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Saturday, January 31, 2015

SECRETARY KERRY'S REMARKS ON MURDER OF KENJI GOTO BY ISIL

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
ISIL Murder of Japanese Journalist Kenji Goto
Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
January 31, 2015

The United States condemns ISIL’s vicious murder of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto. We extend our sincere and heartfelt condolences to his wife, his family, and his loved ones, as well as to the people of Japan.

The barbaric killing of Kenji Goto, and of Haruna Yukawa before him, shows again ISIL’s brutality and extremist agenda.

The United States knows this pain on a personal level born of our own experience.

We share the sorrow and continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our ally Japan in confronting terrorism. We commend Japan’s support for those in the region who have been displaced by ISIL, the Syrian regime, and other militant groups.

Japan’s generous assistance to vulnerable communities fully reflects its commitment to international peace and development.

Weekly Address: A Path Towards a Thriving Middle Class

ASTEROID 2004 BL86 HAS A SMALL MOON

LANL ANNOUNCES NEW WAY TO GROW HIGH-EFFICIENCY SOLAR CELLS

FROM:  LOS ALAMOS NATIONAL LABORATORY 
Los Alamos Develops New Technique for Growing High-Efficiency Perovskite Solar Cells
Researchers’ crystal-production insights resolve manufacturing difficulty

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., January 29, 2015—This week in the journal Science, Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers reveal a new solution-based hot-casting technique that allows growth of highly efficient and reproducible solar cells from large-area perovskite crystals.

“These perovskite crystals offer promising routes for developing low-cost, solar-based, clean global energy solutions for the future,” said Aditya Mohite, the Los Alamos scientist leading the project.

State-of-the-art photovoltaics using high-purity, large-area, wafer-scale single-crystalline semiconductors grown by sophisticated, high temperature crystal-growth processes are seen as the future of efficient solar technology. Solar cells composed of organic-inorganic perovskites offer efficiencies approaching that of silicon, but they have been plagued with some important deficiencies limiting their commercial viability. It is this failure that the Los Alamos technique successfully corrects.

The researchers fabricated planar solar cells from pervoskite materials with large crystalline grains that had efficiencies approaching 18%, among the highest reported in the field of perovskite-based light-to-energy conversion devices. The cells demonstrate little cell-to-cell variability, resulting in devices showing hysteresis-free photovoltaic response, which had been a fundamental bottleneck for stable operation of perovskite devices.

“Characterization and modeling attribute the improved performance to reduced bulk defects and improved charge-carrier mobility in large-grain pervoskite materials,” said Mohite, “and we’ve demonstrated that the crystalline quality is on par with that observed for high-quality semiconductors like silicon and gallium arsenides.”

The researchers anticipate that their crystal growth technique will lead the field towards synthesis of wafer-scale crystalline perovskites necessary for the fabrication of high-efficiency solar-cells and be applicable to several other material systems plagued by polydispersity, defects and grain boundary recombination in solution-processed thin-films.

The work at Los Alamos National Laboratory was supported by a DOE Office of Basic Energy Sciences proposal and by the Los Alamos National Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program. This work was done in part at the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies, a DOE Office of Science User Facility.

Researchers include Wanyi Nie, Hsinhan Tsai, Jean-Christophe Blancon, Amanda J. Neukirch, Gautam Gupta, Jared J. Crochet, Sergei Tretiak, Hsing-Lin Wang and Aditya D. Mohite of Los Alamos, in addition to Reza Asadpour (Purdue University), Manish Chhowalla (Rutgers Univesity) and Muhammad A. Alam (Purdue University).

REGULATORS RELEASE GUIDANCE ON CERTAIN PRIVATE STUDENT LOANS

FROM:  FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION 
January 29, 2015 Regulators Release Guidance on Private Student Loans With Graduated Repayment Terms at Origination

Federal financial regulatory agencies, in partnership with the State Liaison Committee (SLC) of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, today issued guidance for financial institutions on private student loans with graduated repayment terms at origination.

This guidance provides principles that financial institutions should consider in their policies and procedures for originating private student loans with graduated repayment terms.

The agencies—the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the National Credit Union Administration, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency—and the SLC recognize that the competitive job market, traditionally low entry-level salaries, and higher student debt loads can contribute to some borrowers preferring greater flexibility with their payments as they transition into the labor market. Graduated repayment terms are structured to provide for lower initial monthly payments that gradually increase.

Financial institutions that originate private student loans with graduated repayment terms should prudently underwrite the loans in a manner consistent with safe and sound lending practices. Additionally, financial institutions should provide disclosures that clearly communicate the timing and the amount of payments to facilitate a borrower's understanding of the loan's terms and features.

'REVENGE PORN' BUSINESS OPEATOR SETTLES WITH FTC

FROM:  U.S. FEDERAL TRADE 
Website Operator Banned from the ‘Revenge Porn’ Business After FTC Charges He Unfairly Posted Nude Photos
Craig Brittain Allegedly Deceived Women on Craigslist, Offered Fake ‘Takedown’ Service

The operator of an alleged “revenge porn” website is banned from publicly sharing any more nude videos or photographs of people without their affirmative express consent, under a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission. In addition, he will have to destroy the intimate images and personal contact information he collected while operating the site.

The FTC’s complaint against Craig Brittain alleges that he used deception to acquire and post intimate images of women, then referred them to another website he controlled, where they were told they could have the pictures removed if they paid hundreds of dollars.

“This behavior is not only illegal but reprehensible,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “I am pleased that as a result of this settlement, the illegally collected images and information will be deleted, and this individual can never return to the so-called ‘revenge porn’ business.”

According to the FTC’s complaint, Brittain acquired the images in a number of ways, such as by posing as a woman on the advertising site Craigslist, and offering nude photos purportedly of himself in exchange for photos provided by women. When women provided him with the photos, Brittain posted them on his site without their knowledge or permission.

In addition to collecting and posting the images himself, Brittain solicited viewers of his site to anonymously submit nude photos of people to his site, according to the complaint. He required submissions to include sensitive personal information about the people in the photos, including their full name, town and state, phone number and Facebook profile.

The complaint also alleged that Brittain offered a “bounty system” on his site, wherein users could offer a reward of at least $100 in exchange for other users finding pictures and information about a specific person. Overall, Brittain’s site included photos of more than 1,000 individuals, according to the complaint.

Women whose photographs and information were posted on the site contacted Brittain to have the information removed, citing the potential harms to their careers and reputations. In addition, women cited unwelcome contact from strangers who had discovered their information on Brittain’s site. The complaint notes that in many cases Brittain did not respond to the women’s requests to remove the information.

In fact, the complaint alleges that Brittain’s site advertised content removal services under the name “Takedown Hammer” and “Takedown Lawyer” that could delete consumers’ images and content from the site in exchange for a payment of $200 to $500. Despite presenting these as third-party services, the complaint alleges that the sites for these services were owned and operated by Brittain.

Under the terms of the settlement, Brittain is required to permanently delete all of the images and other personal information he received during the time he operated the site. He will also be prohibited from publicly sharing intimate videos or photographs of people without their affirmative express consent, as well as being prohibited from misrepresenting how he will use any personal information he collects online.

The Commission vote to accept the proposed consent order for public comment was 5-0. The FTC will publish a description of the consent agreement package in the Federal Register shortly. The agreement will be subject to public comment for 30 days, beginning today and continuing through March 2, 2015, after which the Commission will decide whether to make the proposed consent order final. Interested parties can submit comments electronically by following the instructions in the “Invitation To Comment” part of the “Supplementary Information” section.

NOTE: The Commission issues an administrative complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of up to $16,000.

VA ON COUNTING HOMELESSNESS VETERANS AND FINDING THEM A HOME

FROM:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS 
Counting Every Veteran on the Way to Ending Homelessness
January 28, 2015, 10:34:00 AM
Counting Every Veteran on the Way to Ending Homelessness
VA Leaders Join Community Partners and Volunteers in Nation-wide Homeless Count

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald is taking a firsthand look at the issue of homelessness among Veterans by participating in this year’s Point-in-Time (PIT) Count in Los Angeles, California. The PIT Count typically takes place in locations around the country during the month of January.

Secretary McDonald remains committed to the goal of eliminating Veteran homelessness. The January 2014 PIT Count revealed that 49,993 Veterans were homeless on a single night representing a 33-percent decline in homelessness among Veterans since 2010.  In FY 2014 alone, through VA’s various homeless programs, more than 72,000 Veterans and their family members were placed in permanent housing or prevented from becoming homeless.

“There is no question that the goal to end Veteran homelessness is within reach, and we remain laser-focused on it,” said Secretary McDonald. “Ending Veteran homelessness in America is more than hitting a number, it’s about helping communities put a system in place that can house every Veteran experiencing homelessness today and prevent it in the future. I am so heartened that over 440 mayors, governors, county executives and other local officials have joined us and are committed to ending Veteran homelessness in their communities. We will continue our work until all Veterans have a place to call home.”

