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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Quitting, gaining, and reducing risk

Quitting, gaining, and reducing risk

BERNIE MADOFF'S ACCOUNTANT CHARGED BY SEC WITH CREATION OF FALSE BOOKS AND RECORDS

FROM:  U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION 

The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged the longtime accountant for many of Bernard Madoff’s oldest and wealthiest clients for his role in the creation of false books and records used in the massive Ponzi scheme.

The SEC alleges that Paul Konigsberg’s assistance resulted in the formation of inaccurate trade confirmations each month as well as the development of phony data and records documenting the fabricated trades that were, in turn, falsely reflected in the ledgers and related books and records at Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (BMIS).

“Konigsberg played a vital role in Madoff’s deception of his oldest and wealthiest clients over many years,” said Andrew M. Calamari, Director of the SEC’s New York Regional Office.  “Konigsberg’s acquiescence, cooperation, and collaboration were essential to the Madoff fraud.”

In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York today announced criminal charges against Konigsberg.

According to the SEC’s complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Konigsberg aided and abetted the falsification of books and records at BMIS from at least the mid-1990s to late 2008.  Konigsberg provided tax or accounting services for more than 200 BMIS client accounts, including five of Madoff’s wealthiest and oldest clients who invested more than a billion dollars combined in BMIS.  Konigsberg received fees directly from BMIS clients for the accounting services that he provided them, and BMIS and Madoff paid him a monthly fee of $15,000 or $20,000 as a “retainer” for providing accounting services to a wealthy and longtime Madoff client and his adult children.

The SEC alleges that Konigsberg coordinated with BMIS staff to:

Decide upon desired investment or tax gains and losses to be manufactured and reflected on BMIS account statements and in BMIS computer systems to ensure his clients enjoyed favorable tax treatment for their purported investment activity.
Confer about backdated trades and fictitious account activity entered into the computer systems to create the desired trading results.
Return or destroy his clients’ true BMIS account statements and design alternative fictitious account activity to be entered into the firm’s books and records and reflected on new phony account statements.
The SEC’s complaint alleges that Konigsberg, who lives in Greenwich, Conn., aided and abetted the BMIS violations of Section 17(a) of the Securities Exchange Act and Rule 17a-3, and Section 204 of the Investment Advisers Act and Rule 204-2.  The SEC’s complaint seeks disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, financial penalties, and permanent injunctions against Konigsberg.

The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  The SEC’s investigation is continuing.

U.S. Department of Defense Armed with Science Update: IT MILESTONE

U.S. Department of Defense Armed with Science Update

EDUCATION AWARDS $14 MILLION IN GRANTS TO 31 NATIVE AMERICAN AND ALASKA NATIVE ENTITIES

FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION 
U.S. Department of Education Awards $14 Million in Grants to 31 Native American and Alaska Native Entities
SEPTEMBER 25, 2013

The U.S. Department of Education today announced the award of about $14 million in grants to 31 Indian tribes, tribal organizations, and Alaska Native entities to help them improve career and technical education programs.

Under the 2013 Native American Career and Technical Education Program (NACTEP) competition, the Department encouraged applicants to propose projects that included promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and the use of technology within career and technical education programs. Career and technical education in the STEM fields is important to providing students with education that can lead to employment in high growth, in-demand industry sectors.

"In today's global and knowledge-based economy, it's critical that we prepare all students for jobs that lead to a success career," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "These grants will help underrepresented groups attain the necessary resources to earn an industry certification and postsecondary certificate or degree, while also strengthening our country’s global competitiveness."

The NACTEP requires the Secretary to ensure that activities will improve career and technical education for Native American and Alaska Native students. Additionally, NACTEP grants are aligned with other programs under the Carl D. Perkins Career & Technical Education Act of 2006 that require recipients to provide coherent and rigorous content aligned with challenging academic standards. NACTEP projects also include preparing students for the high-skill, high-wage, or high-demand occupations in emerging or established professions.

Below is a list of the 2013 NACTEP Grantees:

Cook Inlet Tribal Council, Inc. (Alaska) $417,543

Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments (Alaska) $470,022

Pascua Yaqui Tribe (Ariz.) $411,460

Hoopa Valley Tribe (Calif.) $470,130

Coeur d’ Alene Tribe (Idaho) $469,362

Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College (Mich.) $341,938

Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (Mich.) $452,804

Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (Miss.) $470,689

Aaniiih Nakota College (Mont.) $467,256

Blackfeet Community College (Mont.) $386,966

Blackfeet Tribal Employment Rights Office (Mont.) $464,890

Fort Peck Community College (Mont.) $469,785

Salish Kootenai College (Mont.) $471,559

Stone Child College (Mont.) $473,556

Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska (Neb.) $469,345

Cankdeska Cikana Community College (N.D.) $450,564

Fort Berthold Community College (N.D.) $452,874

Sitting Bull College (N.D.) $415,660

Turtle Mountain Community College (N.D.) $471,466

Alamo Navajo School Board, Inc. (N.M.) $471,937

Coyote Canyon Rehabilitation Center, Inc. (N.M.) $473,912

Cherokee Nation (Okla.) $470,425

Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma (Okla.) $468,923

Shawnee Tribe (Okla.) $434,613

Pawnee Nation College (Okla.) $470,956

Oglala Lakota College (S.D.) $467,835

Sinte Gleska University (S.D.) $466,900

Muckleshoot Indian Tribe (Wash.) $437,674

Northwest Indian College (Wash.) $416,097

The Tulalip Tribes of Washington (Wash.) $451,113

College of Menominee Nation (Wis.) $472,994

OFFICIALS APPEAR BEFORE SENATE COMMITTEE TO DISCUSS INTELLIGENCE PROGRAMS

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 
Officials Discuss Intelligence Programs at Senate Hearing
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2013 - At a hearing yesterday before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander, commander of U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency, and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. discussed a NSA-managed classified intelligence program, one of two made public by a security leak in June.

Joining Alexander and Clapper was Deputy Attorney General James Cole. All were called to testify about both programs leaked to the press by former NSA systems administrator Edward Snowden -- Section 215 of the Patriot Act, also known as NSA's 215 business records program, and Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA.

In the months since the leaks, media reports have said the programs involve secret surveillance by NSA of phone calls and online activities of U.S. citizens, and revealed unauthorized disclosures of information by NSA, generating distrust of the agency and calls for an end to the programs.

Section 702 of FISA and Section 215 of the Patriot Act both were authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, first approved by Congress in 1978.

Section 702 authorizes access, under court oversight, to records and other items belonging to foreign targets located outside the United States. Section 215 broadens FISA to allow the FBI director or other high-ranking officials there to apply for orders to examine telephone metadata to help with terrorism investigations.

In 2012, these programs resulted in the examination of fewer than 300 selectors, or phone numbers, in the NSA database, Alexander said during a congressional hearing in July.

In his remarks, Cole described the 215 program, explaining that it involves collecting only metadata from telephone calls.

"What is collected as metadata is quite limited. ... It is the number a telephone calls ... It doesn't include the name of the person called," Cole said. "It doesn't include the location of the person called. It doesn't include any content of that communication. It doesn't include financial information ... It is just the number that was called, the date and the length of the call."

"If you want any additional information beyond that, you would have to go and get other legal processes to find that information and acquire it," he added.

Such metadata can only be looked at when there is a reasonable, articulable suspicion for a specific phone number to be queried in the database, Cole said.

"Otherwise," he said, "we do not and cannot just roam through this database looking for whatever connections we may think are interesting or in any way look at it beyond the restrictions in the court order."

Only a small number of analysts can make such a determination, and that determination must be documented so it can be reviewed by a supervisor and later reviewed for compliance purposes, Cole added. The program is conducted according to authorization by the FISA Court, which must reapprove the program every 90 days.

"Since the court originally authorized this program in 2006, it has been reapproved on 34 separate occasions by 14 individual Article Three judges of the FISA Court," Cole said. "Each reapproval indicates the court's conclusion that the collection was permissible under Section 215 and satisfied all constitutional requirements."

Article Three of the U.S. Constitution establishes the judicial branch of the federal government.

Oversight of the 215 program involves all three branches of government, including the FISA Court and the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees of both houses of Congress, Cole said. Every 90 days, the Department of Justice reviews a sample of NSA's queries to determine whether the reasonable articulable requirement has been met.

DOJ lawyers meet every 90 days with NSA operators and with the NSA inspector general to discuss the program's operation and any compliance issues that may arise, Cole explained.

With respect to Congress, "we have reported any significant compliance problems, such as those uncovered in 2009, to the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees of both houses," he said.

"Those documents have since been declassified and released by the DNI to give the public a better understanding of how the government and the FISA court respond to compliance problems once they're identified," Cole said.

In his testimony, Alexander told the panel that NSA's implementation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act focuses on defending the homeland by linking foreign and domestic threats.

Section 702 of FISA focuses on acquiring foreign intelligence, he said, including critical information concerning international terrorist organizations, by targeting non-U.S. persons who are reasonably believed to be outside the United States.

NSA also operates under other sections of the FISA statute in accordance with the law's provisions, Alexander said.

"To target a U.S. person anywhere in the world, under the FISA statute we are required to obtain a court order based on a probable cause showing that the prospective target of the surveillance is a foreign power or agent of a foreign power," he explained.

