Friday, May 22, 2015

Trade Accountability Moves Ahead

Trade Accountability Moves Ahead 

 May 22, 2015 - PRESS RELEASE

WASHINGTON — House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan(R-WI) released the following statement after the Senate voted to pass the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act (TPA), legislation authored in the House by Chairman Ryan.
“The Senate has taken an important step toward a healthier economy and greater American leadership in the world. The United States needs more good trade agreements to level the playing field for American workers, and we won’t get them without TPA. We also need TPA to hold the administration accountable to Congress and provide transparency to the American people.
“Now that the Senate has acted, I look forward to working with my colleagues to do the same in the House. Passage will require Republicans and Democrats coming together to do what is right for the country.”
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WATCH LIVE: 2015 National Memorial Day Concert

On the eve of Memorial Day, a star-studded lineup will grace the stage for one of PBS’ highest-rated programs. For over 25 years, this multiple-award-winning television event has honored the military service and sacrifice of all our men and women in uniform, their families at home, and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
The program will be hosted for the tenth year by Tony Award winner Joe Mantegna and Emmy Award winner Gary Sinise. More About the Concert
MAST

Sunday, May 24 check local listings >



2015 National Memorial Day Concert

Season 4 Finale

Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise co-host the National Memorial Day Concert this Sunday. The show features musical artists Gloria Estefan, Tessanne Chin, Katherine Jenkins, and Russell Watson, plus actress Stefanie Scott.

Visit the site >http://www.pbs.org/national-memorial-day-concert/home/?

Support Drug Testing to Receive Welfare Checks

Thursday, May 21, 2015

AZ SENATOR JOHN McCAIN & ARIZONA BANKERS ASSOCATION APPLAUD UPCOMING FDIC WORKSHOP ON BORDER BANKING IN NOGALES, ARIZONA

Washington, D.C. ­– U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) applauded the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) for its decision to host an educational workshop on cross-border business on June 16 in Nogales, Arizona. 
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The workshop follows a letter sent by Senators McCain and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) in February urging the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs to hold a hearing on community and business access to banking services in states on the U.S.-Mexico border.

“I am pleased that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has agreed to hold an educational workshop in Nogales to examine banking access in communities along the Arizona Border,” said Senator John McCain. “In recent months, Arizonans who own and operate cash-intensive business along Arizona’s southern border, have expressed concern about access to banking. This workshop will cover a wide range of issue relevant to border banking, including compliance with anti-money laundering regulations, and will serve as a valuable resource to bankers and businesses whose livelihoods heavily depend on cross-border transactions.”

Paul Hickman, President of the Arizona Bankers Association, also applauded the workshop: “We are grateful the FDIC is focusing on Anti-money Laundering/Bank Secrecy Act compliance issues with bankers and businesses on the border. A better understanding of supervisory expectations on the part of the banking industry and the business community on the border can only improve the financial infrastructure and legitimate commercial ecosystem that is essential for commerce and economic growth in the region.”
In September 2014, Senators McCain sent letters to the heads of four large banks – Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo – requesting information about several branch closures, which have created higher transaction costs and substantial difficulties for Arizona companies engaged in cash-intensive lines of business in cities and towns along the U.S.-Mexico border.

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AZ U.S. Rep.Martha McSally Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Help Veterans Get Access to Job Training Programs

WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Representative Martha McSally (R-AZ) today introduced the bipartisan Veterans’ Entry to Apprenticeship Act. 
The bill would help returning veterans transition to the civilian workforce by allowing them to use their educational benefits for enrollment in pre-apprenticeship programs.
 
“As a veteran, I know the difficulties our returning service members face as they look to transition to civilian life. This bill will make it easier for them to obtain good-paying jobs using the benefits they earned,”said Congresswoman Martha McSally. “Currently, there are trade and manufacturing jobs going unfilled in our community because there aren’t enough people with the skills needed for them. Opening up job training programs to veterans only makes sense and would be a win for local businesses too. Those who volunteered to put their lives on the line deserve all our efforts to help them, and I thank Rep. Gabbard for working with me on this commonsense legislation.”
 
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), a veteran and fellow member of the Congressional post-9/11 Veterans Caucus, co-introduced the legislation.
 
“Our servicemembers develop valuable skills and experience while serving our nation, and should be able to access opportunities to further develop their skills to set themselves up for success as they transition into civilian life,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, Chair of the Congressional post-9/11 Veterans Caucus. “Veterans still face many obstacles as they go through this transition. This bill works to make that transition smoother by enabling our veterans to use their GI Bill benefits for apprenticeship programs in the skilled-trade industry. While there is much to be done, this bill will help reduce the still too high numbers of unemployed veterans, and address the shortage of skilled workers in our country.”
 