By estimating the number of homeless Veterans, the PIT Count gauges progress in achieving President Obama and VA’s goal of ending Veteran homelessness by the end of 2015.  Annual data from the PIT Count also assists VA staff and partner agencies in targeting homeless resources where they are needed most.
VA has a wide range of programs that prevent and end homelessness among Veterans, including health care, housing solutions, job training and education. Also since 2010 there has been nearly 43-percent reduction in unsheltered homeless Veterans.

As part of VA’s continued commitment to ending Veteran homelessness, Secretary McDonald, has directed his senior VA leaders to take part in this year’s count in cities across the United States and learn how the organizations they lead can continue to support VA’s efforts to end Veteran homelessness.  Twenty senior VA leaders will participate in PIT counts everywhere from New York to California to places in between.

The PIT Count is led by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) each year to estimate the number of Americans, including Veterans, who are homeless.

As a result of VA’s work with HUD, as well as the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness and other federal, state and local partners, significant progress has been made since VA’s initiative to end Veteran homelessness began in 2010.

More information about VA’s homeless programs is available at www.va.gov/homeless. Veterans who are homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless should contact their local VA Medical Center and ask to speak to a homeless coordinator.

Friday, January 30, 2015

FORMER IT MANAGER FOR DIGITAL CURRENCY SERVICE, LIBERTY RESERVE, SENTENCED TO PRISON

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT
Friday, January 30, 2015

Former Liberty Reserve IT Manager Sentenced to 36 Months in Prison
The former information technology manager for Liberty Reserve, a company that operated one of the world’s most widely used digital currency services, was sentenced today to 36 months in prison for conspiring to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York made the announcement.

Maxim Chukharev, 28, of San José, Costa Rica, pleaded guilty in September 2014 before U.S. District Judge Denise L. Cote, who also imposed today’s sentence.

According to allegations contained in the indictment and statements made in related court proceedings, Chukharev was an associate of Liberty Reserve founder Arthur Budovsky and served as Liberty Reserve’s information technology manager in Costa Rica.  In that role, Chukharev was principally responsible, along with co-defendant Mark Marmilev, formerly Liberty Reserve’s chief technology officer, for maintaining Liberty Reserve’s technological infrastructure.

According to allegations in the indictment and statements made in related court proceedings, Liberty Reserve was incorporated in Costa Rica in 2006 and billed itself as the Internet’s “largest payment processor and money transfer system.”  Liberty Reserve was created, structured and operated to help users conduct illegal transactions anonymously and launder the proceeds of their crimes, and it emerged as one of the principal money transfer agents used by cybercriminals around the world to distribute, store and launder the proceeds of illegal activity.  Liberty Reserve was used extensively for illegal purposes, functioning as the bank of choice for the criminal underworld because it provided an infrastructure that enabled cybercriminals around the world to conduct anonymous and untraceable financial transactions.

According to court records, before being shut down by the government in May 2013, Liberty Reserve had more than one million users worldwide, including more than 200,000 users in the United States, who conducted approximately 55 million transactions through its system totaling more than $6 billion in funds.  These funds encompassed suspected proceeds of credit card fraud, identity theft, investment fraud, computer hacking, child pornography, narcotics trafficking and other crimes.

Chukharev, Marmilev and Budovsky were among seven individuals charged in the indictment, which was unsealed on May 28, 2013.  Three co-defendants—Marmilev, Vladimir Kats and Azzeddine El Amine—previously pleaded guilty.  Marmilev was sentenced to five years in prison in December 2014; Kats and El Amine await sentencing.  The indictment also charged Liberty Reserve with conspiracy to commit money laundering and operation of an unlicensed money transmitting business, and the charges remain pending.

The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations.  The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This case is being investigated by the U.S. Secret Service, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, with assistance from the Secret Service’s New York Electronic Crimes Task Force.  The Judicial Investigation Organization in Costa Rica, the National High Tech Crime Unit in the Netherlands, the Financial and Economic Crime Unit of the Spanish National Police, the Cyber Crime Unit at the Swedish National Bureau of Investigation and the Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office also provided assistance.

This case is being prosecuted jointly by the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section (AFMLS) and the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Complex Frauds Unit and Asset Forfeiture Unit in the Southern District of New York, with assistance from the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs and Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.

Trial Attorney Kevin Mosley of AFMLS and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Serrin Turner, Andrew Goldstein and Christine Magdo of the Southern District of New York are in charge of the prosecution, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Magdo is in charge of the forfeiture aspects of the case.

West Wing Week: 01/30/15 or, “Namaste Obama”

AIRSTRIKES CONTINUE

FROM:  U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT 
More Airstrikes Hit ISIL in Syria, Iraq

From a Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve News Release
SOUTHWEST ASIA, Jan. 30, 2015 – U.S. and coalition military forces continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria, using fighter aircraft to conduct two airstrikes, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported.

Separately, U.S. and coalition military forces conducted four airstrikes in Iraq, using attack and fighter aircraft against ISIL terrorists, officials reported.
Officials reported details of the latest strikes, which took place between 8 a.m., yesterday, and 8 a.m., today, local time, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.

Airstrikes in Syria

-- Near Kobani, two airstrikes struck two ISIL staging positions and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions and one ISIL vehicle.

Airstrikes in Iraq

-- Near Al Asad, an airstrike struck an ISIL firing position.

-- Near Tal Afar, three airstrikes struck two ISIL fighting positions and destroyed an ISIL building, an ISIL bunker and an ISIL shipping container.
All aircraft returned to base safely.

Part of Operation Inherent Resolve

The strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to eliminate the ISIL terrorist group and the threat they pose to Iraq, Syria, the region, and the wider international community. The destruction of ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq further limits the terrorist group's ability to project terror and conduct operations.

Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Iraq include the U.S., Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Syria include the U.S., Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

2015 Blizzard – Time-Lapse video from International Space Station

1/29/15: White House Press Briefing

NASA VIDEO: 11 YEARS AND COUNTING - OPPORTUNITY ON MARS

FUGITIVE AND SHIP OF GOLD RECOVERY LEADER, ARRESTED BY U.S. MARSHALS

FROM:  U.S. MARSHALS SERVICE 
January 28, 2015 Brian Babtist, Senior Inspector 
Southern District of Ohio 
Ship of Gold Treasure Hunter Arrested by the U.S. Marshals Service

Columbus, OH – Peter Tobin, United States Marshal for the Southern District of Ohio, announced today that Thomas Gregory Thompson, and his assistant Alison Louise Antekeier were arrested by the United States Marshals Service, Southern District of Florida (Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force) on arrest warrants issued by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.
On August 13, 2012, an arrest warrant was issued by United States District Judge Edmund A. Sargus Jr. for Thompson’s arrest after he failed to appear at various hearings for an on-going civil case that has been pending since 2006. At that hearing, attorneys who did appear on Thompson’s behalf stated they were hired by Thompson’s assistant, Alison Antekeier. The Court then directed that Antekeier appear to explain Thompson’s absence. Then, on 11/07/2012, after having failed to appear as directed, a similar arrest warrant was issued for Antekeier. The U.S. Marshals Service investigation, as well as various court documents and hearings, led investigators to believe Thompson and Antekeier have been on the run together ever since.

The multi-year investigation spanned the globe but ended not that far from the last documented sighting of the couple in Vero Beach, Florida. The U.S. Marshals Service in Southern Ohio worked in conjunction with the U.S. Marshals in West Palm Beach, Florida to conduct an exhaustive investigation that culminated in the arrest of Thompson and Antekeier at a local hotel. The couple offered no resistance at the time of the arrest and readily admitted to being the targets of the extensive investigation.

Thompson and Antekeier are being held in a local correctional facility pending appearance in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. At a later point in time, the couple will be removed to the Southern District of Ohio for proceedings on their respective charges.

“The United States Marshals Service, in the Southern District of Ohio, along with the three Judicial Districts that comprise the state of Florida, as well as many others, worked tirelessly on this case. They utilized all available resources and were able to accomplish what many thought would be nearly impossible,” said U.S. Marshal Tobin. “Thompson was one of the most intelligent fugitives ever sought by the U.S. Marshals and he had vast financial resources at his disposal. This investigation and these arrests reflect great credit upon the Deputies of the U.S. Marshals Service and our agency as a whole,” concluded Tobin.

SCIENTIST SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR ATOMIC ENERGY ACT VIOLATIONS

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT 
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Former Los Alamos National Laboratory Scientist Sentenced to Prison for Atomic Energy Act Violations

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez for the District of New Mexico, Assistant Director Randall C. Coleman of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division and Special Agent in Charge Carol K.O. Lee of the FBI’s Albuquerque Division announced that Pedro Leonardo Mascheroni, a scientist formerly employed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), was sentenced this morning for Atomic Energy Act and other violations relating to his communication of classified nuclear weapons data to a person he believed to be a Venezuelan government official.

Mascheroni, 79, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Argentina, was sentenced in Albuquerque, New Mexico, by U.S. District Judge William P. Johnson to 60 months in federal prison followed by the three years of supervised release.  His wife, Marjorie Roxby Mascheroni, 71, previously was sentenced in August 2014 to a year and a day of imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release for her conviction on conspiracy and false statement charges.