"As I have said before, these authorities and capabilities are powerful," Alexander said. "We take our responsibility seriously."

NSA stood up a directorate of compliance in 2009 and regularly trains the entire workforce in privacy protections and the proper use of capabilities, he said.

"We do make mistakes," Alexander noted.

"Compliance incidents, with very rare exceptions, are unintentional and reflect the sorts of errors that occur in any complex system of technical activity," he said.

The press has claimed evidence of thousands of privacy violations but that is false and misleading, Alexander said.

"According to NSA's independent inspector general, there have been only 12 substantiated cases of willful violation over 10 years. Essentially one per year," he said. "Several of these cases were referred to the Department of Justice for potential prosecution, and appropriate disciplinary action in other cases. We hold ourselves accountable every day."

Of 2,776 violations noted in the press, he said, about 75 percent were not violations of court-approved procedures but rather were NSA's detection of valid foreign targets that traveled to the United States. The targets are called roamers and failure to stop collecting on them as soon as they enter the United States from a foreign country is considered a violation that must be reported.

"NSA has a privacy compliance program that any leader of a large, complex organization would be proud of," Alexander said. "We welcome an ongoing discussion about how the public can, going forward, have increased information about NSA's compliance program and its compliance posture, much the same way all three branches of the government have today."

NSA's programs have contributed to understanding and disrupting 54 terrorism-related events, Alexander told the panel, with 25 in Europe, 11 in Asia, five in Africa, and 13 in the United States.

"This was no accident. This was not coincidence. These are the direct results of a dedicated workforce, appropriate policy, and well-scoped authorities created in the wake of 9/11, to make sure 9/11 never happens again," Alexander said.

In the week ending 23 Sept., he said, there were 972 terrorism-related deaths in Kenya, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and Iraq. Another 1,030 people were injured in the same countries.

"The programs I've been talking about -- we need these programs to protect this nation, to ensure that we don't have those same statistics here," Alexander said.

With respect to reforms, he said, on Aug. 9 President Barack Obama laid out specific steps to increase the confidence of the American people in the NSA foreign intelligence collection programs.

"We are always looking for ways to better protect privacy and security," Alexander said. "We have improved over time our ability to reconcile our technology with our operations and with the rules and authorities. We will continue to do so as we go forward and strive to improve how we protect the American people, their privacy and their security."

In his remarks to the panel, Clapper said that over past 3 months he's declassified and publicly released a series of documents related to Section 215 Section 702.

"We did that to facilitate informed public debate about the important intelligence collection programs," he said. "We felt in the light of the unauthorized disclosures, the public interest in these documents far outweigh the potential additional damage to national security. These documents [allow them to] see the seriousness, thoroughness and rigor with which the FISA Court exercises its responsibilities."

Even in these documents, Clapper said, officials had to redact some information to protect sensitive sources and methods such as particular targets of surveillance.

"We'll continue to declassify more documents. It's what the American people want," he said. "It's what the president has asked us to do. And I personally believe it's the only way we can reassure our citizens that the intelligence community is using its tools and authorities appropriately."

But, Clapper said, "we also have to remain mindful of potentially negative long-term impact of over-correcting to the authorizations granted to the intelligence community."

Clapper added, "As Americans we face an unending array of threats to our way of life -- more than I've seen in my 50 years in intelligence. We need to sustain our ability to detect these threats. We welcome a balanced discussion about civil liberties but it's not an either-or situation. We need to continue to protect both."

PRESIDENT OBAMA'S WEEKLY ADDRESS FOR SEPTER 28, 2013

FROM:  THE WHITE HOUSE 
SEPTEMBER 28, 2013
Weekly Address: Averting a Government Shutdown and Expanding Access to Affordable Healthcare

WASHINGTON, DC— In this week’s address, President Obama said that on October 1st, a big part of the Affordable Care Act will go live and give uninsured Americans the same chance to buy quality, affordable health care as everyone else.  It is also the day when some Republicans in Congress might shut down the government just because they don’t like the law. The President urged Congress to both pass a budget by Monday and raise the nation’s debt ceiling so that we can keep growing the economy. He also said that those without health insurance and those who buy it on the individual market should visit HealthCare.gov to find out how to get covered on Tuesday.

The audio of the address and video of the address will be available online at www.whitehouse.gov at 6:00 a.m. ET, September 28, 2013.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
September 28, 2013

Hi, everybody.  This Tuesday is an important day for families, businesses, and our economy.

It’s the day a big part of the Affordable Care Act kicks in, and tens of millions of Americans will finally have the same chance to buy quality, affordable health care as everyone else.

It’s also the day that a group of far-right Republicans in Congress might choose to shut down the government and potentially damage the economy just because they don’t like this law.

I’ll get to that in a second.  But first – here’s what the Affordable Care Act means for you.

If you’re one of the vast majority of Americans who already have health care, you already have new benefits you didn’t before, like free mammograms and contraceptive care with no copay, and discounts on prescription medicine for seniors.  You’ve already got new protections in place too, like no more lifetime limits on your care, no more discriminating against children with preexisting conditions like asthma, or being able to stay on your parents’ plan until you turn 26.

That’s all in place and available to Americans with health insurance right now.

If you don’t have health insurance, or if you buy it on the individual market, then starting this Tuesday, October 1st, you can visit HealthCare.gov to find what’s called the health insurance marketplace in your state.

This is a website where you can compare insurance plans, side-by-side, the same way you’d shop for a TV or a plane ticket.  You’ll see new choices and new competition.  Many of you will see cheaper prices, and many of you will be eligible for tax credits that bring down your costs even more.  Nearly 6 in 10 uninsured Americans will be able to get coverage for $100 or less.

If you’re one of the up to half of Americans with a preexisting condition, these new plans mean your insurer can no longer charge you more than anyone else.  They can’t charge women more than men for the same coverage.  And they take effect January 1st.

So get covered at HealthCare.gov.  And spread the word.  These marketplaces will be open for business on Tuesday, no matter what.  The Affordable Care Act is one of the most important things we’ve done as a country in decades to strengthen economic security for the middle class and all who strive to join the middle class.  And it is going to work.

That’s also one of the reasons it’s so disturbing that Republicans in Congress are threatening to shut down the government – or worse – if I don’t agree to gut this law.

Congress has two responsibilities right now: pass a budget on time, and pay our bills on time.

If Congress doesn’t pass a budget by Monday – the end of the fiscal year – the government shuts down, along with many vital services the American people depend on.  On Friday, the Senate passed a bill to keep the government open.  But Republicans in the House have been more concerned with appeasing an extreme faction of their party than working to pass a budget that creates new jobs or strengthens the middle class.  And in the next couple days, these Republicans will have to decide whether to join the Senate and keep the government open, or create a crisis that will hurt people for the sole purpose of advancing their ideological agenda.

Past government shutdowns have disrupted the economy.  This shutdown would, too.  At a moment when our economy has steadily gained traction, and our deficits have been falling faster than at any time in 60 years, a shutdown would be a purely self-inflicted wound.  And that’s why many Republican Senators and Republican governors have urged Republicans in the House of Representatives to knock it off, pass a budget, and move on.

This brings me to the second responsibility Congress has.  Once they vote to keep the government open, they must also vote within the next couple weeks to allow the Treasury to pay the bills for the money that Congress has already spent.  Failure to meet this responsibility would be far more dangerous than a government shutdown – it would be an economic shutdown, with impacts not just here, but around the world.

Unfortunately some Republicans have suggested that unless I agree to an even longer list of demands – not just gutting the health care law, but things like cutting taxes for millionaires or rolling back rules on big banks and polluters– they’ll push the button, throwing America into default for the first time in history and risk throwing us back into recession.

I will work with anyone who wants to have a serious conservation about our economic future.  But I will not negotiate over Congress’ responsibility to pay the bills it has already racked up.  I don’t know how to be more clear about this: no one gets to threaten the full faith and credit of the United States of America just to extract ideological concessions.  No one gets to hurt our economy and millions of innocent people just because there are a couple laws you don’t like.  It hasn’t been done in the past, and we’re not going to start doing it now.

The American people have worked too hard to recover from crisis to see extremists in their Congress cause another one. And every day this goes on is another day that we can’t continue the work of rebuilding the great American middle class.  Congress needs to pass a budget in time, pay its bills on time, and refocus on the everyday concerns of the people who sent them there.

That’s what I’m focused on.  That’s what I’ll keep fighting for.

Thank you.

PATIENT-CENTERED CARE FOR VETERANS

FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS 
VA Announces Award of Patient-Centered Community Care Contracts
September 19, 2013

Contracts Provide Expanded Access to Community-based Care
WASHINGTON -- The Department of Veterans Affairs announced today that Veterans will have greater access to quality health care through a new initiative:  Patient-Centered Community Care (PCCC).  

“PCCC is an innovative solution that helps VA medical centers continue to provide quality care efficiently,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “This will be a valuable option for VA medical centers to use to expand our Veterans’ access to care.”

Under PCCC, VA medical centers will have the ability to purchase non-VA medical care for Veterans through contracted medical providers when they cannot readily provide the needed care due to geographic inaccessibility or limited capacity.  Eligible Veterans will have access to inpatient specialty care, outpatient specialty care, mental health care, limited emergency care, and limited newborn care for enrolled female Veterans following the birth of a child.

