., Mar 13, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Chairman of the Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Subcommittee Congressman Don Young today sent a letter to the President Obama requesting that the Administration expeditiously pay contract support claims (CSC) to Alaska Native and Native American entities so named in the June 2012 Supreme Court decisions.
Nearly nine months after the Supreme Court ordered the Federal government pay outstanding CSC claims in full for the parties named in the cases, affected Alaska Native entities and tribes have not received their payment. These funds are used to provide much needed healthcare to one of the most medically-disadvantaged populations in the nation. To further delay what is owed violates the trust responsibility the federal government has with Alaska Natives and Native Americans.
“I am writing to request your urgent assistance in having the Indian Health Service (IHS) expeditiously settle outstanding contract support costs (CSC) claims in accordance with the June 2012 Supreme Court decisions in Ramah Navajo Chapter and Arctic Slope Native Associations cases.
requires that Indian and Alaska Native Tribes be paid their full CSC. While tribal health programs have always been underfunded, CSC funds are a contract obligation and by law must be paid in full. These funds are also critical to these tribal programs so that the Tribe may provide essential health services to their American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) beneficiaries.”
Rep. Young continues, “Tribal health programs in Alaska and throughout the United States have always been underfunded and have had to do more with less in providing essential health services to AI/ANs. The mission of tribal health programs has been made even more difficult because of historic underfunding of required contract support costs. The Ramah and Arctic Slope decisions have vindicated the Tribes’ right to be paid in full.”
Rep. Young concludes, “In this difficult economic environment it is critical that tribal contractors receive the CSC funds they are due in a timely manner. Therefore, I request that you direct the IHS to develop a plan of action that will promptly resolve the claims. It is time for the government to pay the amounts owed to tribes and to bring to a close this unfortunate chapter in the agency’s relations with AI/ANs.”
U.S. SENATORS INTRODUCE BIPARTISAN HYDROPOWER BILL
Mar 13 2013
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) today introduced the Hydropower Improvement Act of 2013. The bipartisan legislation is co-sponsored by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), James Risch (R-Idaho), Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Patty Murray (D-Washington), and Mark Begich (D-Alaska).
The bill seeks to substantially increase the United States’ hydropower capacity in an effort to expand clean-power generation and spur domestic job creation. As the country’s largest source of renewable energy, hydropower allows us to avoid approximately 200 million metric tons of carbon emissions each year. According to the Department of Energy, the U.S. has the potential for 300 gigawatts of additional hydropower.
Murkowski: “Hydropower is, and must continue to be, a major part of our energy solution. It is the largest source of renewable electricity generation in the United States, and our most cost-effective, clean energy option. Hydro already supplies 24 percent of Alaska’s electricity needs and our state has identified more than 200 promising sites for further hydropower development. There is great potential for additional hydropower development across the country.”
Wyden: “Generating hydropower from water in irrigation canals, conduits, and behind existing dams is the low-hanging fruit the U.S. should seize as it moves toward a low-carbon economy. This bill will turn that untapped resource to clean energy in Oregon and across the United States. I look forward to working with Sen. Murkowski and the other co-sponsors of the bill to move this legislation through the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.”
Risch: “Streamlining the hydropower relicensing process and retrofitting existing structures for energy production needs to happen. Hydropower remains the cleanest, most cost effective and one of the most dependable domestic sources of energy. The relicensing process should not be a hindrance to a proven clean energy resource.”
Cantwell: “Emissions-free hydropower provides close to three-quarters of Washington state’s electricity and keeps our rates among the lowest in the country. This bipartisan bill would help encourage small hydropower development and streamline hydropower licensing on existing dams and canals. More hydropower capability means an increased supply of affordable clean energy, which helps make Washington state a leading place to live and do business. I look forward to working with my colleagues to quickly pass this common-sense legislation.”
Crapo: “Hydropower efficiently and cleanly provides about seven percent of the nation’s electricity. Senator Murkowski’s legislation helps to increase that capacity without increasing the country’s out-of-control deficit.”
Murray: “Throughout the Pacific Northwest, hydropower has proven to be a valuable, efficient energy resource that produces a low carbon footprint for the environment. I look forward to working with my colleagues from both parties to pass the Hydropower Improvement Act and build on our use of hydropower to create jobs, protect our environment, and bring clean energy resources to our communities.”
Begich: "Alaska holds over a third of our country’s untapped hydropower, our nation’s largest source of renewable energy. This common-sense legislation will help develop fish-friendly hydro sites that lower ratepayers costs and help power Alaska homes."
Details of the Hydropower Improvement Act of 2011
Provides the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) the authority to extend preliminary permit terms; Directs FERC to explore a possible two-year licensing process for hydropower development at non-powered dams and closed-loop pumped storage projects;
Establishes an expedited process for FERC to consider “qualifying conduit” hydropower facilities; Increases the rated capacity for small hydro projects from five to 10 megawatts; Calls for the Department of Energy (DOE) to study the technical flexibility and grid reliability benefits that pumped storage facilities could provide to intermittent renewable energy, and the range of opportunities for conduit hydropower potential; Does not contain any spending authorizations and therefore does not represent any new funding.
The Hydropower Improvement Act of 2013 is a companion piece to H.R. 267, the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013, sponsored by Reps. Cathy McMorris-Rogers (R-Washington) and Diana DeGette (D-Colorado). H.R. 267 passed the House last month by a 422-0 vote and is supported by both the National Hydropower Association and American Rivers.
The bill and a section-by-section summary are attached.
U.S. HOUSE COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, SPACE, & TECHNOLOGY APPROVES CRITICAL CYBER-SECURITY R&D BILLS
MAR 14, 2013
Washington D.C. – The Science, Space, and Technology Committee today unanimously approved two critical bipartisan bills that coordinate and drive research and development (R&D) across federal agencies to address cyber threats to America’s high-tech infrastructure. The Committee approved the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2013 (H.R. 756) and the Advancing America’s Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) Act of 2013 (H.R. 967) by voice vote. Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) is an original cosponsor of both bills.
Chairman Smith: “As our reliance on information technology expands, so do our vulnerabilities. Cyber attacks against U.S. government and private sector networks are on the rise. Protecting America’s cyber systems is critical to our economic and national security. The Cybersecurity Enhancement Act promotes much-needed R&D to help create new technologies and standards that better protect America’s information technology systems.
“In the ever-increasing digital age, protecting our nation’s computer networking systems is more important than ever. The second bill approved by the Committee today, NITRD, provides the coordinated R&D efforts necessary to improve cyber and data security nationwide. And better network security promotes U.S. competitiveness, enhances national security and creates high-tech jobs. Both of these bills better protect our nation’s information technology and improve our ability guard against cyber attacks.”
Background on Manager’s Amendment to H.R. 756: Chairman Smith’s amendment supports coordination of cybersecurity R&D. The amendment requires the cybersecurity R&D agencies to track ongoing and completed federal cybersecurity R&D projects and make that information publically available. For years, the Government Accountability Office has recommended this requirement in order to make federal cyber R&D more transparent and ensure we do not duplicate efforts. The manager’s amendment directs NIST to include cybersecurity educational programs and professional development in its activities. And it updates the authorization levels provided to NSF cybersecurity research and education grants, which have not been authorized since 2007. The authorizations show strong congressional support for prioritizing cybersecurity R&D activities that are important to America’s security and competitiveness.
Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) introduced H.R. 756 and Energy Subcommittee Chairman Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) introduced H.R. 967.
U.S. HOUSE JUDICIARY MEMBERS INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO RESTORE CONSUMERS' ABILITY TO UNLOCK CELL PHONES
March 14, 2013
Washington, D.C. – Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.), along with Representative Howard Coble (R-N.C.), Chairman of the Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet Subcommittee and Representative Mel Watt (D-N.C.), Ranking Member of the Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet Subcommittee, announced the introduction of legislation to restore consumers’ ability to unlock their mobile phones, in order to switch from one wireless carrier to another. This bill also directs the Copyright Office to determine whether similar treatment should be given to other wireless devices.
“This bipartisan legislation is focused on protecting consumer choice,” said Chairman Goodlatte. “By restoring the cell phone exemption, the power is put back in the hands of the consumer.”
The Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act (H.R. 1123) restores the exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that permits consumers, once they have fulfilled their contractual obligation, to unlock their cell phones without the approval of their wireless provider.
rulemaking was announced in October and continued the exemption for cell phones purchased on or before January 26, 2013. The exemption was allowed to expire for cell phones purchased after that date.
“Providing consumers with the flexibility to use their purchased cell phones on another network at the expiration of their contract with their initial provider enhances consumer choice and competition in this market. As we move forward, we must ensure that unlocked phones remain affordable and that consumer choice does not come at too high a price,” said Ranking Member Conyers.
“Allowing cell phones to be unlocked is completely logical, and I will support efforts along those lines.” said Subcommittee Chairman Coble.
“I am pleased to cosponsor legislation designed to reflect the desire of the public to unlock their cell phones in order to switch providers at the expiration of their contract without the need to purchase a new phone. The quality of the DMCA process depends upon the quality of the record. Future participants in the process should build an adequate record upon which an exemption may be based,” Subcommittee Ranking Member Watt said.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. Senate earlier this week.