“The public trusts that the government will do all it can to safeguard Restricted Data from being unlawfully transmitted to foreign nations not entitled to receive it,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin.  “We simply cannot allow people to violate their pledge to protect the classified nuclear weapons data with which they are entrusted.  Today’s sentencing should leave no doubt that counterespionage investigations remain one of our most powerful tools to protect our national security.  I thank the many people who worked to bring these convictions to fruition.”

“Our laws are designed to prevent ‘Restricted Data’ from falling into the wrong hands because of the potential harm to our national security,” said U.S. Attorney Martinez.  “Those who work at our country’s national laboratories are charged with safeguarding that sensitive information, and we must and will vigorously prosecute anyone who compromises our nation’s nuclear secrets for profit.  I commend the many agents, analysts and prosecutors who worked tirelessly to bring about the convictions in this case.  I also thank the Los Alamos National Laboratory for cooperating fully in the investigation and prosecution of this case.”

“This case demonstrates the consequences that result when those charged with protecting our nation’s secrets violate the trust placed in them by the American people,” said Assistant Director Coleman.  “Safeguarding classified material is vital to the public interest, and the FBI will continue to hold accountable those who knowingly and willfully threaten the national security of the United States through the unauthorized disclosure of protected information.”

“America trusts those who work with our country's classified information to keep it away from those who would harm us.  Anyone who betrays that trust for his own gain puts our nation's security up for auction, and the price for us all could be very high indeed,” said Special Agent in Charge Lee.  “Since World War II, the FBI has worked tirelessly to protect U.S. nuclear weapons data, and we are proud of our investigation in this case.”

Mascheroni, a Ph.D. physicist, worked as a scientist at LANL from 1979 to 1988 and held a security clearance that allowed him access to certain classified information, including “Restricted Data.”  Roxby Mascheroni worked at LANL between 1981 and 2010, where her duties included technical writing and editing.  She also held a security clearance at LANL that allowed her access to certain classified information, including “Restricted Data.”  As defined under the Atomic Energy Act, “Restricted Data” is classified information concerning the design, manufacture or use of atomic weapons; the production of special nuclear material; or the use of special nuclear material in the production of energy.

Mascheroni and Roxby Mascheroni were indicted in September 2010 and charged with conspiracy to communicate and communicating Restricted Data to an individual with the intent to secure an advantage to a foreign nation, as well as conspiracy to convey and conveying classified information.  The indictment also charged Mascheroni with concealing and retaining U.S. records with the intent to convert them to his own use and gain, and both defendants with making false statements.

Mascheroni pleaded guilty in June 2013, to counts seven and eight of the indictment, charging him with conversion of government property and retention of U.S. records, and counts 10 through 15, charging him with making false statements.  Mascheroni also pleaded guilty to a felony information charging him with two counts of communication of Restricted Data and one count of retention of national defense information.

In entering his guilty plea, Mascheroni admitted that in November 2008 and July 2009, he unlawfully communicated Restricted Data to another individual with reason to believe that the data would be utilized to secure an advantage to Venezuela.  He also admitted unlawfully converting Department of Energy information to his own use and selling the information in November 2008 and July 2009, and failing to deliver classified information relating to the United States’ national defense to appropriate authorities and instead unlawfully retaining the information in his home.  Finally, Mascheroni admitted making materially false statements to the FBI when he was interviewed in October 2009.

Roxby Mascheroni pleaded guilty in June 2014, to count six of the indictment, charging her with conspiracy, and counts 16 through 22, charging her with making false statements.  She also pleaded guilty to a felony information charging her with conspiracy to communicate Restricted Data.  Roxby Mascheroni admitted that between October 2007 and October 2009, she conspired with Mascheroni to convey Restricted Data belonging to the United States to another person with reason to believe that the information would be used to secure an advantage to Venezuela.  She also admitted making materially false statements to the FBI when she was interviewed in October 2009.

The indictment in this case did not allege that the government of Venezuela or anyone acting on its behalf sought or was passed any classified information, nor did it charge any Venezuelan government officials or anyone acting on their behalf with wrongdoing.  The indictment also did not allege any wrongdoing by other individuals working at LANL.

This investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Albuquerque Division with assistance from the Department of Energy and LANL.  The prosecution was handled by Senior Counsel Kathleen Kedian and Trial Attorney David Recker of the Counterespionage Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Fred J. Federici, Dean Tuckman and Holland S. Kastrin of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico.

On Board with Kal Penn: Travels with President Obama in India

FACT SHEET ON IAEA PEACEFUL INITIATIVE

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
The IAEA Peaceful Uses Initiative and the NPT
Fact Sheet
Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation
Washington, DC
January 1, 2015
The Initiative

During 2010, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) established the Peaceful Uses Initiative (PUI) to raise extrabudgetary contributions in support of Agency activities that promote the peaceful uses of nuclear technology.

The PUI supports implementation of Article IV of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which requires NPT States Parties that are “in a position to do so” to “cooperate in contributing alone or together with other States or international organizations to the further development of the applications of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.”

Participation

At least 18 IAEA Member States and the European Union have together provided the PUI approximately $77 million in financial or in-kind contributions. The United States has provided over $50 million of this amount.

Impact

Since 2010, the PUI has provided the IAEA with additional flexibility and resources for high priority IAEA Member State projects, including responding to unforeseen challenges. These projects support human health, water resource management, food security, protection of the environment, nuclear power infrastructure development, and nuclear safety and security. They are administered by the IAEA Departments of Nuclear Energy, Nuclear Sciences and Applications, Technical Cooperation, and Nuclear Safety and Security.

The list of countries having benefited from PUI-supported IAEA projects has grown to more than 120 states worldwide. Examples of PUI-supported peaceful uses activities include:

Advancing Human Health: The PUI has supported the advancement of education and training in nuclear medicine, application of nuclear techniques to improve the treatment of cardiac patients, enhancement of early detection capabilities for Ebola in Africa, and strengthening of national capacities in states throughout the world to detect and treat cancer.

Supporting Water Resource Management: PUI funding has supported the design of a large-scale water management project to respond to sustained drought and widespread starvation and malnutrition in the Sahel region of Africa.
Ensuring Food Security: The PUI has helped to fund expanded laboratory capacities in Africa to improve the detection of transboundary animal diseases, and in Latin America to ensure food safety and reduce the fruit fly threat to agricultural resources. The PUI has also supported the development of a sustainable zone free of the tsetse fly in the Niayes region of Senegal to relieve the burden of trypanosomiasis and increase food and agricultural productivity.
Protecting the Environment: PUI contributions have helped to fund projects to better understand the effects of climate change, determine and trace pollution in marine waters, mitigate the effects of harmful algal blooms, and promote global actions against ocean acidification.

Developing Nuclear Power Infrastructure: The PUI has supported IAEA efforts to strengthen nuclear power infrastructure development in Member States, provide bilateral legislative assistance to nuclear newcomer countries, promote sustainable uranium mining practices, and enhance technical and management capacity in states considering nuclear power.

Promoting Nuclear Safety and Security: PUI contributions have helped to fund projects that strengthen the control of radioactive sources and radioactive waste, upgrade radiation protection infrastructures, support human resource development in nuclear security, and strengthen national capabilities for responding to nuclear and radiological emergencies.
Looking Forward

Though much has been achieved with the help of the PUI, there are always more needs to be met.

Providing funding to the PUI allows donors to address real needs in countries around the world, while simultaneously complementing their international assistance priorities and advancing the goals of the NPT. States are encouraged to explore with the IAEA Secretariat various projects to which they could contribute through the PUI, and to look for opportunities to partner with other governments on PUI-supported projects. Member States benefiting from the PUI are encouraged to highlight for others the impact of the PUI in advancing their national goals.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

U.S. CONDEMNS TERRORIST ATTACKS IN EGYPT

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
The United States Condemns the Terrorist Attacks in Egypt
Press Statement
Jen Psaki
Department Spokesperson
Washington, DC
January 29, 2015

The United States strongly condemns today’s terrorist attacks in Egypt’s North Sinai Governorate in which at least twenty nine Egyptian citizens were killed and dozens others wounded. We express our sincere condolences to the victims, their families, and the government and people of Egypt.

A prosperous and strong Egypt requires an environment of security and stability, and the United States remains steadfast in its support of the Egyptian government’s efforts to combat the threat of terrorism in Egypt as part of our continuing commitment to the strategic partnership between our two countries.

U.S. CONCERNED REGARDING TRIAL OF ZONE 9 BLOGGERS IN ETHIOPIA

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT  
Zone 9 Bloggers Move to Trial on Amended ATP Charges in Ethiopia
Press Statement
Jen Psaki
Department Spokesperson
Washington, DC
January 29, 2015

The United States is concerned by the Ethiopian Federal High Court’s January 28, 2015, decision to proceed with the trial of six bloggers and three independent journalists on charges under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation. The decision undermines a free and open media environment—critical elements for credible and democratic elections, which Ethiopia will hold in May 2015.