“PCCC provides a regional contracting vehicle for VA to work with local community providers to give Veterans access to high quality care,” said Dr. Robert Petzel, VA’s Under Secretary for Health.  “It will also help VA in our continued efforts to ensure timely and accessible services are provided to Veterans for non-VA medical care.”

In total, VA has awarded two contracts under PCCC, one to Health Net Federal Services LLC and another to TriWest Healthcare Alliance Corp.  These companies will set up networks in six regions covering the entire country.  VA expects to have these regional contract networks available to its medical centers by the spring of 2014.  The awarded contracts, estimated at $9.4 billion, include one base year and four option years.

PCCC is part of the overall Non-VA Medical Care Program.  It will provide all VA facilities with an additional option to purchase non-VA medical care when required Veteran care services are unavailable within the VA medical facility or when the Veterans benefit from receiving the needed care nearer to their homes.
Among the many benefits to the Veterans and VA under these new contracts, VA will enjoy standardized health care quality metrics, timely return of medical documentation, cost avoidance with fixed rates for services across the board, guaranteed access to care, and enhanced tracking and reporting of non-VA medical care expenditures over traditional non-VA medical care services.

NASA ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP TO ADVANCE COMPOSITE MATERIALS RESEARCH

FROM:  NASA 

NASA Announces Advanced Composite Research Partnership
NASA has selected six companies from five U.S. states to participate in a government-and-industry partnership to advance composite materials research and certification.

The companies are:
• Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. of Fort Worth, Texas
• GE Aviation of Cincinnati
• Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company of Palmdale, Calif.
• Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems of Redondo Beach, Calif.
• Boeing Research & Technology of St. Louis
• United Technologies Corporation and subsidiary Pratt & Whitney of Hartford, Conn.

They were selected from 20 proposals submitted by teams from industry and academia in response to a call from the Advanced Composites Project, which is part of NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate's Integrated Systems Research Program. The project sought proposals to reduce the time for development, verification and regulatory acceptance of new composite materials and structures.

A panel of experts from NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory reviewed the submissions and assessed them according to specific criteria. The six firms were chosen for their technical expertise, willingness and ability to share in costs, certification experience with government agencies, focused technology areas and partnership histories.
The first task for the partners is to develop articles of collaboration and establish how the alliance will work and how companies may be added in the future.

Friday, September 27, 2013

SECRETARY OF STATE KERRY'S REMARKS AT FRIENDS OF SYRIAN PEOPLE MINISTERIAL

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
Remarks at the Friends of the Syrian People Ministerial
Remarks
John Kerry
Secretary of State
New York City
September 26, 2013

SECRETARY KERRY: (In progress) We’re deeply grateful, all of us, for your having played a critical role – the critical role in inviting us here, in bringing us here. And I’m very pleased that President Jarba of the Syrian Opposition Council is here with us in New York. I think it’s very fitting that President Jarba was raised in Al-Hasakah, because that’s a part of Syria where Arabs, Kurds, the Syrians, and Armenians learned from one another for centuries. That foundation for pluralism and partnership has tragically been torn apart by the conflict that is now ravaging the country, a conflict which even as we have moved to try to separate the chemical weapons, must imperatively demand all of our attention.

We have, all of us, come to know too well an Assad who kills indiscriminately, who bombs women and children, Scud missiles on hospitals, artillery destroying students in a university. Millions of people displaced, millions of people refugeed, huge tensions on the surrounding countries, all of it for Assad to stay in power – a man who has lost any legitimacy to govern.

President Jarba understands that Syria can have a different future. And he understands that Syria can be a nation defined not by this kind of chaos and personal ambition and recklessness, but defined by its rich history of diversity – not by the forces that are content to destroy them. And through our close partnership with the Syrian Opposition Coalition, the legitimate representative, we believe, of the Syrian people, we can lay the foundation for a peaceful Syria where all Syrians have a say and a shape in a shared future.

The Syrian Opposition Coalition’s recent endorsement of Geneva 2 is a critical part of that effort, and I want to commend them for their support. I think almost everybody here has decided there is no military victory. Syria will implode long before any side could claim a military victory. And the fact is there is a process already in place, called Geneva 1, which our friends the Russians have signed on to, which calls for a transition government with quite detailed procedures about how you would have a constitutional process and election, and how Syrians would be able then to choose for the future of Syria. This is a transitional government that must be chosen by mutual consent. And there isn’t anybody in the world who believes that Assad would ever get the consent to be part of such a government.

So we need to move rapidly to put this process in place – a process which already calls for credible elections through that Geneva communique. So we intend to push very hard. We will have a meeting with Lakhdar Brahimi this Friday. I hope we will get this Geneva conference moving. Not that we have an illusion that it may resolve itself in days or even weeks, or perhaps months, but that process must begin so that the world knows we’re paying attention to the crisis of Syria, that it’s unacceptable that it continue in its current status, and that there is a road forward providing that Assad and the people who support him are willing to embrace what the international community has already adopted.

As we invest in the political track, the United States of America will remain steadfast in our efforts to have an impact on the balance on the ground. And we will continue to support the opposition, hopefully thereby moving us closer to a negotiated settlement.

We’ve seen what we’re up against, and we understand the urgency of our working together. There is no way to turn our backs on the nature of the attack that took place on August 21st, an attack that took so many lives in the dead of night because Assad was prepared to use a weapon that has been outlawed and not used in time of war since 1925. That death toll is added to the death toll of already 100,000, and unless all of us make clear our determination to assist the Syrian Opposition Coalition and to help move towards Geneva, that death toll will be added to, with grim figures that could even reach to 200,000, before the international community has applied the lessons that we’ve learned.

After Rwanda, we said never again. After World War II, we said never again. I think the words “never again” need to have meaning. So as we go forward, I’m glad to say to you that this afternoon, Foreign Minister Lavrov and I reached an agreement, which we need to run by our colleagues, with respect to the potential of a resolution. And our hope is that the Security Council will pass a resolution that will make binding and enforceable the removal of the chemical weapons.

But none of us can approach this with an understanding or a belief that just removing the chemical weapons absolves us of our responsibility to deal with the humanitarian crisis, and frankly, a crisis of multilateralism, a crisis of international institutions. We must help bring about a negotiated solution.

We believe we have a strong partner in President Jarba as we pursue these efforts, and it’s our great hope that the pluralism and the partnership that once defined his homeland, the secularity that defines his homeland, will define Syria for all of its citizens in the years to come. And we will do everything in our power to help provide that foundation.

Thank you, Mr. Foreign Minister.

West Wing Week 09/27/13 or, "42 44" | The White House

West Wing Week 09/27/13 or, "42 44" | The White House

EPA EVALUATES SAFER, ALTERNATIVE FLAME RETARDANT CHEMICALS

FROM:  ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 
September 24, 2013
EPA Evaluates Flame Retardants Including a Safer Substitute for HBCD

WASHINGTON — As part of its ongoing efforts to promote the design and use of safer chemicals, today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a draft report on alternatives to a flame retardant chemical, hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), which has persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic characteristics. The findings in the report can help manufacturers identify safer alternatives to the use of HBCD in polystyrene building insulation.

“While EPA continues to support much needed reform of the Toxics Substances Control Act (TSCA), EPA is taking steps now to address the public’s concern with certain flame retardant chemicals, including making information available to companies to help them make decisions on safer chemicals,” said Jim Jones, EPA's assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “The conclusions in this report are enabling companies who choose to move away from HBCD to do so with confidence that the potential for unintended consequences is minimized.”

The Design for the Environment (DfE) Alternatives Assessment draft report, developed with stakeholder and public participation, describes the uses of HBCD with an overview of life cycle and exposure information. The report identifies two viable chemical alternatives for use in polystyrene building insulation, in addition to a list of substances that are not currently expected to be viable. One of the alternatives, a butadiene styrene brominated copolymer, is anticipated to be safer than HBCD and is currently in commercial production in the U.S.  Alternative materials are also identified in the report.

In March 2013, as part of a broader effort to address flame retardant chemicals, EPA identified 20 flame retardants for risk assessment under the TSCA work plan. This includes developing full risk assessments on four of these chemicals, including HBCD.  EPA will use the information from these full assessments to better understand chemicals with similar structures and characteristics. If EPA identifies potential risks, the agency will evaluate and pursue appropriate risk reduction actions. EPA will begin development of these risk assessments later this year and anticipates making the draft risk assessments available for public comment and peer review in 2014.

To further assist companies in selecting safer chemicals, EPA recently launched ChemView, a web-based tool designed to provide the public and decision-makers with a single access point to a wide array of chemical data, like the results of the HBCD alternatives assessment, that can help companies make decisions on developing and using safer chemicals in the products they manufacture.

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE WEEKLY CLAIMS REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING SEPTEMBER 21, 2013

FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR


          SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending September 21, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 305,000, a decrease of 5,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 310,000. The 4-week moving average was 308,000, a decrease of 7,000 from the previous week's revised average of 315,000.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.2 percent for the week ending September 14, an increase of 0.1 percentage point from the prior week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending September 14 was 2,823,000, an increase of 35,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 2,788,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,842,500, a decrease of 42,750 from the preceding week's revised average of 2,885,250.

UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 253,668 in the week ending September 21, a decrease of 19,250 from the previous week. There were 303,685 initial claims in the comparable week in 2012.