FRANCIS’ ELECTION PROVIDES A LEADER WHO POSSESSES FIRSTHAND EXPERIENCE WITH THE EVANGELICAL CHALLENGES OF CONTEMPORARY CATHOLICISM
BY JOAN FRAWLEY DESMOND + Posted 3/14/13 + National Register
WASHINGTON — With the election of Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the first Latin-American Vicar of Christ in the history of the Catholic Church, the College of Cardinals confirmed an inescapable truth: The pilgrim Church has traveled far beyond its base in the Eternal City.
Pope Francis himself alludedto this significant reality in his first public words as Pope, spoken March 13 from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.
“Dear brothers and sisters, good evening,” Francis began. “You know that the duty of the conclave was to give Rome abishop. It seems that my brother cardinals picked him from almost the ends of the earth. But here we are!”
Latin Americarepresents 40% of the world’s Catholics, and many immigrants from the region have put down roots in the United States, spurring the growth of Catholicism in a nation where the Church’s numbers might otherwise be dwindling, since one out of every 10 adults is aformer Catholic.
The election of Pope Francis follows the pontificates of two non-Italian popes, Blessed John Paul IIand Benedict XVI, and the news confirms the shifting center of gravity in a Church that has experienced growth in Africa, Asiaand Latin America, even as Europe pulls away from its Christian moorings.
Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia welcomed the landmark papal election. Pope Francis, said Archbishop Chaput, “comes from the new heartland of the global Church.”
Indeed, back in 1999, John Paul II drew attention to the emergence of “two quite different situations” in this Catholic New World heartland. In his post-synodal apostolic exhortation Ecclesia in America, he outlined the trends: “on the one hand, the situation of countries strongly affected by secularization and, on the other, the situation of countries where there are still many vital traditions of piety and popular forms of Christian religiosity.”
“There is no doubt that, in varying degrees, both these situations are present in different countries or, better perhaps, in different groups within the various countries of the American continent,” wrote Blessed John Paul II.
As the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Cardinal Bergoglio experienced both “situations”firsthand.
He has strengthened pastoral outreach while battling legislation to legalize same-sex “marriage”and liberalize abortion laws. He has gone toe-to-toe with the nation’s authoritarian President Cristina Kirchner.
Pope Francis is also known in his homeland for encouraging the tradition of piety. In a Vatican Radio interview following the papal election, Brother Ricardo Saenz, an Argentinian seminarian studying in Rome, recalled how the former cardinal shared in his flock’s strong public devotion to the Blessed Virgin.
“Each year, we always have a walking pilgrimage which [the former cardinal] always precedes,”Brother Ricardo said. “The whole Diocese of Buenos Aires walks until [they get to] the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lujàn [in Buenos Aires Province] … 12 hours of walking. It’s full of young people, who walk all day, all night, and he always wants to celebrate that Mass. He always goes back to Lujàn to the sanctuary.”
That background will help guide Pope Francis’ plans for advancing the New Evangelization in the Church in Latin America and in the U.S., where Catholic leaders seek to revitalize ethnic strongholds while drawing Hispanics into the Catholic mainstream.
Catholic Population Shifts
A new study released by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life suggests that the new Pope will have his work cut out for him.
While the Pew study reported that Catholics’ share of the world’s population has changed very little over the past century — 17% in 1910 to 16% in 2010 — “What changed substantially … is the geographic distribution of the world’s Catholics,”stated the study’s authors.
“In 1910, Europe was home to about two-thirds of all Catholics, and nearly nine-in-10 lived either in Europe (65%) or Latin America (24%). By 2010, by contrast, only about a quarter of all Catholics (24%) were in Europe,” the study reported.
Today, 39%of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics reside in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the study, and Catholics comprise about 50%of the global Christian population.
The study documents the striking expansion of the Church in sub-Saharan Africa, with an estimated 171 million believers, compared with 1 million Catholics in 1910. In Asia, the faithful number about 131 million, compared with just 14 million in 1910, and they now represent 12% of the continent’s population, up from 5%.
Such countries are marked by harsh material poverty and glaring social inequities between rich and poor. Thus the promotion of Catholic social teaching and the evangelical witness of charity will be priorities for Pope Francis, whose service to the needy began with his personal care for a member of his household in Buenos Aires.
The new Pope also must reassess the Holy See’s efforts to protect and advance the growth of Christianity in China, where it must deal with the government-controlled Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association that operates alongside an “underground” Church whose bishops are in full communion with Rome, and in African nations like Nigeria, where Christian churches are routinely burned to the ground by Muslim fundamentalists and where the faith can be blurred by syncretistic practices that incorporate animist beliefs.
“Today, religious persecution against Christians occurs in the Muslim world and the communist world,” said Nina Shea, who directs the Center for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute in Washington.
But Sheaalso noted that the growth of faith under such circumstances could inspire Catholics in parts of the world where apathy is prevalent.
“In Nigeria, the fact that people are willing to stand up for their faith and go to church, despite repeated bombings, gets other people’s attention and has led to more conversions.”
The U.S. Picture
The Pew study reported that Catholicism in the U.S. and Canada is not growing as robustly as in many areas of the developing world.
“North America’s share of the global Catholic population has increased more slowly, from about 15 million (5%) in 1910 to 89 million (8%) as of 2010,” stated the report.
The study’s authors point to two separate, but related, developments inhibiting Church growth here: declining population growth in Western countries; and the changing dynamics of religious belief, with some cradle Catholics rejecting the faith entirely and others switching denominations.
The latter trend is also evident even in Latin-American countries that are overwhelmingly Catholic. Over the past decade, Brazil and Mexico — the two countries with the largest populations of Catholics, with 126 million and 96 million respectively — both experienced a significant drop in the number of self-identified Catholics.
Latin-American Church leaders often blame aggressive Protestant sects as the primary cause of declining numbers, but Pope Francis is expected to focus his energies instead on improving Catholic evangelization.
In aMarch14 report in National Review, papal biographer and commentator George Weigel recalled a conversation he had with the cardinal last year about “the importance of the Latin American bishops’ 2007 'AparecidaDocument,' the fruit of the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin Americaand the Caribbean.”
Weigel cited one relevant passage from the document that reflected the tenor of the cardinal’s perspective: “The Church is called to adeep and profound rethinking of its mission. ... It cannot retreat in response to those who see only confusion, dangers, and threats. ... What is required is confirming, renewing, and revitalizing the newness of the Gospel ... out of a personal and community encounter with Jesus Christ that raises up disciples and missionaries.”
For their part, the U.S. bishops do not complain of “sheep stealing”by Protestant sects in this country, but, the 2013Pew study confirmed that “the Catholic population has lost more members than it has gainedfrom religious switching.”
A Latinizing Church
Meanwhile, reflecting an historic pattern, the Church in the U.S. “has been heavily shaped by immigration and includes arising share of Latinos,” the Pew study noted. “More than half (52%) of all migrants to the United States are Catholic.
“Of the estimated 75.4 million Catholics in the United States in 2010, 22.2 million were born outside the United States (30%). By comparison, slightly more than 13% of the overall U.S. population is foreign-born.”
The Pew study confirmed that 76%of Catholic immigrants are from Latin America. The election of Pope Francis will have special relevance for them, offering a potent new opportunity to advance the New Evangelization by bridging two cultures and continents and yielding perhaps a new Catholic moment in the United States.
Last year, during a Vatican conference marking the 15th anniversary of Blessed John Paul’s apostolic exhortation Ecclesia in America, Pope Benedict XVI said that the faithful in the Western Hemisphere must “devote ourselves without reserve to proclaiming” Christ “throughout the Americas.” In the months and years ahead, that urgent task will now be taken up by a native son, Pope Francis.
NOTRE DAME TO JOIN ACC NEXT SEASON AFTER 7 OTHER SCHOOLS CREATE A NEW BIG EAST
Published March 12, 2013 Associated Press
South Bend, Indiana - Notre Dame is joining the Atlantic Coast Conference a season earlier than expected, following the split among the Big East's football schools and seven Catholic schools that are leaving to form a basketball-focused conference.
Notre Dame announced the move Tuesday, six months after it surprised the college sports world by opting to join the ACC in all sports except football and hockey.
Tuesday's move means Notre Dame will join the ACC at the same time as fellow Big East members Pittsburgh and Syracuse, which announced earlier they would join the league. Louisville is expected to join the ACC after next season.
The move means Notre Dame coaches can move forward with scheduling for the 2013-14 school year.
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated the Missa pro Ecclesiae in the Sistine Chapel on Thursday afternoon.
Below, please find Vatican Radio’s translation of the full text of his homily.
In these three readings I see that there is something in common: it is movement. In the first reading, movement is the journey [itself]; in the second reading, movement is in the up-building of the Church. In the third, in the Gospel, the movement is in [the act of] profession: walking, building, professing.
Walking: the House of Jacob. “O house of Jacob, Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.” This is the first thing God said to Abraham: “Walk in my presence and be blameless.” Walking: our life is a journey and when we stop, there is something wrong. Walking always, in the presence of the Lord, in the light of the Lord, seeking to live with that blamelessness, which God asks of Abraham, in his promise.