We urge the Ethiopian government to ensure that the trial is fair, transparent, and in compliance with Ethiopia’s constitutional guarantees and international human rights obligations. We also urge the Ethiopian government to ensure that the trial is free of political influence and continues to be open to public observation.

The use of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation in previous cases against journalists, activists, and opposition political figures raises serious questions about the implementation of the law and about the sanctity of Ethiopians’ constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

Freedom of expression and freedom of the press are fundamental elements of a democratic society. We call on the government of Ethiopia to support freedom of expression and freedom of the press to demonstrate its commitment to democracy as it approaches its May 2015 national elections.

NASA'S SOIL MOISTURE ACTIVE PASSIVE OBSERVATORY WAITS

FROM:  NASA SPACE LAUNCH 

The sun sets behind Space Launch Complex 2 (SLC-2) with the Delta II rocket and the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory protected by the service structure on Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. SMAP is NASA’s first Earth-observing satellite designed to collect global observations of surface soil moisture and its freeze/thaw state. SMAP will provide high resolution global measurements of soil moisture from space. The data will be used to enhance scientists' understanding of the processes that link Earth's water, energy, and carbon cycles. Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls.

President Obama Delivers a Farewell Tribute to Secretary of Defense Chuc...

1/28/15: Press Briefing by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz

U.S. EXPRESSES DEEP CONCERN OVER ARRESTS/DETENTIONS IN EQUATORIAL GUINEA

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
Equatorial Guinea: Concerns Regarding Arrests and Continuing Detentions
Press Statement
Jen Psaki
Department Spokesperson
Washington, DC
January 28, 2015

The United States is deeply concerned by reports of the arrests and indefinite detentions of Equatoguinean citizens protesting the expenditures incurred by the Government of Equatorial Guinea to host the ongoing Cup of African Nations (CAN) football tournament. Celestino Okenve, a member of the opposition party Popular Union, and Antonio Nguema were both detained on January 14, and Miguel Mbomio was arrested on January 16, accused of distributing or possessing literature calling for a peaceful public boycott of the CAN football matches. All three remain in police custody in the mainland city of Bata, though no official charges have been filed.

We are also concerned by reports that one of the detainees may have been assaulted by the police while in custody and that these individuals have not been allowed access to legal counsel. Okenve, Nguema and Mbomio have been held without charges for more than the 72 hours permitted under Equatorial Guinea law and should be released immediately.

We call upon the Government of Equatorial Guinea to ensure the humane treatment of individuals arrested, in accordance with the Constitution of Equatorial Guinea and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Equatorial Guinea has ratified. We also call upon Government of Equatorial Guinea authorities to adhere to protections afforded to all Equatoguinean citizens, who under Equatorial Guinea law are entitled to protection against arbitrary arrest and to fair trial guarantees, including the right to legal counsel. They have the right to be informed of the charges against them and are entitled to a prompt hearing or release within the mandated time period allowed by law.

Equatorial Guinea must respect the right to freedom of expression for all of its citizens, including members of opposition political parties.

President Obama and Prime Minister Modi Participate in a CEO Roundtable ...

STATEMENT FROM NSC ON MEETING WITH FRENCH MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR CAZENEUVE

FROM:  THE WHITE HOUSE  
January 28, 2015
Statement by NSC Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan on Lisa O. Monaco’s Meeting with French Minister of the Interior Bernard Cazeneuve

Statement by NSC Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan on Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa O. Monaco’s Meeting with French Minister of the Interior Bernard Cazeneuve

Today, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco concluded a series of meetings with French security officials to discuss way to strengthen counterterrorism cooperation in the wake of the tragic terrorist attacks in Paris earlier this month. During her meeting with French Minister of the Interior Bernard Cazeneuve, the two discussed opportunities to enhance strong and ongoing U.S.-French cooperation to disrupt terror plots and prevent future attacks. Ms. Monaco reviewed information from U.S. law enforcement and intelligence channels that has been shared with French authorities, and Minister Cazeneuve gave an overview of the attacks. Minister Cazeneuve thanked Ms. Monaco for unwavering U.S. support to France in the aftermath of the attacks, expressing appreciation for intelligence and law enforcement cooperation, President Obama’s strong statements of support, calls to President Hollande on January 7 and 20, and the President’s visit to the French Embassy in Washington, D.C. on January 8 immediately following the attack. Ms. Monaco reiterated that the United States will continue to support France in its investigation as French authorities work to identify, apprehend, and bring to justice those who helped plan or enable these attacks. They also discussed governmental responses in addressing the full life cycle of radicalization and programs to prevent violent extremism.

HOME HEALTH COMPANY OWNER RECEIVES 106 MONTH PRISON SENTENCE FOR FRAUD

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT 
Monday, January 26, 2015
Owner of Miami Home Health Company Sentenced to 106 Months in Prison for $30 Million Health Care Fraud Scheme

The owner and operator of a Miami home health care agency was sentenced today to 106 months in prison for his participation in a $30 million Medicare fraud scheme.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Derrick Jackson of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Miami Regional Office made the announcement.

Ramon Regueira, 66, of Miami, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud on Nov. 13, 2014.  In addition to the prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga of the Southern District of Florida ordered Regueira to pay $21 million in restitution, both jointly and severally with his co-conspirator.

According to his plea agreement, Regueira was an owner of Nation’s Best Care Home Health Corp. (Nation’s Best), a Miami home health care agency that purported to provide home health and therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries.  Regueira admitted that he and his co-conspirators operated Nation’s Best for the purpose of billing the Medicare program for, among other things, expensive physical therapy and home health care services that were not medically necessary or not provided.

Specifically, Regueira admitted that he and his co-conspirators paid kickbacks and bribes to patient recruiters who provided patients to Nation’s Best, as well as prescriptions, plans of care (POCs) and certifications for medically unnecessary therapy and home health services.  Regueira and his co-conspirators then used these prescriptions, POCs and medical certifications to fraudulently bill the Medicare program for unnecessary home health care services.

From January 2007 through January 2011, Nation’s Best submitted approximately $30 million in claims for home health services that were not medically necessary or not provided, and Medicare paid approximately $21 million for these fraudulent claims.

The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG, and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Joseph S. Beemsterboer and Trial Attorney Kelly Graves of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,100 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6.5 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

ALLEGED FUGITIVE SEX OFFENDER APPREHENDED IN SAUDI ARABIA

FROM:  U.S. MARSHALS SERVICE 
Contact:
January 26, 2015 Nathan Alexander, Deputy U.S. Marshal
District of Arizona - Tucson 
Fugitive Sex Offender Captured in Saudi Arabia

Tucson, AZ – U.S. Marshals tracked Matthew Lynn Brewster, age 50, formerly of Tucson, Arizona, to Saudi Arabia where he was detained and subsequently returned to the United States earlier today.

In April 2014, the Pima County Sheriff's Office obtained a warrant for the arrest of Matthew L. Brewster, which charged him with multiple counts of Sexual Conduct with a Minor under the age of Fifteen, a class two felony. Pima County Sheriff's Office officials enlisted the assistance of the United States Marshals led Arizona WANTED Violent Offender Fugitive Task Force, which includes the Pima County Sheriff’s Office Fugitive Investigative Strike Team to locate and arrest Brewster.

Deputy U.S. Marshals quickly developed information which indicated Brewster had fled the United States in 2010 and traveled to Saudi Arabia. An investigation by task force members in Tucson and the United States Marshals Service National Sex Offender Targeting Center revealed Brewster was residing in a compound in Khamis Mushayt, Saudi Arabia, and had no intention of returning to the United States. Deputy U.S. Marshals initiated an international investigation and coordinated with foreign authorities to locate and detain Brewster in Saudi Arabia and have him returned to the United States.

“This criminal and other sex offenders are at the forefront of our investigations,” said District of Arizona United States Marshal David P. Gonzales. “Despite the best attempts of fugitive sex offenders to avoid the law, the U.S. Marshals Service prioritizes their apprehension, ensuring their whereabouts are known and preventing other innocent children and adults from being victimized. Regardless of where these criminals seek refuge, the United States Marshals Service will relentlessly pursue them.”

In January of 2015, Brewster was taken into custody by the Saudi Arabian Immigration Service and held pending deportation proceedings. On January 26th, Brewster was escorted back to Los Angeles, CA by Saudi Arabian Immigration Officers, where he was arrested by members of the U.S. Marshals Service Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force. Brewster is being held in California pending extradition to Arizona to face charges on six separate counts of Sexual Conduct with a Minor, which pertain to various acts of sexual conduct that he allegedly committed with a minor over a three year period in Tucson.

The federal, state, and local agencies that comprise the Arizona WANTED Violent Offender Task Force (Tucson Metro Division) include: U.S. Marshals Service; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Arizona Department of Public Safety; Pima County Adult Probation Office; Arizona Department of Corrections; Tucson Police Department; U.S. Border Patrol; Pima County Sheriff’s Department; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The United States Marshals Service is the nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agency. Annually, U.S. Marshals arrest more than 50 percent of all federal fugitives and serve more federal warrants than all other federal agencies combined.