The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.9 percent during the week ending September 14, unchanged from the prior week's unrevised rate. The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 2,464,570, a decrease of 41,762 from the preceding week's revised level of 2,506,332. A year earlier, the rate was 2.2 percent and the volume was 2,841,521.

The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending September 7 was 3,921,399, an increase of 22,769 from the previous week. There were 5,173,998 persons claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2012.

No state was triggered "on" the Extended Benefits program during the week ending September 7.

Initial claims for UI benefits filed by former Federal civilian employees totaled 1,133 in the week ending September 14, an increase of 206 from the prior week. There were 2,155 initial claims filed by newly discharged veterans, an increase of 82 from the preceding week.

There were 19,020 former Federal civilian employees claiming UI benefits for the week ending September 7, an increase of 369 from the previous week. Newly discharged veterans claiming benefits totaled 31,341, an increase of 45 from the prior week.

States reported 1,348,526 persons claiming Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits for the week ending September 7, an increase of 32,563 from the prior week. There were 2,160,448 persons claiming EUC in the comparable week in 2012. EUC weekly claims include first, second, third, and fourth tier activity.

The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending September 14 were in Puerto Rico (4.2), New Jersey (3.4), Alaska (3.3), Virgin Islands (3.1), Connecticut (2.9), New Mexico (2.9), Pennsylvania (2.8), Nevada (2.6), New York (2.6), and Illinois (2.5).

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending September 14 were in California (+22,611), Florida (+3,946), Georgia (+2,690), Nevada (+2,504), and New York (+1,871), while the largest decreases were in Oklahoma (-439), Tennessee (-404), Kansas (-351), Massachusetts (-304), and Idaho (-294).


ICAP BROKERS FACE FELONY CHARGES FOR ALLEGED LONG-RUNNING MANIPULATION OF LIBOR INTEREST RATES

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT 

WASHINGTON — Two former derivatives brokers and a former cash broker employed by London-based brokerage firm ICAP were charged as part of the ongoing criminal investigation into the manipulation of the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), the Justice Department announced today.

Darrell Read, who resides in New Zealand, and Daniel Wilkinson and Colin Goodman, both of England, were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and two counts of wire fraud in a criminal complaint unsealed in Manhattan federal court earlier today. They each face a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison for each count upon conviction.

“By allegedly participating in a scheme to manipulate benchmark interest rates for financial gain, these defendants undermined the integrity of the global markets,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “They were supposed to be honest brokers, but instead, they put their own financial interests ahead of that larger responsibility.  And as a result, transactions and financial products around the world were compromised, because they were tied to a rate that was distorted due to the brokers’ dishonesty.  These charges underscore the Justice Department’s determination to hold accountable all those whose conduct threatens the integrity of our financial markets.”

“These three men are accused of repeatedly and deliberately spreading false information to banks and investors around the world in order to fraudulently move the market and help their client fleece his counterparties,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.  “Our criminal investigation of the manipulation of LIBOR by some of the largest banks in the world has led us from New York to London, to Tokyo, and other financial hubs around the globe.  These important charges are just the latest law-enforcement action in the Criminal Division and Antitrust Division’s global LIBOR investigation, and reflect the Department’s continued dedication to detecting, and prosecuting, financial fraudsters who affect U.S. markets, whether they work at a bank, or a brokerage, and whether they carry out their fraud from a desk in the United States, or abroad.”
“The complaint unsealed today charges Colin Goodman, Daniel Wilkinson and Darrell Read for conspiring to manipulate benchmark interest rates that determined the profitability of their client’s trades,” said Scott D. Hammond, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement program.  “In exchange for bigger bonus checks, the three defendants undermined financial markets around the world by compromising the integrity of globally used interest rate benchmarks.  The Department continues to demonstrate its commitment to protecting the interest of American citizens in free and fair financial markets.”

“Corporate and securities fraud involving the manipulation of these rates causes a worldwide impact on trading positions and erodes the integrity of the market and confidence in Wall Street,” said Assistant Director in Charge Valerie Parlave of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.  “Unraveling such complex financial schemes is difficult and time consuming.  Today’s charges are the result of the hard work of the FBI special agents and forensic accountants who dedicated significant time and resources to investigating this case.”

According to the criminal complaint, LIBOR is an average interest rate, calculated based on submissions from leading banks around the world, reflecting the rates those banks believe they would be charged if borrowing from other banks.  LIBOR is published by the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), a trade association based in London.  At the time relevant to the criminal complaint, LIBOR was calculated for 10 currencies at 15 borrowing periods, known as maturities, ranging from overnight to one year.  The published LIBOR “fix” for a given currency at a specific maturity is the result of a calculation based upon submissions from a panel of banks for that currency (the contributor panel) selected by the BBA.

LIBOR serves as the primary benchmark for short-term interest rates globally and is used as a reference rate for many interest rate contracts, mortgages, credit cards, student loans and other consumer lending products.  The Bank of International Settlements estimated that as of the second half of 2009, outstanding interest rate contracts were estimated at approximately $450 trillion.

According to allegations in the criminal complaint filed in this case, between July 2006 and September 2010, Wilkinson was a desk director employed in the London office of ICAP, where he supervised a group of derivatives brokers – including Read – specializing in Yen-based financial products.  Generally, the desk’s clients were derivatives traders at large financial institutions, and the transactions brokered by Wilkinson, Read and others on the desk essentially consisted of bets between traders on the direction in which Yen LIBOR would move.  Between July 2006 and September 2009, the desk’s largest client was a senior trader at UBS (UBS Trader) in Tokyo, to whom Read spoke almost daily.  Because of the large size of the client’s trading positions, even slight moves of a fraction of a percent in Yen LIBOR could generate large profits.  For example, UBS Trader once told Read that a 0.01 percent – or one basis point – movement in the final Yen LIBOR fixing on a specific date could result in $3 million profit for his trading positions.  A significant part of both Read’s and Wilkinson’s compensation was tied to the brokerage fees generated by UBS Trader and paid to ICAP.

Goodman was a cash broker at ICAP’s London office during the relevant time period.  In addition to brokering cash transactions, Goodman distributed a daily email to individuals outside of ICAP, including derivatives traders at several large banks as well as those responsible for providing the BBA with LIBOR submissions at certain banks.  Goodman’s email contained what was termed his “SUGGESTED LIBORS,” purported predictions of where Yen LIBOR ultimately would fix each day across eight specified borrowing periods.  Read and Wilkinson, along with Goodman himself, often referred to Goodman as “lord libor.”

The complaint alleges that Read, Wilkinson and Goodman, together with UBS Trader, executed a sustained and systematic scheme to move Yen LIBOR in a direction favorable to UBS Trader’s trading positions.

According to the criminal complaint, the primary strategy employed by Read, Wilkinson and Goodman to execute the scheme was to use Goodman’s “SUGGESTED LIBORS” email to disseminate misinformation to Yen LIBOR panel banks in hopes that the banks would rely on the misinformation when making their own respective Yen LIBOR submissions to the BBA for inclusion in the published fix.  Rather than providing good faith predictions as to where Yen LIBOR would fix, Goodman instead often used his daily email to set forth predictions which benefitted UBS Trader’s trading positions.

Beginning in or about June 2007, Goodman was paid a bonus through the desk Wilkinson supervised, allegedly intended, at least in part, to reward Goodman for his role in their effort to influence and manipulate the published Yen LIBOR fix.

As a second strategy, Read and Wilkinson allegedly further agreed to contact interest rate derivatives traders and submitters employed at Yen LIBOR panel banks in an effort to cause them to make false and misleading submissions to the BBA at UBS Trader’s behest.

As alleged in the charging document, Read, Wilkinson, Goodman, UBS Trader, and other co-conspirators often executed their scheme through electronic chats and email exchanges.  For example, on June 28, 2007, in an email message, Read told Wilkinson: “DAN THIS IS GETTING SERIOUS [UBS TRADER] IS NOT HAPPY WITH THE WAY THINGS ARE PROGRESSING . . . CAN YOU PLEASE GET HOLD OF COLIN AND GET HIM TO SEND OUT 6 MOS LIBOR AT 0.865 AND TO GET HIS BANKS SETTING IT HIGH. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT BECAUSE [UBS TRADER] IS QUESTIONING MY (AND OUR) WORTH.”

The complaint alleges that the defendants were aware of the effects that Goodman’s false and fraudulent “SUGGESTED LIBORS” had on submissions by Yen LIBOR panel banks.  For example, on Nov. 20, 2008, Read asked UBS Trader, “you have a really big fix tonight I believe? if Colin sends out 6m at a more realistic level than 1.10 [%] i reckon [the two panel banks] will parrot him, it might mean 6m coming down a bit.” On the following day, Nov. 21, 2008, Goodman moved his suggestion for 6-month Yen LIBOR down by nine basis points.  The two other banks mirrored Goodman’s suggestion, moving their 6-month Yen LIBOR submissions down by nine basis points.

According to allegations in the complaint, Read counseled UBS Trader how to most effectively manipulate Yen LIBOR.  For example, UBS Trader told Read in a July 22, 2009, electronic chat that “11th aug is the big date...i still have lots of 6m fixings till the 10th.”   Read responded to UBS Trader, “if you drop [UBS’s] 6m dramatically on the 11th mate, it will look v fishy... .  I’d be v careful how you play it, there might be cause for a drop as you cross into a new month but a couple of weeks in might get people questioning you.”  UBS Trader replied, “don’t worry will stagger the drops...ie 5bp then 5bp,” and Read told UBS Trader, “ok mate, don’t want you getting into [expletive].”  UBS Trader again assured Read that UBS and two additional panel banks would stagger their drops in coordination, and Read concluded, “great the plan is hatched and sounds sensible.”

