Friday, November 18, 2005

Sensenbrenner Statement on Status of PATRIOT Act Conference Agreement

To: National Desk
Contact: Jeff Lungren or Terry Shawn, 202-225-2492, both of the House Judiciary Committee Staff
WASHINGTON, Nov. 18 /U.S. Newswire/ -- House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-Wis.) released the following statement regarding the status of the House-Senate PATRIOT Act conference agreement:
"Two days ago, House and Senate negotiators reached an agreement on a conference report that provides those entrusted with protecting the American people with the tools and resources necessary to do their jobs. The agreement was reached after an extensive and bipartisan legislative and oversight process. The House Judiciary Committee, which I chair, takes its oversight responsibilities seriously, particularly concerning the authorities granted in the PATRIOT Act; thus, this Committee has been very aggressive in its PATRIOT Act oversight, which has been made available to the public
"Most notably, this agreement permanently tears down 'the wall' that prior to 9/11 prohibited the sharing of information between the law enforcement and intelligence communities and hindered their ability to 'connect the dots.' I am concerned the recent snag in support for the agreement gets us a little closer to rebuilding 'the wall.' We must permanently eliminate 'the wall' -- and this agreement does that.
"This agreement also ensures our tools to fight the next Mohammed Atta intent on killing thousands of Americans are at least as tough as those to fight drug dealers and organized crime.
"While there have been no abuses found of the PATRIOT Act authorities, this agreement provides enhanced congressional and judicial oversight to ensure that these terrorism-fighting provisions are not misused in the future. The agreement is more protective of civil liberties concerns than current law in dozens of areas, including requiring additional reporting requirements on how many persons are the subject of national security letters (NSLs).
"The agreement includes a seven-year sunset on three provisions. This compromise agreement splits the difference between the ten-year House sunsets and the four-year Senate sunsets. A majority of the House negotiators have signed the agreement, but we still have work to do with the Senate conferees. As a result, we will not be able to file the conference agreement today and will be forced to consider the PATRIOT Act conference report less than one month before these vital tools expire."
Some Conference Report Highlights:
-- Permanently tears down "the wall"
-- Makes permanent 14 of the 16 expiring PATRIOT Act provisions
-- Places a 7-year sunset on Sections 206 and 215 of PATRIOT Act and the "lone wolf" terrorist provision (compromise between House and Senate)
-- Prohibits narco-terrorism (similar to House provision)
-- Fights crime and terrorism at America's seaports (from House bill)
-- Combats terrorism financing (from House bill)
-- Expands the law prohibiting material support to terrorists (from House bill)
-- Enhances penalties for attacks against railroad and mass transit (similar to House provision)
-- Limits loopholes in the definition of terrorism (similar to House bill)
-- Makes certain air piracy crimes subject to the death penalty (similar to House bill)
-- Clarifies section 215 to ensure that information likely to be obtained relate to foreign intelligence information not concerning a U.S. person, pertain to an ongoing international terrorism investigation, and be subject to a judicial review process that authorizes the judge to set aside or affirm a 215 order that has been challenged (compromise between House and Senate).
-- Requires adoption of minimization procedures governing the retention and dissemination of tangible items obtained under section 215 (compromise between House and Senate).
-- Establishes additional requirements for the use of National Security Letters, including congressional disclosure of the frequency of their use, and enhances congressional oversight of electronic and other types of surveillance (compromise between House and Senate).
-- Contains comprehensive measure to address the national methamphetamine abuse epidemic (similar to House and Senate legislation).
/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

Speaker Hastert Comments on Iraq and Economic Security

To: National Desk, Political Correspondent
Contact: Ron Bonjean or Lisa C. Miller, 202-225-2800, both of Speaker's Press Office, U.S. House of Representatives
WASHINGTON, Nov. 18 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) today delivered the following remarks made to the House Republican Conference press availability regarding the commitment to economic and national security:
"We had an interesting night last night. We passed a piece of legislation that is certainly one of the first real reform pieces of legislation since we passed Medicare reform in 1997 and the Deficit Reduction Act.
"I tell you, one of the things when you do reconciliation -- and of course that's a technical name for what we do here in Congress -- we don't do that very often. There's a reason. It ain't easy to do. It takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of thought. We have to work with a lot of people.
"We had really a great effort by our whole conference to come forward, to work together, to make sure that we could move this piece of legislation forward.
"What it does is start to turn down the escalating costs of our future costs for our children and our grandchildren. One of the things that we cannot leave to that next generation is a huge deficit that they can't afford.
"So we have to start that work now. The next part of that, the next step that we'll take forward, when we come back, and that's try to make sure that we can keep our economy strong, to make sure that we can do the dividends and the capital gains that will create jobs in this country, that have created jobs and economic growth in the last three years.
"We've had 10 consecutive quarters of growth -- over 3 percent. Last quarter was 3.9 percent. And every time that happens, that creates jobs.
"That's because we worked to make that happen. We will continue to work to make that happen. And, you know, there's another issue that will be on the floor today, and that's to make sure that we support our troops that are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"One of the questions that are out there -- a lot of people say: Look, this is a tough time, we just ought to pull out and leave. We pull out and leave, we strand an effort to make sure that we can tamp down terrorism, to tamp down a dictatorship, that we can stabilize an area in the Middle East.
"And I think that folks ought to just take a look at the news and see what's happened in European countries in the last week or so. Look at what's happening in France, in Paris. When they have an attitude of malaise and, "Well, we can't do it," and they placate and placate, all of a sudden the terrorism is in their back yard.
"We don't want to be fighting terrorism on the streets of Washington, D.C., or Chicago or Minneapolis or anywhere else.
"We need to face terrorism. We need to reach out. I will remember that day on September 11th, 2001, when I looked out my window and saw smoke coming across the Mall from the Pentagon building. We lost almost 3,000 people in 45 minutes.
"We don't want to have that happen again. Our men and women who fight for this country, to wear their uniforms, have made a great sacrifice. We want to honor that sacrifice, we want to make sure there is freedom and liberty in those countries that they've worked and fought.
"And we will not retreat. Thank you."
/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

