Sunday, April 27, 2014

PNN - Progressive Journalists

PNN  - 4/27/14 - Our Guests - Our Stories

RWS                             -  7:01 - 7:15
SEIU                             -  7:16 - 7:28
Shawna Vercher        -   7:29 - 7:59
Luis Cuevas                -   8pm - 8:20
Steve Horn                 -   8:21 - 8:41
Tony Noel                   -   8:42 - 8:58pm

0. A Spanish judge has just decided to proceed with a case against Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld, 
prosecuting them for torture at Guantanamo. The Spanish legislature can be expected to try to block the case, 
unless perhaps they hear our voices loudly and clearly enough. 

We began this effort in 2011, visiting Spanish embassies, generating media and placing advertisements in Spain, and communicating our appreciation for Spanish efforts to prosecute U.S. torturers. Now we need another big push.

1. President Obama and Secretary Vilsack:  Kill the Filthy Chicken Rule.
Only Superman could inspect 175 chickens per minute. Eliminating government inspectors and replacing them with chicken company employees may save a few dollars, but at too high a price.

Do you want chicken factories inspected by the poultry companies who own them—while feces-filled birds, doused with chemicals, zoom through the assembly line at three per second? That could be the future, if we don’t act now.  

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering a rule change that would privatize poultry inspection—allowing companies to inspect chicken and turkey carcasses themselves.

What happens if birds are contaminated with feces? The rule allows companies to douse them with more chemicals, while jacking up assembly line speeds to three birds per second.
USDA will be finalizing a decision soon, so we must act now. Please sign this petition to President Obama and Agriculture Tom Vilsack: Reject the “filthy chicken rule.”

On Monday, April 14, the the Washington Post and the Guardian U.S. newspapers received the Pulitzer for Journalism Public Service for their reports on NSA spying. In light of their hard work, let's recap events of the last year.

Embarrassed and irritated by Edward Snowden's leaks, Obama charged last year at a press conference that Snowden was presenting a false picture of NSA by releasing parts of its work piecemeal: “... America is not interested in spying on ordinary people,” he assured us. The government, he went on, is not “listening in on people's phone calls or inappropriately reading people's emails.”

Six days later, a Washington Post headline declared: “NSA broke privacy rules thousands of times per year.” In an internal audit in May 2012 of its DC-area spy centers, the agency itself found 2,776 “incidences” of NSA overstepping its legal authority. As the American Civil Liberties Union noted, surveillance laws themselves “are extraordinarily permissive,” so it's doubly troubling that the agency is surging way past what it is already allowed to do. The ACLU adds that these reported incidents are not simply cases of one person's rights being violated – but thousands of Americans being snared, totally without cause, in the NSA's indiscriminate, computer-driven dragnet.

The agency's surveillance net stretches so wide that it is inherently abusive, even though its legal authority to spy on Americans is quite limited. U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner, the sponsor of the PATRIOT Act (which NSA cites as its super-vac authority), said that Congress intended that it should apply only to cases directly tied to national security investigations. No lawmaker, he said, meant that government snoops should be able to conduct a wholesale grab of Americans' phone, email and other personal records and then store them in huge databases to be searched at will.

Yet look at what NSA has become:

The three billion phone calls made in the U.S. each day are snatched up by the agency, which stores each call's metadata (phone numbers of the parties, date and time, length of call, etc.) for five years.

Each day telecom giants turn over metadata on every call they have processed.

Every out-of-country call and email from (or to) a U.S. citizen is grabbed by NSA computers, and agents are authorized to listen to or read any of them.

The agency searches for and seizes nearly everything we do on the Internet. Without bothering with the constitutional nicety of obtaining a warrant, its XKeyscore program scoops up some 40 billion Internet records every month and adds them to its digital storehouse, including our emails, Google searches, websites visited, Microsoft Word documents sent, etc. NSA's annual budget includes a quarter-billion dollars for “corporate-partner access” – i.e., payments to obtain this mass of material from corporate computers.

Snowden says that in his days as an analyst, he could sit at his computer and tap into any American's Internet activity – even the President's.

The sheer volume of information sucked up by the agency is so large that as of 2008, it maintained 150 data processing sites around the world.

NSA's budget is an official secret, but a Snowden document shows that it gets about $11 billion a year in direct appropriations, with more support funneled through the Pentagon and other agencies.

President Obama recently announced an “overhaul” of the NSA's collection of bulk phone records. The reform may require phone companies to store metadata it collects for 18 months for the NSA's use with the approval from a special court. This might sound reasonable, but it is still gathering bulk data on millions of innocent Americans – by corporations for the government. And what about Internet, email and other surveillance? NSA is too heavily vested in its programs; it is not going to give up spying on us.

Jim Hightower is the former Texas Agriculture Commissioner and is now a columnists for Creators Inc. Syndicate.

3. U.S. ground troops going to Poland, defense minister says 18 Apr 2014 Poland and the United States will announce next week the deployment of U.S. ground forces to Poland as part of an expansion of NATO presence in Central and Eastern Europe in response to events in Ukraine. That was the word from Poland's defense minister, Tomasz Siemoniak, who visited The Post Friday after meeting with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel at the Pentagon on Thursday. There will also be intensified cooperation in air defense, special forces, cyberdefense and other areas.

4. U.S. Plans Ground-Force Exercises in Eastern Europe --U.S. considering other ways to maintain regular ground-force presence in Eastern Europe 19 Apr 2014 The United States plans to carry out small ground-force exercises in Poland and Estonia, Western officials said Friday. It is not yet clear what additional troop deployments the United States and other NATO nations might undertake in Eastern Europe after the exercises. The exercise in Poland, which is expected to be announced next week, would involve a United States Army company and would last about two weeks, officials said. The exercise in Estonia would be similar, said a Western official who declined to be identified because he was talking about internal planning.

Is debate an unreasonable request?
I'll be unreasonable - like the factory workers who demanded safety after the TRIANGLE SHIRT FACTORY, I'm unreasonable like the radicals who opposed children in factory, I'm unreasonable like the workers who struck and earned the eight hour day and the forty hour week, who earned for all the lazy go-along get-alongs weekends and paid vacations, I'm unreasonable enough to demand again, CLEAN WATER, and HEALTHY AIR - and if fighting to keep money our of politics and MONSANTO off the Supreme Court and the FDA - COUNT ON ME TO BE UNREASONABLE - because I remember the promises of the candidate who was going to march with union brothers and sisters, who was going to make sure that instead of rebuilding Afghanistan, and Iraq we were going to rebuild AMERICAN infrastructure. I was in Denver I heard the promise of UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE ... RIGHT UP TO THE ELECTION and after I wiped the happy tears from my eyes I saw exactly who we'd elected. - So if I'm UNREASONABLE - call it my stress position and Eric Holder can celebrate it - Him and the boys from Wall Street who got the - I'm Above the LAW BADGES! - RWS

6. Biden in Ukraine
"And we recognize no sphere of influence, or no ability of any other nation to veto the choices an independent nation makes as to with whom and under what conditions they will associate.  We also do not believe in zero-sum thinking.  We do not believe that a partnership with one nation must come at the expense of another.  It has not.  It does not, and it will not.

As I said, referencing the Munich Security Conference just weeks after taking office, it holds true again -- I want to reemphasize it.  We reject the notion of spheres of influence as 19th century ideas that have no place in the 21st century.  And we stand by the principle that sovereign states have a right to make their own decisions, to chart their own foreign policy, to choose their own alliances. 
President Obama, in his speech in Moscow two weeks ago, strongly affirmed this principle.  He said, and I quote, "State sovereignty must be the cornerstone of international order.  Just as all states should have the right to choose their leaders, states must have the right to borders that are secure, and to their own foreign policies.  Any system that cedes those rights will lead to anarchy.  That is why this principle must apply to all nations, including Ukraine."
We also re-affirmed the security assurances that the United States, Russia and the United Kingdom provided Ukraine in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum."