Building: to build the Church. There is talk of stones: stones have consistency, but [the stones spoken of are] living stones, stones anointed by the Holy Spirit. Build up the Church, the Bride of Christ, the cornerstone of which is the same Lord. With [every] movement in our lives, let us build!
Third, professing: we can walk as much we want, we can build many things, but if we do not confess Jesus Christ, nothing will avail. We will become a pitiful NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of Christ. When one does not walk, one stalls. When one does not built on solid rocks, what happens? What happens is what happens to children on the beach when they make sandcastles: everything collapses, it is without consistency. When one does not profess Jesus Christ - I recall the phrase of Leon Bloy – “Whoever does not pray to God, prays to the devil.” When one does not profess Jesus Christ, one professes the worldliness of the devil. Walking, building-constructing, professing: the thing, however, is not so easy, because in walking, in building, in professing, there are sometimes shake-ups - there are movements that are not part of the path: there are movements that pull us back.
This Gospel continues with a special situation. The same Peter who confessed Jesus Christ, says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. I will follow you, but let us not speak of the Cross. This has nothing to do with it.” He says, “I’ll follow you on other ways, that do not include the Cross.” When we walk without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, and when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord. We are worldly, we are bishops, priests, cardinals, Popes, but not disciples of the Lord.
I would like that all of us, after these days of grace, might have the courage - the courage - to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Cross of the Lord: to build the Church on the Blood of the Lord, which is shed on the Cross, and to profess the one glory, Christ Crucified.
In this way, the Church will go forward. My hope for all of us is that the Holy Spirit, that the prayer of Our Lady, our Mother, might grant us this grace: to walk, to build, to profess Jesus Christ Crucified. So be it.
Though the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate forcing employers to violate their conscience by providing birth control and pills that cause abortions has been temporarily stopped today in a Federal District Court, there is no question the Obama Administration will appeal all the way up to the Supreme Court.
This is the fight of our time. Either this country will stand for religious freedom, or it won't. And we will know the answer if the courts allow the government (by way of the HHS to brazenly) violate the First Amendment by forcing individuals to fund birth control and the abomination of abortion.
Once the government gets its toe in this door, nothing will stop it. The next phase is almost certain to be the forcing of Christian institutions to allow same-sex marriage or face civil rights penalties.
Via LifeNews.com: [emphasis added]
The founder of Dominos Pizza won his bid for a court order to prevent enforcement of the mandate while the lawsuit it filed against the Obama administration over the HHS mandate that forces religious employers to purchase drugs that may cause abortions for their employees continues.
Tom Monaghan calls requiring businesses, schools and other religious places to pay for such drugs a “gravely immoral” practice and filed suit earlier this month in federal court for Domino’s Farms, a business development complex he owns. ...
For purposes of the preliminary injunction, Judge Zatkoff focused only on the unconstitutional nature of the HHS Mandate due its infringement on Mr. Monaghan’s exercise of religion. Judge Zatkoff held that he did not need to engage in a separate discussion of Plaintiffs’ Constitutional right to the Free Exercise of Religion since both theories seek to protect the same liberty interest — the free practice of one’s religion.
The Obama administration is expected to appeal Judge Zatkoff’s ruling to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Judge Zatkoff’s ruling halts enforcement of the HHS mandate against Monaghan and his property management company, Domino’s Farms Corporation of which he is the owner and sole shareholder. Religious freedom aside, it is unconscionable that the federal government is allowed to force anyone to buy anything. But thanks to the Supreme Court's 5-4 ObamaCare ruling, that debate's already lost.
Don't know about y'all, but suddenly I got a hankering for some Dominos Pizza!
STATEMENT OF NEW YORK CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN ON THE ELECTION OF POPE FRANCIS
The following statement was released Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, in his role as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)
STATEMENT ON THE ELECTION OF POPE FRANCIS I CARDINALTIMOTHY DOLAN OF NEW YORK PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 13, 2013
The election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who has taken the name Francis I, marks agreat milestone in our church. As successor to Peter, our first pope, Pope Francis Istands as the figure of unity for all Catholics wherever they reside.
The bishops of the United States and the people of our 195 dioceses offer prayers for our new leader and promise allegiance to him.Intense prayer from all around the world surrounded the election of Pope Francis I.
The bishops of the United States thank God for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the inspired choice of the College of Cardinals.With joy in our hearts, we declare "Ad Multos Annos!" (For many years!)
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York President United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
GOP TO BLOCK FEDERAL FUNDS TO SCHOOLS OFFERING TO MURDER 'MINOR CHILDREN' WHILE SEXUALLY OFFENDING OTHERS INTRODUCING THE 'PROTECTING LIFE IN FUNDING EDUCATION (PRO-LIFE) ACT, H.R. 1122
By Pete Kasperowicz - 03/14/13 09:22 AM ET
Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) and dozens of other Republicans proposed legislation on Wednesday that would deny federal funding to public schools that offer students abortion services through third party health providers.
"Our school health centers should be a place of healing and education for students," Neugebauer said this week. "They shouldn't be used as a tool to advocate for abortion, and certainly not with federal taxpayer dollars."
Neugebauer and his 43 GOP cosponsors argue that school districts in a handful of states, including California and New York, are partnering with Planned Parenthood to provide health services to students. Sponsors of the bill argue that Planned Parenthood is already the largest abortion provider in the country, and that federal education funds should not be sent to schools that enter into these partnerships.
"I was alarmed to learn that they are setting up clinics in public high schools," Neugebauer said of Planned Parenthood. "I'm very concerned that these centers will encourage pregnant students to seek abortions at nearby abortion clinics with little or no parental involvement."
His bill is the Protecting Life in Funding Education (PRO-LIFE) Act, H.R. 1122.
Under the bill, school districts that partner with any third party health services provider would be denied access to federal education funds, unless the health centers certify that they won't offer students abortions or abortion-related services, such as referrals for abortions.
CHICAGO BENGHAZI 9/11/12 TERRORIST ATTACK & INTERNATIONAL CHILD TRAFFICKING COVER-UP BEGINS WITH GAGGED LAWYERS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MURDER OF UNITED STATES SENATOR TED STEVENS (R-AK) - COOK COUNTY COMMISSIONER WILLIAM BEAVERS OPENING STATEMENTS IN COVER-UP EVASION TRIAL
By MICHAEL TARM 03/13/13 08:47 PM ET EDT + HUFF POST
CHICAGO -- A judge on Wednesday imposed a gag order on attorneys in the tax-evasion trial of a powerful Chicago Democrat after a defense lawyer claimed jury selection was "rigged" because no black men were in the 50-person pool from which jurors were selected.
Opening statements at Cook County Commissioner William Beavers' trial were set for Thursday after the jury was selected Wednesday. Each side will have 30 minutes to talk to jurors about allegations that the former policeman turned politician diverted around $225,000 from his campaign coffers for gambling and other personal use without reporting it.
The 12 jurors who will decide Beaver's fate include 10 whites, a Hispanic and one African-American – a woman. In all, the jury has seven women and five men.
Lawyers for Beavers, who is black, made race an issue Tuesday by complaining to U.S. District Judge James Zagel that there were no black men and only a few black women in the jury pool. They argued that a jury of Beavers' peers should include at least a few African-American males.
Outside court, defense attorney Sam Adam Sr. told reporters he'd never seen a jury pool without at least one African-American male in his more than 50 years practicing in federal court.
Zagel did not refer directly to Adam's comments Wednesday in announcing the ban on statements to the media during the trial. But he said comments in public by attorneys during a trial "frequently distracts the lawyers from the purpose of the case."
Prosecutors themselves haven't spoken publicly about the case, while defense attorneys had been addressing TV cameras and reporters almost daily. Violating the gag order could mean jail time.
Beavers, who also served for years as a Chicago alderman, has pleaded not guilty to four federal tax counts. Each count carries a maximum three-year prison sentence.
Sam Adam Sr.'s son, Sam Adam Jr., will deliver the opening for Beavers. The father-and-son duo are known for super-charged, often witty and sometimes inflammatory public commentary on their clients' behalf.
The younger Adam delivered the opening and closing at former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's first corruption trial, which ended in a hung jury. He also played a central role defending R. Kelly at the R&B singer's 2008 child pornography trial, which ended in acquittal.
GOP LAWMAKERS TO SUBPOENA BENGHAZI 9/11/12 TERRORIST SURVIVORS BEING HELD IN COVER-UP
By Julian Pecquet and Carlo Muñoz - 03/14/13 05:00 AM ET
Republican lawmakers are threatening to subpoena U.S. survivors of the terrorist attack in Benghazi.
Exasperated GOP members say unless they get more answers from the White House, they will call on the survivors to testify before Congress, and might hold up President Obama’s nomination to replace the U.S. ambassador who was killed on Sept. 11, 2012 in Libya.
The recent revelation that U.S. survivors are recuperating at Walter Reed Hospital has sparked GOP demands that the White House provide Congress with access to them. It has also breathed new life into the controversy that was highlighted repeatedly during the 2012 presidential campaign.