Three Former Insurance Company Executives Indicted for Fraud

To: National Desk
Contact: Kathy English of the U.S. Department of Justice, 225-298-5552;
WASHINGTON, Nov. 18 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Jim Letten, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, Jack Galvin, Assistant Inspector in Charge of the United States Postal Inspection Service, Roger Hilburn, Regional Director of the Department of Labor Employee Benefit Security Administration, and Gordon Heddell, Inspector General, U.S. Department of Labor, announced that a two count indictment was returned today by a Federal Grand Jury sitting in the Eastern District of Louisiana charging BARRY SCHEUR, age 54 of Newton, Massachusetts, ROBERT MCMILLAN, age 56 of Garland, Texas and RODNEY MOYER, age 59 of Doylestown, Pennsylvania, with conspiracy and mail fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 371, 1341 and 2 resulting from their fraudulent attempts to conceal the impaired financial condition of the Oath for Louisiana.
According to the indictment, between September and December of 2000, SCHEUR, MCMILLAN and MOYER devised a scheme to defraud and mislead the Louisiana Department of Insurance ("LDOI") into believing that The Oath for Louisiana, a health insurance company, was meeting the required minimum of $3 million, and thereby unlawfully enriching themselves through continued operation of The Oath, during a time when the company did not have the adequate net worth required by the State regulators. According to the indictment, the defendants prepared and caused the mailing of false and misleading financial statements to State regulators, and prepared false and misleading internal accounting books, records and memoranda which fraudulently overstated The Oath's net worth. This minimum net worth requirement is designed to ensure that insurance companies have adequate capital with which to pay insurance claims.
According to the indictment, in January, 2000, SCHEUR took control of a Louisiana licensed HMO, which he renamed the "The Oath for Louisiana" and named himself president, Chief Executive Officer and director of the health plan. The Oath was managed by Scheur Management Group, Inc. ("SMG") which was also owned by SCHEUR. The Oath paid SMG approximately $250,000 to $350,000 per month for management services.
MCMILLAN was retained by SMG as a consultant to assist in managing The Oath. He held various positions including Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of The Oath. MOYER was also retained by SMG to manage The Oath. His various titles included Executive Vice President of The Oath.
As set forth in the indictment, by September of 2000, The Oath was struggling financially and it became apparent to the defendants that The Oath was going to fall below the $3 million net worth requirements. That is when, the indictment alleges, the scheme to defraud began. The Oath's financial condition continued to deteriorate throughout the end of 2000 and into 2001. Nonetheless, the defendants caused the company to file quarterly and annual reports to the Louisiana Department of Insurance ("LDOI") falsely showing that The Oath was meeting or exceeding its minimum net worth requirements.
As part of its regulatory oversight, the LDOI required all HMOs licensed in Louisiana to file financial reports each quarter and an annual financial statement which was required to accurately state the financial condition of the HMO, including assets and liabilities, as well as other specific information. The LDOI required the reports to be filed by mail and to be signed by officials of the HMOs as true and correct, under penalty of perjury. The LDOI relied on the truthfulness, completeness and accuracy of these financial reports in order to regulate, monitor and assess the financial health of HMOs operating in Louisiana.
Throughout 2001, the LDOI became increasingly concerned about The Oath's financial condition and the manner in which it was being managed. In approximately 2001, the LDOI placed The Oath under administrative supervision and took various actions designed to try to revive the company financially. The Oath continued to struggle financially, and in approximately April of 2002, the LDOI placed The Oath in receivership and began liquidation. The Oath's liabilities exceeded its assets by approximately $45 million.
At the time of its failure, The Oath was Louisiana's third largest HMO and more than 80,000 plan members were impacted.
From January 2000 until the LDOI placed The Oath under administrative supervision in September 2001, The Oath paid SCHEUR'S consulting company approximately $5.7 million in management fees.
Commenting on today's indictment, United States Attorney Jim Letten stated:
Today's indictment is yet another strong, clear and unambiguous message to all of our citizens including the principals of health benefit plans and the citizens they serve that we in the United States Department of Justice and our partners in federal law enforcement will tolerate no abuses by anyone -whether company owners, executives, or anyone else - which jeopardize the solvency of employee or health care benefit plans, or which may conceal the impaired ability of plans to protect those who rely on them. In this way, we will continue to defend the rights, health and welfare of all citizens."
Roger Hilburn, Regional Director of the Department of Labor, Employee Benefit Security Administration said: "I hope this sends a clear message to all who transact business with employee benefit plans that the federal government will aggressively pursue those who deprive participants of their promised benefits. We will use all investigative resources of the federal government to pursue these cases."
This case is being investigated by Special Agents of the United States Postal Inspection Service and the United States Department of Labor. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney G. Dall Kammer of the Financial Crimes Unit and Trial Attorney Joseph A. Capone of the United States Department of Justice, Criminal Division.
/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

Statement by American Federation of Teachers President on Today's House of Passage of GOP Reconciliation Bill

To: National Desk, Education Reporter
Contact: George Jackson of the American Federation of Teachers, 202-393-4275,
WASHINGTON, Nov. 18 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Following is a statement by Edward J. McElroy, president, American Federation of Teachers, on today's U.S. House of Representatives passage of the GOP Reconciliation Bill:
"Under the pretext of fiscal responsibility, the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed a sweeping five-year budget plan that drastically cuts vital programs for the poor, students and working families. The hypocrisy of the GOP is on full display as it touts what it considers to be a deficit reduction plan while simultaneously proposing nearly $60 billion in new tax cuts for the wealthy. Once again, the Republican Party's passion for filling the pockets of the rich trumps the needs of America's working families and most vulnerable citizens
"Following the embarrassing defeat they suffered yesterday on the FY 2006 Labor-HHS Appropriations Bill, the GOP leadership now wants to save face by ramming through draconian legislation to pay for $59 billion dollars in tax cuts for the wealthy. Its 'plan' is to save the government $50 billion by slashing programs for the poor, including cuts to food stamps; limiting Medicaid healthcare for poor children, the disabled and elderly Americans; and adding almost $6,000 to the cost of financial aid for college students.
"The budget fight is not over. The AFT's national and local efforts brought pressure on House leadership to produce a version of the bill that reduces the proposed cuts by $6 billion. As the House and Senate attempt to reconcile their versions of the bill before adjournment, the AFT will continue to advocate against any legislation that sacrifices programs for America's needy and passes the savings to those who need them least."
The AFT represents 1.3 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; nurses and healthcare workers; and federal, state and local government employees.
/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Second Defendant Pleads Guilty to Threatening Detroit Members of the Islamic Center of America