7. Net Neutrality Away….
That, in a nutshell, is the Federal Communications Commission’s latest response to a bombshell court decision in January that blew apart its rules on “net neutrality” — the principle that internet service providers can’t favor one type of web traffic over another when they connect consumers to the internet.
According to the Wall Street Journal (sub req’d), the proposed rules the FCC will announce on Thursday will bar ISPs from discriminating against certain websites, but “allow content companies to pay Internet service providers for special access to consumers.” In plain English, this means that an ISP like Comcast can’t slow down traffic from Netflix — but that it could cut a deal with one of Netflix’s competitors to make that competitor’s traffic go faster.
If that sounds like a strange definition of net neutrality, you’re right: an ISP that gives faster treatment to some sites is no more neutral than one that slows down other sites. The measure comes after FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in February that the agency would not allow “blocking” or “discrimination.”
The FCC is now reportedly trying to maintain a semblance of neutrality by requiring that ISPs who offer a sweetheart traffic deal to one company must offer the same deal to others on “commercially reasonable” terms. This may sound reassuring, but it’s not.
The reality is that any competitor that wants to enforce the “commercially reasonable” rule will first have to wade through a slow and expensive legal swamp and, in any case, only the biggest of the big will have the means to sue in the first place. A small site that wants those “commercially reasonable terms?” Forget about it.
The horse has left the barn
In case you’re unfamiliar with this debacle, the reason that we’re even discussing “special access” in the first place is because the FCC bungled its own rule-making process in the first place. Specifically, the agency failed in 2002 to classify internet providers as “common carriers,”  which in turn led a Washington appeals court to rule in January that the FCC’s Open Internet Order of 2010 did not apply to ISPs.
The upshot is that the January court decision resulted in an uncomfortable choice for the FCC: if the agency wished to re-impose net neutrality, it could either start regulatory process from scratch and do it right by stating that the ISPs are common carriers — or else it can just sort of muddle through. And that is what it appears to be doing with the proposed “special rates” and “commercially available” language.
This is not entirely the fault of FCC Chair Tom Wheeler. The reality is that the FCC rule-making process is a slow one, and that re-classifying the ISPs as common carriers would be a slow, laborious and possibly unsuccessful process. As such, without the power of the “common carrier” stick, the FCC will have to rely on lesser measures like the ones that will be proposed this week.
The proposed rules also reportedly do not attempt to address the issue of “peering” arrangements, which concern network interconnections (and choke points) that occur before website traffics arrives at its ultimate destination via the ISP. The FCC has not tried to regulate peering in the past, but recent peering disputes over Netflix has brought new attention to the issue.

8. Net Neutrality Can Be Saved, But Only if Citizens Raise an Outcry
    By John Nichols, The Nation - 24 April 14 -

 When Barack Obama was running for president in 2007, he earned a great deal of credibility with tech-savvy voters by expressing support for net neutrality that was rooted in an understanding that this issue raises essential questions about the future of open, free and democratic communications in America.

Obama “got” that net neutrality represented an Internet-age equivalent of the First Amendment—a guarantee of equal treatment for all content, as opposed to special rights to speed and quality of service for the powerful business and political elites that can buy an advantage.

Asked whether he thought the Federal Communications Commission and Congress needed to preserve the Internet as we know it, the senator from Illinois said, “The answer is ‘yes.’ I am a strong supporter of Net neutrality.”

“What you’ve been seeing is some lobbying that says that the servers and the various portals through which you’re getting information over the Internet should be able to be gatekeepers and to charge different rates to different Web sites,” explained Obama, who warned that with such a change in standards “you could get much better quality from the Fox News site and you’d be getting rotten service from the mom and pop sites.”

Obama’s bottom line: “That I think destroys one of the best things about the Internet—which is that there is this incredible equality there.”

Candidate Obama was exactly right.

So was President Obama when, in 2010, the White House declared that, “President Obama is strongly committed to net neutrality in order to keep an open Internet that fosters investment, innovation, consumer choice, and free speech.”

And President Obama certainly sounded right in January, 2014, when he said, “I have been a strong supporter of net neutrality. The new commissioner of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, whom I appointed, I know is a strong supporter of Net Neutrality.”

The president expressed that confidence in Wheeler, even as concerns were raised about an appointee who had previously worked as a cable and wireless industry lobbyist.

There are two simple steps to take:

1. Recognize that there is a right response to court rulings that have rejected the complex and ill-thought approaches that the FCC has up to now taken with regard to net neutrality. The right response is to reclassify broadband Internet access as a telecommunications service that can be regulated in the public interest.

When the FCC’s clumsy previous attempt at establishing net neutrality protections was rejected in January by the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the court did not say that the commission lacked regulatory authority—simply that it needed a better approach. As David Sohn, general legal counsel at the Center for Democracy & Technology, notes: the court opinion laid out “exactly how the FCC essentially tied its own hands in the case, and makes it clear that the FCC has the power to fix the problem.”

“The Court upheld the FCC’s general authority to issue rules aimed at spurring broadband deployment, and accepted the basic policy rationale for Internet neutrality as articulated by the FCC,” explains Sohn. “The arguments in favor of Internet neutrality are as strong as ever, but prior FCC decisions on how to treat broadband have painted the agency into a corner. Those decisions are not set in stone, however, and the ball is now back in the FCC’s court. The FCC should reconsider its classification of broadband Internet access and reestablish its authority to enact necessary safeguards for Internet openness.”

2. Recognize that this is the time to send a clear signal of support for genuine net neutrality. The FCC has listened in the past when a public outcry has been raised, on media ownership issues, diversity issues and Internet access issues. Wheeler is a new chairman. It’s vital to communicate to him, and to the other members of the commission that President Obama was right when he said that establishing “fast lanes” on the Internet “destroys one of the best things about the Internet—which is that there is this incredible equality there.”

Dozens of public interest groups, ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union to the Government Accountability Project to the PEN American Center to Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting and the National Hispanic Media Coalition have urged the FCC to do the right thing. The “Save the Internet” coalition has a track record of rapidly mobilizing Americans to thwart wrongheaded moves by the FCC.

They’re already up and at it, with a petition urging Wheeler and the FCC to “scrap” approaches that won’t work and “restore the principle of online nondiscrimination by reclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service.”

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders says that, “Our free and open Internet has made invaluable contributions to democracy both here in the United States and around the world. Whether you are rich, poor, young or old, the Internet allows all people to seek out information and communicate globally. We must not turn over our democracy to the highest bidder.”

Sanders is right about that—especially when he recognizes the vital link between technology and democracy. A free and open Internet is essential to modern democracy. But that freedom and openness will only be maintained if Americans use their great democratic voice to demand it.

There is a way to save net neutrality. And if ever there was a time for citizens to urge the FCC to go the right way, this is it.

9. Rep. Mark Pafford, the House Democratic Leader-designate (D-West Palm Beach) said the legislative leadership has devoted extensive hearings to overhauling the Florida Retirement System. Conflicting bills in the House and Senate are likely to be compromised in the closing days of the session, but Democrats have insisted that the FRS is in no trouble and that GOP leaders are just trying to get the state out of the pension business by moving new employees into a market-based investment plan. "There is no issue," said Pafford. "this is another example of something the Republican leadership has offered as a major issue. It's pretty sad when politics is put over good policy."

10. tell the FCC - 
But the Federal Communications Commission is proposing rules that would kill — rather than protect — Net Neutrality and allow rampant discrimination online.
Under these rules, telecom giants like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon would be able to pick winners and losers online and discriminate against online content and applications. And no one would be able to do anything about it.
We must stop the FCC from moving forward with these rules, which would give the green light to ISPs eager to crush Net Neutrality.
The agency can preserve Net Neutrality only by designating broadband as a telecommunications service under the law. Anything else is an attack on our rights to connect and communicate.
Tell FCC Chairman Wheeler to throw out his proposed rules. Demand nothing less than real Net Neutrality.

 A few might be aware that our County's Human Service budget ( Social Services ) was severely impacted since 2008. Our County has also cut tens of millions of dollars in library funding. Our Mayor wanted to closed half the libraries. He wanted to imposed park entrance fees.

Yet, due to these cuts, people have donated more to the County's Animal Trust than to Parks, Social Services and Libraries combined.

People with money favor dogs over us.

Read the statistics below.

Honorable Toufic Zakharia  M.P.A.
Miami Dade County Community Councilman - District 10
Florida Advisory Committee member for the United States Commission on Civil Rights
President/Co-Founder of MEAPA
Co-Founder of the Near East Peace Project

12. About 15 thousand years ago, the world’s first farmer had the idea of saving the seeds from one year’s crop and planting them again next year. And that’s how farmers did it for thousands of years after that.

Until Monsanto. - Today, Monsanto is claiming patent rights over seeds -- the fundamental source of all plant life -- so it can charge farmers royalties for doing what people have done for thousands of years.

It's already charging millions in illegal royalties in Brazil. It's suing farmers in the U.S. And in India it's jacked up the cost of seeds so much that it’s contributing to an epidemic of suicides among bankrupt farmers.

The latest front in Monsanto’s war on farmers is Canada, where a bill is flying through parliament to give corporate agribusiness long-term patent rights over seeds. And if it win heres, Monsanto will use trade agreements to force other countries to abide by these patent claims as well.

Canadian farmers are fighting back, but they’re massively outgunned by Monsanto’s lobbyists and money. If they’re going to have any chance to stop this bill, they need our help to fight back. Can you chip in $5 a month to stop Monsanto’s attempt to monopolize food production in Canada and around the world?

13.Obama In Asia Pushing TPP

President Obama is in Japan as part of his "pivot to Asia" tour of Pacific countries. He is also visiting South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines. The trip is meant to demonstrate U.S. diplomatic and economic efforts toward Pacific nations to counterbalance China's increasing influence in the region. Part of this effort is a big push to get TPP negotiations back on track and completed.

TPP is a massive "trade" treaty between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. "Trade" is in quotes because only five of the treaty's 29 chapters actually deal with trade. Others set rules on investment, set limits on the ability of governments to regulate corporations, restrict a government's ability to spend its own tax dollars on goods made in that country (such as "Buy America" procurement policies) and other things well beyond the usual scope of what would be considered a trade agreement. This leads many to claim that the treaty is really about limiting the ability of governments to reign in the giant corporations

Most Workers Likely To Lose

The treaty is being negotiated in secret with lots of corporate involvement and not much involvement by stakeholders like labor, environmental, human rights, consumer and other groups that would be affected. But even though it is secret we know from leaks that TPP as currently negotiated appears to be designed to benefit a few giant corporate interests, while potentially driving the nail into the coffin of America's middle class.