GOP criticisms of the Obama administration’s handling of the deadly incident had appeared to lose steam after then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified earlier this year and the Senate subsequently approved Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) to replace her.
But reports that as many as 30 Americans may have been wounded in the attack — including seven treated at Walter Reed — have put Benghazi back in the spotlight.
“That’s why this story continues to perpetuate itself,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the chairman of the House Oversight subcommittee on National Security. “And it will not end, because the State Department’s not allowing us to put a nice, tight ribbon on it.”
Republicans say they might delay the confirmation of Deborah Jones, the State Department official Obama nominated Wednesday to succeed Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya who died along with three other Americans in the attack six months ago.
In a March 1 letter to Kerry, Reps. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.) said they’d been informed that “as many as 30” Americans —including State Department and CIA officers and government contractors — were injured in the attack. They demanded the names and contact information for each survivor “so that we can make appropriate arrangements.”
Republicans have additional questions about who at the State Department knew — or should have known — about the security risks in Benghazi, as well as the embassy’s unanswered requests for more security. Some of them also continue to question the administration’s motivation for initially attributing the attack to a peaceful protest gone awry.
Wolf introduced a House resolution earlier this year to set up a select committee to investigate the run-up and aftermath of the Benghazi attack, which had 60 co-sponsors as of Wednesday. The congressman is not sure about the number of injured — he told The Hill the “30” figure seems high — but that their sacrifice should be acknowledged, even if it’s done discreetly, in the case of CIA operatives.
“We should be honoring them,” Wolf said. “We should be thanking them.”
Following the letter, Kerry acknowledged that he had visited one of the survivors at Walter Reed.
“Why have we not heard from any of the Benghazi survivors? I can’t tell you the answer to that,” Kerry told Fox News last week. “I can tell you that I have visited with one of the survivors ... who is a remarkably courageous person, who is doing very, very well.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is leading the charge on the Senate side. He’s drafting a letter to Kerry and seeking access to the survivors and to the FBI files of their accounts “to see what they said” and how it was possibly used to draft up the administration’s now infamous initial talking points on the terrorist strike.
“We will be looking at every option,” Graham told The Hill on Wednesday in a reference to potentially issuing subpoenas for access to the witnesses. He said it was “pretty disappointing” that Republicans might have to resort to forcing the Benghazi survivors to appear before Congress, but that “the story of Benghazi has to be told.”
Leaders in the House, where Republicans are in the majority and could get subpoenas approved in committee, made similar threats.
“Leadership has been exceptionally patient, but we’re getting to the point where there’s no other option,” Chaffetz told The Hill. “Nobody wants to go there, but we’re probably going to have to do that if we’re serious about doing our work here.”
Senate Republicans, meanwhile, say they might delay the confirmation of Jones as Libyan ambassador.
“Unfortunately it seems like that’s the only vehicle we can use to get the answers,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who crossed swords with Clinton when she testified in January. “I’d like to cooperate with the president and make sure that his administration is staffed and these important ambassadorships are filled, but if that’s the only avenue we have in terms of eliciting information from the administration, that might be something we have to do.”
He said the State Department has been citing an ongoing FBI investigation to deny requests for more information, but that it should be concluded soon.
“Certainly my part in the confirmation hearing of Sen. Kerry for secretary of State was basically asking him, ‘Will you cooperate’? And I kind of got that assurance that he would cooperate with us,” Johnson said. “As soon as [the FBI probe] is concluded, maybe even before that, I think the American people have a right to know, so we should have access to those witnesses.”
Holding up the nomination of the ambassador, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) concurred, “is certainly an avenue” to get answers.
“But I would hope that the level of cooperation between the [intelligence] community and the [Senate Intelligence] committee is at a level that we’ll be able to get those without any threats,” said the second-ranking Republican on the Intelligence panel. “I don’t see that as an option right now.”
He said the committee needs the “flexibility to interview any witnesses that we feel are appropriate. I think the first step is thoroughly reviewing the FBI interviews — we have yet to do that. And then once we do that, we can be a little more specific about who we might need to talk to or if we need to talk to anybody.”
It is possible that witnesses would testify in a closed session.
Democrats say Republicans are simply looking for any avenue to score political points.
“Benghazi is over and done with,” Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), a senior member on the Intelligence Committee, told The Hill. “As far as [Republicans] are concerned ... this has always been a political issue and that is the way they will continue to [pursue] it.”
Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) put the blame squarely on the administration’s shoulders.
“This all could have been resolved a long time ago,” he said, if the White House had fully disclosed all the pertinent details about its response to the terrorist attack.
The Illinois House rejected Amendment 10 on HB 1156, which would have banned any high capacity magazines over 10 rounds. The vote was 57 to 59, with 1 present. Roll call will follow.
SPRINGFIELD - State Rep. Mike Zalewski answered one question after another on the House floor Wednesday about his amendment #10 to HB 1156, which would ban any high capacity magazines with more than 10 rounds.
Zalewski said that as in New York, ammunition owners had a full year to rid themselves of the high capacity magazines his amendment would have made illegal in Illinois.
"There can be no grandfather clause on this," he said to those requesting an amendment, "because there are no identity numbers on these clips." If he allowed grandfathering the magazines, he said he would lose votes from those from which he had already garnered support.
Among those Republicans that spoke in opposition to Zalewski's proposal were State Reps Mike Bost, David Harris, David Reis, Ed Sullivan, Jeanne Ives, Dwight Kay, Dennis Reboletti and Jim Sacia. Democrat State Rep. Mike Smiddy said that a weapons manufacturer in his district would be adversely affected by the clip limit.
"This is not a threat, but if you do this to the good citizens of this state, you know its going to increase the sales of these magazines," Rep Sacia said. "Don't do this, Representative, this is bad, bad legislation."
"Week 3 of the gun saga continues," State Rep. Reboletti said as he closed his comments opposing the amendment.
Because of the amendment wording, the weapons that hold these magazines would also be banned, State Democrat Rep. Brandon Phelps said in debate. "You say you're looking out for hunters, if you are, vote no."
GOP State Rep. Reis went further, forecasting a possible need for body bags. "If you pass this, there will be riots on the streets. You can't take guns from people."
"After all the talk, there's nothing that's been said today that would incline me to change the wording," Zalewski said. "I will not pull this amendment."
The House rejected Zalewski's amendment in a 57 to 59 vote, with one present.
GOOGLE N.S.L. REPORT: STARTING TODAY 'SNAPSEED DESKTOP' FOR MACINTOSH & WINDOWS WILL NO LONGER BE PROVIDED
March 13, 2013
Beginning today we’ll no longer sell or provide updates for Snapseed Desktop for Macintosh and Windows. Existing customers will continue to be able to download the software and can contact us for support. We’ll continue to offer the Snapseed mobile app on iOS and Android for free.
These changes are never easy. But by focusing our efforts, we can concentrate on building great products that really help in their lives.
Posted by Urs Hölzle, SVP Technical Infrastructure and Google Fellow
AFTER FIRST AMENDMENT VICTORY, PRIESTS FOR YOUTH LEADER TO RETURN TO OHIO COLLEGE
Priests for Life + 3/13/2013
Priests for Life Youth Outreach Director Bryan Kemper, who was banned from holding a pro-life sign during a peaceful protest rally at Sinclair Community College last year, will return to the Dayton, Ohio school tomorrow, after the college agreed to uphold its students’ First Amendment rights.
In June 2012, during a Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally – one of more than 100 simultaneous rallies that Priests for Life helped organize across the country – Kemper was among those who were told by Dayton police that they could not hold up signs describing their opposition to government-mandated free contraception.
The Thomas More Society filed a federal lawsuit against the college on behalf of Kemper and two students. As a result of the suit, the college agreed in January to revise its campus access policy, which now stipulates that “any group may use, without prior notification, any publicly accessible outdoor area” (with some exceptions) for the purposes of speaking, non-verbal expressive conduct, the distribution of literature, displaying signage, and circulating petitions.” Go to www.priestsforlife.org/deddens-v-warren.pdf read the full settlement agreement.
Tomorrow, at the invitation of the school’s Traditional Values Club, Kemper will address students in the school library, from 1:30 to 5 p.m.
“This case has implications for the whole country, especially those of us who express opinions that aren’t politically correct in our current climate,” said Kemper, the founder of Stand True Prolife Outreach. “But it was also important to me, personally, because my son Jaemison, who was 7 at the time, was with me, and I wanted him to see that we can fight against injustice, and we can win.”
Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, commented: “Free speech is protected precisely because it can make people so angry that they will try to shut up the speaker. This case shows that the protection still works, and we need to use it!”
PRIESTS FOR LIFE OFFERS CONGRATULATIONS TO POPE FRANCIS I
Priests for Life + 3/13/2013
STATEN ISLAND, NY -- Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, issued the following statement on the selection of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as Pope Francis I.
“Priests for Life is delighted at the selection of Pope Francis I and we are assured that the sanctity of all human life will be a top priority for this Pope, as it has been for his predecessors. We look forward to working under the leadership of the new Pope to advance the Culture of Life."
Leaders of ministries and outreaches under the Priests for Life umbrella also had words of praise for the new Pope.