To: National Desk
Contact: Justice Department, 202-514-2007
WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The Justice Department today announced that John Barnett pleaded guilty on November 15, 2005, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to violating the civil rights of members of the Islamic Center of America, located in Detroit, Michigan.
In May 2004, Barnett sent an e-mail from his home computer in North Salem, New York to the Islamic Center of America threatening to hunt down and kill Muslims. The email "from" line indicated that Barnett sent the email, and he confirmed to the FBI that the threatening email message was in fact sent by him. In court papers filed yesterday, Barnett admitted that he made this threat with the intent to intimidate and frighten the members of the Islamic Center from practicing their religion. Barnett pleaded guilty to one count of violating 18 U.S.C. section 247(a)(2)(b), which covers damages to religious property. Barnett's offense is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in custody-prison.
"All Americans have the right to worship where they choose, undisturbed by intimidation and racist threats," said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The Justice Department is committed to prosecuting anyone who threatens to commit or commits acts of criminal bigotry."
United States Attorney Stephen J. Murphy for the Eastern District of Michigan stated, "Threats against a person based upon the person's free exercise of religious beliefs undermine the foundations upon which democracy is built."
The guilty plea results from an investigation by the Detroit Field Office of the FBI, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Michigan, and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department.
/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

Study Falsely Links Low Teacher Quality to Union Contracts

To: National Desk
Contact: George Jackson of the American Federation of Teachers, 202-393-4275 or
WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) today expressed outrage at the lack of real solutions for hard-to-staff schools-as well as meritless attacks on unions-in The New Teacher Project (TNTP) report, "Unintended Consequences: The Case for Reforming the Staffing Rules in Urban Teachers Union Contracts."
"The TNTP report completely misses the mark on the challenge of retaining new teachers in urban schools," said AFT Executive Vice President Antonia Cortese. "Almost 50 percent of new teachers leave schools within five years. If we want to solve this problem, we need to spend more time on retention strategies like peer mentoring and other supports, and less on human resource management issues, like how the districts are managing teacher transfers."
Cortese pointed out that the study's uninformed conclusions about school staffing policies detract from much more relevant issues surrounding teacher retention. Using vague and possibly outdated examples to support its recommendations, the study wrongly implicates union contract language as an obstacle that prevents urban schools from hiring good teachers.
The study is not only short on constructive answers to teacher shortages in urban schools, the AFT noted, but it also lacks merit because of flawed research and hazy reporting. Among the more glaring deficiencies are the failures to provide specific examples of contract language, to compare districts in states both with and without collective bargaining, or to interview any union representatives for the study.
"These contracts are negotiated and agreed upon by districts and unions," said Cortese. "If TNTP had bothered to contact the unions, they would have found that AFT contracts in a number of urban districts clearly and effectively deal with teacher transfer procedures and teacher quality concerns."
The AFT represents 1.3 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; nurses and healthcare workers; and federal, state and local government employees.
/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

Members of U.S. Congress, Labor Speak Out on Andean Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) Talks

To: National Desk
Contact: Tom Ricker of the Alliance for Responsible Trade/Quixote Center, 301-699-0042; David Edeli of Public Citizen, Global Trade Watch, 202-454-5111
WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Speaking on Cannon Terrace today, members of the U.S. Congress and labor leaders sent a clear message to the Bush administration and the United States Trade Representative as they attempt to wrap up talks for a free trade agreement with Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia: Move away from a failed trade model or face another tough battle in Congress.
Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said, with the Central American Trade Agreement (CAFTA) "our Congress made the wrong choice almost four months ago, and here we are again. AFTA is just as bad as NAFTA, just as bad as CAFTA for working families. These are failed policies that sell out American working families and ship American jobs overseas."
Linda Sanchez (D-CA, also noted, "CAFTA was a bad idea for American working families, and our country cannot afford another trade deal that rewards countries which have poor labor standards. It is time to call on President Bush to stop making deals which favor his cronies and to start protecting the hard working men and women who make up the workforce around the world.
The main concern expressed by members of Congress is the lack of enforceable worker rights protection in the current Andean Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) text. This was the same concern that led to near unanimous opposition from House Democrats in the vote on CAFTA in July.
"President Bush and the USTR have not learned their lesson, and they crank out agreement after agreement using the same bad model designed to enrich the few at the expense of many" said John Murphy, vice-president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
Xaiver Becerra (D-CA) noted that AFTA did not have to go down this road: "Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo has said publicly that he would welcome the inclusion of internationally accepted core labor standards into the Andean Free Trade Agreement and I thank him for taking that important step. It is our hope that as we move forward with finalizing negotiations, all participating countries follow President Toledos lead to include the five International Labor Organization core standards within the four corners of the agreement."
But unless the Bush administration changes course AFTA will not be able to garner support.
"This trade deal is simply unacceptable; more trade unionists have been murdered in the past decade in Colombia than in the rest of the world combined, and this is the country we single out for a trade agreement. This is a reward for violence and a climate of terror for working people. The current trade model simply does not work: poverty and income inequality are on the rise especially in countries with whom we have agreements, and there is a rising trade deficit and a decline of wages and employment in the U.S.," concluded Thea Lee, policy director for the AFL-CIO.
/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

Defendant Nate Gray Sentenced to 15 Years in Jail in Broad National Public Corruption, Fraud Scheme