Since NAFTA our "trade" agreements have gotten a bad reputation with the public. People have come to realize that these "free trade" agreements are causing companies to close American factories and open factories in countries with low wages and that allow companies to pollute. Pitting American workers against low-wage workers has encouraged employers to cut wages and benefits for those who are able to keep their jobs.

14. Corporate CEOs Demand that they be Tipped Off When a Whistleblower Reports their Crimes

I'm writing on the flight returning from the XIIth International CIFA Forum in Monaco. CIFA is an NGO.  It is a confederation of independent financial advisor organizations that works with the UN in promoting the protection of investors.  This means that their clients are often very wealthy and that many of the participants are speakers are very conservative or libertarians (or an admixture).  One of the speakers, Dr. Hans Geiger, gave an impassioned denunciation of "bureaucrats" (which turned out to mean anyone who worked for the government) and the imposition of a duty on bankers to file criminal referrals when they had a "reasonable suspicion" that their clients had committed certain crimes.  The official U.S. jargon for a criminal referral is "Suspicious Activity Reports" (SARS).  Geiger was particularly distressed that the banker would not be allowed to inform his client that he was making the criminal referral (which FATF terms "Suspicious Transaction Reports" (STRs)) under the standard 21 proposed by the Financial Action Task Force in 2012.

21. Tipping-off and confidentiality

Financial institutions, their directors, officers and employees should be:

(b) prohibited by law from disclosing ("tipping-off") the fact that a suspicious transaction report (STR) or related information is being filed".

The new requirement for criminal referrals will arise as nations adopt the FATF recommendations for financial policies.  A number of nations have already done so.  Geiger is a leader of the effort to convince the Swiss government not to adopt these provisions.  He is part of an organization that encourages "tax competition" among nations.  The goal is to minimize taxes and governmental spending by denying governments revenues.  The aim is to encourage the wealthiest people to move that wealth and income to nations with the lowest taxes on wealth and income.  Geiger is also a fierce austerian.  The next day when I responded I wore my special austerian repellant tie -- it's resplendent with images of defaulted German bonds -- the equivalent of wearing a garlic garland to ward off vampires.

In this first installment of my written response prompted by Geiger's remarks I make only one point that I do not believe was made in a related context.  FATF not only forbids the bank that makes the criminal referral against the client to inform the client, it labels such an act "tipping" -- tipping off the suspect to the potential criminal investigation so that the client can destroy documents and avoid making future incriminating statements and requests.  FATF's language prohibiting tipping off the subject of the criminal referral comes from the f ederal banking agencies' rules that require banks that they regulate to make such referrals and forbids them to inform the subject of the referrals.


    (d) (9) Notification to board of directors--

    (ii) Suspect is a director or executive officer. If the State savings association files a SAR pursuant to this paragraph (d) and the suspect is a director or executive officer, the State savings association may not notify the suspect, pursuant to 31 U.S.C. 5318(g)(2), but shall notify all directors who are not suspects.

The Dodd-Frank Act has provisions designed to encourage whistleblowers.  The Chamber of Commerce, Financial Services Roundtable (FSR), and the American Bankers Association (ABA) hated the provision and made exceptional efforts to prevent the SEC from adopting a rule that would allow the whistleblower to notify the government of his corporation's misconduct without first notifying the corporation.

This was rather obviously nuts for all the reasons that have long led us to ban banks from informing their clients of criminal referrals and which were leading FATF to propose recommendations that every nation adopt a similar ban.  The ABA and the FSR know full well about criminal referrals and why the bank is forbidden to tip off the customer (even if the customer is a corporation with a system of internal controls) about the criminal referral.  The opponents of the SEC rule, however, were not treated by the media as if they were trying to reverse a long-standing policy that made eminent sense given the reality of what the controlling officers leading a corporate control fraud would do to thwart an investigation if the whistleblower were required to notify the people leading the felony that he wished to alert the government that he had detected a likely crime.

Indeed, the policy argument is far stronger in the whistleblower context because the leading manner in which the controlling officers leading a control fraud seek to thwart investigations is to retaliate against the whistleblower.  The goal is to intimidate and harm the whistleblower, but the reprisal also allows the officers to label him "a disgruntled employee who was fired for his incompetence and lack of integrity."  The "disgruntled employee" label is the favorite tactic of fraudulent officers seeking to discredit the whistleblower.  The SEC rejected the demand that whistleblowers be required to tip off the alleged perpetrators of the crime, but that demand was overwhelmingly endorsed by the business community and by the SEC members who are Republicans.  Their claim was based on the (implicit) assumption that control fraud does not exist and that the virtuous CEO needs to know of the crimes committed by his corporation's officers and employees that were spotted by the whistleblower so that the CEO could remedy the crimes.

The Oxymoron that is Modern Legal Ethics

Michael E. Clark, Special Counsel to the Duane Morris law firm of Houston, Texas did us all the favor of revealing a bit too much of the basis for the CEOs' rage against whistleblowers.  The hostility is evident in the title he chose for his article: "The Dodd-Frank Act's Bounty Hunter Provisions."

The Review of Securities and Commodities Regulation, Vol. 44 No.3 (February 9, 2011).

    "Although turning workers into informants by realigning their loyalties seemed fundamentally wrong to me, both then and now, Congress has recently decided to move in this direction [in Dodd-Frank].

    As a result, publicly traded companies can expect higher compliance costs, added enforcement activities, and more follow-on civil litigation.

    These new bounty provisions promise to be a "game-changer" for financial fraud enforcement. Not only will whistleblowers now have strong incentives to put their personal interests ahead of loyalties to their employers, but they will have ample opportunities to do"."

The argument that whistleblowers betray their "loyalty" to the corporation  when they alert authorities to the actions of officers and employees who are likely to be violating the law and harming the corporation in order to make the CEO wealthy never made sense.  CEOs leading control frauds use executive compensation and the power to hire, fire, promote, and bully to create perverse incentives to induce employees to act on their own behalf by harming the corporation.  It is true that Dodd-Frank's whistleblower provisions will increase enforcement actions and civil suits, but that would be a very good thing for corporations (and shareholders) if it clawed back fraud proceeds from the controlling officers.  In the longer run, more effective deterrence could reduce civil suits and enforcement actions.

It is bizarre that an attorney, who must deal constantly with officers and directors' fiduciary duties and the absolute necessity of complying with the law, would assert that employees who blow the whistle on fraud are "disloyal" to the corporation and morally degenerate "informers" while employees who say nothing and aid frauds by controlling officers are "loyal" to the corporation and morally superior.  (The not very hidden truth is that the senior corporate officers decide whether lawyers are hired, fired, and paid, so lawyers are eager to conflate the CEO with the client even when the CEO is looting the client.)  Clark's discussion of fiduciary duties makes clear his all too common conception of legal "ethics."

"Both agencies' analyses appear to be markedly incomplete. For one thing, they do not address the duties of care, loyalty, and good faith that such key corporate officials [who are members of the control group], as fiduciaries, owe to an entity as its decision-makers."

I think it is Clark who misses the concept of fiduciary duties.  The most likely scenario is that the CFO learns that the CEO is leading a control fraud.  The typical situation is that the CEO dominates the board of directors.  The CFO cannot stop the fraud.  If he aids the fraud he will be committing a felony.  If he confronts the CEO he will be fired and the fraud will continue, harming the client to which he owes these fiduciary duties.  The only way he can fulfill his fiduciary duties effectively is to blow the whistle to the SEC (which should promptly make a criminal referral).  If the CFO blows the whistle to the SEC and continues to operate as CFO and while refusing to aid the fraud he can provide the SEC with constantly updated information and place the CEO in a dilemma about whether to fire him.  Conversely, if the CFO were to blow the whistle only within the organization the CEO can learn exactly what the CFO knows -- and doesn't know -- about the fraud schemes and take steps to make it far more difficult for the government to sanction him for his crimes.

Fish and Corporations Rot from the Head

The obvious question, which the opponents of whistleblowers studiously ignored was how common is it that the senior officers lead securities fraud.  COSO's (Treadway's) 2010 study gave an answer to that question -- and the question of whether securities frauds helps a corporation or harms it.  The passage below is from COSO's May 20, 2010 press release announcing the key findings of their study.

"The COSO study, which examined financial statement fraud allegations investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over a ten-year period, found that news of an alleged fraud resulted in an average 16.7 percent abnormal stock price decline in the two days surrounding the announcement. Companies engaged in fraud often experienced bankruptcy, delisting from a stock exchange, or asset sale, and in nine out of ten cases the SEC named the CEO and/or CFO for alleged involvement."