Father Victor Salomon, Director of Hispanic Outreach for Priests for Life, said the election of Cardinal Bergoglio and his choice of the name Francis represents “a new wind of the Holy Spirit.”
“Pope Francis I is an intellectual but he is also a very humble man,” Father Salomon said. “And he is passionately pro-life. In the cathedral in Buenos Aires, he offered blessings to expectant mothers. And on Holy Thursday one year, he washed the feet of a pregnant woman. He is aware of the need for there to be a renewal inside the Church on the issue of abortion.”
Bryan Kemper, Youth Outreach Director for Priests for Life, also expressed his excitement about the new Pope.
"I stand with Catholic youth around the world praying for Pope Francis,” Kemper said. “I am excited for his leadership and committed to continuing to share the message of life that is so central to our Church."
Marie Smith, director of the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues, said: “The inspired selection of Pope Francis is most welcome and exciting news as we face increasing pressure in Latin America from radical forces intent on destroying the culture of life. Responses from contacts in Argentina comment on the new Pope’s simplicity of style, attention to his role as pastor and focus on the social issues that challenge the region and the world today. We look forward to his leadership of the Church.”
Priests for Life is the nation's largest Catholic pro-life organization dedicated to ending abortion and euthanasia. For more information, visit www.priestsforlife.org.
In a statement Wednesday, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Philadelphia referred to newly elected Pope Francis as a man who could “speak to the modern heart.”
Pope Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, was elected pontiff Wednesday.
Philadelphia Archbishop Chaput spoke warmly of Pope Francis saying the new pope is “a priest of extraordinary intellectual and cultural strengths; a man deeply engaged in the issues of contemporary life and able to speak to the modern heart; open to the new realities the Church faces; and rooted in a deep love of Jesus Christ.”
Chaput said he even met Pope Francis during Rome’s 1997 Synod for America and received a gift from him, which he still has.
“...a portrait of Mary, the mother of Jesus, on my desk,” Chaput said.
“He is a wonderful choice,” Chaput said Wednesday, “a pastor God sends not just to the Church but to every person of good will who honestly yearns for justice, peace and human dignity in our time. May God grant him courage and joy, and sustain him with his divine presence.”
WILL POPE FRANCIS I ATTEND "THE WORLD MEETING OF FAMILIES' IN PHILADELPHIA?
MARCH 1, 2013 + FOR YOUR MARRIAGE
Will the church’s soon-to-be-elected new pope pay a visit to the United States during autumn’s first days in 2015? Many are hoping and even predicting that the eighth World Meeting of Families will lead him to Philadelphia at that time.
Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia confirmed during a Feb. 25 news conference that the world meeting will take place in that city Sept. 22-27, 2015. Pope Benedict XVI earlier announced Philadelphia as the event’s site during the Mass concluding the June 2012 world meeting in Milan, Italy.
A World Meeting of Families has “the power to transform, in deeply positive ways, not just the spirit of Catholic life in our region, but the whole public community. We’re excited to officially begin this journey,” the archbishop said.
He described the upcoming meeting as “a gift not just to Catholics in Philadelphia.” In fact, he said, “everyone with a generous heart is welcome to be a part of it.”
Pope Benedict always viewed “the strength of the family as a guarantee of human maturity and freedom,” Archbishop Chaput pointed out. He added, “The more we encourage and support the integrity of families, the healthier society becomes.”
A World Meeting of Families has taken place every three years since 1994, when Rome hosted the first of these gatherings, established by Pope John Paul II. But no U.S. city previously has hosted the world meeting.
Mexico City hosted the 2009 meeting. The others – in addition to Milan in 2012, and Rome in 1994 –took place in Valencia, Spain (2006), Manila, Philippines (2003), Rome (2000) and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (1997).
The Pontifical Council for the Family sponsors the meetings. It is expected that the Philadelphia meeting will attract tens of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands, of participants from throughout North America and the world.
Already a meeting website has been established (www.worldmeeting2015.org). It invites site visitors to check back often for additional information on registering for the meeting, accommodations and other background materials.
The Family’s Challenging Vocation
Each World Meeting of Families, through a chosen theme, emphasizes the good news of the family and highlights its intrinsic value to society, Archbishop Chaput said.
He explained that an event “of this magnitude” demands a great deal of planning and work,” which is why Pope Benedict “set the date before” his resignation took effect.
The main events at each World Meeting include an international theological congress, a vigil and a closing Mass. During the vigil, called an Evening of Witness, couples and families from around the world share testimonies on marriage and family life, and ask questions of the pope, if he is in attendance. The concluding Mass on Sunday can attract upwards of one million people.
In his homily at the Mass in Milan, the pope told families their “vocation is not easy to live, especially today.” But, he said, “the vocation to love is a wonderful thing, it is the only force that can truly transform the cosmos, the world.”
Families, said the pope, should be certain that insofar as they live their “love for each other and for all with the help of God’s grace,” they will “become a living Gospel, a true domestic church.”
The 2012 meeting’s theme, “Work and Celebration,” invited participants to reflect profoundly on the relationship between workplace demands and their family life and leisure.
Ways to better balance work and home life, and to foster understanding of family needs in the workplace were among the meeting’s goals. A concern addressed was that life’s moments of celebration, including Sundays, not be crowded out by workplace pressures.
A spokesman for the Philadelphia Archdiocese said the theme for the 2015 Philadelphia meeting has not yet been determined. Its choice awaits a new pope’s election, it was indicated.
Archbishop Chaput did not know why Pope Benedict chose Philadelphia for this event. “His Holiness didn’t tell me, so I don’t know,” he said. But during his press conference he told reporters it is “helpful to remember that Philadelphia is uniquely rich in America’s history.”
It was in Philadelphia that “the United States began as a nation, and the political ideals conceived in Philadelphia have served human rights, human freedom and human dignity for more than two centuries,” the archbishop commented. He said Pope Benedict “has spoken about all these issues, especially religious liberty, many times.”
Archbishop Chaput also called Philadelphia “an American Catholic icon,” noting its “two great American saints, Mother Katharine Drexel and Bishop John Neumann, a great church legacy of Catholic education and many decades of service to immigrants, minorities, the hungry and the poor.”
That kind of service continues “in all our Catholic social ministries,” and we’re very proud of the Catholic Church in Philadelphia, he said.
The church in Philadelphia also is “a community in need of healing and renewal. We have a very serious duty to help persons who have been hurt in the past to heal, and to better protect children and young people moving forward,” the archbishop told reporters.
Beyond that “important duty,” he said the church “still has the obligation to preach Jesus Christ. She still has the duty to help people find God and to live their faith with joy and conviction.”
Archbishop Chaput thinks Catholics in Philadelphia and everywhere “long for a chance to show their love of God and his church to the world, to deepen God’s presence in their own families and to share Jesus Christ with a world that urgently needs him.”
Because of that, “with the help of God, and if we’re faithful to the tasks this great effort requires, the World Meeting of Families in 2015 will achieve everything it needs to accomplish and everything God intends,” he said.
(Vatican Radio) A man who cooks for himself, takes public transport rather than using cars and who is a simple pastor. This is the portrait of Pope Francis I painted by a fellow Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, Holy See Press Office Director, in the immediate aftermath of the announcement that “Padre Jorge” - as he was known in Buenos Aires among his faithful - had been elected Pope.
In an impromptu Press Briefing, Fr. Lombardi noted that this first Jesuit Pope, in true Ignatian Spirit is a first of all, a servant of the Church. Moreover he said, Jesuits “have an international vision, to serve wherever they are needed”. He also admitted his personal shock to have a Jesuit Pope: “Jesuits think of themselves servants, not authorities in the church”.
One of Pope Francis’ first acts was to phone Benedict XVI, Pope emeritus. Fr. Lombardi confirmed that the Mass for the inauguration of the Petrine Ministry will be held March 19TH , the feast of St. Joseph, at 09:30 Rome time.
He also confirmed that the Mass for the closure of Conclave will be at 17:00 Thursday in the Sistine Chapel. On Friday, at 11 a.m., there will be an audience with the College of Cardinals in the Clementine Hall.
Then on Saturday 11 a.m. Pope Francis I will have audience with all journalists and media covering conclave- an announcement greeted with a round of applause in the briefing hall. And finally on Sunday Pope Francis will recite Angelus at noon.
Thursday, Pope Francis will make a private visit to a sanctuary of Our Lady on Thursday March 14th, but details will be released only when this visit is over.
TWO NEW LAWSUITS AGAINST OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OVER BENGHAZI SECRECY
by TOM FITTON 13 Mar 2013, 9:24 AM PDT
Six months have passed since the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, which killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, and we are no closer to the truth about what happened. And there is only one reason: Obama secrecy.
You’ve watched the Obama administration trot out witnesses before congressional committees investigating the attacks. You’ve watched Obama officials make the rounds on the Sunday morning talk shows. But all we have in the end is more lies and more stonewalling and more broken promises to “get to the bottom of it.”
And then there’s the effort by the Obama administration to shield the documentary evidence from the American people. This is where Judicial Watch is focusing its attention. We recently filed two lawsuits against the Obama State Department to try to gain access to records that could shed light on what happened that day, who responded, and how.