Today’s legislation adds to Rep. McSally’s committed efforts to ensure veterans have access to the benefits they earned. On February 23, 2015, she joined 29 Members of Congress to call on the Administration to change the 40-mile eligibility measurement under the Veterans Choice Program from a straight-line measurement to road mileage, something the Administration announced it would do the following month. She also has called on the Administration to answer for its decision to raid funding for the Veterans Choice Program in its Fiscal Year 2016 budget and address how to meet a veteran’s specialty need should the VA clinic within 40 miles not offer it.
 
The Veterans’ Entry to Apprenticeship Act provides veterans the ability to use their educational benefits under the GI Bill to learn critical workplace skills. Currently, GI Bill benefits cannot be used to cover the cost of Department of Labor approved pre-apprenticeship programs. These programs teach the skills and techniques necessary to prepare individuals for apprenticeship training and careers in the skilled-trade industry. 
 
The unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans is nearly 7%, a full point higher than the national average. In certain industries, many veterans face barriers to entry into apprenticeship programs because they lack pre-apprenticeship training. 
 
The United States has seen a shortage of skilled workers in recent years. With an increasing number of post-9/11 veterans looking to enter the workforce, and an estimated 573,000 unemployed veterans in 2014, this bill will make it easier for service members to pursue careers in occupations that require an apprenticeship.
 

The bipartisan bill has 30 original cosponsors in the House. Additionally, the bill is supported by the National Guard Association of the United States, the Reserve Officers Association, the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States, the National Roofing Contractors Association, the National Association of Home Builders, and the Associated General Contractors of America.

Light Rail Execs Do About Face-My Sister's Closet Can Advertise on Metro Light Rail

My Sister’s Closet, Well Suited and My Sister’s Attic Get the Green Light on Phoenix Light Rail and Hold Victory Rally at World of Beer Tempe
See the Controversial Ads and Celebrate with the Valley’s Favorite Family of Designer Consignment Shops
(PHOENIX) – After weeks of uncertainty, Phoenix Light Rail riders can now rejoice as all four unique and creative advertisements for My Sister’s Closet, Well Suited and My Sister’s Attic received the green light to be placed on Valley Metro light rail trains. The ads will begin appearing this summer.
To celebrate the playful ads, the Valley’s family of designer consignment shops will be hosting a Victory Rally on Thursday May 28th from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM at World of Beer Tempe, located in the heart of Tempe’s Mill Avenue District. The party is within walking distance to the Mill Avenue and 3rd Street Station, one of the busiest on the entire light rail system.
At the Victory Rally, World of Beer Tempe will offer complimentary passed appetizers and feature the advertisements that caused Valley Metro to boil over.
“We look forward to celebrating free speech and our playful ad campaign at World of Beer Tempe on May 28,” said Siner. “Our marketing team worked very hard to develop an ad campaign that is funny and appealing. Now that our ads will run without any censorship, we look forward to getting together, proclaiming victory, and blowing off some steam.”
RSVP to the Victory Rally by contacting rsvp@RoseMoserAllynpr.com. To set-up an interview with Siner or get more information about the Victory Rally at World of Beer Tempe, please contact Jennifer Parks at Jparks@RoseMoserAllynPR.com or by calling 480.495.3806.
About My Sister’s Closet and Eco-Chic Consignment:
Eco-Chic Consignments, Inc. is a family of three high-end designer consignment concepts—My Sister’s Closet (women), My Sister’s Attic (home furnishings) and Well Suited (men). Each store sells consigned items at 60 – 90% below retail value. Founded more than 20 years ago, Eco-Chic Consignments, Inc. has since grown into a $25+ million business with 15 locations in some of the nicest neighborhoods of Arizona and California. The company ranked no. 2,896 on the Inc. 5000 list. To learn more about Eco-Chic Consignments, Inc. and its resale brands, visit mysisterscloset.com.