To: National Desk
Contact: U.S. Department of Justice, 202-514-2008 202-514-1888 (TDD); Web:
WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 /U.S. Newswire/ -- A Cleveland businessman convicted as part of a wide-ranging national public corruption scheme involving bribery and fraud has been sentenced to 15 years in prison, Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Gregory A. White of the Northern District of Ohio announced today.
In addition to the 15-year prison term, Nate Gray, 47, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge James S. Gwin of the Northern District of Ohio to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $1.5 million in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service. Gray, convicted in August 2005 following a corruption conspiracy trial, had also pleaded guilty to evading payment of previously assessed income taxes. The sentence imposed by the court today includes both the corruption and the tax charges, and Gray was immediately remanded into custody.
The sentencing for one of Gray's co-defendants, New Orleans businessman Gilbert Jackson, 51, was continued to a later date. Jackson was also remanded into custody, and still faces trial the Eastern District of Louisiana in January 2006 on a multi-count indictment for tax evasion.
The sentence imposed today was the result of a multi-district probe of public corruption offenses in Cleveland, East Cleveland, Ohio, Houston and New Orleans. In all, eight defendants have been convicted and sentenced in the case, in which Department of Justice prosecutors were assisted by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation Division. The investigation revealed a wide range of public corruption, including the providing of money and luxury items to public officials in exchange for official acts such as the awarding of municipal contracts.
"As the lengthy sentence imposed today proves, there is a price to pay for public corruption," said Assistant Attorney General Fisher. "The bribes paid by Nate Gray and others for these substantial contracts represent a hidden, illegal tax on the citizens of these cities. The Department of Justice will continue to work diligently to prosecute those who pay bribes and those state and local officials who sell their public offices."
U.S. Attorney White said, "We are pleased with the sentences obtained in this case. Our efforts, however, do not end here. The U.S. Attorney's Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service remain committed to uncovering and prosecuting public officials and employees and private citizens who engage in public corruption offenses in the Northern District of Ohio. We will continue to follow investigative leads wherever they go and take appropriate prosecutive action."
"Public corruption impedes the smooth operation of government, whether it is state, federal or local," stated Nancy Jardini, IRS Chief, Criminal Investigation. "Mr. Gray's sentencing demonstrates what can happen when an individual corruptly interferes with the operation of government and evades their taxes."
Emmanuel Onunwor, 47, the former mayor of East Cleveland, was previously sentenced to 108 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Onunwor was also ordered to pay restitution of more than $5.1 million to the city of East Cleveland. He had been convicted at trial on 22 counts, including RICO conspiracy, extortion under color of official right (Hobbs Act), mail fraud, bankruptcy fraud and filing false tax returns.
Monique McGilbra, 41, the former city of Houston Director of Building Services, was sentenced to 36 months in prison, a $5,000 fine and two years of supervised release. McGilbra had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. She was also sentenced in the Southern District of Texas to a concurrent term of 30 months in prison for participating in an honest services fraud scheme, and began serving her sentence on Sept. 6, 2005.
Oliver Spellman, 51, the former chief of staff to the mayor of Houston, was sentenced to two years probation and a $10,000 fine following his guilty pleas on a charge of conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right (Hobbs Act).
Brent Jividen, 43, a former employee of Honeywell Corporation and an associate of Nate Gray, was sentenced to 30 months in jail and two years of supervised release following his guilty plea to a RICO conspiracy involving predicate acts of conspiring to commit extortion under color of official right (Hobbs Act) and of mail and wire fraud. Jividen began serving his sentence on Oct. 31, 2005.
Ricardo Teamor, 59, a former attorney and associate of Nate Gray, was sentenced to four months in prison, four months of home detention, two years of supervised release and a $15,000 fine. Teamor had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right (Hobbs Act) was well as a substantive Hobbs Act count, and began serving his sentence on Oct. 31, 2005.
Former Cleveland City Councilman Joseph T. Jones, 37, was sentenced to two years of probation, including six months in home confinement. Jones tendered his resignation immediately following his guilty plea.
These cases were prosecuted Assistant U.S. Attorneys Steven M. Dettlebach and Benita Y. Pearson and by Trial Attorney Mary K. Butler of the Public Integrity of the Criminal Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, which is headed by Section Chief Noel L. Hillman.
/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

Snowe-Feingold Introduce Bill to Allow Small Businesses to Recover Legal Costs; Equal Access to Justice Reform Act of 2005 to Rein in Frivolous Lawsuits

To: National Desk, Business Reporter
Contact: Chris Chichester of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, 202-228-5843
WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 /U.S. Newswire/ -- U.S. Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) today introduced the Equal Access to Justice Reform Act of 2005 (S. 2017), which will make it easier for small businesses to recover their legal costs when they prevail in litigation involving the Federal government.
"Small businesses deserve the same equal access to the justice system to defend themselves and protect their interests like large businesses," said Sen. Snowe. "Our legislation will hold Federal agencies accountable if they file frivolous lawsuits against small businesses. Federal agencies should not be granted special privileges above small businesses that insulate them from bearing any of the financial burden of costly and expensive litigation."
"The legislation Senator Snowe and I are proposing today deals directly with a problem that affects small businesses and individual Americans across this country that face legal battles with the Federal government," Sen. Feingold said. "Even if they win in court, they may lose financially because they incur the great expense of paying their attorneys. We should do all that we can to help ease the financial burdens on people who have the right to have their claims reviewed and decided by impartial decision makers."
Sen. Snowe and Sen. Feingold noted a recent National Federation of Independent Businesses poll found that the median total cost to settle a legal dispute is about $5,000.
This bill will reform the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), first enacted in 1980, by removing barriers and inefficiencies from the current law and modernizing the bill to better suit today's small businesses. It would:
-- Eliminate the current requirement in EAJA that the prevailing party seeking fees show that the government's position was "not substantially justified." That requirement means that a small business often must go through a second costly legal proceeding to obtain attorneys' fees. In practice, courts typically give a very wide berth to the substantially justified defense -- which means that a prevailing small business can rarely, if ever, recover its legal fees under EAJA.
-- Raise the threshold for a qualifying small business from $7 million net worth to $10 million net worth, index that threshold for inflation, and remove the $125 per hour cap on legal fees so that small businesses can obtain competent legal services and receive fair reimbursement.
-- Require agencies that lose lawsuits, other than NLRB, EEOC, OSHA, and MSHA, to pay legal fees awarded under EAJA out of their own budgets, and not out of the General Treasury fund. This will help make agencies more accountable for their decisions and discourage abusive Federal enforcement actions.
-- Promote a fair and cost-effective process for prompt settlement and payment of attorney's fees claims.
Sen. Feingold has introduced EAJA reform legislation in four previous Congresses, beginning in 1995. A companion bill, H.R. 435, introduced in the House by Reps. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) has received support from a broad range of groups, including: the American Center for Law & Justice; American Civil Liberties Union; American Conservative Union; American Dental Association; American Medical Association; Association of Trial Lawyers of America; Chamber of Commerce of the United States; Heritage Foundation; Home School Legal Defense Association; Illinois State Bar Association; Leadership Conference on Civil Rights; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; National Association of Manufacturers; National Federation of Independent Business; Natural Resources Defense Council; Sierra Club; and the Small Business EAJA Coalition (representing 27 major trade associations, and millions of businesses).