First, we sued the State Department seeking “all videos and photographs” depicting the Benghazi, Libya, Consulate between September 10 and September 13, 2012, the period leading up to, during, and immediately following the deadly attack.
Specifically, Judicial Watch seeks the following records pursuant to its December 19, 2012, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request:
Any and all videos and photographs depicting U.S. Consulate facilities in Benghazi, Libya (including the Special Mission Compound and the Annex) between September 10, 2012, and September 13, 2012, that were provided to the Accountability Review Board (ARB) for Benghazi and/or to any individual member of the ARB.
The State Department acknowledged receiving the Judicial Watch FOIA request on January 4, 2013, and was required by law to respond by February 4, 2013. So far, nothing but crickets.
Now, the Obama administration can’t claim it came up empty in trying to locate the records. We know they exist because they are referenced by the ARB, which was convened by then Secretary of State Clinton last December, in its final report.
In fact, according to ARB Chairman Ambassador Tom Pickering, the Board “reviewed thousands of documents and watched hours of video” during the course of its investigation. The Obama administration also reportedly shared Benghazi video with certain members of Congress. The State Department, however, has refused to comply with our FOIA seeking access to these materials on behalf of the American people.
It’s an easy guess as to why the Obama administration is refusing to turn these records over. Any video or photos will tell us more about Benghazi--in contrast to the lies and spin coming out of Obama administration officials.
Now, in our second FOIA lawsuit against the Obama State Department, we’re seeking access to records concerning a contract totaling nearly $400,000 that was awarded to a foreign firm for “Security Guards and Patrol Services” at the Benghazi Consulate prior to the Benghazi attacks. This contract was signed on February 17, 2012 and May 3, 2012 and, at the time, identified only as “Award ID SAQMMA12COO92”. Judicial Watch filed its lawsuit on February 25, 2013.
Specifically, here’s what we’re after pursuant to our November 7, 2012, FOIA request:
Any and all records regarding, concerning, or related to the $387,413.68 contract awarded by the Department of State to an unidentified foreign awardee for “Security Guards and Patrol Services.” According to the record of this expenditure on USASpending.gov, the contract was signed on February 17, 2012 and May 3, 2012 and is identified by Award ID SAQMMA12COO92.
The State Department acknowledged receiving the November 7, 2012, Judicial Watch FOIA request on November 12, 2012, and was required by law to respond by December 20, 2012, at the latest. Yet again, as of the date of Judicial Watch’s lawsuit, State failed to produce any records responsive to the request, indicate when any responsive records will be produced, or demonstrate that responsive records are exempt from production.
Why are we suspicious of this contract?
According to Breitbart News, when first questioned about foreign Benghazi security guards on Friday, September 14, 2012, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland emphatically denied that State had hired any private firm to provide security at the American mission in Benghazi:
QUESTION: (Inaudible) the claim was made yesterday that a company that is a spinoff of Blackwater, in fact, proposed or contracted the United States Government for this particular kind of eventuality, and it was caught up in some sort of bureaucratic –
MS. NULAND: Completely untrue with regard to Libya. I checked that this morning. At no time did we plan to hire a private security company for Libya.
QUESTION: Toria (stet), I just want to make sure I understood that, because I didn’t understand your first question. You said – your first answer. You said that at no time did you have contracts with private security companies in Libya?
MS. NULAND: Correct.
However, on September 17, 2012, WIRED magazine broke the story that Nuland had provided apparently false information in her September 14 press conference, saying: “Contrary to Friday’s claim by State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland that ‘at no time did we contract with a private security firm in Libya,’ the department inked a contract for ‘security guards and patrol services’ on May 3, 2012, for $387,413.68. An extension option brought the tab for protecting the consulate to $783,000. The contract lists only ‘foreign security awardees’ as its recipient.”
In her daily press briefing on Tuesday, September 18, 2012 Nuland admitted that she had made an “error” concerning the State Department’s hiring of foreign security firms in Benghazi. “There was a group called Blue Mountain Group, which is a private security company with permits to operate in Libya,” Nuland said. “They were hired to provide local Libyan guards who operated inside the gate doing things like operating the security access equipment, screening cars, that kind of thing.”
According to Breitbart News, Blue Mountain was chosen for the Benghazi security operation because it was willing to sign the State Department Rules of Engagement for Libya prohibiting guards from carrying weapons with live ammunition.
The American people deserve to know the full story of what occurred at the Benghazi Consulate. The Obama State Department continues to keep secret records that could shed light on the events surrounding the terrorist attack. And we are trying to bust through the Obama administration’s stone wall.
The two new FOIA lawsuits bring our total Benghazi-gate count to three. You may recall we filed a separate FOIA lawsuit seeking access to the controversial internal “speaking points” used by the Obama administration in the days following the attacks when administration officials advanced the false narrative that the attacks were inspired by a rudimentary Internet video perceived as anti-Muslim. There could be more.
Meanwhile, some Republicans in Congress continue to try to seek access to people who might actually tell the truth about what happened on the ground that day--the survivors. Unfortunately, the Obama administration continues to keep them sequestered.
Frankly, I don’t trust the Republicans to be dogged about this issue. You may recall that Obama’s nomination of John Brennan to run the CIA was going to be used by Republicans like Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) to get the truth out about Benghazi. Didn’t happen. Brennan was confirmed yesterday and the only impediment was an extraordinary filibuster by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who was pushing concerns about drone policy. Incredibly, Graham and McCain voted to confirm Brennan!
I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. Truth fears no inquiry. The Obama administration truly fears the release of information about Benghazi. That’s the reason for the doctored speaking points, the FOIA denials and the outright lies. They are hoping we will stop caring and just go away. That’s not going to happen.
PENTAGON CREATING TEAMS TO LAUNCH CYBERATTACKS AS THREAT GROWS
By Ellen Nakashima, Updated: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 * Washington Post
The Pentagon’s Cyber Command will create 40 offensive cyber-teams by the fall of 2015 to help defend the nation against major computer attacks and assist combat commands as they plan offensive capabilities, Gen. Keith Alexander testified to Congress on Tuesday.
The new teams are part of a broader government effort to shield the nation from destructive attacks over the Internet that could harm Wall Street or knock out electric power, for instance.
Some teams are already in place, he said, to focus on “the most serious threats,” which he did not identify.
But Alexander warned that budget cuts will undermine the effort to build up these forces even as foreign threats to the nation’s critical computer systems intensify. And he urged Congress to pass legislation to enable the private sector to share computer threat data with the government without fear of being sued.
As he moves into his eighth year as director of the National Security Agency and his third year as head of the fledgling Cyber Command, Alexander told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the strategic threat picture is worsening. “We’ve seen the attacks on Wall Street over the last six months grow significantly,” he said, noting there were more than 160 disruptive attacks on banks in that period.
Describing an attack on Saudi Arabia’s national oil company, he said: “Last summer, in August, we saw a destructive attack on Saudi Aramco, where the data on over 30,000 systems were destroyed. And if you look at industry, especially the anti-virus community and others, they believe it’s going to grow more in 2013. And there’s a lot that we need to do to prepare for this. “
The U.S. intelligence community has indicated that the assaults on the banks and Saudi Aramco were the work of Iran in retaliation for U.S. financial sanctions imposed to deter Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapons program.
Alexander’s remarks came as U.S. intelligence officials elsewhere on the Hill testified about the growing cyberthreat. At a national security threat hearing, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. called on China to stop its “cyber-stealing” of corporate secrets from U.S. networks.
Alexander said that 13 of the new cyber-teams would defend against destructive attacks. “I would like to be clear that this team . . . is an offensive team,” he said, in a rare admission that the military has developed the capacity to conduct offensive cyberattacks.
The other 27 teams would support commands such as Pacific Command and Central Command as they plan offensive cyber-capabilities. Separate teams would focus on protecting the Defense Department’s computer networks. He said the first third of the forces, which officials have said will total several thousand civilians and uniformed personnel, will be in place by September and the second third a year later.
But Alexander said uncertainty over the budget is having an impact on the ability to fill out the teams. About 25 percent of Cyber Command’s budget is being held up by congressional wrangling over the fiscal 2013 budget, he said. And across-the-board budget cuts that took effect March 1 are forcing civilian furloughs. “By singling out the civilian workforce, we’ve done a great disservice,” said Alexander, noting that one-third of the command workforce is made up of Air Force civilians.
He said that some cyber-recruits have taken a salary cut to work for the government, only to be faced with a furlough. “That’s the wrong message to send people we want to stay in the military acting in these career fields.”
The attacks hitting the banks are “distributed denial of service attacks” — or barrages of network traffic against Web site servers — that are best handled by the Internet service providers, he said. The issue is “when does a nuisance become a real problem” that forces the government to act, he said. The administration is debating that now, he said.
To detect major attacks on industry, the department needs to see them coming in real time, Alexander said. The Internet service providers are best positioned to provide that visibility, but they lack the authority to share attack data with the government, he said. In particular, he said, the companies need legal protection against lawsuits for sharing the data.
By Zeke Miller March 12, 2013 + TIME MAGAZINE - SWAMPLAND
The Republican National Committee is taking a page out of President Barack Obama’s re-election playbook, looking to Silicon Valley to find a technological guru to reinvent the Party’s digital efforts.