Securities fraud harms corporations and shareholders.  It is overwhelmingly led by the controlling officers. Credible whistleblowers to the SEC, therefore, will overwhelmingly be giving evidence of likely frauds led by the CEO and CFO.  It would be insane to assume out of existence "control fraud" in the securities fraud context where such frauds are nearly always control frauds.  The opponents of whistleblowing take their orders from the CEOs and CFOs so their opposition to the SEC's proposed rules invariably -- and implicitly -- assume control fraud does not exist and that securities fraud originates in the cubes instead of the C-suites.  They never cite the COSO study findings that demonstrate that it originates almost exclusively in the C-suites even though the COSO study was the definitive work that had just been released.  Economists emphasize "revealed preferences."  Corporate CEOs have revealed their preferences about integrity -- forget their prating endlessly about their principles -- their actions on whistleblowing demonstrate that their true preference is to prevent the disclosure of securities fraud by senior corporate officers.

The SEC rule does not forbid the whistleblower from alerting the corporation about the misconduct he has spotted.  An honest CEO who sends a clear message through her acts and deeds that she demands integrity and takes forceful action against corporate misconduct should be successful in encouraging whistleblowers to inform her of such misconduct.

Corporations and Courts Encourage Retaliating v Whistleblowers

But it gets much, much worse.  Corporations are going to court and claiming that the Dodd-Frank provisions that protect whistleblowers from retaliation do not apply if the whistleblower only blows the whistle to the corporation, but not the SEC.  The real reason why corporations objected to the SEC's proposed whistleblower rule, which provided greater encouragement to whistleblowers to notify the SEC becomes clear.  The corporate CEOs hoped to maintain the ability to take reprisals against greater numbers of whistleblowers.  The obscene news is that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Dodd-Frank's anti-reprisal remedy does not protect whistleblowers who only notify the corporation of the likely crime.

Conclusion and a Plea to Act

The degree of hostility against regulators and whistleblowers, and intense sympathy for the CEOs leading the control frauds, is palpable among large numbers of Reagan and Bush judicial appointees.  When the Republicans obtain control of presidency they will resume appointing similar judges and are likely to use their control over the SEC to force whistleblowers to tip off the crooks so that elite corporate criminals can further enhance their already near total ability to defraud and to take reprisals against whistleblowers with impunity. It is disturbing that when corporate CEOs and these SEC board members revealed their desire to help fraudulent CEOs escape prosecution and retaliate against whistleblowers they paid no political or reputational price.  The business media typically supported their disgraceful efforts.  It needs to be emphasized that COSO has confirmed what white-collar criminologists and effective regulators have stressed for decades -- many of the frauds led by the CEOs harm the corporation, so the ideologues cannot even claim that they are "pro-business."  They are pro fraudulent CEOs, which makes them anti-business, anti-labor, anti-capitalist, and anti-American.  We need to use logic, common sense, and the long-standing banking rule requirements, now endorsed for international application by FATF, to build a backfire today rather than waiting until they formally propose to destroy the SEC rule or conservative judges gut it by claiming that its costs exceed the benefits and that many whistleblowers are not entitled to protection from reprisals because they trusted the CEO and blew the whistle only inside the firm.  The most famous whistleblowers at Enron and Worldcom would have been excluded from Dodd-Frank's protection from reprisals under the Fifth Circuit decision because they blew the whistle only internally.

15. As Iraq violence grows, U.S. sends more intelligence officers
Mark Hosenball and Warren Strobel
3:36 PM CDT, April 25, 2014

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is quietly expanding the number of intelligence officers in Iraq and holding urgent meetings in Washington and Baghdad to find ways to counter growing violence by Islamic militants, U.S. government sources said.

A high-level Pentagon team is now in Iraq to assess possible assistance for Iraqi forces in their fight against radical jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a group reconstituted from an earlier incarnation of al Qaeda, said two current government officials and one former U.S. official familiar with the matter.

The powerful ISIL, which seeks to impose strict sharia law in the Sunni majority populated regions of Iraq, now boasts territorial influence stretching from Iraq's western Anbar province to northern Syria, operating in some areas close to Baghdad, say U.S. officials.

Senior U.S. policy officials, known as the "Deputies Committee," met in Washington this week to discuss possible responses to the deteriorating security outlook in Iraq, said a government source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject matter.

The source did not know the outcome of the meeting.

White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan declined to comment.

The meetings underscore how Iraq's instability is posing a new foreign policy challenge for President Barack Obama, who celebrated the withdrawal of U.S. troops more than two years ago. Despite the concern, officials said it remains unclear whether Obama will commit significant new resources to the conflict.

Four months after Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki declared war on Sunni militants in Iraq's western Anbar province, the fighting has descended into brutal atrocities, often caught on video and in photographs by both militants and Iraqi soldiers.

Iraqi soldiers say they are bogged down in a slow, vicious fight with ISIL and other Sunni factions in the city of Ramadi and around nearby Falluja.


One former and two current U.S. security officials said the number of U.S. intelligence personnel in Baghdad had already begun to rise but that the numbers remained relatively small.

"It's more than before, but not really a lot," said one former official with knowledge of the matter.

Much of the pressure to do more is coming from the U.S. military, the former official said, but it is unclear if the White House wants to get more deeply involved.

After ending nearly nine years of war in Iraq, the United States has limited military options inside the country. About 100 U.S. military personnel remain, overseeing weapons sales and cooperation with Iraqi security forces.

The U.S. government has rushed nearly 100 Hellfire missiles, M4 rifles, surveillance drones and 14 million rounds of ammunition to the Iraqi military since January, U.S. officials said. The Obama administration has also started training Iraqi special forces in neighboring Jordan.

Before the U.S. military withdrew, it trained, equipped and conducted operations with Iraqi special forces.

Staff from the Pentagon's Central Command are working closely with the Iraqi military but have advised it against launching major operations due to concerns Iraqi forces are not prepared for such campaigns, the former U.S. official said.

In Anbar, militants have a major presence in Falluja, while in Ramadi there is a stalemate, with territory divided among Iraqi government forces, ISIL and other Sunni armed groups.

In testimony before the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee in February, Brett McGurk, the State Department's top official on Iraq, described how convoys of up to 100 trucks, mounted with heavy weapons and flying al Qaeda flags, moved into Ramadi and Falluja on New Year's Day.

Local forces in Ramadi subsequently succeeded in pushing militants back, but the situation in Falluja remained "far more serious," McGurk said.

(Additional reporting by Phil Stewart in Washington and by Ned Parker in Baghdad. Editing by Jason Szep and Ross Colvin)

16. Secret Public Pension Deals
In the national debate over what to do about public pension shortfalls, here’s something you may not know: The texts of the agreements signed between those pension funds and financial firms are almost always secret. Yes, that’s right. Although they are public pensions that taxpayers contribute to and that public officials oversee, the exact terms of the financial deals being engineered in the public’s name and with public money are typically not available to you, the taxpayer.

To understand why that should be cause for concern, ponder some possibilities as they relate to pension deals with hedge funds, private equity partnerships and other so-called “alternative investments.” For example, it is possible that the secret terms of such agreements could allow other private individuals in the same investments to negotiate preferential terms for themselves, meaning public employees’ pension money enriches those private investors. It is also possible that the secret terms of the agreements create the heads-Wall-Street-wins, tails-pensions-lose effect — the one whereby retirees’ money is subjected to huge risks, yet financial firms’ profits are guaranteed regardless of returns.

North Carolina exemplifies the latter problem. In a new report for the union representing that state’s public employees, former Securities and Exchange Commission investigator Ted Siedle documents how secrecy is allowing financial firms to bilk the Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System, which is the seventh largest public pension fund in America.

The first part of Siedle’s report evaluates the secrecy.

“Today, TSERS assets are directly invested in approximately 300 funds and indirectly in hundreds more underlying funds, the names, investment practices, portfolio holdings, investment performances, fees, expenses, regulation, trading and custodian banking arrangements of which are largely unknown to stakeholders, the State Auditor and, indeed, to even the (State) Treasurer and her staff,” he reports. “As a result of the lack of transparency and accountability at TSERS, it is virtually impossible for stakeholders to know the answers to questions as fundamental as who is managing the money, what is it invested in and where is it?”

Before you claim this is just a minor problem, consider some numbers. According to Siedle’s report, this huge pension system now is authorized to invest up to 35 percent — or $30 billion — of its assets in alternatives. Consider, too, that Siedle’s report shows that with such a large allocation in these risky alternatives, the fund “has underperformed the average public plan by $6.8 billion.”

So what is happening to retirees’ money? As Siedle documents, more and more of it is going to pay the exorbitant fees charged by the Wall Street firms managing the pension money.

“Fees have skyrocketed over 1,000 percent since 2000 and have almost doubled since (2008) from $217 million to $416 million,” he writes, adding that “annual fees and expenses will amount to approximately $1 billion in the near future.”

The details get worse from there, which makes Siedle’s report a genuine must-read for anyone who wants to understand the larger story of public pensions. After all, North Carolina is not an isolated incident. In state after state, the financial industry is citing modest public pension shortfalls to justify pushing those pensions to invest more money in riskier and riskier high-fee investments — and to do so in secret.