DOJ AND HUNTSVILLE, ALABAMA CITY SCHOOLS FILE CONSENT ORDER TO SETTLE "ATTENDANCE ZONES" ISSUES

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT
Monday, January 26, 2015
Justice Department and Huntsville City Schools Announce Proposed Consent Decree to Provide Equal Educational Opportunities

The Department of Justice announced today that it has filed a proposed consent order in Hereford v. Huntsville Board of Education, a longstanding school desegregation case, to resolve issues related to school attendance zones, black students’ access to quality academic offerings and student discipline, among other areas.  The department and counsel for the Huntsville City Schools in Alabama jointly filed the proposed consent order in district court in Birmingham, and are now seeking public comment prior to presentation of the proposed consent order to the Huntsville Board of Education and to the court for final approval.

The proposed agreement, if approved, would resolve the parties’ dispute over the district’s 2014 plan to reconfigure student attendance zones.  The Justice Department had objected that the plan did not further desegregation or address racial inequalities in students’ access to quality academic offerings.  If approved by the court, the proposed consent order would require the district to provide equal educational opportunities to black students by taking steps including:

revising attendance zones and growing and strengthening magnet programs to improve diversity at many of its schools;

expanding access for black students to pre-kindergarten, gifted programs, advanced course offerings such as Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate, academic after-school programs, and college counseling;

implementing measures to promote faculty and administrator diversity;

ensuring that all students are aware of and can equally participate in extracurricular activities;

creating positive, inclusive school climates, and ensuring that student discipline is fair, non-discriminatory, and does not unnecessarily remove students from classrooms;

establishing a desegregation advisory committee consisting of students and parents to advise the district and inform the court about implementation of the consent order;

providing professional development for teachers on such topics as strategies for teaching students from diverse backgrounds, understanding implicit bias, and supporting positive student behavior; and

continuously monitoring racial disparities to ensure meaningful and sustained improvement in areas including student performance, students’ access to courses, and rates of student discipline.

“A quality education is the key that opens the door to a better future,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta for the Civil Rights Division.  “This agreement aims to ensure that African American students in Huntsville schools can access that quality education on an equal basis.  We look forward to working with the district to implement the measures required by this proposed order, if approved, and eventually bring this case to successful resolution after so many years.”

“The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that Alabama schools provide African American students, and all students, with the equal educational opportunities guaranteed under federal law,” said U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance for the Northern District of Alabama.

If the proposed consent order is approved, the Justice Department will monitor and enforce the district’s compliance.  The district may seek a declaration of unitary status and dismissal of the case when it can demonstrate sustained compliance with the terms of the consent order.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

ATTORNEY GENERAL-DESIGNATE LYNCH MAKES OPENING STATEMENT AT SENATE CONFORMATION HEARING

FROM:  U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT 
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Opening Statement of Attorney General-Designate Loretta E. Lynch at U.S. Senate Confirmation Hearing

Attorney General-Designate Loretta E. Lynch released the following statement today at the opening of the U.S. Senate confirmation hearing:

“Thank you, Chairman Grassley, Senator Leahy, and distinguished members of the Committee.  I am honored to appear before you in this historic chamber, among so many dedicated public servants.  I want to thank you for your time this morning – and President Obama for the trust he has placed in me by nominating me to serve as Attorney General of the United States.

“It is a particular privilege to be joined today by members of my family – including my husband, Stephen Hargrove, my father, Rev. Lorenzo Lynch, my brother, Rev. Leonzo Lynch and his wife NiCole, as well as several other family members who are here today.

“Mr. Chairman, one of the privileges of my position as United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York is welcoming new attorneys into the office and administering to them the oath of office.  It is a transformative moment in the life of a young prosecutor.  As they stand before me, prepared to pledge their honor and their integrity, I remind them that they are making their oath not to me, not to my office, or even to our Attorney General, but to our Constitution, the fundamental foundation for all that we do.  It is that document and the ideals embodied therein to which I have devoted my professional life.  Senators, if confirmed as Attorney General I pledge to you and to the American people that the Constitution, the bedrock of our system of justice, will be my lodestar as I exercise the power and responsibility of that position.

“I owe much to those who have worked to make its promise real for all Americans, beginning with my own family.  All of them – and so many others – have supported me on the path that has brought me to this moment, not only through their unwavering love and support, but through their shining examples, and the values that shaped my upbringing.

“My mother, Lorine, who was unable to travel here today, is a retired English teacher and librarian for whom education was the key to a better life.  She recalls people in her rural community pressing a dime or a quarter into her hands to support her college education.  As a young woman she refused to use segregated restrooms because they did not represent the America in which she believed.  She instilled in me an abiding love of literature and learning, and taught me the value of hard work and sacrifice.  My father, Lorenzo, is a fourth-generation Baptist preacher who in the early 1960’s opened his Greensboro church to those planning sit-ins and marches, standing with them while carrying me on his shoulders.  He has always matched his principles with action – encouraging me to think for myself, but reminding me that we all gain the most when we act in service to others.

“It was the values my parents instilled in me that led me to the Eastern District of New York, and from my parents I gained the tenacity and resolve to take on violent criminals, to confront political corruption and to disrupt organized crime.  They also gave me the insight and compassion to sit with the victims of crime and share their loss.  Their values have sustained me as I have twice had the privilege of serving as United States Attorney, leading an exceptional office staffed by outstanding public servants, and these values guide and motivate me even today.

“Should I be confirmed as Attorney General, my highest priorities will continue to be to ensure the safety of our citizens, to protect the most vulnerable among us from crime and abuse, and to strengthen the vital relationships between America’s brave law enforcement officers and the communities they are entrusted to serve.

“In a world of complex and evolving threats, protecting the American people from terrorism must remain the primary mission of today’s Department of Justice.  If confirmed, I will work with colleagues across the executive branch to use every available tool to continue disrupting catastrophic attacks against our homeland and bringing terrorists to justice.  I will draw upon my extensive experience in the Eastern District of New York, which has tried more terrorism cases since 9/11 than any other office.  We have investigated and prosecuted terrorist individuals and groups that threaten our nation and its people – including those who have plotted to attack New York City’s subway system, JFK airport, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and U.S. troops stationed abroad, as well as those who have provided material support to foreign terrorist organizations.  And I pledge to discharge my duties always mindful of the need to protect not just American citizens but also American values.

“If confirmed, I intend to expand and enhance our capabilities in order to effectively prevent ever-evolving attacks in cyberspace, expose wrongdoers, and bring perpetrators to justice.  In my current position, I am proud to lead an office that has significant experience prosecuting complex, international cybercrime, including high-tech intrusions at key financial and public sector institutions.  If I am confirmed, I will continue to use the combined skills and experience of our law enforcement partners, the department’s Criminal and National Security Divisions, and the United States Attorney community to defeat and to hold accountable those who would imperil the safety and security of our citizens through cybercrime.

“I will also do everything I can to ensure that we are safeguarding the most vulnerable among us.  During my tenure as U.S. Attorney, the Eastern District of New York has led the prosecution of financial fraudsters who have callously targeted hard working Americans, including the deaf and the elderly, and stolen their trust and their hard-earned savings.  We have taken action against abusers in over one hundred child exploitation and child pornography cases, and have prosecuted brutal international human trafficking rings that sold victims as young as 14 and 15 years old into sexual slavery.  If confirmed as Attorney General, I will continue to build upon the department’s record of vigorously prosecuting those who prey on those most in need of our protection and I will continue to provide strong and effective assistance to survivors who we must both support and empower.

“Throughout my career as a prosecutor, it has been my honor to work hand in hand with dedicated law enforcement officers and agents who risk their lives every day in the protection of the communities we all serve.  I have served with them.  I have learned from them.  I am a better prosecutor because of them.  Few things have pained me more than the recent reports of tension and division between law enforcement and the communities we serve.  If confirmed as Attorney General, one of my key priorities would be to work to strengthen the vital relationships between our courageous law enforcement personnel and all the communities we serve.  In my career, I have seen this relationship flourish – I have seen law enforcement forge unbreakable bonds with community residents and have seen violence-ravaged communities come together to honor officers who risked all to protect them.  As Attorney General, I will draw all voices into  this important discussion.

“In that same spirit, I look forward to fostering a new and improved relationship with this committee, the United States Senate, and the entire United States Congress – a relationship based on mutual respect and constitutional balance.  Ultimately, I know we all share the same goal and commitment: to protect and serve the American people.

“Now, I recognize that we face many challenges in the years ahead.  But I have seen – in my own life and in my own family – how dedicated men and women can answer the call to achieve great things for themselves, for their country, and for generations to come.

“My father – that young minister who carried me on his shoulders – has answered that call.  As has my mother, that courageous young teacher who refused to let Jim Crow define her.  Standing with them are my uncles and cousins who served in Vietnam – one of whom is with me here today - and my older brother, a Navy SEAL, who answered that call with their service to  our country.

“As I come before you today in this historic chamber, I still stand on my father’s shoulders, as well as on the shoulders of all those who have gone before me and who dreamed of making the promise of America a reality for all and worked to achieve that goal.

“I believe in the promise of America because I have lived the promise of America.