Even before the official review of its 2012 failures was in, Republican Party chairman Reince Priebus visited the nation’s technology mecca earlier this year to learn more about integrating technology into all aspects of the Grand Old Party after Obama’s crack team trounced Mitt Romney’s efforts on the web. A group of top operatives and officials will release their complete examination of what the party did wrong on Monday in Washington.
Implementing the recommendations of the review, the Party is also looking to hire a Chief Technology Officer from Silicon Valley or the “private data world” by May 1 to begin the process of bringing the party up to speed by the 2016 presidential race.
“We’re committed to doing what no other party committee has done by restructuring our data and digital teams to be the central focus of the RNC and integrated into everything we do,” Priebus said in a statement to TIME. “We need to change how we are communicating with every community across America and this is a big step in that direction.”
According to a Party spokesperson, one responsibility of the Republican CTO will be to “develop digital campaign colleges in ‘high tech’ cities” to build relationships between the party and the technology industry.
In 2011, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina met with executives of some of the nation’s leading tech firms both to recruit talent and to learn best-practices of modeling a campaign after a tech start-up — with detail including seating strategies and the best flooring to promote collaboration.
The Republican effort doesn’t appear to be as all-encompassing, but is seen internally as the first step toward recovering from their defeat.
The full list of technological priorities from the RNC:
1. Recruit and hire chief technology and digital officer before May 1 to fundamentally change the role of digital, technology and data at the party committee level
2. Task this chief technology officer to integrate digital, technology and data teams at the RNC
3. Craft budget that integrates digital, technology and data into the entire RNC organization
4. Create internal staff training programs to bolster digital capabilities across all RNC staff/departments
5. Expand RNC Political Education to develop digital campaign colleges in “high tech” cities to foster relationships within the tech community
6. Road show to ensure state parties, campaigns and activists understand how data and digital can benefit them and educate them on what the RNC has to offer
7. Develop and test political technologies dedicated to driving voter turnout in the 2013-2014 cycle
INSPECTOR GENERAL REPORT: OBAMA'S JUSTICE DEPARTMENT VOTING UNIT BLANTANTLY PARTISAN & CORRUPT
Tuesday, 12,March 2013 + NEWSMAX.COM
A Justice Department report released on Tuesday described the work environment of a part of the department’s Civil Rights Division as dysfunctional and found a longstanding pattern of unprofessional conduct.
The 258-page report on the division’s Voting Section may make it difficult for Thomas Perez, who is expected to be nominated as labor secretary by President Barack Obama, The Wall Street Journal reports. Perez heads the Civil Rights Division.
“Given the troubling history of polarization in the Voting Section, Division leadership needs to promote impartiality, continuity, and professionalism as critical values in the Voting Section, and leadership and career staff alike must embrace a culture where ideological diversity is viewed as beneficial and dissenting viewpoints in internal deliberations are welcomed and respected,” the inspector general’s report concluded.
“We also believe that leadership and career staff must be continually mindful of the need to ensure the public’s confidence in the Voting Section’s impartiality.
“We were surprised and dismayed at the amount of blatantly partisan political commentary that we found in e-mails sent by some Voting Section employees on department computers,” the report said.
The inspector general’s report said the unprofessionalism of the Voting Section continued after Perez took over in 2009, The Journal reports. It had begun during the George W. Bush White House, the report said.
The investigation stemmed from GOP legislators’ questions about polarization within the section, which enforces voting-rights laws and other issues, The Journal reports.
But Perez wrote investigators, saying that he had inherited a section with low morale as a result of improper conduct by those hired under President Bush.
He said that both he and the Obama administration have taken several steps to raise the level of professionalism in the office, The Journal reports.
Posted 03/11/2013 06:32 PM ET + INVESTORS DAILY EDITORIALS
Principle: From fighting on the sequester to refusing to accept ObamaCare as a permanent fixture, Republicans are finding that truth-telling carries political benefits. The White House, meanwhile, is off balance.
When President Obama proposed sweeping budget differences under the rug in 2011 by offering congressional Republicans a Gramm-Rudman-style sequester that would cut discretionary spending across the board,both the White House and GOP negotiators were certain it would never be triggered.
When it became clear this year the sequester would indeed happen, the president was certain Republicans would blink. He had the advantage, after all, of the bully pulpit. All he would have to do is paint a rhetorical picture of insensitive Republicans finally making their dreams of throwing grandma into the snow a reality.
But as Michael Barone notes nearby, "Republicans didn't deal. They decided to take the sequester cuts and make them the basis for a continuing resolution funding the government for the rest of the fiscal year."
Calling the president's bluff has swung the spotlight back on him. A sizable drop in presidential popularity suggests the public thinks maybe a federal government that spends over $3.8 trillion can survive with $16.5 billion less. And that maybe a president so fond of reminding everyone of how smart he is can find some tiny cuts.
Republicans are finding they have nothing to fear from the truth. Beyond the fact of sequester not being Armageddon, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., actually will propose a 2014 budget on Wednesday that assumes repeal of ObamaCare.
ObamaCare won't work, last year's GOP vice-presidential nominee argues, because it "will actually lead to hospitals and doctors and health care providers turning people away" and "it's going to look very ugly over the next couple of years," he said on Fox News Sunday.
Instead, "we're going to propose replacing Obama-Care with patient centered health care —with a better health care system for everybody," Ryan vowed.
The next day, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., appearing on MSNBC, joined Ryan in arguing that "the cost estimate of ObamaCare is grossly understated," that "far more Americans are going to lose their employer-sponsored care because there are incentives for employers to drop their coverage and make their employees eligible for huge subsidies and exchanges," leading to exploding deficits, rationing and a lower quality of care.
Who expected such audacity from a party that just four months ago lost a presidential election it expected to win, and should have won?
The dominant media have incessantly insisted that the double blow of the Supreme Court last summer upholding ObamaCare's constitutionality and Obama's re-election renders the law permanent.
But by adhering to truth — that ObamaCare will fail, and people will see it failing as it is implemented — they are reviving the chance to repeal it.
On that and on opposing government spendaholism, Republicans will increasingly find that truth is their political ally.
SEC FINDING ON ILLINOIS PENSION WARNING TO OTHER STATES
By CHRISS W. STREET + March 12, 2013 + Breitbart
The United States Securities & Exchange Commission determined that the State of Illinois violated Federal Securities Laws by misstating the true financial health of the State's depleted pension funds when it raised over $2.2 billion with multiple bond offerings from 2005 through early 2009.
The SEC blamed the State’s historical failure to fund its pension systems caused the pension to be only 43% funded and the State exposed to an $83 unfunded liability. Former Democratic Governor from 2003 to 2009, Rod Blagojevich, was unable to provide any comment.
In March of last year he began serving a 14-year sentence in Federal prison for conviction on unrelated charges for soliciting of bribes while in public office for political appointments including the vacant U.S. Senate seat of President Barack Obama.
The State of Illinois funds five retirement systems that pay defined-benefit pension payments upon retirement, death, or disability to public employees and their beneficiaries. The systems include the Illinois State Teachers’ Retirement System, State Universities Retirement System, the State Employees’ Retirement System, Judges’ Retirement System, and the General Assembly Retirement System.
The pension plans were required by law collect contributions from employees and employers, but the State chose to subsidize employees by paying most of the required contributions.
In 1994 the pension plans were significantly underfunded. Rather than requiring the immediate funding of through direct contributions, the Illinois Legislature passed the Pension Funding Act (“Funding Plan”) to establish a 50-year pension contribution schedule that allowed the State to slowly increase pension contribution increases over a fifteen-year “ramp” period, then make a large percentage annual payroll contribution each year from 2011 to 2045.
The SEC found that the State of Illinois failed to disclose to investors “material information” regarding the continuous underfunding of their pension systems and the resulting risks to the State’s financial solvency. The scheme underfunded the State’s pension obligations in the early years and back-loaded the majority of pension contributions far out into the future. The Funding Plan also allowed the State to take “Pension Holidays” with no funding during 2006 and 2007. The State of Illinois hid from investors the effect of these funding changes on their ability to pay pension obligations.
In anticipation of the institution of potential civil and criminal charges, the State of Illinois submitted an Offer of Settlement that admitted wrongdoing and consented to an SEC “Cease-and-Desist” Order for violating the Securities Act of 1933.
In what is a direct warning to other state and local public pension plans; SEC Enforcement Director George S. Canellos stated: “Municipal investors are no less entitled to truthful risk disclosures than other investors.”
Elaine Greenberg, Chief of SEC Municipal Securities and Public Pensions Unit, added, “Regardless of the funding methodology they choose, municipal issuers must provide accurate and complete pension disclosures including the effects of material changes to their pension plans. Public pension disclosure by municipal issuers continues to be a top priority of the unit.”
Although agreeing to the securities fraud doesn't subject the State to any SEC fines or penalties, it provides a road-map for class-action lawsuits against the State of Illinois for financial misdeeds.