A criminal complaint is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.  A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted.

The investigation is being conducted by special agents, forensic accountants, and intelligence analysts of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.  The prosecution is being handled by Deputy Chief William Stellmach and Trial Attorney Sandra L. Moser of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Trial Attorneys Eric Schleef and Kristina Srica of the Antitrust Division.  Trial Attorneys Alexander Berlin and Thomas B.W. Hall, Law Clerk Andrew Tyler, and Paralegal Specialist Kevin Sitarski of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, along with Assistant Chief Elizabeth Prewitt and Trial Attorney Richard Powers of the Antitrust Division, and former Trial Attorney Luke Marsh have also provided valuable assistance.  The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs has provided assistance in this matter as well.

The broader investigation relating to LIBOR and other benchmark rates has required, and has greatly benefited from, a diligent and wide-ranging cooperative effort among various enforcement agencies both in the United States and abroad.  The Justice Department acknowledges and expresses its deep appreciation for this assistance.  In particular, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Division of Enforcement referred this matter to the Department and, along with the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority, has played a major role in the investigation.  The Securities and Exchange Commission has also provided valuable assistance for which the Department is grateful.  The Department also expresses its appreciation to the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office for its assistance and ongoing cooperation.  Various agencies and enforcement authorities from other nations are also participating in different aspects of the broader investigation, and the Department is grateful for their cooperation and assistance as well.

Finally, the Department acknowledges ICAP’s continuing cooperation in the Department’s ongoing investigation.

This prosecution is part of efforts underway by President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.  President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.  The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources.  The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.

HHS ON DIABETES RESEARCH

FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES 
Fruits of the diabetes research


From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I’m Ira Dreyfuss with HHS HealthBeat.

Like sweets? Fruits are sweet, and a study indicates these sweets can lower the risk of diabetes. At the Harvard School of Public Health, researcher Qi Sun saw signs of this in data from 1984 to 2008 on more than 187,000 people.

He compared people who ate at least two servings a week of certain whole fruits – particularly blueberries, grapes and apples – with people who ate less than one serving a month. The fruit eaters had a 23 percent lower risk of diabetes.

So Sun says:

“We recommend people to increase consumption of whole fruits intake to facilitate prevention of type 2 diabetes.”

The study in the journal BMJ was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Learn more at healthfinder.gov.

HHS HealthBeat is a production of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I’m Ira Dreyfuss.

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE HAGEL MEETS WITH GULF LEADERS IN NEW YORK

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 
Hagel Meets with Lebanese President, Gulf Leaders in New York
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26, 2013 - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met in New York today with Lebanese President Michel Sleiman on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly and took part in a meeting of the U.S.-Gulf Cooperation Council Strategic Cooperation Forum, Pentagon Spokesman George Little said.

In a statement issued after the meeting, Little said Hagel joined Secretary of State John F. Kerry in meeting with the foreign ministers of the six-member GCC for the third iteration of the SCF, a consultative body formed in 2012 to enhance multilateral cooperation between the United States and the GCC on a range of common issues.

During the SCF, Little said "Secretary Hagel reiterated the United States' commitment to the region and underscored how collaborative approaches toward regional defense made the Middle East more secure and stable, a shared interest of the United States and the GCC."

Hagel, he said, detailed recent progress on several areas of defense cooperation, including the success of the May 2013 International Mine Countermeasures Exercise and multinational engagement on ballistic missile defense at the Gulf Combined Air Operations Center, while urging further collaboration in these defense initiatives. The SCF concluded with Secretary Kerry moderating a discussion on regional issues, including Syria, Iran, and Yemen, Little added.

Hagel also met with Lebanese President Sleiman "to affirm the strength of the U.S.-Lebanon partnership and our shared view of the importance of the Lebanese Armed Forces as Lebanon's sole legitimate defense force to Lebanon's stability and unity," Little said.

SEC CHARGES FORMER CEO OF EDUCATION SERVICES PROVIDER WITH STEALING TENS OF MILLIONS

FROM:  U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION 

The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged the former CEO of an education services provider based in China with stealing tens of millions of dollars from investors in a U.S. public offering, and charged another executive with illegally dumping his stock in the company after he helped steal valuable company assets.

The SEC alleges that ChinaCast Education Corporation’s former CEO and chairman of the board Chan Tze Ngon illicitly transferred $41 million out of the $43.8 million raised from investors to a purported subsidiary in which he secretly held a controlling 50 percent ownership stake.  From there, Chan transferred investor funds to another entity outside ChinaCast’s control.  Chan also secretly pledged $30.4 million of ChinaCast’s cash deposits to secure the debts of entities unrelated to ChinaCast.  None of the transactions were disclosed in the periodic and other reports signed by Chan and filed with the SEC.

The SEC further alleges that Jiang Xiangyuan, ChinaCast’s former president for operations in China, avoided more than $200,000 in losses by illegally selling approximately 50,000 ChinaCast shares after participating in the ownership transfer of one of company’s revenue-generating colleges before it was publicly disclosed by a new management team.  ChinaCast had a market capitalization of more than $200 million before these alleged frauds came to light.  After Chan and Jiang were terminated and their misconduct was publicly disclosed by new management, ChinaCast’s market capitalization dropped to less than $5 million.

“The massive fraud perpetrated by Chan destroyed hundreds of millions of dollars in market value, and Jiang’s brazen insider trading allowed him to profit by dumping his own shares on the market before the fraud was exposed,” said Andrew M. Calamari, Director of the SEC’s New York Regional Office.

According to the SEC’s complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan, ChinaCast entered the U.S. capital markets through a reverse merger in December 2006, and its common stock was listed on the NASDAQ from Oct. 29, 2007 to June 25, 2012.  ChinaCast conducted multiple public stock offerings in the U.S., with the second one occurring in December 2009 when ChinaCast represented that the proceeds would be used for “working capital, future acquisitions, and general corporate purposes.”  Chan instead directed and engaged in the transactions that moved investor funds outside ChinaCast’s corporate structure for his personal benefit.  He did so without seeking or obtaining the approval of ChinaCast’s board of directors, and the transactions were not publicly disclosed until ChinaCast’s new management prompted the company to file a Form 8-K on Dec. 21, 2012, disclosing Chan’s misconduct.

The SEC alleges that ChinaCast falsely stated in multiple SEC filings signed by Chan that the company indirectly owned 98.5 percent of ChinaCast Technology (HK) Limited – the purported subsidiary to which Chan first transferred investor funds.  However, ChinaCast actually held only an indirect 49.2 percent interest while Chan personally owned 50 percent.  Chan also signed a number of periodic reports falsely stating that offering proceeds were under ChinaCast’s control and falsely including those funds in amounts that ChinaCast reported as cash and cash equivalents.  Chan also defrauded shareholders and prospective investors by secretly pledging ChinaCast’s existing term cash deposits as collateral to secure debts incurred by various third parties that had nothing to do with ChinaCast’s business.  Chan signed periodic reports falsely stating that ChinaCast’s cash and cash equivalents were completely unencumbered.

“Chan orchestrated the systematic looting of ChinaCast and hid his misconduct by repeatedly lying to investors about the company’s assets until he lost control of the board and was terminated,” said Sanjay Wadhwa, Senior Associate Director for Enforcement in the SEC’s New York office.  “Officers and directors who misuse their access to the U.S. capital markets will be held accountable for their insidious behavior.”

According to the SEC’s complaint, Jiang was a member of the senior management group headed by Chan.  Jiang engaged in illegal trading based on inside information by selling his shares on March 28, 2012, at $4.59 per share.  After Chan’s management group lost control of the board, they transferred ownership of ChinaCast’s three profitable brick-and-mortar colleges away from ChinaCast to Jiang and the dean of one of the colleges.  They were later sold to others.  At least one of the colleges was transferred to Jiang and the dean three weeks before Jiang’s March 28 stock sale.  Jiang was terminated on March 29, and NASDAQ suspended trading in ChinaCast on April 2 due to its failure to file an annual report for 2011.  ChinaCast was later delisted.  When over-the-counter trading resumed on June 25 after multiple disclosures made by new management about former management’s misconduct, the stock opened at 55 cents per share and closed at 82 cents.  ChinaCast’s stock is currently trading at 10 cents per share.

Chan is charged with violations of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 as well as violations of various corporate reporting, recordkeeping, and internal controls provisions.  Jiang is charged with illegal insider trading in violations of the same antifraud provisions.  The SEC seeks disgorgement of ill-gotten gains plus prejudgment interest, financial penalties, permanent injunctions, and officer-and-director bars.

The SEC’s investigation, which is continuing, has been conducted by Dominick Barbieri and George Stepaniuk in the SEC’s New York office.  The SEC’s litigation will be led by Nancy Brown.  Assisting in the investigation was the SEC’s Cross Border Working Group, which has representatives from each of the agency’s major divisions and offices and focuses on U.S. companies with substantial foreign operations.