“If confirmed to be Attorney General of the United States, I pledge to all of you and to the American people that I will fulfill my responsibilities with integrity and independence.  I will never forget that I serve the American people, from all walks of life, who continue to make our nation great – as well as the legacy of all those whose sacrifices have made us free.  And I will always strive to uphold the trust that has been placed in me to protect and defend our Constitution, to safeguard our people, and to stand as the leader and public servant that they deserve.

“Thank you all, once again, for your time and your consideration.  I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you today.  I look forward to your questions – and to all that we may accomplish in the days ahead, together, in the spirit of cooperation, shared responsibility, and justice.”

President Obama Speaks at the U.S.-India Business Council Summit

STATEMENT BY PRESIDENT OBAMA ON INTERNATIONAL HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY

FROM:  THE WHITE HOUSE 
January 27, 2015
Statement by the President on International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau

On the tenth International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the American people pay tribute to the six million Jews and millions of others murdered by the Nazi regime. We also honor those who survived the Shoah, while recognizing the scars and burdens that many have carried ever since.

Honoring the victims and survivors begins with our renewed recognition of the value and dignity of each person. It demands from us the courage to protect the persecuted and speak out against bigotry and hatred. The recent terrorist attacks in Paris serve as a painful reminder of our obligation to condemn and combat rising anti-Semitism in all its forms, including the denial or trivialization of the Holocaust.

This anniversary is an opportunity to reflect on the progress we have made confronting this terrible chapter in human history and on our continuing efforts to end genocide. I have sent a Presidential delegation to join Polish President Komorowski, the Polish people, official delegations from scores of nations, and many survivors, at today’s official commemoration in Poland.

As a founding member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, the United States joins the Alliance’s thirty other member nations and partners in reiterating its solemn responsibility to uphold the commitments of the 2000 Stockholm Declaration. We commemorate all of the victims of the Holocaust, pledging never to forget, and recalling the cautionary words of the author and survivor of Auschwitz Primo Levi, “It happened, therefore it can happen again. . . . It can happen anywhere.” Today we come together and commit, to the millions of murdered souls and all survivors, that it must never happen again.

SEC CHARGES OPPENHEIMER & CO. REGARDING THE SALE OF PENNY STOCKS

FROM:  U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION 

The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged Oppenheimer & Co. with violating federal securities laws while improperly selling penny stocks in unregistered offerings on behalf of customers.

Oppenheimer agreed to admit wrongdoing and pay $10 million to settle the SEC’s charges.  Oppenheimer will pay an additional $10 million to settle a parallel action by the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

According to the SEC’s order instituting a settled administrative proceeding, Oppenheimer engaged in two courses of misconduct.  The first involved aiding and abetting illegal activity by a customer and ignoring red flags that business was being conducted without an applicable exemption from the broker-dealer registration requirements of the federal securities laws.  The customer was Gibraltar Global Securities, a brokerage firm in the Bahamas that is not registered to do business in the U.S.  Oppenheimer executed sales of billions of shares of penny stocks for a supposed proprietary account in Gibraltar’s name while knowing or being reckless in not knowing that Gibraltar was actually executing transactions and providing brokerage services for its underlying customers, including many in the U.S.  The SEC separately charged Gibraltar last year for its alleged misconduct.

The SEC’s order finds that Oppenheimer failed to file Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) as required under the Bank Secrecy Act to report potential misconduct by Gibraltar and its customers, and the firm failed to properly report, withhold, and remit more than $3 million in backup withholding taxes from sales proceeds in Gibraltar’s account.  Oppenheimer also failed to recognize the resulting liabilities and expenses in violation of the books-and-records requirements, and improperly recorded transactions for Gibraltar’s customers in Oppenheimer’s books and records.

According to the SEC’s order, the second course of misconduct involved Oppenheimer again engaging on behalf of another customer in unregistered sales of billions of shares of penny stocks.  The SEC’s investigation, which is continuing, found that the sales generated approximately $12 million in profits of which Oppenheimer was paid $588,400 in commissions.  The firm’s liability stems from its failure to respond to red flags and conduct a searching inquiry into whether the sales were exempt from registration requirements of the federal securities laws, and its failure reasonably to supervise with a view toward detecting and preventing violations of the registration provisions.  

“Despite red flags suggesting that Oppenheimer’s customer’s stock sales were not exempt from registration, Oppenheimer nonetheless allowed unregistered sales to occur through its account, failing in its gatekeeper role,” said Andrew J. Ceresney, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.  “These actions against Oppenheimer demonstrate that the SEC is fully committed to addressing lax AML compliance programs at broker-dealers through enforcement action.  The sanctions imposed on Oppenheimer, which include admissions of wrongdoing and $20 million in monetary remedies, reflect the magnitude of Oppenheimer’s regulatory failures.”

The SEC’s order requires Oppenheimer to cease and desist from committing or causing any violations and any future violations of Section 15(a) and 17(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rules 17a-3 and 17a-8, and of Section 5 of the Securities Act of 1933.  In addition to the monetary remedies, Oppenheimer agreed to be censured and undertake such remedial measures as retaining an independent consultant to review its policies and procedures over a five-year period.

The SEC’s investigation is being conducted by Robert Giallombardo, Margaret W. Smith, Robert Nesbitt, Gary Peters, and Jesse Grunberg with assistance from Christian Schultz.  The case is being supervised by Doug McAllister and Nina Finston.  The SEC appreciates the assistance of FinCEN and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

U.S. UNITED NATIONS AMBASSADOR POWER'S REMARKS ON UKRAINE

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
01/26/2015 03:37 PM EST
Samantha Power
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations 
New York, NY
January 26, 2015
AS DELIVERED 

Thank you, Mr. President for convening today’s urgent meeting. Under Secretary-General Feltman, we are grateful for your thorough briefing on such short notice.

Just five days ago, we met in this Council and denounced the devastating consequences of attacks by Russian-backed separatists on civilians in eastern Ukraine, and we appealed to Russia to stop supporting, training, and fighting alongside separatist forces. Members of this Council pressed Russia and the separatists not only to recommit themselves to the agreements they had made at Minsk, but actually to honor those commitments in their actions. Unfortunately, we are back here today because Russia and the separatists have once again flouted these commitments.

The targets are fresh ones, but Russia’s end goal remains the same: to seize more territory and move the line of Russian-controlled territory deeper and deeper into Ukraine.

This time, though, statements by the separatists are complicating Russia’s strategy. On Friday, January 23, the de factor leader of the Russian-backed separatists in Donetsk, Alexander Zakharchenko said, and I quote: “Today the offensive on Mariupol begins.” He also said, “There will be no more ceasefires.” He said the separatists would not stop their attacks until they had, “reached the borders of the former Donetsk region,” bragging that separatist forces were now “able to attack in three directions simultaneously.” The Representative of the Russian Federation today said that these are statements we have taken out of context. What context possibly justifies a massive offensive against a civilian populated town? I would note, also, that attacking in three directions, as the separatist leader said he now had the capability – his forces had the capability to do – takes a lot of weapons and forces. This capability reflects the difference made by the substantial, months-long influx of Russian personnel and heavy weapons.

We know that Zakharchenko said these things because he was filmed when he said them, and quoted by the official Russian news agency, TASS. On Saturday, Zakharchenko told people at a rally in Donetsk, “Today the attack on Mariupol began.” He added that, “In a few days we will encircle Debaltseve,” a city that is twelve kilometers outside the ceasefire line established at Minsk.

If only the separatist’s words had been empty bravado. Unfortunately, on Saturday, the world witnessed the horrors that resulted from the separatists’ attack on Mariupol, a city 25 kilometers outside of the Minsk line. On Saturday alone, more than 100 people were injured in rocket attacks on the city. Approximately 30 people were killed, including women, elderly, and children, one of whom was a four-year-old boy. Some 40 rounds of rockets struck the city, hitting a market, homes, and a school, among other civilian structures. The impartial OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine examined blast craters and concluded that they had been caused by Grad rockets fired from multi-rocket launcher systems in separatist-controlled areas.

Why do these locations matter to the Russians and the separatists? Mariupol is a port city, which would provide Russia with another means of supplying separatists. And controlling the city would be another step toward creating a land bridge to illegally-occupied Crimea. Debaltseve is a strategic rail and road hub, and serves as a key link between Donetsk and Luhansk regions. It is no accident that these strategic cities are in Russia’s sights.

When, on Saturday, members of the Council tried to issue a joint statement denouncing the civilian casualties and expressing concern about the separatist’s statements, as we’ve heard, Russia blocked it. No wonder, given that less than a day earlier Russia had been perfectly content disseminating Zakharchenko’s statements in its state-run media. It would be strange to be concerned about statements one had encouraged and publicized.

But when your state news agency circulates announcements relishing a new offensive and your diplomats refuse to express concern about them, you own not only the statements, but also the offensives.