Republicans in Washington Shortchanging 9/11 First Responders, Says DNC

To: National Desk
Contact: Damien LaVera of the Democratic National Committee, 202-863-8148
WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 /U.S. Newswire/ -- For weeks, Republicans in Congress have been pushing radical budget cuts to offset the cost of extending more than $60 billion in tax cuts for wealthy investors that are set to expire in 2008. As part of this effort, the Associated Press today reported that Republicans in Congress are looking to cut $125 million that had been promised to "treat sick and injured ground zero workers" after 9/11.
The money, part of the $20 billion President Bush initially pledged to New York in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, is intended to cover "increased worker compensation costs" stemming from the attacks and the subsequent clean-up effort. (Associated Press, 11/16/05)
Democratic National Committee Spokesman Damien LaVera today called on Republicans in Washington to restore funding promised to the heroes of 9/11:
"Republicans in Washington are sacrificing our promises to the heroes of 9/11 on the altar of new tax cuts for special interests. By breaking our promise to the emergency workers and others who became ill working to clean up Ground Zero, Republicans in Washington are turning their backs on the values that were on display in the days and weeks following 9/11.
"Together, America can do better. While the Republicans in Congress are more interested in giving handouts to special interests, Democrats are working to enact a budget that reflects America's priorities. Instead of shortchanging the September 11th first responders, Republicans in Washington should join us in standing up for ordinary American families."
Paid for and authorized by the Democratic National Committee, http://www.democratsorg. This communication is not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

Congress Rejects Bush Small Business Cuts But Overall SBA Funding Still $123 Million Less Than Last Year

To: National and Business desks
Contact: Catherine Scott of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, 202-224-8496
WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The Senate today voted to support Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), the top Democrat on the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, in his effort to boost the Small Business Administration's (SBA) budget above President Bush's request for FY 2006.
Included in the appropriations conference report that passed the Senate today by a vote of 94-5 were several provisions requested by Kerry and Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), chair of the Committee, to increase the SBA's budget beyond Bush's recommendation of $453 million.
"The favorite target for President Bush's budget axe is small business. Since taking office, he's tried to cut the SBA's funding in half. The result is that over the last five years, the SBA has been cut more than any other agency. The President does not understand the importance of small business to our economy, but small businesses that will boost job growth and expand our economy," Kerry said.
Kerry and Snowe fought for months to increase the SBA's budget. In March, the Senate passed their bipartisan amendment to restore funding for critical programs that Bush had proposed drastically cutting or eliminating all together. The conference report included their request for:
-- $12 million to Microloan Technical Assistance (terminated by President Bush's budget);
-- $1.3 million to the Microloan Program for $12.7 million in loans (terminated by Bush), which allows entrepreneurs -- especially women, minorities, and rural-based -- to obtain very small loans;
-- $2 million to the Program for Investment in Micro- entrepreneurs (PRIME) (terminated by Bush), which provides in- depth business counseling to low-income entrepreneurs;
-- $1 million to the Small Business Development Centers (increases funding to $89 million), which offer management assistance and training to entrepreneurs;
-- $2 million line-item for the HUBZone program (Bush eliminated the line-item), which gives federal contracting preferences for businesses within the designated areas;
-- $500,000 to the Women's Business Centers Program (increases funding to $12.5 million), which helped 106,000 business owners last year;
-- $1.5 million line-item for the Export Assistance Centers (Bush eliminated the line-item), which assist businesses interested in selling their products in other countries;
-- $1.5 million line-item for the 7(j) contracting assistance program (Bush eliminated the line-item), which helps to train small disadvantaged businesses; and
-- $1.2 million for Native American outreach (increases funding to $2 million).

Government Report Finds TSA Inaction on Identified Air Cargo Security Loopholes, Highlights Gaps in Bush Administration Policies