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Something Positive and Nice About Hillary-Work On The Irish Peace Process

When it comes to Irish peace, history and Hillary rhyme
Hillary Rodham Clinton was inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame by our sister publication Irish America Magazine. 
\"Hillary
Via Irish Central
After decades of war the American intervention was decisive, a fact admitted years later by the British government themselves.
The reality at the time was different, however. When President Bill Clinton became the first U.S. president in history to focus on peace in Ireland, the initiative was opposed on all sides.
The British government was apoplectic that a foreign power would meddle in its backyard, and Prime Minister John Major told President Clinton so.
In his own administration, the FBI, State Department, Justice Department and the CIA fought tooth and nail to keep the president out of efforts to sort out the conflict.
They were aghast when the decision was made to grant a visa to Gerry Adams, the Sinn Féin leader, to come to America in late January 1994.
Yet Clinton persisted. One of his key advisors in his decision was his wife, Hillary, who saw the potential for peace in Ireland.
Not only that, Hillary determined that she would become part of it. She accompanied her husband on what has been described as “the two best days of his presidency” by Terry McAuliffe, their chief fund-raiser, who accompanied them to Ireland in November 1995 and watched them bask in the warm glow of appreciation as hundreds of thousands of people in Belfast and Derry came out to welcome the U.S. President and First Lady who had helped bring peace to Northern Ireland.
In his memoir "What a Party!," McAuliffe, now the governor of Virginia, remembers that visit as the high point of the Clintons’ White House years.
During that trip and subsequently, Hillary Clinton played a leading role in creating the links between the White House and leaders on the ground that would be so important when the crunch moments in the negotiations came.
Her visits to the Falls and Shankill Roads in Belfast to meet working-class women from both communities were especially important. She helped empower key women at a time in the conflict when women’s voices were hardly heard. She played a major role in setting the groundwork for the formation of parties such as the Women’s Coalition, which was to play an essential role in cross-community bridge-building in the vital years when the peace process was being bedded down.
On her first visit to Northern Ireland in 1995 she made the acquaintance of Joyce McCartan, an extraordinary Protestant woman married to a Catholic whose own son had been killed in the Troubles.
As her biography noted, McCartan lost 17 members of her wider family during the Troubles including her youngest son, Gary, who was 17 in 1987 when loyalist paramilitaries murdered him in the family home. McCartan herself heard the shots.
The incredible personal tragedy fueled McCartan’s desire to find a way to stop the violence. She founded The Lamplighter drop-in center, which became a guiding light amid the encircling gloom for families weary or fearful of the Troubles who wanted to talk and mingle.
In November 1995, McCartan, the center, and its Lamplighter Cafe, were in the world’s spotlight when First Lady Hillary Clinton dropped in for tea and a chat with a group of women from varying backgrounds.
Hillary later described how after the chat and tea, McCartan “gave me an old battered aluminum teapot – which kept the tea very warm, which is what I first noticed about it – that I took with me to the White House where I used it every single day in the second-floor private kitchen.”
The teapot story was often subsequently referenced by Hillary. She established the Vital Voices initiative in the North, which brought mostly, but not exclusively, women at community level together and provided a powerful forum for groups with little or no voice.
It cannot be overstated just how few women were in any positions of power in the North back then, and Hillary went about changing that from the grassroots up.
As she stated in 1999, Vital Voices was “certainly part of a larger effort that I have been privileged to view firsthand, since my husband and I first came in 1995. And that is the way that the people here have pulled together to make peace real in our lives and in our time.”
Inez McCormack, the late beloved trade union organizer and human rights activist community worker, told me in a Belfast restaurant that Hillary had single-handedly empowered women in the Northern Ireland conflict, which had a profound impact.
McCormack quoted to me her own definition of success: “When I see a glint in a woman’s eye who believed she was nobody and now knows she is somebody.”
Hillary, she said, led the way for Northern Irish women to see that breakthrough.
Then, of course, there were the meetings in Washington, usually around St. Patrick’s Day, and the White House “Irish night,” which became a fixture at Hillary’s insistence.
The boost to the peace process of a First Lady of the United States welcoming party leaders of whatever stripe to the White House had to be seen in person to be believed.
When perhaps the most famous woman in the world spent an extraordinary amount of time just listening to the perspectives from the various parties, it was bound to have an impact.
Progressive Unionist Party Leader David Ervine, tragically now deceased, described her as the most knowledgeable person on the issue he had met in Washington.
John Hume, the Nobel Peace laureate and former leader of the SDLP and a frequent visitor and friend, agreed. They were sitting together in a smoky hotel bar in Washington, D.C. after an economic conference on Northern Ireland, another Clinton initiative, and Hillary had just knocked them dead with a spirited contribution on peace and economic strategy.
It is an intricate business, learning the details of Northern Ireland politics so that you never put a foot wrong. Yet, amazingly, with everything that was pressing on them, neither Bill nor Hillary Clinton ever made the kind of slip-up that would have led to embarrassing headlines on the issue.
I remember sitting down with them for a brief interview in the ambassador’s residence in Dublin on one of the trips over. It was clear they had both become enamored of the Irish, and were gratified to have helped solve the riddle that was Northern Ireland in a way that had surprised even themselves.
Hillary used the example of her peace efforts in Northern Ireland on her future global travels. Soon after being named Secretary of State she met with a small group of Irish-American leaders and spoke of her hopes that Irish Americans would meet and give advice to other diaspora leaders such as Pakistani and Indian Americans, revealing to them how the Irish diaspora helped end the conflict in Northern Ireland.
As Secretary of State, Hillary convened several diaspora conferences and used Ireland as an example of peace brokering in her bestselling memoir, "Hard Choices." She also included Northern Ireland on her final trip as Secretary of State and received an overwhelming reception from party leaders on all sides when she spoke at a luncheon sponsored by the American Ireland Fund at the Titanic Quarter in Belfast. She promised to stay involved and she has.
Hillary, who has made history in so many ways, has also helped make it for the Irish. Most importantly, the Irish know she walked that long and tortuous road with them to help bring peace and that she will be there for the last mile.