It is a story that isn’t some minor issue. On the contrary, the fight over that $3 trillion is fast becoming one of the most important economic, business and political stories of modern times. The only question is whether the story can even be told — or whether those  profiting off secrecy can continue hiding their schemes from the public.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

PNN _ It's Bloomin Springtime

PNN 4/13/14

Karina Veaudry
Catherine Bowman
Meredith Ockman
0. Earth Day - Hello to all those who have an Interest in Climate,
I would like to invite you to Florida Earth Festival 2014 at The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Boca Raton, 2601 St. Andrews Blvd., Boca Raton, FL 33434 on April 19th and 20th. Programming for the festival was developed around specific recommendations of the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Action Plan (Policy Tie-Ins Attached). We hope you will be able to join us. Details on climate programming at the festival on April 19th and 20th can be found here

Please note that we are working to document urban gardening groups that have faced permitting obstacles; in support of recommendations AG-6 and PO-11 of the Regional Climate Action Plan. We have begun a short list as people contact us prior to the festival, but please let anyone you know who has run into problems in this regard to speak to a member of the Green Sanctuary Committee hosting the gardening programming on April 19th or 20th.

If you are able, please make arrangements to support County Staff as they recommend approval of the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Action Plan (RCAP) on April 15th at the Governmental Center, 6th floor Commission Chambers, 301 N. Olive Avenue, West Palm Beach.  You can find the Agenda at this link
The Regional Climate Action Plan is Agenda Item 5A-4 on page 30.

1. Findings That Fracking Causing Quaking Leads to Drilling Shutdown in Ohio
State regulators suspend gas drilling outside of Youngstown
- Common Dreams staff
Responding to geologists who claim they have made direct links between fracking operations and seismic activity in the state, Ohio regulators on Friday pulled permits for at least one drilling operation.
State Oil & Gas Chief Rick Simmers told The Associated Press on Friday that the state has halted drilling indefinitely at the site near Youngstown where five minor tremors occurred in March following investigative findings of a probable link to fracking.
A deep-injection well for fracking wastewater was tied to earthquakes in the region in 2012.
Simmers says Ohio will require sensitive seismic monitoring as a condition of all new drilling permits within three miles of a known fault or existing seismic activity of 2.0 or greater. Drilling will pause for evaluation with any tremor of 1.0 magnitude and will be halted if a link is found.
2. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a new rule Thursday that withdraws federal water quality standards for Florida. This means polluters will now only have to follow Florida’s rules.
Environmental advocates have been fighting the state’s limits for nutrient pollution in court for years.
Groups like Earthjustice have argued the state’s criteria favors polluters over stricter water regulations. A spokesperson for the EPA said in a statement, however, that “there is no need for overlapping federal criteria.”
Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection said in a statement the decision “paves the way for more protection of Florida’s waters." The state agency also said Florida’s criteria are more comprehensive than the federal government’s.
However, David Guest, an attorney for Earthjustice who has been fighting Florida’ nutrient criteria, said the state’s rules are not good because industries were too involved when the state wrote the standards.
“This is not a good day for us and our hope is that we can get the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta to re-instate federal rules and get this back on track,” he said.
Guest said Florida’s water quality needs stricter rules. He said increasing fish kills, toxic algae blooms, manatee and dolphin deaths, are all signs the state’s water is in trouble.
“In the face of that, the decision of the government is to abandon standard setting to try to stop it,” he said. “This is the worst face of bad government.”
Florida’s Agriculture Chief Adam Putnam said the decision will enable state officials to manage the state’s “unique and diverse waterways.”

davina meriricini public affair specialize - - public affairs specialist

ending little 

federal standards - 
revised their  standard, loop hole 


3. Crude Oil and Natural Gas Waste
Wastes generated during the exploration, development, and production of crude oil, natural gas, and geothermal energy are categorized by EPA as "special wastes" and are exempt from federal hazardous waste regulations under Subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

4. CIA and White House Under Pressure Over Torture After Leaked Senate Report
By Spencer Ackerman, Guardian UK
11 April 14

Senate committee found CIA interrogations and detentions to be 'brutal' and urges administration to release report as quickly as possible

 leak of the major findings of a landmark Senate inquiry into the CIA’s post-9/11 torture of terrorism detainees led, on Friday, to intensified pressure on the White House and the CIA to release the inquiry speedily and with a minimum of redactions.
The classified study, prepared by the Senate select committee on intelligence, concluded that the CIA’s interrogations, secret detentions and outsourced torture sessions were “brutal, and far worse than the agency communicated to policymakers.”
More suspected terrorists underwent the agency’s post-9/11 treatment, which largely lasted from 2002 to 2006, than the CIA has publicly admitted, according to the report’s findings, which were first reported by McClatchy. Last week, committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein of California stated that the Senate investigated the cases of 100 detainees – dozens more than previously known to have gone through the CIA’s so-called “interrogation, detention and rendition” programs.
In addition to misleading policymakers, the Senate report charges the CIA with selectively and leaking classified and inaccurate information to journalists in order to portray the program in a positive light.
“The CIA manipulated the media by co-ordinating the leak of classified information, which inaccurately portrayed the effectiveness of the agency’s enhanced interrogation techniques,” the committee found.
The agency also, according to the report, provided factually inaccurate information to Bush administration lawyers, who relied on it to concoct the legal theories that underpinned an apparatus of torturous interrogations and detentions that quickly spread to US military facilities at Guantánamo Bay, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The study took four years and $40m to complete, and has brought the relationship between the CIA and the Senate panel overseeing it to perhaps its lowest ebb in history.
Not only does Langley contend that the committee has developed a factually inaccurate picture of the since-shuttered program, it has appealed to the Justice Department to open a criminal inquiry into Senate staffers for taking a classified agency document out of a secured facility – a move Feinstein has called an attempt at intimidation.
In March, on the Senate floor, Feinstein accused the CIA of breaching a network barrier on a system it set up to allow the agency to share documents with the committee electronically. She said the move meant the agency spied on the Senate staff, which she said violated the separation of powers outlined in the constitution.
Despite the acrimony, the White House announced last week that the CIA will lead the executive-branch panel that will recommend how much of the Senate report’s executive summary, findings and recommendations to make public, a decision blasted by human-rights groups and intelligence scholars as a conflict of interest.
On Thursday, 40 Democratic members of the House of Representatives wrote to President Obama urging him to declassify the committee’s executive summary and major findings “expeditiously and in their entirety.”
“The American people need and deserve a full account of the actions that were taken in their name through the use of torture and enhanced interrogations on detainees. As you have said publicly, the report must be declassified “so that the American people can understand what happened in the past’,” the legislators wrote.
After the committee voted last week to authorize declassification of aspects of its report, Feinstein challenged the administration to release the executive summary, findings and recommendations with minimal redactions and within 30 days. She said that the committee could hold a subsequent vote on declassifying the entire 6,000-plus page study, which some observers understood as a tactic to give the committee leverage in case the CIA’s redactions of the current portions up for review are extensive.
“Some ... do not want this report to become public and are seeking to discredit it,” Feinstein wrote on Thursday in the Washington Post, along with former committee chairman Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat.
According to the leaked conclusions, the committee found that that the agency poorly managed its interrogation and detention efforts. It relied extensively on outside contractors for design and implementation, especially “two contract psychologists,” whom an earlier Senate Armed Services Committee investigation identified as Bruce Jessen and Jim Mitchell. Both men were influential in retrofitting techniques that had been designed to train captured US troops to survive and resist torture by foreign adversaries for use on detainees.
“Numerous internal critiques and objections concerning the CIA’s management and use of the Detention and Interrogation [sic] were ignored,” according to the committee findings. Those internal critiques include a now partially declassified 2004 inspector general’s report.
Human rights groups cited the leaked conclusions to pressure the administration to fully declassify the Senate report’s major aspects – and take responsibility for its release out of the CIA’s hands.
"The legal foundation for this program was always broken, but this also shows that it was resting on thin air. These conclusions only reinforce that torture is a brutal, unlawful practice that is unnecessary for protecting our national security,” said former navy general counsel Alberto Mora in a statement released by Human Rights First.
“It’s important to have as much of the report made public as possible to put these findings in context. The White House should lead the declassification process and ensure that the American people can understand the true costs of our experiment with torture.”
In a letter he sent to President Obama on Friday, Senator Mark Udall, a Democrat from Colorado, wrote, "[T]he most pressing reason for the White House to step in and manage this process is the CIA's clear conflict of interest on this issue and its demonstrated inability to face the truth about this program. … The CIA is certainly entitled to issue a public response to the Committee's study, but not to impede the declassification of the study itself."