SEC CHARGES 10 BROKERS IN $125 MILLION INVESTMENT SCHEME

FROM:  U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION 

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced charges against 10 former brokers at an Albany, N.Y.-based firm at the center of a $125 million investment scheme for which the co-owners have received jail sentences.

The SEC filed an emergency action in 2010 to halt the scheme at McGinn Smith & Co. and freeze the assets of the firm and its owners Timothy M. McGinn and David L. Smith, who were later charged criminally by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York and found guilty.

The SEC’s Enforcement Division alleges that 10 brokers who recommended the unregistered investment products involved in the scheme made material misrepresentations and omissions to their customers.  The registered representatives ignored red flags that should have led them to conduct more due diligence into the securities they were recommending to their customers.

“As securities professionals, these brokers had an important duty to determine whether the securities they recommended to customers were suitable, especially when red flags were apparent.  These registered representatives performed inadequate due diligence and failed to fulfill their duties,” said Andrew M. Calamari, Director of the SEC’s New York Regional Office.

The SEC’s order names 10 former McGinn Smith brokers in the administrative proceeding:

Donald J. Anthony, Jr. of Loudonville, N.Y.
Frank H. Chiappone of Clifton Park, NY.
Richard D. Feldmann of Delmar, N.Y.
William P. Gamello of Rexford, N.Y.
Andrew G. Guzzetti of Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
William F. Lex of Phoenixville, Pa.
Thomas E. Livingston of Slingerlands, N.Y.
Brian T. Mayer of Princeton, N.J.
Philip S. Rabinovich of Roslyn, N.Y.
Ryan C. Rogers of East Northport, N.Y.
According to the SEC’s order, the scheme victimized approximately 750 investors and led to $80 million in investor losses.  Guzzetti was the managing director of McGinn Smith’s private client group from 2004 to 2009, and he supervised brokers who recommended the firm’s offerings.  The SEC’s Enforcement Division alleges that despite his knowledge of serious red flags, Guzzetti failed to take any action to investigate the offerings and instead encouraged the brokers to sell the notes to McGinn Smith customers.

The SEC’s Enforcement Division alleges that the other nine brokers charged in the administrative proceeding should have conducted a searching inquiry prior to recommending the products to their customers.  The brokers continued to sell McGinn Smith notes even after being told that customers placed in some of the firm’s offerings could only be redeemed if a replacement customer was found.  This was contrary to the offering documents.  In January 2008, the brokers learned that four earlier offerings that raised almost $90 million had defaulted, yet they failed to conduct any inquiry into subsequent offerings and continued to recommend McGinn Smith notes.

The SEC’s order alleges that the misconduct of Anthony, Chiappone, Feldmann, Gamello, Lex, Livingston, Mayer, Rabinovich, and Rogers resulted in violations of Sections 5(a), 5(c), and 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5.  The order alleges that Guzzetti failed to reasonably supervise the nine brokers, giving rise to liability under Section 15(b)(6) of the Exchange Act, incorporating by reference Section 15(b)(4).

The SEC’s civil case continues against the firm as well as McGinn and Smith, who were sentenced to 15 and 10 years imprisonment respectively in the criminal case.
The SEC’s investigation was conducted by David Stoelting, Kevin P. McGrath, Lara Shalov Mehraban, Haimavathi V. Marlier, Joshua Newville, Kerri Palen, Michael Paley, and Roseann Daniello of the New York office.  Mr. Stoelting, Ms. Marlier and Michael Birnbaum will lead the Enforcement Division’s litigation.


SEC CHARGES FORMER QUALCOMM INC EXECUTIVE WITH INSIDER TRADING

FROM:  U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION 

The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a former executive at Qualcomm Inc. and his former financial advisor with insider trading ahead of major announcements by the San Diego-based wireless technology company for more than a quarter-million dollars in profits.

The SEC alleges that Jing Wang, a former executive vice president and president of global business operations at Qualcomm, used a secret offshore brokerage account to make illegal trades based on confidential information that he learned on the job.  Gary Yin, a former registered representative at Merrill Lynch, helped Wang set up the account.  Yin also created a secret offshore account of his own and traded on the non-public information gleaned from Wang.  When Wang eventually realized that insider trading in the offshore accounts still may be discovered by the SEC or other regulators, he concocted a plan to conceal his trading activity by claiming the trades were made by his brother.  Wang even convinced Yin to travel to China and go over the account statements with Wang’s brother so he could explain the trades if asked by investigators.

“Wang violated his duty as an insider to protect confidential information when he made timely illegal trades ahead of major announcements to the detriment of other Qualcomm shareholders who did not have the same information,” said Michele Wein Layne, Director of the SEC’s Los Angeles Regional Office.  “Wang and Yin went to extraordinary lengths to conceal their trading and cover it up afterwards, but despite their expansive efforts they still wound up in law enforcement’s crosshairs.”

In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California today announced criminal charges against Wang and Yin.

According to the SEC’s complaint, Wang and Yin became friends in 2005 as members of the same church.  When Wang learned that Yin was a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch, he asked Yin to manage his money and opened a number of brokerage accounts at the firm’s San Diego branch office.  Each account was disclosed to Qualcomm because, as a company officer, Wang was restricted in his ability to trade Qualcomm stock and required to pre-clear all Qualcomm trades with the company.

The SEC alleges that in early 2006, Wang approached Yin about hiding cash transactions.  Yin suggested that Wang create an entity registered in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and use the name of a non-U.S. citizen family member as the beneficial owner.  Then he could open a brokerage account in the newly created entity’s name.  Yin then helped Wang set up a secret account in the name of a BVI company called Unicorn Global Enterprises, and Wang’s older brother was listed as the owner.  Yin similarly created his own BVI-registered entity named Pacific Rim and put it in his mother-in-law’s name.  Yin opened a Merrill Lynch brokerage account for Pacific Rim and used it to hide funds that he was using for investments.

The SEC alleges that Wang and Yin used their secret offshore accounts to trade on material, non-public information that Wang learned as an executive at Qualcomm.  In early 2010, Wang was aware that Qualcomm executives were planning a board proposal to increase Qualcomm’s quarterly dividends and request authority to initiate a stock repurchase program.  Qualcomm informed Wang and all executives that they would not be permitted to trade Qualcomm stock.  On March 1, Wang attended a Qualcomm board meeting where the quarterly dividend increase and stock repurchase were approved.  Wang immediately instructed Yin to use all of the funds in the offshore Unicorn account to purchase Qualcomm stock.  Yin knew that Wang did not pre-clear these trades and realized that the purchase was out of character for Wang because he previously never purchased Qualcomm stock on the open market in his Merrill Lynch accounts.  Within the hour of executing the trades for Wang, Yin himself bought Qualcomm stock on the basis of the material, non-public information.  The stock price increased 6.7 percent after Qualcomm publicly announced the quarterly cash dividend and stock repurchase program.  Wang and Yin profited when they sold all of their shares.

According to the SEC’s complaint, Wang used the funds from that sale to conduct insider trading again – this time in the shares of San Jose-based Atheros Communications, which was the highly confidential target of a planned acquisition by Qualcomm. Wang was regularly briefed on the transaction internally tabbed as “Project Tango” to protect its confidentiality.  Wang instructed Yin to sell all of his Qualcomm stock in the Unicorn account on Dec. 2, 2010, and prepare to buy as many shares of Atheros stock as possible with the funds in that account.  He told Yin that he was leaving on a trip to China and would contact him to execute the Atheros trade.  On December 6, Wang attended a Qualcomm board meeting in Hong Kong and a resolution was passed to pursue the acquisition. Wang learned that Qualcomm planned to acquire Atheros at $45 per share.  Wang and Yin immediately communicated several times through phone calls and a text message, and Wang then purchased the maximum number of shares he could purchase with the existing funds in the Unicorn account at prices between $34 and $35 per share.  At Wang’s encouragement, Yin also purchased Atheros stock for himself in his offshore account.  When the news became public in early January, Atheros stock increased more than 20 percent.  Yin sold all of his Atheros shares in the Pacific Rim account on January 12, and Wang sold his Atheros shares in the Unicorn account on January 25.

According to the SEC’s complaint, Wang took his next insider trading step merely four minutes after selling the Atheros stock, using the proceeds to purchase Qualcomm shares in advance of a company announcement that it would raise its revenue and earnings guidance for the 2011 fiscal year.  Wang had learned the confidential information prior to the board meeting he attended in Hong Kong, where Qualcomm’s better-than-expected first quarter financial performance was further discussed.  Wang learned that Qualcomm planned to announce its earnings results on January 26, and thus purchased his Qualcomm shares the day before the announcement.  After Qualcomm issued a press release to announcing its positive first quarter results, Qualcomm’s stock increased 5.9 percent.

The SEC alleges that Wang made more than $244,000 in illegal profits through the insider trading scheme, and Yin realized gains of more than $27,000.  Wang eventually realized that his illegal trading may be detected by Merrill Lynch or others.  Wang first asked Yin to delete records of the trades in the Unicorn account, but because they were permanent records in Merrill Lynch’s systems they could not be erased.  Around January 2012, Wang directed Yin to establish a new BVI corporation named Clearview Resources and open a new account at Merrill Lynch to which they transferred the insider trading proceeds in the Unicorn account to further distance Wang from the suspicious trades.  A few months later, Wang informed Yin that the trades may have been detected because the SEC had subpoenaed his e-mails.  So Wang devised a cover story and convinced Yin if ever questioned to say that the Atheros trades were made by Wang’s brother.  Because Yin had never communicated with Wang’s brother, Wang instructed him to travel to China with the Unicorn account statements and review the trades with his brother so he could explain the trading if asked.  Yin did so in May 2012.  To further hide Wang’s ownership of the Unicorn account and his link to the Atheros trades, Yin removed the Unicorn account from Wang’s “household” in Merrill Lynch’s computer system in July 2012. “Householding” is a function used by Merrill Lynch to link related accounts.