Now sometimes, perhaps given the fog of this bloody war, the separatists are too explicit about their objectives. Indeed, after initially blasting around the separatists’ Mariupol ambitions in the news service, Russia began to see the same ghastly images and reports of the carnage that the rest of us saw. At that point, perhaps knowing the source of the weaponry used, Russia tried to deny any tie between the separatists and the attacks. The Russian news service, TASS, even tried to erase from official news stories all quotes from Zakharchenko speaking about the separatists’ attacks.

It is not hard to understand why Russia does not want the world to hear separatists’ statements. Last Wednesday, the Representative of the Russian Federation told this Council that, “the Russian Federation is ensuring full compliance with the Minsk accords.” On Saturday, though, Zakharchenko openly admitted his forces were violating those same accords. He appeared not to have gotten the Russian memo, which clearly calls for violating the accords while pretending you are not.

Despite Zakharchenko’s statements, Russia continues to try to play the international community for the fool, and blame the violence on the Ukrainians. As recently as yesterday, Foreign Minister Lavrov said, “The worsening situation in Ukraine was the result of constant attacks conducted by the Ukrainian government troops, which breached the Minsk agreements.” We heard the same here today from the Representative of the Russian Federation.

Zakharchenko’s statements are a problem for Russia because they are too straightforward. As members of this Council know – and as, increasingly, all the world can see – the separatists he claims to lead are trained and equipped by Russia, and fight with Russian forces by their side. So when Zakharchenko brags about seizing territory beyond the Minsk ceasefire line; when he announces at rallies that separatists will strike Ukrainian forces without provocation; when he says he is not interested in negotiating; he is not only speaking about the separatists’ intentions, but also about Russia’s intentions. This offensive is made in Moscow. It is waged by Russian-trained and Russian-funded separatists, who use Russian missiles and Russian tanks, who are backed up by Russian troops, and whose operations receive direct Russian assistance.

Since December, Russia has transferred hundreds of pieces of military equipment to pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, including tanks, armored vehicles, rocket systems, heavy artillery, and other military equipment. And in recent weeks, Russia has resupplied the separatists with hundreds of pieces of advanced weaponry, including additional rocket systems, heavy artillery, tanks, and armored vehicles.

In mid-to-late January, notwithstanding the shoot down of MH-17, Russia even deployed into eastern Ukraine advanced surface-to-air missile and antiaircraft systems, marking the highest level of Russian air defense presence in eastern Ukraine since September 2014. There is a direct correlation between the movement of heavy weapons, the surge in that movement across the border, and attempts by separatists to take more ground.

The horror wrought by this arsenal has been deadly. According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, January 13th to the 21st was the deadliest period on record since the September 5th agreement was signed in Minsk. During this time, an average of 29 people were killed each day. More than 5,000 people have been killed and almost 11,000 maimed since the conflict began in April 2014. And today, this very day, the attacks continue on the civilian-populated areas over the Minsk Ceasefire lines – not only in Mariupol and Debaltseve, but also in Pisky and Stanychno-Lunhanske.

To the Russians, Mariupol and Debaltseve may just be strategic chess pieces in their effort to move the line of territory that they control. But these cities are also home to hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian civilians. Nearly 500,000 people live in Mariupol, the second biggest city in the Donetsk region, and more than 25,000 live in Debaltseve. Mariupol is home to 92 pre-schools, attended by 13,000 children.

We continue to believe that the only solution to this situation is a political solution, not a military solution. To that end, we continue to support the efforts of the Trilateral Contact Group, as well as the Normandy group of foreign ministers. We welcome the Normandy group’s agreement in Berlin, which recognizes the need for full, immediate implementation of the Minsk agreement.

If Russia is serious about peace, why doesn’t Russia condemn the statements by separatists that they will attack Ukrainians first and accept no more ceasefires, instead of trying to erase those statements from its state-run news services? If Russia is serious about peace, why doesn’t it pull its tanks and Grad missiles out of eastern Ukraine, instead of sending in more? If Russia is serious about peace, why doesn’t it withdraw its forces at least to the lines agreed upon at Minsk, rather than sending in a huge infusion of Russian heavy weapons so as to carve out new lines.

Only if Russia takes these steps will there be a chance for the political solution that is so desperately needed.

Thank you.

GREEN COFFEE BEAN WEIGHT-LOSS MARKETER AGREES TO SETTLEMENT WITH FTC

FROM:  U.S. FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION 
Marketer Who Promoted a Green Coffee Bean Weight-Loss Supplement Agrees to Settle FTC Charges
Used Appearances on Dr. Oz, Other Shows to Launch Ad Campaign
OZ EFFECT
Lindsey Duncan and the companies he controlled have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they deceptively touted the supposed weight-loss benefits of green coffee bean extract through a campaign that included appearances on The Dr. Oz Show, The View, and other television programs.

Under the FTC settlement, the defendants are barred from making deceptive claims about the health benefits or efficacy of any dietary supplement or drug product, and will pay $9 million for consumer redress.

“Lindsey Duncan and his companies made millions by falsely claiming that green coffee bean supplements cause significant and rapid weight loss,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “This case shows that the Federal Trade Commission will continue to fight deceptive marketers’ attempts to prey on consumers trying to improve their health.”

The FTC charged that Duncan and his companies, Pure Health LLC and Genesis Today, Inc., deceptively claimed that the supplement could cause consumers to lose 17 poundsand 16 percent of their body fat in just 12 weeks without diet or exercise, and that the claim was backed up by a clinical study. In September 2014, the FTC settled charges against the company that sponsored the severely flawed study that Duncan discussed on Dr. Oz.

According to the FTC’s complaint, shortly after Duncan agreed to appear on Dr. Oz but before the show aired, he began selling the extract and tailored a marketing campaign around his appearance on the show to capitalize on the “Oz effect” – a phenomenon in which discussion of a product on the program causes an increase in consumer demand.

For example, while discussing green coffee bean extract during the taping of Dr. Oz, Duncan urged viewers to search for the product online using phrases his companies would use in search advertising to drive consumers to their websites selling the extract. He reached out to retailers, describing his upcoming appearance on The Dr. Oz Show and saying he planned to discuss the clinical trials that purportedly proved the supplement’s effectiveness. He and his companies also began an intensive effort to make the extract available in Walmart stores and on Amazon.com when the program aired.

The defendants continued to use Duncan’s Dr. Oz appearance in their marketing campaign after the show aired, the complaint states, posting links to the episode on websites and using retail point-of-sale displays showing messages such as “New Health Discovery!  As Seen on TV, ‘The Dieter’s Secret Weapon.’” After appearing on Dr. Oz, Duncan and his companies sold tens of millions of dollars’ worth of the extract, according to the FTC.

The FTC also alleged that Duncan and several of the companies’ paid spokespeople portrayed themselves on television shows as independent sources of information about green coffee bean extract and other natural remedies, while failing to disclose their financial ties to the companies.

The proposed stipulated court order requires the defendants to substantiate any future weight-loss claims with at least two well-controlled human clinical tests. Any claims the defendants make about the health benefits and efficacy of any dietary supplement or drug cannot be misleading and must be substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence. Further, the order prohibits false claims that the benefits of any such product are scientifically proven.

The order also bars the defendants from misrepresenting the status of any endorser, and requires them to disclose all material connections between them and anyone who endorses their products. Finally, it imposes a $9 million redress judgment, with an initial payment of $5 million due within two weeks of when the court enters the order.

Information for Consumers

Consumers should carefully evaluate advertising claims for weight-loss products. For more information, see the FTC’s guidance for consumers of products and services advertised for Weight Loss & Fitness.

The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint was 5-0. The vote authorizing the filing of the proposed stipulated court order was 3-2, with Commissioners Ohlhausen and Wright voting no. The majority, Chairwoman Ramirez, Commissioner Brill, and Commissioner McSweeny, issued a separate statement. Commissioners Ohlhausen and Wright also issued a separate statement. The complaint and order were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas on January 26, 2015.

The FTC is a member of the National Prevention Council, which provides coordination and leadership at the federal level regarding prevention, wellness, and health promotion practices. This case advances the National Prevention Strategy’s goal of increasing the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life.

NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. Stipulated orders have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.

VIEWS EXCHANGED IN BRUSSELS OVER HUMAN RIGHTS IN NORTH KOREA

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
Exchange of Views on the Human Rights Situation in North Korea
Remarks
Robert R. King
Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues 
European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights
Brussels, Belgium
January 21, 2015

As Prepared for Delivery

Madam Chair and distinguished Members of the Human Rights Subcommittee, it is a great pleasure to meet with you again to discuss the human rights situation in North Korea and discuss areas in which the United States can work with our European partners. We have deep concerns for the well-being of the North Korean people, and we both seek to improve human rights conditions in North Korea, which is one of the worst human rights violators in the world.

I first want to express our thanks and appreciation for the very important leadership role that the European Union plays in the United Nations General Assembly and in the UN Human Rights Council on the annual resolutions on the D.P.R.K. human rights record. One of the most important developments in North Korean human rights issues was the Human Rights Council’s decision in March 2013 to establish a Commission of Inquiry (COI) on the D.P.R.K. to examine the “systematic, widespread, and grave violations of human rights.” I’d like to thank you for the EU’s role in the resolution which created the COI recognizing the seriousness of the D.P.R.K. ’s human rights abuses.