5.Retiring Obama Administration Prosecutor Says the SEC Is Corrupt
Bloomberg News reported, on April 8th, that a Securities and Exchange Commission prosecuting attorney, James Kidney, said at his recent retirement party on March 27th, that his prosecutions of Goldman Sachs and other mega-banks had been squelched by top people at the agency, because they "were more focused on getting high-paying jobs after their government service than on bringing difficult cases." He suggested that SEC officials knew that Wall Street would likely hire them after the SEC at much bigger pay than their government remuneration was, so long as the SEC wouldn't prosecute those megabank executives on any criminal charges for helping to cause the mortgage-backed securities scams and resulting 2008 economic crash.
His "remarks drew applause from the crowd of about 70 people," according to the Bloomberg report. This would indicate that other SEC prosecutors feel similarly squelched by their bosses.
Kidney's speech said that his superiors did not "believe in afflicting the comfortable and powerful."
Referring to the agency's public-relations tactic of defending its prosecution-record by use of what he considered to be misleading statistics, Kidney said, "It's a cancer" at the SEC.
Two recent studies have provided additional depth to Kidney's assertions, by showing that Obama and his Administration had lied when they promised to prosecute Wall Street executives who had cheated outside investors, and deceived homebuyers, when creating and selling mortgage-backed securities for sale to investors throughout the world.
President Obama personally led in this lying.
On May 20, 2009, at the signing into law of both the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act and the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act, Obama said: "This bill nearly doubles the FBI's mortgage and financial fraud program, allowing it to better target fraud in hard-hit areas. That's why it provides the resources necessary for other law enforcement and federal agencies, from the Department of Justice to the SEC to the Secret Service, to pursue these criminals, bring them to justice, and protect hardworking Americans affected most by these crimes. It's also why it expands DOJ's authority to prosecute fraud that takes place in many of the private institutions not covered under current federal bank fraud criminal statutes -- institutions where more than half of all subprime mortgages came from as recently as four years ago."
Then, in the President's 24 January 2012 State of the Union Address, he said: "Tonight, I'm asking my Attorney General to create a special unit of federal prosecutors and leading state attorneys general to expand our investigations into the abusive lending and packaging of risky mortgages that led to the housing crisis.   (Applause.)   This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners, and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans. Now, a return to the American values of fair play and shared responsibility will help protect our people and our economy."
However, two years later, the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice issued on 13 March 2014 its "Audit of the Department of Justice's Efforts to Address Mortgage Fraud," and reported that Obama's promises to prosecute turned out to be just a lie. DOJ didn't even try; and they lied even about their efforts. The IG found: "DOJ did not uniformly ensure that mortgage fraud was prioritized at a level commensurate with its public statements. For example, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Criminal Investigative Division ranked mortgage fraud as the lowest criminal threat in its lowest crime category. Additionally, we found mortgage fraud to be a low priority, or not [even] listed as a priority, for the FBI Field Offices we visited." Not just that, but, "Many Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSA) informed us about underreporting and misclassification of mortgage fraud cases." This was important because, "Capturing such information would allow DOJ to ... better evaluate its performance in targeting high-profile offenders."
Privately, Obama had told Wall Street executives that he would protect them. On 27 March 2009, Obama assembled the top executives of the bailed-out financial firms in a secret meeting at the White House and he  assured them that he would cover their backs; he promised "My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks". It's not on the White House website; it was leaked out, which is one of the reasons Obama hates leakers. What the DOJ's IG indicated was, in effect, that Obama had kept his secret promise to them.
Here is the context in which he said that (from page 234 of Ron Suskind's 2011 book, Confidence Men ):
The CEOs went into their traditional stance. "It's almost impossible to set caps [to their bonuses]; it's never worked, and you lose your best people," said one. "We're competing for talent on an international market," said another. Obama cut them off.
   "Be careful how you make those statements, gentlemen. The public isn't buying that," he said. "My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks."
   It was an attention grabber, no doubt, especially that carefully chosen last word.
   But then Obama's flat tone turned to one of support, even sympathy. "You guys have an acute public relations problem that's turning into a political problem," he said. "And I want to help. But you need to show that you get that this is a crisis and that everyone has to make some sacrifices." According to one of the participants, he then said, "I'm not out there to go after you. I'm protecting you. But if I'm going to shield you from public and congressional anger, you have to give me something to work with on these issues of compensation."
No suggestions were forthcoming from the bankers on what they might offer, and the president didn't seem to be championing any specific proposals. He had none: neither Geithner nor Summers believed compensation controls had any merit.
   After a moment, the tension in the room seemed to lift: the bankers realized he was talking about voluntary limits on compensation until the storm of public anger passed. It would be for show.
He had been lying to the public, all along. Not only would he not prosecute the banksters, but he would treat them as if all they had was "an acute public relations problem that's turning into a political problem." And he thought that the people who wanted them prosecuted were like the KKK who had chased Blacks with pitchforks before lynching.  According to the DOJ, their Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) was "established by President Barack Obama in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes." But, according to the Department's IG, it was all a fraud: a fraud that according to the DOJ itself had been going on since at least November 2009.
The IG's report continued by pointing out the Attorney General's lies, noting that on 9 October 2012, "the FFETF held a press conference to publicize the results of the initiative," and:
"The Attorney General announced that the initiative resulted in 530 criminal defendants being charged, including 172 executives, in 285 criminal indictments or informations filed in federal courts throughout the United States during the previous 12 months. The Attorney General also announced that 110 federal civil cases were filed against over 150 defendants for losses totaling at least $37 million, and involving more than 15,000 victims. According to statements made at the press conference, these cases involved more than 73,000 homeowner victims and total losses estimated at more than $1 billion.
"Shortly after this press conference, we requested documentation that supported the statistics presented. ... Over the following months, we repeatedly asked the Department about its efforts to correct the statistics. ... Specifically, the number of criminal defendants charged as part of the initiative was 107, not 530 as originally reported; and the total estimated losses associated with true Distressed Homeowners cases were $95 million, 91 percent less than the $1 billion reported at the October 2012 press conference. ...
Despite being aware of the serious flaws in these statistics since at least November 2012, we found that the Department continued to cite them in mortgage fraud press releases. ... According to DOJ officials, the data collected and publicly announced for an earlier FFETF mortgage fraud initiative -- Operation Stolen Dreams -- also may have contained similar errors."
Basically, the IG's report said that the Obama Administration had failed to enforce the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009. This bill had been passed overwhelmingly, 92-4 in the Senate, and 338-52 in the House. All of the votes against it came from Republicans. The law sent $165 million to the DOJ to catch the executive fraudsters who had brought down the U.S. economy, and it set up the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, and had been introduced and written by the liberal Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy. President Obama signed it on 20 May 2009. At that early stage in his Presidency, he couldn't afford to display that he was far to the right of every congressional Democrat, so he signed it.
Already on 15 November 2011, Syracuse University's TRAC Reports had headlined "Criminal Prosecutions for Financial Institution Fraud Continue to Fall," and provided a chart showing that whereas such prosecutions had been running at a fairly steady rate until George W. Bush came into office in 2001, they immediately plunged during his Presidency and were continuing that decline under Obama, even after the biggest boom in alleged financial fraud cases since right before the Great Depression. And, then, on 24 September 2013, TRAC Reports bannered "Slump in FBI White Collar Crime Prosecutions," and said that "prosecutions of white collar criminals recommended by the FBI are substantially down during the first ten months of Fiscal Year 2013." This was especially so in the Wall Street area: "In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest projected drop in the rate of white collar crime prosecutions -- 27.8 percent -- was the Southern District of New York (Manhattan)."
Another recent report documents lying by the Administration regarding its promised program to force banks to compensate cheated homeowners for fraud in their mortgages, and sometimes even for evictions that were based on those frauds. The investigative journalist David Dayen headlined on 19 March 2014, "Just 83,000 Homeowners Get First-Lien Principal Reductions from National Mortgage Settlement, 90 Percent Less Than Promised." He documented that, "the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development sold the settlement on a promise of helping 1 million homeowners, and the final number missed the cut by over 916,000. That ... shows the essential dishonesty [Obama's HUD Secretary Shaun] Donovan displayed in his PR push back in 2012. ... We're used to the Obama Administration falling far short of their goals for homeowner relief, whether because of a lack of interest or a desire to foam the runway for the banks or whatever. Even still, the level of duplicity is breathtaking." 
Historians will have a hard time deciding whether Obama was the most corrupt President -- even more corrupt than Grant, Harding, and G.W. Bush -- but certainly he is one of the four most corrupt. The evidence that he is presiding over an Administration in which aristocrats can do anything they want and commit any crime with total impunity, extends not just to Obama's protection of George W. Bush from prosecution, but to his protection of Wall Street CEOs from prosecution. Only blue-collar crooks are pursued by him; white-collar ones get off easy, and mega-corporate CEOs (as well as torturers and their masters in the former Administration, and the traitors who lied this nation into invading Iraq) are totally immune from prosecution by him.
Perhaps there will be a positive side to his Presidency, maybe Obamacare or some other major policy he has introduced, but none of the other three super-corrupt Presidents is rated by historians above the very bottom of the U.S. Presidential barrel; and Obama's Presidency seems extremely likely to be rated somewhere in that league: among the all-time worst U.S. Presidents. 
I say this as a historian with the values of a progressive Democrat, and not at all as any sort of conservative. Conservatives favor corrupt leaders; fascism is inherently corrupt and is the extremity of conservatism. By contrast, no progressive can accept corruption. Whereas corruption is acceptable to conservatives, it's a violation of the most basic progressive value, which is accountability. Whereas conservatives believe only in responsibility (such as of employees to their employer), progressives believe in that plus, especially, in accountability (such as of an employer to his employees). In the view of a progressive, obligations run both ways -- up and down the power-hierarchy -- and not only downward. Obama is fundamentally a conservative, who parades in Democratic rhetoric. The reports and studies that have been presented here are convincing proof of that.