Heroin Bust in NY-Marijuana Bust in Phoenix-Drugs seized at Border-America's Illegal Drug Problem

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MCSO: Large marijuana grow busted south of downtown Phoenix
PHOENIX -- A seven-month surveillance investigation led Maricopa County Sheriff's Office detectives to a south Phoenix warehouse Wednesday morning and what they say was the biggest illegal pot-growing operation their team had ever seen. Deputies seized more than 500 pot plants and at least $100,000 worth of equipment, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said, as agents stacked hyrdoponic grow lights and young potted plants in the courtyard of a medium-size warehouse on South Seventh Avenue near Watkins Road in Phoenix. Deputies began serving search warrants at 6:30 a.m. on eight addresses that were mostly in Phoenix, where they arrested eight of 16 people who were wanted in the operation.
DEA officials arrested 280 individuals across four states in "Operation Pilluted," the operation that targets the distribution of illicit painkiller -Video
DEA officials arrested 280 individuals across four states in "Operation Pilluted," the operation that targets the distribution of illicit painkillers.
DEA confiscates 154 pounds of Mexican heroin, biggest drug bust in NY history
Federal agents said the major heroin ring in the Bronx had ties to the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico that had been receiving sizable shipments at least once a month to supply users in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. On Sunday, agents arrested Jose A. "Hippie" Mercedes, 46, the suspected head of the ring, and Yenci Cruz Francisco, 19. Both are charged with trafficking and possession of a controlled substance. Two others were arrested in November, but no further details were available about them.
05/20/2015 02:00 PM EDT
TUCSON, Ariz. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Port of San Luis arrested a Mexican man during a failed attempt to smuggle more than 20 pounds of methamphetamine May 19. Officers referred Alfredo Garcia, 39, a permanent resident...
05/20/2015 01:46 PM EDT
TUCSON, Ariz. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers assigned to the Port of Douglas arrested Jose Alberto Acosta-Silvain, 44, of Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico, after discovering nearly 290 pounds of marijuana throughout his Nissan sedan on May...
05/20/2015 03:29 PM EDT
TUCSON, Ariz. – Customs and Border Protection officers arrested three Mexican nationals and five U.S. citizens connected to separate smuggling attempts during the past five days at the Port of Nogales. Officers at the Dennis DeConcini crossing...