The SEC's complaint charges Wang, who lives in Del Mar, Calif., with violating Sections 10(b) and 16(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rules 10b-5 and 16a-3.  Yin, who lives in San Diego, is charged with violating Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5.  The SEC’s complaint seeks disgorgement of ill-gotten gains plus prejudgment interest, financial penalties, and permanent injunctions.  The SEC also seeks an officer-and-director bar against Wang.

The SEC’s investigation has been conducted by Ann C. Kim, Wendy E. Pearson, Nina Yamamoto, and Finola H. Manvelian of the Los Angeles Regional Office.  The SEC’s litigation will be led by Sam Puathasnanon.  The SEC appreciates the assistance of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

SPANNING HALF A MILLION LIGHT YEARS


FROM:  NASA 
Clues to the Growth of the Colossus in Coma

A team of astronomers has discovered enormous arms of hot gas in the Coma cluster of galaxies by using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA’s XMM-Newton. These features, which span at least half a million light years, provide insight into how the Coma cluster has grown through mergers of smaller groups and clusters of galaxies to become one of the largest structures in the universe held together by gravity.

A new composite image, with Chandra data in pink and optical data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey appearing in white and blue, features these spectacular arms. In this image, the Chandra data have been processed so extra detail can be seen.

The X-ray emission is from multimillion-degree gas and the optical data shows galaxies in the Coma Cluster, which contain only about one-sixth the mass in hot gas. Only the brightest X-ray emission is shown here, to emphasize the arms, but the hot gas is present over the entire field of view.

Researchers think that these arms were most likely formed when smaller galaxy clusters had their gas stripped away by the head wind created by the motion of the cluster through the hot gas, in much the same way that the headwind created by a roller coaster blows the hats off riders.

Coma is an unusual galaxy cluster because it contains not one, but two giant elliptical galaxies near its center. These two giant elliptical galaxies are probably the vestiges from each of the two largest clusters that merged with Coma in the past. The researchers also uncovered other signs of past collisions and mergers in the data.

From their length, and the speed of sound in the hot gas (about four million km/hr), the newly discovered X-ray arms are estimated to be about 300 million years old, and they appear to have a rather smooth shape. This gives researchers some clues about the conditions of the hot gas in Coma. Most theoretical models expect that mergers between clusters like those in Coma will produce strong turbulence, like ocean water that has been churned by many passing ships. Instead, the smooth shape of these lengthy arms points to a rather calm setting for the hot gas in the Coma cluster, even after many mergers.

Large-scale magnetic fields are likely responsible for the small amount of turbulence that is present in Coma. Estimating the amount of turbulence in a galaxy cluster has been a challenging problem for astrophysicists. Researchers have found a range of answers, some of them conflicting, and so observations of other clusters are needed.

Two of the arms appear to be connected to a group of galaxies located about two million light years from the center of Coma. One or both of these arms connects to a larger structure seen in the XMM-Newton data, and spans a distance or at least 1.5 million light years. A very thin tail also appears behind one of the galaxies in Coma. This is probably evidence of gas being stripped from a single galaxy, in addition to the groups or clusters that have merged there.

These new results on the Coma cluster, which incorporate over six days worth of Chandra observing time, will appear in the September 20, 2013, issue of the journal Science. The first author of the paper is Jeremy Sanders from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany. The co-authors are Andy Fabian from Cambridge University in the UK; Eugene Churazov from the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching, Germany; Alexander Schekochihin from University of Oxford in the UK; Aurora Simionescu from Stanford University in Stanford, CA; Stephen Walker from Cambridge University in the UK and Norbert Werner from Stanford University in Stanford, CA.
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra Program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra's science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

Credits: X-ray: NASA/CXC/MPE/J. Sanders et al; Optical: SDSS

Thursday, September 26, 2013

DOD SAYS RECRUITING GOALS BENG MET

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 

Active Services Meet Fiscal Year Recruiting Goals Through August

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26, 2013 - All four active services met or exceeded their numerical accession goals for fiscal year 2013 through August, Pentagon officials announced yesterday.
Here are the numbers for the first 11 months of the fiscal year:
-- Army: 62,453 accessions, 101 percent of its goal of 61,620;
-- Navy: 36,565 accessions, 100 percent of its goal of 36,565;
-- Marine Corps: 28,128 accessions, 100 percent of its goal of 28,085; and
-- Air Force: 24,335 accessions, 100 percent of its goal of 24,335.
The Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps exhibited strong retention, officials said. The Navy's retention numbers were strong in the mid-career and career categories, they added, and its achievement of 85 percent retention in the initial category is a result of reduced accessions from four to six years ago.

Five of the six reserve components met or exceeded their numerical fiscal year accession goals through August. The Army Reserve remains 3,206 accessions short of its fiscal goal.
Here are the reserve component numbers:
-- Army National Guard: 45,539 accessions, 101 percent of its goal of 45,047;
-- Army Reserve: 24,114 accessions, 88 percent of its goal of 27,320;
-- Navy Reserve: 5,296 accessions, 101 percent of its goal of 5,241;
-- Marine Corps Reserve: 8,778 accessions, 100 percent of its goal of 8,744;
-- Air National Guard: 9,465 accessions, 100 percent of its goal of 9,465; and
-- Air Force Reserve: 7,040 accessions, 126 percent of its goal of 5,593.

All reserve components have met their attrition goals, and current trends are expected to continue, officials said, adding that this indicator lags behind accessions by a month due to data availability.

Press Briefing | The White House

Press Briefing | The White House

SECRETARY OF STATE KERRY'S REMARK'S AFTER P-5+1 MINISTERIAL ON IRAN

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
Remarks After the P-5+1 Ministerial on Iran
Remarks
John Kerry
Secretary of State
New York City
September 26, 2013

SECRETARY KERRY: First of all, I think you’ve heard some of the other ministers. We had a constructive meeting, and I think all of us were pleased that Foreign Minister Zarif came and made a presentation to us, which was very different in tone and very different in the vision that he held out with respect to possibilities of the future.

I have just met with him now on a side meeting, which we took a moment to explore a little further the possibilities of how to proceed based on what President Obama laid out in his speech to the General Assembly earlier this week. And so we’ve agreed to try to continue a process that we’ll try to make concrete, to find a way to answer the questions that people have about Iran’s nuclear program.

Needless to say, one meeting and a change in tone, which was welcome, doesn’t answer those questions yet, and there’s a lot of work to be done. So we will engage in that work, obviously, and we hope very, very much – all of us – that we can get concrete results that will answer the outstanding questions regarding the program. But I think all of us were pleased that the Foreign Minister came today, that he did put some possibilities on the table. Now it’s up to people to do the hard work of trying to fill out what those possibilities could do.

Finally, let me just say that prior to this meeting, I was pleased to have a meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and we did reach agreement with respect to the resolution. We’re now doing the final work of pulling that language together, but it’s our hope that that process between the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations and its resolution can now move forward and give life, hopefully, to the removal and destruction of chemical weapons from Syria.

Thank you all very, very much.

SECURITY PROCEDURES BEING REVIEWED WORLDWIDE AFTER NAVY YARD SHOOTING

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 
Carter Details Security Reviews in Navy Yard Aftermath
By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 25, 2013 - The Pentagon and the Navy are reviewing security procedures worldwide in the wake of last week's tragic shootings at the Washington Navy Yard, Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter said today, with the aim of enhancing prevention of and response to any future such incidents.
Carter offered his sympathies to everyone affected "by this deplorable act of violence."

"The Department of Defense is a family. And when a family member's taken from us, it affects us all," he said in a briefing to Pentagon reporters. "So to those who are grieving, on behalf of the entire department family, please know that our thoughts and our prayers and our strength are with you."

The deputy secretary said the department is "determined to learn from this tragedy and to take decisive action to prevent such a tragedy from happening again."

Carter continued, "The bottom line is, we need to know how an employee was able to bring a weapon and ammunition onto a DOD installation, and how warning flags were either missed, ignored, or not addressed in a timely manner."

The deputy secretary briefed reporters on the two reviews, along with a third examination that will be conducted by an independent panel. Carter said former assistant secretary of defense for homeland security Paul N. Stockton and former commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, retired Navy Adm. Eric T. Olson, have agreed to lead the independent review.

Together, Carter said, the efforts will analyze physical security measures at U.S. military installations, security clearance processing procedures and emergency response plans.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has approved two recommendations tightening security management within Navy chains of command. Carter noted the Navy, DOD and independent reviews will all feed into a larger, White-House-led look at physical security and emergency response across government.

"We want to look at the whole system and the whole family of incidents that occur," Carter said.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the three department reviews, Carter said.

Hagel's "guidance was clear," Carter said. "The independent panel is to arrive at its own conclusions and make its own recommendations."