6. ship up or sheep out
Bighorn sheep are skilled mountain climbers. But one group recently made it over the peaks of the Sierra Nevada crest in record time.

As part of an ongoing effort to return endangered Sierra Nevada bighorns to more of their historic range, state and federal wildlife workers captured 14 of the animals in the Inyo National Forest and transported them by helicopter to the Big Arroyo area of Sequoia National Park on the range’s west side.

The four rams and 10 ewes, all but one of which was pregnant, were moved in late March to a part of the Sierra that bighorns have not occupied for more than a century.

Before settlement, more than 1,000 of the animals are thought to have roamed high elevations of the range from Sonora Pass in the north to Olancha Peak in the south.

Their numbers plunged when ranchers started grazing domestic sheep in the Sierra, spreading disease to the bighorn herds. Commercial hunting also contributed to their decline and by the 1970s, only three herds could be found in some of the steepest and most rugged portions of the Eastern Sierra.

Sierra Nevada and desert bighorns are the two bighorn subspecies found in California. The Sierra population has grown to about 500 animals from a low of roughly 100 in 1995.

Last month’s operation took place over several days. Workers with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife captured the bighorns one at a time by dropping a net over them from a helicopter.

The animals, which sport large curling horns, were blindfolded, hobbled and transported to a processing site. There they were examined and each sheep was fitted with a radio collar and a GPS collar.

They were trucked in aluminum boxes down Highway 395 to near Lone Pine and then flown about 25 miles over the crest to the release site.

Although rams can weigh more than 200 lbs. and females more than 100 lbs., the bighorns were not sedated after capture. Instead they were  kept calm with blindfolds and hobbles.

Both were removed for the helicopter ride and when the boxes were  opened to let the sheep scamper into their new home, “they’re all just lying in there like there’s nothing in the world wrong,” said Tom Stephenson, leader of the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Recovery Program.

Despite the drought, Stephenson said there is adequate forage and water for the sheep in their high elevation habitat. And the low snowpack has eliminated the danger of deep snow and avalanches.

7. GMO Labeling Would Be Outlawed by New Bill in Congress
By John Upton, Grist  - April 14
State-led efforts to mandate GMO labels are blossoming like a field of organic tulips, but members of Congress are trying to mow them down with legislative herbicide.
Maine and Connecticut recently passed laws that will require foods containing GMO ingredients to be clearly marked as such — after enough other states follow suit. And lawmakers in other states are considering doing the same thing. The trend makes large food producers nervous — nervous enough to spend millions defeating ballot initiatives in California and Washington that also would have mandated such labels. They worry that the labels might scare people off, eating into companies’ sales and profits.
So a band of corporate-friendly members of Congress has come riding in to try to save the day for their donors. A bipartisan group led by Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) has signed onto legislation introduced Wednesday that would run roughshod over states’ rules on GMO labels. Reuters reports:
    The bill, dubbed the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act,” was drafted by U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo from Kansas, and is aimed at overriding bills in roughly two dozen states that would require foods made with genetically engineered crops to be labeled as such.
    The bill specifically prohibits any mandatory labeling of foods developed using bioengineering.
Large business groups cheered the legislation, which could receive its first hearings in the summer. “The GMO labeling ballot initiatives and legislative efforts that many state lawmakers and voters are facing are geared toward making people wrongly fear what they’re eating and feeding their children,” said the American Farm Bureau Federation’s president.
But groups that believe Americans have a right to know what they’re eating and which farming technologies they’re supporting are of course opposed, characterizing the bill as a desperate salvo by Big Food in the face of overwhelming support for GMO labels. The opponents have dubbed the bill the Deny Americans the Right to Know Act.
“If the DARK Act becomes law, a veil of secrecy will cloak ingredients, leaving consumers with no way to know what’s in their food,” said the Environmental Working Group’s Scott Faber. “Consumers in 64 countries, including Saudi Arabia and China, have the right to know if their food contains GMOs. Why shouldn’t Americans have the same right?”

Whatever you choose to call it, the bill is unlikely to have success beyond the GOP-controlled House.
8. Celebrate Earth Day this year by joining one of the largest environmental battles taking place in Florida today.

Tell Hendry County Commissioners and FPL/NextEra to stop their plans of building a massive fossil fuel power plant in the Everglades.

Monday April 21
Press Conference and Rally, 4am - 6pm
At the Hendry County Courthouse, 25 E Hickpoochee, LaBelle, FL
On the Corner of SR 80 and SR 29.

Tuesday April 22
Rally for International Earth Day, 4pm - 6pm
At the Hendry County Courthouse, 25 E Hickpoochee, LaBelle, FL
On the Corner of SR 80 and SR 29.

All are invited!
Bring signs, banners, bull horns, drums, etc.

These rallies are being called for by members of the Independent Traditional Seminole Nation and Everglades Earth First!

There will be a camp out at Fisheating Creek on Monday night, April 21. Participants must bring their own food, water and tents.

Why we must fight

FPL calls their plan the "Hendry County Clean Energy Center." This is a greenwashing lie. To give some examples, the plant will:
  • Use 22 million gallons of water a day
  • Release millions of tons of pollution in into the air and water
  • Harm the health of neighboring Seminole communities 
  • destroy habitat of the Florida panther

In February, the Seminole Tribe of Florida announced a 68 mile march from the Big Cypress Reservation to the Hendry County Courthouse in response to the County's rezoning of land on the border of Big Cypress. The march was being planned to coincide with an April 21 court date, but the court date has now been changed to July 14 and the march postponed.

A coalition of groups including the Seminole Tribe, the Independent Seminole Nation, Sierra Club, Everglades Earth First!, Save Our Creeks, and others have joined together to support the Tribe's lawsuit against rezoning the land and to build a groundswell of grassroots opposition to this power plant.

Simultaneously, there is a movement growing to oppose the new FPL gas pipeline which would cross Florida from north to south and is needed to fuel such a massive plant.

Here's a bit about the re-framing of Earth Day:

More background with right-wing slant from Fox News.. But still interesting to hear it from another angle:

More on the Sabal Trail pipeline:

Well, you don't have to dream - there is a movement, and PDA is part of it: GDAMS! 
Every year, on April 15th, Tax Day in the U.S., people all over the world take action to educate their neighbors about the reality of runaway, corrupt, wasted military spending. Current U.S. military spending accounts for at least 40% of global military spending, and drives most of the other 60% as other countries try to keep up, so we in this country have a critical role to play in order to change these dangerous, dystopian priorities.

The Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) is a special day when we ask you to take action where you live. There are 61 GDAMS actions already planned around the U.S., and more being added all the time. Please click on GDAMS to find an action near you.

PDA's End War and Occupations team works on these issues all year round. We support an immediate return to a peacetime military budget, as in the 1950s, 1970s and 1990s. That would cut 40% or $250 billion per year from our present war budget to create jobs building windmills, solar panels and a new peacetime economy with free healthcare and education for all. Please click here visit our team web page to see what else we're working on. 

Another world is possible!  See you at a GDAMS action on Tuesday!

10. Roberts Court - Ignore Constitution
The Supreme Court's decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission was not about aggregate limits on individual campaign donations to candidates in federal elections. The case was about what constitutes a bribe, how big that bribe has to be, and whether an electoral system can be corrupt even in the absence of a legally demonstrable cash payment to an office holder or candidate for an explicitly specified favor. The Roberts court, or five of its nine members, adopted the misanthrope's faux-naïve pose in ruling that private money in politics, far from promoting corruption, causes democracy to thrive because, money being speech, the more speech, the freer the politics. Anatole France mocked this kind of legal casuistry by saying "The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread."

James Fallows has reminded us that during Chief Justice John Roberts' confirmation hearing, the nominee described his own judicial approach as "Humility. Modesty. Restraint. Deference to precedent. 'We're just calling balls and strikes.' " Fallows goes on to say that that Roberts is cynical for adopting that pose to get through the hearing. It is true that he is cynical, no doubt in the same way that prostitutes are cynical women, but I don't think that term quite captures the key quality that makes Roberts decide legal cases the way he does. Nor does his cynicism differentiate him from his jurisprudential clones named Thomas, Scalia, Alito and Kennedy.

There is unquestionably a bit of role playing on the court - Scalia, the opinionated blowhard at your local saloon; Thomas, the total cipher; Alito, the professional Catholic who might have come from the curia at Rome; Kennedy, the guy who purports to be a swing vote when his mind is already made up. Roberts' role is that of chief justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. He can't very well clown around in the manner of Scalia, who acts like Bill O'Reilly in judicial robes. The five justices' bedrock beliefs may well be as identical to one another's as those of the creepy alien children of Village of the Damned. Roberts is different only insofar as he is the more strategic front man.(1)
Roberts knows he was appointed to be a Supreme Court justice for one reason: to decide relevant cases on behalf of corporate interests. This explains why he made a political move to salvage the Affordable Care Act: The case was a matter of partisan politics before the court. 