Cancer Charities A Scam

Cancer charities' $187 million in donations paid for luxuries and fundraisers, feds say  —  The pitch was simple, and played on the images of a devastating disease to tug on heartstrings and open pocketbooks.  —  One of the websites featured pictures of smiling children, some of them in hospital beds
Four Cancer Charities are a Scam
Four charities that allegedly donated all of its proceeds to helping cancer patients actually kept nearly all of the money raised for its owners’ lavish lifestyles.
Summary: Four charities that allegedly donated all of its proceeds to helping cancer patients actually kept nearly all of the money raised for its owners’ lavish lifestyles.
To the horror and disappointment of many, CNN reports that four cancer charities that were managed and run by the same family stole some $187 million from well-meaning individuals over a four-year period from 2008 to 2012.
According to a joint action filed by the Federal Trade Commission and attorneys general for every state in the country, the charities barely sent any of the funds raised to actually help those with cancer.
The charities had been previously investigated by CNN in 2013. At that time, none of the four charities would comment. In fact, reporters were kicked out of the Cancer Fund of America’s Knoxville, Tennessee location, and the CEO of the Breast Cancer Society apparently used an obscene gesture toward reporters in Mesa, Arizona.
James Reynolds Sr. runs the Cancer Fund of America and serves as the CEO of Cancer Support Services. His son, James Reynolds Jr., is the CEO of the Breast Cancer Society. The Children’s Cancer Fund of America is operated by Rose Perkins, the former wife of James Reynolds Sr.
Last year, a ring of strippers scammed a group of men by using their credit cards while they were drugged.
According to the complaint, the charities stated that they provided direct support for cancer patients, such as children and those suffering from breast cancer. However, “These were lies,” the complaint states. The New York Times adds that the charities stated that they spent 100% of their proceeds on services such as providing pain medication to children and transporting patients to and from their chemotherapy treatments.
Jessica Rich, the chief of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, stated that the charities spent roughly 97% of the funds raised on fundraising—or themselves. Only about 3% actually went to cancer patients.
The family used the funds “…to pay for vehicles, personal consumer goods, college tuition, gym memberships, Jet Ski outings, dating website subscriptions, luxury cruises, and tickets to concerts and professional sporting events,” according to the facts listed in the complaint.
Rich added, “Most of what we are doing is bringing actions against fraud. And this is about as bad as it can get: taking money away from cancer victims.”
Two Fox Rothschild attorneys were accused of taking part in a hotel bilking scam.
Additionally, there are allegations of “rampant nepotism” in each charity. For example, James Reynolds Jr. hired Kristina Hixson, his wife, to serve as his public relations manager at the Breast Cancer Society. He allegedly also hired Hixson’s two sisters, her son, her step-nephew, and her mother. Hixson’s mother worked as a caterer, but wrote grant applications at the Breast Cancer Society.
On each charity’s tax returns, millions of dollars of donated goods that were supposedly shipped overseas were claimed. The complaint adds that the charities never even owned the goods that were allegedly shipped, and that they simply paid a private firm in South Carolina to ship the items, known as gifts-in-kind.
Due to the filing of the complaint, two of the charities will shut down. The Children’s Cancer Fund of America and the Breast Cancer Society will be dissolved. James Reynolds Jr. faces over $60 million in fines, and Perkins faces a judgment of around $30 million.
In 2012, a woman was charged for creating a scam after the Newtown, Connecticut elementary school shootings.
A proposed final order would suspend the judgment against Reynolds Jr. if he pays $75,000. Liquidation of the Children’s Cancer Fund of America’s assets will fulfill part of its judgment, and Perkins’ judgment will be suspended—because she cannot afford to pay it.
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Rich explained that there are only a few assets left. Government regulators will be fortunate if they recover $1 million, she commented.
James Reynolds Sr. plans to contest the complaint. In a statement on the Breast Cancer Society website, he said, “While the organization, its officers and directors have not been found guilty of any allegations of wrong doing, and the government has not proven otherwise, our Board of Directors has decided that it does not help those who we seek to serve, and those who remain in need, for us to engage in a highly publicized, expensive, and distracting legal battle around our fundraising practices. He allegedly also said, “I don’t feel I did anything wrong,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Source: CNN and JD Journal

STATEMENT BY SENATOR JOHN McCAIN ON GUILTY PLEA BY FIVE BANKS FOR FOREIGN CURRENCY & INTEREST RATE MANIPULATION

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Big Banks to Pay Billions in Settlements
Five of the world's largest banks—JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, and UBS Group AG—will pay (WSJ) a combined $5.6 billion in penalties after pleading guilty to criminal charges to settle an investigation by U.S. authorities into the role of traders in manipulating foreign exchange and interest rates.
Washington, D.C. ­– U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) released the following statement today on the guilty plea made by five banks for manipulating foreign currency and interest rates:
“Earlier today, five global banks, including J.P. Morgan Chase and Citigroup, agreed to plead guilty to manipulating foreign currency and interest rates and will rightfully pay billions in criminal penalties. Even with the disastrous impacts of the 2008 financial crisis still fresh in the minds of the American people, it appears that financial institutions that are ‘too-big-to-fail’ have not learned their lesson. While the criminal behavior at issue in this settlement is different from what occurred leading up to the 2008 collapse, this case represents yet another shameful demonstration of banks engaging in corrupt practices that have far-reaching global impacts, hurting both the average consumer and investors. While I am gratified the Justice Department has seen this very complicated case through, I am concerned about the side-agreement that was negotiated that effectively holds these banks harmless from the severest sanctions available to the Security and Exchange Commission, and that top executives still received large bonuses under these circumstances. Until individual officers, directors or key employees are held responsible, this culture of corruption that still very much exists among the nation’s largest financial institutions will continue to churn out financial scandals putting the American taxpayer at risk.”
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