To: National Desk, Security and Transportation reporters
Contact: Tara McGuinness of the Office of Rep. Markey, 202-225-2836; or Sarah Moore of the Office of Rep. Shays, 202-225-5541
WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 /U.S. Newswire/ -- One week before the busiest travel holiday of the year, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) will release a report, titled "Federal Action Needed to Strengthen Air Cargo Security" identifying dangerous security gaps in the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) policies for ensuring the safety of the 6 billion pounds of commercial cargo carried on passenger planes each year.
Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT), senior members of the House Homeland Security Committee, original requesters of the report and long time advocates for strengthened air cargo security, responded to the serious conclusions of the GAO report:
"Today's report should be a wake-up call for the Bush Administration, which continues to cater to the wishes of the cargo industry while refusing to require urgently needed cargo security upgrades that would make America safer. GAO's report blows away the Bush Administration's smokescreen that paperwork checks, random inspections and other half measures keep Americans safe. GAO has confirmed the concerns we have repeatedly raised about serious cargo security loopholes that leave airline passengers and crew members vulnerable to a terrorist attack that uses a bomb concealed in a cargo container to destroy an airplane in flight. According to the report, about half of the hull of each passenger plane is filled with cargo and almost none of this cargo is inspected for explosives before it is loaded on board. The Bush Administration is hedging its bets by inspecting only a tiny fraction of the materials traveling on passenger planes -- under the current system the odds aren't good for the safety of the American people," Rep. Markey said.
"Air cargo is routinely inspected in several other nations and, given that the U.S. is target number one, we can no longer afford to roll the dice," Shays said. "I think we owe it to all families who have lost loved ones in acts of terrorism to make our airlines as safe as we can. Today's report underscores what we have been saying for years: uninspected cargo is a risk to air passengers and it's time to implement tougher inspection regulations."
In its report, GAO concluded that:
-- Local TSA officials and officials representing airports, air carriers, and indirect air carriers recognize that some of the TSA regulations which do not require inspection of all cargo carried on passenger planes but instead mandate random checks may create potential vulnerabilities in the air cargo security system. (Page 6)
-- TSA has not conducted assessments of air cargo vulnerabilities and critical assets, such as cargo facilities and aircraft. (Page 4)
-- TSA has not systematically collected and used information on air cargo security breaches that have occurred in the past, which could provide useful information to identify the full range of potential air cargo security vulnerabilities. (Page 5)
-- TSA has not taken needed steps to identify shippers who may pose a security threat, in part because TSA has incomplete information on shippers who are permitted to transport cargo on passenger planes. (Page 5)
-- TSA collects data on less than 1/3 of the 1.5 million "known shippers" that ship goods on passenger planes. (Page 5)
The GAO also recommended some immediate actions to close existing security loopholes. Some of the report's recommendations are as follows:
-- TSA should complete assessments of air cargo vulnerability. (Page 65)
-- TSA should re-examine the rationale for creating exemptions to the air cargo inspections. (Page 65)
-- TSA should develop a plan for checking on the compliance of existing inspections and use the results of this analysis to improve inspections process (Page 65).
"One hundred percent passenger screening gives travelers a false sense of security on air planes. Americans need to know that their sneakers may be inspected but that objects the size of a car are waved on board. Is it easier to hide a bomb in a pair of sneakers or in an object the size of a car? Why are we inspecting all the sneakers and handbags and baby strollers while giving the objects that occupy 50 percent the space of the belly of passenger planes a free pass?" asked Rep. Markey.
Rep. Markey authored legislation and amendments requiring a three year phase-in of 100 percent inspection mandate for cargo on passenger planes. Reps. Markey and Shays have previously introduced bills mandating air cargo screening. In 2003, Rep. Markey succeeded in attaching similar requirements to the Fiscal Year 2004 Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill. After strong resistance from the Bush Administration and cargo industry, the provision was deleted from final version of the bill.
The Markey/Shays air cargo security bill has garnered broad support from numerous security groups, including the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations (CAPA), the Passenger-Cargo Security Group, American Science and Engineering Inc. (AS&E), and the Families of September 11. In their letter supporting the Markey bill, CAPA wrote, "On behalf of CAPA, we are proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you in the battle to close the dangerous cargo loophole that continues to threaten the security of airline passengers and crew. We believe that H.R. 2044, introduced by both you and Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT), is a critical step in insuring that our nation's skies are safe and secure."
"We must not wait until disaster strikes before we close the cargo security loophole. Pilots and flight attendants, government investigators, the 9/11 Commission and homeland security experts all have pointed out the dangers posed by uninspected cargo. As the busy Thanksgiving travel season approaches, now is the time to strengthen the security of cargo carried on passenger planes," Rep. Markey concluded.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Asbestos Victims' Groups Say Bill's Funding Is Questionable; Groups Voice Opposition to S.852 in Letter to Frist and Reid

To: National Desk
Contact: Mollie Turner, 202-448-3147,
WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Today, leaders of the nation's top asbestos victims' organizations voiced serious concerns about the funding of the asbestos trust fund bill in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Frist and Democratic Leader Reid. The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to hold a hearing on Thursday, Nov. 17, to discuss the bill's funding projections, brought into question by a number of recent financial reports. Proponents hope to make the bill one of the first pieces of legislation considered by the U.S. Senate next year.
Six victims' group leaders wrote Sens. Frist and Reid on behalf of thousands of asbestos victims across the country, with concern that the funding for the bill is grossly insufficient and will not be able to fairly and quickly compensate victims. Signatories include:
-- Susan Vento, chairperson, Committee to Protect Mesothelioma Victims-CPMV (Washington, DC);
-- Linda Reinstein, co-founder and executive director, Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization-ADAO (Redondo Beach, Calif.);
-- Barbara Zeluck, secretary, White Lung Asbestos Information Center-WLAIC (New York, N.Y.);
-- Michael Bowker, founder and executive director, Asbestos Victims Organization-AVO; author, Fatal Deception: The Untold Story of Asbestos: Why It is Still Legal and Why It Is Still Killing Us (Placerville, Calif.);
-- Jim Fite, national secretary, White Lung Association-WLA (Baltimore, Md.); and
-- Gayla Benefield, chairman, Lincoln County Asbestos Victim's Relief Organization-LCAVRO (Libby, Mont.).
The groups raise the concern that recent reports from Bates White, the CBO, and STATS found the fund to be far short of what is needed to fairly compensate victims and protect taxpayers. If the fund runs dry, victims' claims will return to the tort system, forcing them to undergo extensive financial and time- consuming setbacks.
Group leaders say in the letter that:
The very real scenario in which a legislatively created trust fund could be rapidly bankrupted poses serious risks to victims and their families as well as businesses and all taxpayers. We believe it would be wholly irresponsible for Congress to proceed with consideration and passage of this legislation without accurate and complete information concerning the funding issue and the critical factors associated with it.
Victims' groups sent a letter to Sen. Specter, and other members of the U.S. Senate, earlier this year stating that the bill falls far short of the criteria that are needed to address victims' needs and does not provide enough funding for asbestos research, education, and prevention.
These victims' groups also oppose the trust fund legislation because it takes away victims' rights and does not address important issues including the asbestos hotspots in 42 states and the problem of naturally occurring asbestos in our environment.
To view the letter and/or for more information on the problems with the trust fund proposal visit