Business interests were roughly divided on the law - some disliked its mandates and provisions that might drive up their costs, while others saw its potential for allowing them to dump insured employees into pools, or, alternatively to benefit from tax subsidies. Still others may have seen it as a license to mint money. ACA was a costly and convoluted way to insure more people, but Republican hacks saw only one aspect: It was Obama's initiative, so it must be opposed. Roberts saw it as a political squabble involving the other two branches, but on which there was no unified business position. It was a law whose philosophy had a Republican pedigree - the Heritage Foundation had proposed something like it more than a decade before. If a Republican were president, he might have proposed a similar bill; after all, the president who nominated Roberts engineered the Medicare Prescription Drug Act.

Roberts perceived the deeper dynamic beneath the ideological posturing over ACA, and that is why he had to be the deciding vote of a divided court to save the act. Overturning it would cause millions to question the court's legitimacy on a matter that was not crucial to business interests. Best to save one's powder for more relevant fights. That said, the four dissenting votes also had to vote as they did to render the decision subjectively moot in the minds of Republican jihadists, who would continue to fight the act tooth and nail. As it was, Roberts threw a valuable bone to the Republicans by vitiating the Medicaid mandate to the states. This made it harder to implement the law and permitted Republican governors and legislatures to work all manner of mischief.

McCutcheon was a more relevant fight, and here we see Roberts the avatar of corporations rather than Roberts the tactician. Viewing other justices' decisions through this lens also tightens the focus on an otherwise blurry image. Observers wondered why, during oral arguments in the Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby case, Scalia’s questions implied he was taking a position on religious views in the workplace opposite to the one he had taken in the 1990 Employment Division v. Smith case. In that case, Scalia ruled against employees whose firing for smoking peyote caused them to sue based on alleged violation of their first amendment right to free exercise of religion. But Scalia was perfectly consistent: In the Smith case, and as he appears likely to do in the Hobby Lobby case, Scalia upholds the rights of employers.(2) Neither one is a case about religion per se; they are cases about the superior prerogatives of employers over employees. In like manner, McCutcheon and Citizens United are not cases about campaign finance laws, nor are they, despite the artful smokescreen about free speech on the part of the court's majority, cases about free speech and whether money constitutes speech. They are cases about upholding the superior political privileges of rich interests in society as opposed to poorer ones.

We now have an algorithm to crack the Enigma Code of the Supreme Court. Once there are five members of the court who accept as self-evidently valid the 19th century concept of "freedom of contract," other issues become subsidiary. This framework explains hundreds of cases before the court and clarifies the seeming anomalies like ACA. It explains the court's position in Vance v. Ball State, which made it more difficult to sue employers for harassment, and Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., which barred remedy for pay discrimination (even Congress subsequently saw fit to redress the bias of the court’s decision). In Wal-Mart v. Dukes, the court rejected a class-action suit of women denied raises and promotions. The Roberts court also took the side of corporations against consumers in Mutual Pharmaceutical Company v. Bartlett and AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion. The Roberts Court declared unconstitutional a 1988 law that subjected corporate officers to fraud charges if they could be shown to have deprived clients of honest services.

As Oliver Wendell Holmes stated in his dissenting opinion on the 1902 Lochner case, which established as virtual court theology the freedom of contract notion (without government restrictions), from which many subsequent pro-corporation decisions have flowed, the court's majority was basing its decision on economic ideology rather than constitutional interpretation. Roberts is wise enough to know that and is wise enough to conceal his hand with occasional strategic references to the free speech or free exercise clauses in the first amendment.
A friend once complained to me about a basketball game in which the referee consistently called fouls on one team where none existed and failed to call fouls on the other team, which blatantly and repeatedly committed them. This being only a high school-level game, I asked him if he thought the referee had taken a cash bribe. "Of course not," was his answer, "he was just blatantly biased." "Is that also corruption?" was my response. Sometimes, like Humbert Wolf's British journalist, judges can be corrupted even in the absence of what Justice Roberts narrowly defines as "quid pro quo corruption." Fallows recommends that Congress enact a fixed term of office for Supreme Court justices. I think that is a good idea, although not just to obviate senescence on the court. It might also wake up citizens to the whole sorry con game if they were forced to contemplate retired honorable justices giving speeches at $500,000 a pop to corporations eager for enlightenment on the finer points of judicial interpretation.

11. The House Appropriations Committee approved a three-part revision of the Florida Retirement System Thursday, along with a plan to give state employees some skin in the game when making their health-insurance choices.
The Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee, meanwhile, revived a pension bill from last year -- offering new employees a reduction of their pension contributions, if they choose the investment plan. The 2011 Legislature imposed a 3 percent payroll tax on employees in the FRS, but that would be lowered to 2 percent for those who go the investment route.
Monitor 'Pension Reform' and 100+ policy issues with Legislative IQ or LobbyTools. Login or request a demo.
In largely party-line votes, the powerful House budget committee advanced Rep. Jim Boyd's pension bill (HB 7173), which he steered through his House State Affairs Committee last Friday. The bill does three things:
 -- Requires newly hired Senior Management and elected officers to join the 401(k)-style investment plan, rather than the traditional "defined benefit" pension plan.
-- Increases the "vesting" period for benefits in the traditional pension plan from eight years to 10.
 -- Changes the "default" rule so that employees who don't make a pension choice would automatically go into the investment plan rather than the FRS, as now provided. Those employees would have nine months to change their minds and opt into the traditional pension plan, instead of six, but the investment plan would offer vesting in one year rather than 10.
"It's time to modernize our retirement system," Boyd, R-Bradenton, told the appropriations panel. He said the FRS has an "unfunded actuarial liability" (UAL) of about $21 billion, costing taxpayers a half-billion dollars a year to maintain its 86 percent ratio of assets to liabilities.
"Detroit thought its UAL was OK, not a problem," Boyd said. "But this is not about the UAL. This is about modernizing a system that needs to be brought into the 21st century."
Boyd said about 60 percent of public employees don't stay 10 years in their jobs, so most would not get vested even under the current eight-year qualifying period. The investment option would give them some retirement fund they could roll to a new employer's plan, he said.
Democrats on the committee said the FRS is in fine financial shape -- that any funding level over 80 percent is considered healthy.
"There is no issue," said Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach. "There is a system that is not broken. This is a retirement system we should take great pride in, not dismantled."
Boyd and other Republicans emphasized that no current employees would be affected, as the changes would only apply to those hired after July 1, 2015. Also, employees could still take the "defined benefit" pension plan, if they wanted it.
The committee also approved a state employee insurance package (HB 7157) by Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, that directs the Department of Management Services to develop a four-tier array of insurance offerings. Brodeur said the state would provide the same per-employee subsidy of premiums, but workers could choose a cheaper policy and use the excess funding for extra benefits -- like optional vision, dental or catastrophic coverage.
They could also shop around for lower hospital charges on common procedures and split the savings with the state.
Earlier Thursday, the Senate governmental operations committee approved a bill (SB 1114) by Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, similar to Boyd's House measure. In addition to making Senior Management and elected officers sign up for the investment plan, Simpson's bill would give rank-and-file employees the incentive of lowering their payroll deductions from 3 percent to 2 percent, if they choose the investment plan.
Boyd's plan does not have the reduction in the employee payment to the pension fund.
Both of the bills would affect only new hires next year, not current retirees or active employees in the FRS.

no soup for you - you "voters"
Remember how bad the voter lines were on Election Day in 2012? In Florida, some stayed in line for over six hours.
And now, they won’t be able to use the bathroom. The Miami-Dade County Elections Department has quietly implemented a policy to close the bathrooms at all polling facilities.
Make no mistake about it. This is a political scheme to depress voter turnout in a heavily Democratic county, and it’s also probably illegal for violating basic disability law.
Urge U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate this new Florida voting rule which closes all restrooms at polling places on Election Day. SIGN THE PETITION HERE:

pnn 4/13/14
PNN's host and News Director Rick Spisak welcomes three very special guests 

Karina Veaudry, Former Executive Director for the Florida Native Plant Society.  Landscape Ecologist and Landscape designer for 26 years Involved in statewide efforts to balance development with conservation.

Catherine Bowman,  Ecologist and Biologist for 30 years. Former President of the Central Florida Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society. Ecosystem restoration specialist

And we'll welcome one of our favorite guests:  Meredith Ockman,  Vice President at SoHo Dogs, President of the Board at Women's Health Foundation of South Florida and Vice President at Florida National Organization for Women  who is now in the running for  South East Regional Director for the National Organizatoin of Women.

TUNE IN SUNDAY 7pm [Eastern]  LIVE or Anytime


I apologize for the delay in getting back to you. If you haven’t already done so, I recommend you review EPA’s website for a more thorough history of the agency’s involvement in the numeric nutrient criteria issue in Florida:

Florida has now adopted - and EPA has approved - numeric nutrient criteria for its waters. There is no need for overlapping federal criteria and, on January 7, 2014, the court agreed that EPA is no longer obligated to promulgate such criteria for any of Florida’s waters. 

Therefore, EPA is proposing to withdraw federal numeric nutrient criteria applicable to Florida’s inland and flowing waters. EPA also intends to cease action on two proposed rules applicable to other waters of the state of Florida— one addressing remanded portions of the inland rule and the other for coastal and estuarine waters.

Davina Marraccini
Public Affairs Specialist
U.S. EPA Region 4
404-562-8293 (office)
404-387-4368 (cell)
404-562-8335 (fax)