Stockton and Olson are uniquely suited to identifying security shortcomings, Carter said. Stockton, he said, brings knowledge from his work leading the department's internal review and response to the Fort Hood shootings in 2009. And, Carter said, Olson's "deep knowledge of special operations and intelligence communities, [and] his personal experience evaluating and developing physical security plans, will all be invaluable."

Together, the efforts are intended to be comprehensive, complementary and mutually reinforcing, Carter said. The department's internal review will be led by Mike Vickers, undersecretary of defense for intelligence, Carter said.

The department's synthesized findings will be in Hagel's hands by Dec. 20, Carter said. Then at Hagel's direction, he added, "the department will take appropriate actions after carefully considering all of the recommendations put forward."

In examining security clearance procedures, the department's internal review will seek to point out "what steps we can take to tighten the standards and procedures for granting and renewing security clearances for DOD employees and contract personnel," Carter said.

Millions of Americans in this and other departments hold clearances, he said, and overall government-wide handling of security clearances will be one focus of the White House's study.

"There are many contractors who are central to the accomplishment of the mission of this department," Carter said. "And they, like our government employees, both civilian and military, all three of those populations contribute to the defense mission, and they're all part of the review."

Carter echoed Hagel's remarks last week: "Where there are gaps, we'll close them. Where there are inadequacies, we will address them. And where there are failures, we will correct them. That process is underway. We owe nothing less to the victims, their families, and every member of the Department of Defense community."

In response to a question, Carter noted that the alleged shooter's previous record of firearms incidents was "something that jumped out at me" in reports following last week's incident in which a Navy contractor shot dead 12 civilians working at the Washington Navy Yard.

Carter said he and Hagel are concerned at the existence of such "evidence that there was behavior well before the Washington Navy Yard incident, which had it been spotted and understood to be indicative of this possibility might have led to an intervention that would have prevented [the shootings]."

Carter added, "That's exactly the kind of thing that we need to look at in the review -- exactly."

HHS SAYS NEW HEALTH INSURANCE MARKET PLACE TO HAVE LOWER THAN EXPECTED PREMIUMS

FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES 
Significant choice and lower than expected premiums available in the new Health Insurance Marketplace

A new report released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finds that in state after state, consumers will see increased competition in the Health Insurance Marketplace, leading to new and affordable choices for consumers.  According to the report, consumers will be able to choose from an average of 53 health plans in the Marketplace, and the vast majority of consumers will have a choice of at least two different health insurance companies - usually more.  Premiums nationwide will also be around 16 percent lower than originally expected – with about 95 percent of eligible uninsured live in states with lower than expected premiums – before taking into account financial assistance.

“We are excited to see that rates in the Marketplace are even lower than originally projected,” said Secretary Sebelius.  “In the past, consumers were too often denied or priced-out of quality health insurance options, but thanks to the Affordable Care Act consumers will be able to choose from a number of new coverage options at a price that is affordable.”
In less than a week, the new Marketplace will be open for business where millions of Americans can shop for and purchase health insurance coverage in one place.  Consumers will be able to find out whether they qualify for premium assistance and compare plans side-by-side based on pricing, quality and benefits.  No one can be denied coverage because of a preexisting condition.  October 1 marks the beginning of a six-month long open enrollment period that runs through March 2014.  Coverage begins as early as January 1, or in as little as 100 days from today.

Today’s report finds that individuals in the 36 states where HHS will fully or partly run the Marketplace will have an average of 53 qualified health plan choices.  Plans in the Marketplace will be categorized as either “gold,” “silver,” or “bronze,” depending on the share of costs covered.  Young adults will also have the option of purchasing a “catastrophic” plan, increasing their number of choices to 57 on average. About 95 percent of consumers will have a choice of two or more health insurance issuers, often many more.  About 1 in 4 of these insurance companies is offering health plans in the individual market for the first time in 2014, a sign of healthy competition.

The report also gives an overview of pricing and the number of coverage options across the nation.  It finds that the average premium nationally for the second lowest cost silver plan will be $328 before tax credits, or 16 percent below projections based off of Congressional Budget Office estimates.  About 95 percent of uninsured people eligible for the Marketplace live in a state where their average premium is lower than projections.  And states with the lowest premiums have more than twice the number of insurance companies offering plans than states with the highest premiums.

Premium and plan options are broken down by state where information is available. For example, the report shows that a 27-year old living in Dallas who makes $25,000 per year will pay $74 per month for the lowest cost bronze plan and $139 per month for the lowest cost silver plan, taking into account tax credits.  And he or she will be able to choose from among 43 qualified health plans. For a family of four in Dallas with an income of $50,000 per year, the lowest bronze plan would cost only $26 per month, taking into account tax credits. The majority (around 6 out of 10) of the people uninsured today will be able to find coverage for $100 or less per month in the Marketplace, taking into account premium tax credits and Medicaid coverage.

Consumers can get help finding Marketplace coverage through a number of different resources.  They can get more information through HealthCare.gov, or cuidadodesalud.gov.  Consumers can participate in online web chats or call 1-800-318-2596 toll free (TTY: 1-855-889-4325) to speak with trained customer service representatives, with translation services available in 150 languages.  Community health centers, Navigators and other assisters are available in local communities to provide in-person help with coverage choices.  Local libraries will help consumers learn about their options and hundreds of Champions for Coverage, which are public and private organizations all across the country, are helping people learn about their options and enroll in affordable coverage.

SECRETARY KERRY MAKES REMARKS AT MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS HIGH-LEVEL MEETING

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 

Remarks at the Millennium Development Goals High-Level Meeting


Remarks
John Kerry
Secretary of State
United Nations
New York City
September 25, 2013


Thank you very much (inaudible), Secretary General, and (inaudible) delegates, thank you for hosting this most important (inaudible). Thank you for the leadership and the commitment to universal values that we are trying to act on as we contemplate the future.
When nearly 200 countries came together in 2000 with the goal of relieving poverty, hunger, disease, and environmental degradation that disproportionately afflicts the planet’s most vulnerable people, we set a deadline to address these global challenges by 2015. At the time, 2015 felt like the distant future. But today, we have fewer than 830 days left on the clock, and everyone here, I think, knows we have to go further and we have to go faster in order to fulfill the promise of an inclusive future that leaves no one behind. So we need to finish strong and then we need to keep building in order to get the job done.

Even as we have cut in half the number who live on about a dollar a day, we know that that half is not clearly enough. So we have to decide, all of us together, to do what this institution was founded to do – to do more. As President Obama said in his State of the Union address this year and as Secretary General Ban said so eloquently yesterday, we have the historic opportunity to rid the world of extreme poverty in the next two decades. We can put all of our countries on the path to more sustained prosperity.

How do we do that? Well, frankly, experience teaches us exactly what works and it teaches us what doesn’t work. We know that creating true opportunity for every member of society without discrimination, investing in health and education, creating the conditions for broad-based economic growth, and strengthening the core institutions of democratic and accountable governance and also getting energy that works for everybody. (Laughter and applause.) (Inaudible) a serious documentation indeed. (Laughter.)

Today, thanks to our efforts, there are far fewer children who are going to sleep hungry than there were before the Millennium Development Goals were set. But every one of us knows that’s not enough. I think one of the frustrations for all of us is this confrontation with a reality that we see every day, against hurdles that we run up against, and the difficulties of actually moving forward. There are still about 870 million undernourished people around the world, more than 100 times the population of this city of New York. So we have to decide to do more. Through programs like Feed the Future and the New Alliance for Food Security, we can actually connect farmers with better technology and with more markets to bring more meals to more tables. We can save 12 million people from poverty and 1 million children from stunting.

Thanks to programs close to my heart that I began working on in the United States Senate like PEPFAR and the Global Fund, new HIV infections have declined by a third over the last decade. And as of this year, we have saved more than a million babies from becoming infected by HIV. These are remarkable achievements. But today, more people than ever are still living with this terrible disease. Fighting global AIDS is a shared responsibility, so together we must decide to do more. All partners should support the upcoming replenishment of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. And that way, we can promise and deliver on an AIDS-free generation. It is within our reach right now.

All of us are also aware that violent conflict makes development more difficult, and that conflict-afflicted parts of the world remain the furthest behind on achieving the Millennium Goals. So if we’re going to open opportunity to everyone, we need to secure peace where it is needed most, and even where doing that is the hardest.

Lastly, our efforts to improve people’s lives around the world means little if we let the planet itself fall into disrepair. That is why we must strive for a development agenda that recognizes that fighting poverty, combating discrimination, and safeguarding our environment are absolutely linked together, and are not separate endeavors. Protecting people from poverty, hunger, and disease, and protecting our planet from the threats that make all of those menaces even worse – dirty water, dangerous air, disappearing resources – these are challenges to all of us, and they are combined with the challenge of country after country in which populations are 60 percent under 30, 20 – 50 percent under the age of 21, 40 percent under the age of 18. This is our challenge, and these priorities have to go hand in hand.

So as we charge down the homestretch of the Millennium Development Goals, we are already thinking about what comes next. And our post-2015 development agenda will determine how ready the global community is going to be for the challenges ahead. Everything that we try to do here, and in all of our multilateral efforts, and in each of our countries independently is linked to these goals and to what we can decide in this effort. And I urge all of us, as President Obama does, to decide the right things. Thank you. (Applause.)