Animal Welfare Institute Condemns Cruelty of First Yellowstone Bison Kill

To: National Desk
Contact: D.J. Schubert of the Animal Welfare Institute, 609-334-1378
WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The first victim of Montana's unjustified bison hunt was reportedly shot at a distance of 20 yards and required at least four bullets and 45 minutes to die.
As the animal was dying, the remaining members of the herd surrounded him, and hunters threw rocks at the herd for half an hour before they moved away so the hunters could gut the dead bison. In the midst of cutting up the animal's carcass, the herd returned and the hunters began pelting the animals with rocks again.
"The hunting of these bison is blatant animal cruelty that must not be countenanced by the State of Montana," said D.J. Schubert, wildlife biologist at the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI). "We strongly renew our request that Governor Schweitzer immediately terminate the hunt to protect other bison from suffering a similar fate."
Montana claims its first bison hunt in nearly 15 years would meet the legal requirement of a "fair chase" hunt and has required the selected hunters to attend an orientation session to learn, among other things, how to ensure a quick kill of a bison. As evidenced by the very first victim of the hunt, bison hunting is neither sporting nor humane.
"Compassionate people throughout the United States and the world should be outraged by this state-sanctioned cruelty against one of America's most iconic species and demand that Montana halt the hunt."

Tonight: DNC Holds National Organizing Kickoff Events; Over 1,000 Events Across the Country to Energize and Organize Democrats

To: National Desk
Contact: Luis Miranda of the Democratic National Committee, 202-863-8148
WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 /U.S. Newswire/ -- This evening, Democrats in every state in the Union are hosting more than 1,000 separate events across the country to participate in the National Organizing Kickoff. The events will build upon the momentum from resounding victories for Democrats all across the country last week, and will bring Democrats together to build grassroots organizations in local communities across America.
Below is a partial list of tonight's events from around the country featuring Democratic State Party officials, as well as Democratic elected officials and local activists and community leaders.
Members of the press can contact local organizers to obtain more information or to attend an event.
Alaska: Alaska Democratic Party Chair Jake Metcalfe will attend the following two organizing events in Anchorage. For details contact Jake Metcalfe at 907-529-1441. The events will run from about 5 to 7 p.m. local time.
California: California Democratic Party staff will participate in organizing events in the state. Contact Joe Molica for details at 415-749-2795.
Colorado: Colorado Democratic Party Chair Pat Waak will attend five organizing events in Broomfield, Boulder, and Weld Counties. For details contact Pat Waak or Sherry Jackson at 303-623-4762.
Georgia: Georgia Democratic Party Chairman Bobby Kahn will participate in an organizing event in Georgia. For details contact Emil Runge at 404-885-1998.
Kansas: Democratic Party staff will participate at three organizing events across the state. Contact Frances Gorman at 785-331-5378 for details.
Maryland: Maryland Democratic Party Chair Terry Lierman will host an organizing event at the Maryland Democratic Party headquarters as part of the bimonthly State Executive Committee meeting. DNC Vice Chair Susie Turnbull will also attend an organizing event at a private residence in Silver Spring. For details contact Derek Walker at 301-858-8818 or 410-269-8818.
Missouri: Missouri Democratic Party Chairman Gov. Roger Wilson will participate in an organizing event in Missouri. Contact Jack Cardetti at 573-636-5241 x105 for details.
Nebraska: Nebraska Democratic Party leadership and candidates will be attending various meetings throughout the evening. Nebraska State Chair Steve Achelpohl and Congressional Candidate Jim Esch will appear at an event in Omaha from 5 to 8 p.m. Congressional Candidate Scott Kleeb will be with Democrats at Hastings College from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Democratic activists are meeting at several Lincoln locations, and events are also taking place in Fremont, Hershey, Gering, and Wausa. For details contact Amanda McGill at 402-434-2184.
Nevada: Congressional Candidate Jill Derby will visit an organizing event in Lyon County, Nevada. For details contact Carissa Snedeker at 775-577-2505. Pam duPre will host an event in Reno. For more information on the Reno event, call 775-348-8691. Other events will be held in Washoe Valley and Douglas County. For more information on those events, call 775-348-8691.
North Dakota: Cass County Democratic Chair Rebecca Knutson and Young Democrats Vice President Cathy Peterson will participate in an organizing event at the Cass County Democratic Party headquarters at 6 p.m. Contact Rick Gion for details at 701-255- 0460.
Oklahoma: Oklahoma Democratic Party State Communications Director Jason McCarty will attend the organizing event hosted by Native Americans for Change in Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma Democratic Party will also host an organizing event at its state Head Quarters in Oklahoma City. For details contact Jason McCarty at 405-427-3366.
South Dakota: South Dakota Democratic Party Chair Judy Olson Duhamel will attend an organizing event in Whitewood at 6 P.M. For details contact Elesha Peterson Carr at 605-224-1750.
Tennessee: The Tennessee Democratic Party will participate in organizing events in Tennessee. For details contact Jerry Maynard at 615-327-9779.
Utah: Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Holland will visit three organizing events, one where he'll join Rep. Roz McGee at her home, another at a private residence in Salt Lake City, and a third at the Salt Lake County Democratic Party HQ. For details contact Jeff Bell at 801-328-1212 or 801-541-3347.
Washington, DC: DNC Vice Chair and California Congressman Mike Honda will participate at an organizing event hosted by Georgetown Law Democrats and the Woman's National Democratic Club. For details contact Luis Miranda at 202-863-7131.
Washington: Washington State Democratic Party Chairman Paul Berendt will participate in organizing events in Washington State, where at least 73 organizing events are taking place. The Washington State Democrat's Eastern Washington Field Manager, Autumn Sample, a DNC funded organizer working out of the State Party office in Moses Lake, Washington, will be introducing DNC Chairman Gov. Howard Dean for his conference call with organizing events nationwide. Contact Jaxon Ravens at 206-583-0664 for details.
Wisconsin: The Wisconsin Democratic Party will have staff participating at organizing events throughout the state. For details contact Jessica Erickson at 608-260-2406.
Paid for and authorized by the Democratic National Committee, This communication is not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