A spokesman for Illinois Governor Quinn's budget office said Illinois has "cooperated fully" with the SEC during its inquiry and “neither admits nor denies the findings in the order.” Given the dubious funding level of public pension plans in states like California, politicians and public pension executives had better start “lawyering-up”.
May 15-17, 2013 Moscone Center San Francisco, CA, United States
Google IO 2013 will be held in San Francisco, CA, United States on May 15-17, 2013.
Google IO 2013 is a technical conference and exhibition that provides content featuring Android, Google Chrome, Google APIs, GWT, App Engine, open web technologies, and more.
Google IO 2013 features around 80 sessions, more than 3,000 developers, and over 100 demonstrations from developers showcasing their technologies. Talk shop with engineers building the next generation of web, mobile, and enterprise applications.
MAY 12TH WORLD DAY AGAINST CYBER-CENSORSHIP * REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS SLAMS FIVE NATIONS FOR SPYING ON MEDIA, ACTIVISTS
THE PRESS FREEDOM ADVOCATE CALLED FOR MORE HARMONIZED CONTROLS OVER THE EXPORT OF SPYING TECHNOLOGY & PRIVATE CONSUMER DATA GATHERING
By Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service March 11, 2013 09:21 PM ET
IDG News Service - Reporters Without Borders named five countries that regularly spy on journalists and dissidents, a practice the group contends is made possible with advanced technology from private companies.
The Paris-based group, which is an international advocate for press freedom, labeled Syria, China, Iran, Bahrain and Vietnam as "enemies of the internet" in a new report for their alleged increased online surveillance.
The group timed the release of its report with the World Day Against Cyber Censorship, and said that around 180 people are imprisoned worldwide for delivering news online.
"Surveillance in these countries targets dissidents and has grown in recent months," RSF said. "Cyberattacks and intrusions, including the use of malware against dissidents and their networks, are on the increase."
RSF charged the surveillance is made possible through equipment supplied by technology companies, including Gamma International, Trovicor, Hacking Team, Amesys and Blue Coat Systems. The companies should know their products could be misused if sold to certain countries, RSF said.
And if their products were sold by an intermediary, "their failure to keep track of the exports of their own software means they did not care if their technology was misused and did not care about the vulnerability of those who defend human rights," RSF said.
The group called for the introduction of controls around the export of surveillance tools. It praised the U.S. and European Union for banning the export of spying software to Iran and Syria, but said there should be a more harmonized approach.
RSF said the types of products the companies produce fall into two categories: equipment used for large-scale monitoring of Internet activity and spyware, used for targeting individuals.
Efforts to reach the companies were not immediately successful. Blue Coat, based in the U.S., has been repeatedly criticized since the company admitted in late 2011 that some of its Web-filtering products ended up in Syria despite a U.S. embargo.
Gamma International, based in the U.K. and Germany, develops an interception tool intended for law enforcement called FinFisher. Gamma contested findings last year from researchers that FinFisher had been sold to Bahrain's government to target activists.
Trovicor, based in Munich, Germany, and Hacking Team, based in Milan, Italy, both make interception-related software. Amesys of France was found to have sold its EAGLE software, which analyzes Web traffic, to Libya during the Gaddafi regime, RSF said in its report.
RSF said that in general spying software can access hard disks, recover passwords and access messages on instant-messaging platforms as well as monitor VOIP (voice over Internet protocol) conversations.
The tools have legitimate purposes for fighting cybercrime, but when used by authoritarian regimes "can be turned into formidable censorship and surveillance weapons against human rights defenders and independent news providers."
"The lack of legislation and oversight of trade in these 'digital weapons' allows authoritarian governments to identify critical journalists and citizen journalists and go after them," RSF said.
RSF has published an "online survival kit" with tools and tips for activists and journalists to better safeguard their privacy.
Even RSF itself has proved a target. In January, the group's website was hacked and rigged to attack the computers of people visiting the site. Hackers often target websites that attract a particular type of visitor.
Send news tips and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk
CORDRAY CFPB NOMINATION 'SACKED' AS UNITED STATES SENATORS REFUSE TO NEGOTIATE
By Cheyenne Hopkins March 11, 2013 4:18 PM EDT
A U.S. Senate hearing tomorrow on Richard Cordray’s second nomination to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will probably be less about his leadership than Republican distaste for the bureau itself.
Cordray faces a pledge by 43 Republican senators -- enough to prevent a floor vote -- to block his confirmation unless Democrats agree to structural changes to the bureau, created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. Their position hardened after a federal court ruling raised questions about the validity of President Barack Obama’s 2012 recess appointment of Cordray to direct the bureau after Republicans blocked his first nomination.
The parties are refusing to negotiate as they await further court rulings.
“There are legitimate arguments on both sides but until you have a court ruling I can’t see a lot of pressure on either side to compromise,” said Joseph Engelhard, a former Treasury official who is now senior vice president at Capital Alpha Partners LLC, an investment advisory firm.
The structural changes demanded by Republicans include putting the bureau under the control of a bipartisan commission and subjecting its budget to the congressional appropriations process. The agency’s budget is now linked to the Federal Reserve.
“Until key structural changes are made to the bureau to ensure accountability and transparency, I will continue my opposition to any nominee for director,” Senator Michael Crapo, a Republican from Idaho and the ranking member on the banking committee, said in a statement.
Democrats contend that the time for such debates ended when the bureau was approved by Congress.
“There is simply no proof that structural changes to the CFPB are necessary, and demanding changes is just politics at play,” Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson said in a statement. “It is time to confirm Rich Cordray as the CFPB director to give the American people the protections they deserve and the marketplace the certainty it needs to help strengthen our economic recovery.”
Cordray, 53, made no mention of the court challenge or Republican’s structural change demands in testimony prepared for tomorrow’s hearing.
“As the economy recovers, we want people to know they now have a new agency standing on their side, looking out for their interests, to help restore their confidence in the consumer financial marketplace,” Cordray said.
Cordray can be confirmed by a majority vote, but to call the vote on the Senate floor, Democrats need 60 members’ support. With 55 members in the Senate’s Democratic caucus, five Republicans would have to break ranks to allow a vote.
The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington overturned the validity of three National Labor Relations Board recess appointments made at the same time as Cordray’s, making him vulnerable to a similar legal challenge. An invalidation of of Cordray’s appointment would threaten the legitimacy pf agency’s regulations and enforcement actions under his leadership.
“President Obama clearly took things too far violating the longstanding procedure for recess appointments,” Senator David Vitter, a Republican from Louisiana, said in an e-mail. “This will have an impact on Richard Cordray and the CFPB because the facts are exactly the same as the NLRB.”
The two parties are “deadlocked until a court rules on Cordray,” said Mark Calabria, a former Senate Republican staffer and director of financial regulation studies at the Cato Institute. He said Republicans were emboldened since the labor board decision.
“If a court rules against Cordray or it goes to the Supreme Court and it rules against Cordray, it will force Democrats to come to the table. But they won’t do anything until that happens.”
Jaret Seiberg, senior policy analyst at Washington Research Group, a unit of Guggenheim Securities LLC, said a problem with waiting on the court is that a final decision may not come until the end of the year.
“There’s an obvious middle ground that you change the structure but leave the funding in place,” Seiberg said. “I think that’s eventually where we get but we are less optimistic that the Senate will get there quickly. This could easily drag out until 2014.”
Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee says he sees hope for compromise. He and Senator Rob Portman of Ohio were the only Republicans not to sign the Feb. 1 pledge to block any CFPB nominee absent the structural and funding changes.
“The administration if they wanted to solve this could easily do it and still have a very robust entity,” Corker said in an interview. “I know that they know it could easily be solved.”
On Feb. 14, a group of 54 Senate Democrats sent the president a letter noting their support of Cordray and opposition to any structural changes to the consumer bureau. The nomination of Cordray and structural changes to the CFPB should not be tied together, they said.
“The precedent Republicans are setting with Cordray is a terrible precedent,” Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio, said in an interview. According to Brown, Senate historians say this is the first time in the chamber’s history “where one party said no to a nominee because they don’t like the agency and the agency is the law.”
Senator Jack Reed, a Democrat from Rhode Island, said the structural changes and his nomination should not be linked.
“If there’s reasonable suggestions that can be met, they should be met,” he said. If Republicans are saying, “he’s hostage to our dislike, retroactively, of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, I don’t think that’s qualifies,” Reed said in an interview.
Democrats have used Cordray’s record as CFPB director, including setting mortgage underwriting and servicing standards and settlements with credit card companies, as a positive reason for his confirmation.
Lawmakers who opposed the creation of the consumer bureau for fear that it would “be an agency run amok” must by now see “that has not proven to be the case,” Senator Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, said in an interview.
“I don’t think I’ve heard either side, Democrat or Republican, anyone having concerns about his character, the job he’s done,” said Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat. “They’re concerned about putting so much power” in a single director. “But the bottom line is he’s still responsive and has to be responsive with us.”
Brian Gardner, senior vice president for Washington research at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc., said there is “no reason to believe” Cordray’s chances at confirmation are any better this time than during his last nomination.
“If Richard Cordray withdrew his nomination tomorrow and the administration nominated someone else he would run into exactly the same road block,” Gardner said. “It has very little to do with him.”
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