In March 2014, the Commission presented a comprehensive report of its findings to the UN Human Rights Council, concluding that systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations have been and are being committed by the D.P.R.K. , its institutions, and its officials. The report further concluded that in many cases, such violations rise to the level of crimes against humanity. After hearing from the Commission, the UN Human Rights Council and General Assembly this past year adopted strong resolutions calling for accountability for North Korea’s human rights abuses. By an overwhelming vote of 30 yeas, 6 nays, and 11 abstentions, the UN Human Rights Council’s resolution praised the Commission’s report and called for accountability in dealing with the North Korean violations. At the UN General Assembly in December, a similar resolution was adopted by a resounding vote of 116 yeas, 20 nays, and 53 abstentions.

Also last month, for the first time, the D.P.R.K. ’s grave human rights situation was taken up as a standing agenda item by the UN Security Council. The inclusion of this issue on the Security Council’s agenda reflects the world’s grave concern and the importance of accountability. This action will ensure that the D.P.R.K. situation will receive the Security Council’s ongoing attention on the egregious human rights abuses, and it reflects the international community’s concern that these systematic and widespread violations represent a threat to international peace and security.

The D.P.R.K. , in turn, has inconsistently reacted to the international spotlight on its deplorable human rights record. In the lead up to the UNGA resolution vote, the D.P.R.K. offered visits to the UN Special Rapporteur and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, but the government immediately withdrew these offers after the critical General Assembly resolution was adopted. The government also sent delegations to attend various human rights events focused on its record and even sponsored an unprecedented human rights press conference in New York, where North Korean government officials acknowledged the existence of reeducation through labor centers. On the other hand, the D.P.R.K. responded to the General Assembly resolution by threatening a fourth nuclear test. D.P.R.K. media also attacked by name the Commission of Inquiry Chair, Australian High Court Justice Michael Kirby, and verbally attacked other outspoken activists. These belligerent and personal attacks only demonstrated the desperation to distract the international community from North Korea’s shocking human rights record. Together with the international community, we are using the full range of tools at our disposal to make clear to the D.P.R.K. that abandoning its current course and observing international laws and obligations is the only way to end its isolation.

Coordination between the United States and the European Union has remained strong throughout this past year. Our cooperation helped ensure that when North Korea’s foreign minister and other senior officials traveled abroad on a charm offensive last fall, they heard a common chorus of calls for progress on human rights and denuclearization. And in recent weeks, our international partners have joined us in condemning the destructive and coercive cyberattack on Sony Pictures, by which the D.P.R.K. attempted to suppress freedom of expression beyond its own borders. We are grateful that our partners have joined in calling on the D.P.R.K. to cease such attacks and in supporting a proportionate response.

Today, the D.P.R.K. remains an authoritarian state, which subjects its citizens to rigid controls over all aspects of their lives, including denying them enjoyment of freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, association, religion or belief, and movement, as well as certain worker rights. The government maintains a vast network of political prison camps in which conditions are harsh and life-threatening, and prisoners, including children, are subjected to forced and compulsory labor. North Korean defectors and the international media continued to report public executions, disappearances, arbitrary detention, arrests of political prisoners, and torture. The judiciary is not independent and does not provide fair trials. Refugees who seek to leave the country are sent to prison without any knowledge of the charges against them. Even today entire families, up to three generations, are sent to the prison camps without trial when some official determines usually without trial. There has been no significant progress in the investigation of abductions of foreign citizens by the North Korean government.

We continue to receive reports that border guards have orders to shoot to kill potential “defectors,” and prison guards had orders to shoot to kill those attempting to escape from political prison camps. Secretary Kerry, six other Foreign Ministers, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights highlighted these grave injustices this past September in New York City at the time of the UN General Assembly high level meetings.

As we look forward to this year, two things strike me. First, the D.P.R.K. has few supporters left. UN Special Rapporteur on D.P.R.K. human rights, former Indonesian Prosecutor General Marzuki Darusman, spoke to the UN Human Rights Council last June. In the discussion after his presentation, less than a quarter of the countries that spoke were even supportive of the D.P.R.K. , and most of those expressed concern about the singling out of one country and did not comment on the substance of the human rights violations. The countries that defended the D.P.R.K. were among the world’s worst human rights violators – Belarus, Cuba, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe. This is not a group of supporters that gives much comfort to the North.

Second, the COI report was a very important step, but it is not the end. It has created momentum for the international community to continue to focus on D.P.R.K. abuses. In particular, both the COI’s report and the UN Human Rights Council resolution recommended the establishment of a field office under the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to preserve and document evidence of atrocities in order to enable future accountability. South Korea has agreed to host this office, and I thank the South Korean government’s willingness to host this field office. This office will play an important role in maintaining visibility on the ongoing human rights abuses in the North. We expect to see this office open in the next two months so that it can continue to build upon the foundation established by the Commission.

The last significant issue that I want to mention is the importance of increasing the flow of information into and out of North Korea. This country is one of the most closed societies in the world. In this era of virtually instantaneous communication, North Korea remains a dark spot – unconnected to the global information network. There are over two million cell phones in North Korea, but these phones connect only domestic users and are closely monitored. Calls to parties outside the country are difficult if not impossible to make and are illegal for most users. Internet access is limited to a tiny circle of elites.

This lack of access to independent information limits what North Koreans know about the outside world, and it also limits what we know about what is happening in the North. But cracks in the information blockade are starting to form. The latest study by the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors found that 35 percent of North Korean refugees and travelers had listened to foreign radio broadcasts inside North Korea, even though it is still illegal to possess a radio that can be tuned. Foreign videos are now being seen by even larger numbers – approximately 85 percent of refugees and travelers abroad have seen foreign, principally South Korean, DVDs in the North. North Koreans are increasingly familiar with South Korean K-Pop and have seen movies like Titanic and Bend It Like Beckham.

Information is also trickling out. Civil society has undertaken efforts to examine satellite imagery to gain a more detailed understanding of the prison camp system. Other nongovernmental organizations have developed interactive mapping tools that document the numerous human rights abuses reported by defectors. South Korea-based defector groups are breaking news stories about life inside North Korea faster than ever before. I am hopeful that we are beginning to see changes.

Our deep concern for human rights in North Korea and for the well-being of the North Korean people reflects the American commitment to the rule of law and respect for individual rights. Our country was founded on fundamental principles of human rights, and our support for these rights is an essential part of what defines the American people. These are values we share with the peoples of the European Union.

The world will not, and cannot, close its eyes to what is happening in North Korea. Ultimately, we will judge the North not by its words, but by its actions—the concrete steps it takes to address the core concerns of the international community, from its nuclear program to its human rights violations. I believe we are in agreement that the D.P.R.K. must demonstrate respect for human rights in order to fully participate in the international community. Thank you for this invitation to speak with you.

SEC ANNOUNCES FRAUD CHARGES AGAINST FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA-BASED INVESTMENT ADVISORY FIRM

FROM:  U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION 
01/21/2015 01:15 PM EST

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced fraud charges and an asset freeze against a Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based investment advisory firm, its manager, and three related funds in a scheme that raised more than $17 million since November 2013.

The SEC’s complaint filed in federal court in the Southern District of Florida last week charged Elm Tree Investment Advisors LLC, its founder and manager, Frederic Elm, and Elm Tree Investment Fund LP, Elm Tree “e”Conomy Fund LP, and Elm Tree Motion Opportunity LP.  According to the complaint, Elm, formerly known as Frederic Elmaleh, his unregistered investment advisory firm, and the three funds misled investors and used most of the money raised to make Ponzi-like payments to the investors.  The complaint alleges that Elm treated the funds as his personal piggy bank, tapping them to buy a $1.75 million home, luxury automobiles, and jewelry, and to cover daily living expenses.  Elm’s wife, Amanda Elm, formerly Elmaleh, is named as a relief defendant based on her receipt of investor monies.

"Elm misled investors about how he and his funds would use their money and about how much he charged them in fees," said Eric I. Bustillo, Director of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office.  "As a result, Elm was able to wrongfully take millions of dollars from investors without their knowledge."

The SEC's complaint charges Elm, his advisory firm and the Elm Tree funds with violating anti-fraud provisions of federal securities laws and SEC anti-fraud rules.  The SEC is seeking relief for investors, including return of allegedly ill-gotten gains, with interest, and financial penalties.

The Honorable William Dimitrouleas on Friday granted the SEC’s request for a temporary restraining order and temporary asset freeze against Elm, his firm, and the three Elm Tree funds.  The judge ordered a temporary asset freeze against Amanda Elm and required her and the other defendants to provide accountings.  Judge Dimitrouleas also entered an order appointing Grisel Alonso as receiver for Elm Tree Investment Advisors and the Elm Tree funds.  A court hearing has been scheduled for January 29.

The SEC's investigation, which is continuing, has been conducted by Katharine E. Zoladz and Mark Dee and supervised by Elisha L. Frank in the Miami Regional Office.  Patrick Costello is leading the SEC’s litigation.