Sensenbrenner Statement on Major League Baseball's New Anti-Drug Agreement

To: National Desk
Contact: Jeff Lungren or Terry Shawn, 202-225-2492, both of the Committee on the Judiciary,
WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 /U.S. Newswire/ -- House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-Wis.) issued the following statement on today's announcement of an anti-drug agreement in Major League Baseball:
"I am initially pleased and encouraged by what I have seen and heard thus far about this agreement, but will reserve final judgement until I have had an opportunity to fully review the details. I think all of us involved in this issue in Congress hope Major League Baseball and other professional sports leagues will take strong steps to combat the use of performance enhancing drugs so congressional action is not necessary. However, if the leagues don't act, Congress is prepared to.
"As the lead sponsor of bipartisan anti-steroid legislation, I understand the dire public health and safety risk posed by the use of performance enhancing substances. Our young people must receive a clear message from professional athletes, parents, coaches, teachers, and political and community leaders that the use of performance enhancing drugs is both wrong and dangerous."

Karlog Shipping Company, Ltd. Pleads Guilty to Concealing Vessel Pollution

To: National Desk
Contact: U.S. Department of Justice, 202-514-2007, 202-514-1888 (TDD); Web:
WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Karlog Shipping Company Ltd. (Karlog Shipping) -- operator of a fleet of cargo freighters based in Piraeus, Greece -- pleaded guilty to making false statements and obstructing justice in connection with the overboard discharge of waste oil through a hidden bypass pipe on the M/V Friendship, a Greek-registered cargo ship, the Justice Department announced today.
Under the terms of a plea agreement reached with prosecutors, Karlog Shipping was ordered to pay a $1 million fine, to develop a comprehensive court-monitored environmental management system, and to serve three years of probation. The comprehensive environmental management system will be a fleet-wide program designed to ensure that the company properly supervises all of its vessels, preventing future illegal discharges and ensuring that vessels are in compliance with environmental laws moving forward.
"Today's guilty pleas are evidence of the Justice Department's commitment to ensuring that crimes that harm our environment will not go unpunished," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Kelly A. Johnson. "Companies like Karlog, which knowingly pollute our oceans and then intentionally lie to cover their actions, will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law."
The government's investigation began in November 2004 after the Coast Guard discovered evidence of the bypassing during a routine inspection of the M/V Friendship in Gravesend Bay, Brooklyn, New York. Panagiotis Kokkinos, the ship's Chief Engineer, and Athanasios Chalkias, the ship's Fitter, have also both pleaded guilty in connection with their role in ordering crew members to make false statements to the Coast Guard regarding discharges of oil from the ship. Both Kokkinos and Chalkias were sentenced to 30 days incarceration and three years of probation on October 6, 2005.
According to documents filed in court, Karlog Shipping discharged oil contaminated bilge waste overboard through the bypass equipment and without the use of the oil water separator. The pollution was then concealed by maintaining a false oil record book that made it appear that the ship was being operated properly.
Engine room operations on board large oceangoing vessels such as the M/V Friendship generate large amounts of waste oil. International and U.S. law prohibit the discharge of waste oil without treatment by an oil water separator-a required pollution prevention device. Law also requires all overboard discharges be recorded in an oil record book, a required log which is regularly inspected by the Coast Guard. The waste oil may be burned on board through the use of an incinerator or offloaded onto barges or shore side facilities for disposal.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard Criminal Investigative Service and the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigations Division, and prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's office for the Eastern District of New York and the Department of Justice Environmental Crimes Section. The case was initiated by the Marine Inspectors and Marine Investigators from Coast Guard Sector New York.

Three Charged with Acting as Foreign Agents for People's Republic of China

To: National and International desks
Contact: Assistant United States Attorney Gregory W. Staples, 714-338-3535; or Assistant United States Attorney Deirdre Z. Eliot, 714-338-3599
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 15 /U.S. Newswire/ -- A federal grand jury in Los Angeles today indicted three Chinese natives on charges of acting as agents of a foreign government without prior notification to the Attorney General of the United States.
The indictment against the three defendants supersedes a criminal complaint filed on Oct. 28 that accused them of theft of government property. The one-count indictment charges:
-- Chi Mak, 65, of Downey, a naturalized United States citizen;
-- Chi Mak's brother, Tai Wang Mak, 56, of Alhambra, who is residing in the United States as a permanent resident alien (commonly called a holder of a "Green Card" ); and
-- Chi Mak's wife, Rebecca Laiwah Chiu, 62, also of Downey.
The three defendants, along with a fourth who is not charged in the indictment, were arrested on the night of Oct. 28 pursuant to a criminal complaint. Following their arrests, Chi Mak and his brother were ordered detained, or held without bond. Chiu was released last week after posting a $300,000 bond.
According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, Chi Mak was an engineer for a company named Power Paragon. Allegedly, Chi Mak transferred data relating to a sensitive government project to his home, where his wife assisted him in copying the information onto CDs. Chi Mak delivered the CDs to his brother, who encrypted the information and made arrangements to transport it to the People's Republic of China. Tai Mak allegedly planned to travel to the PRC to deliver the information.
The three defendants are scheduled to be arraigned on the indictment on Monday in United States District Court in Santa Ana. The charge of failing to register as a foreign agent carries a maximum possible penalty of 10 years in federal prison.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in conjunction with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

House Speaker Hastert: Democrats on Innovation: Democratic Agenda Means More Taxation, Litigation, and Regulation

To: National Desk, Political Reporter
Contact: Communications Office of Office of House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, 202-225-2800
WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The following was released today by House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert:
"House Democrats Have Consistently Supported An Agenda of Higher Taxation, Litigation and Regulation While Republicans Have Been Fighting for a High-Tech Agenda That Expands Innovation." - Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.)
Democrats on Innovation Democratic Agenda Means More Taxation, Litigation, and Regulation
Against Making A Pledge to High-Tech Competitiveness
-- The House Democratic Leaders Voted Against CAFTA A Key Priority of the High-Tech Community (House Roll Call Vote no. 443, 7/28/05).
-- The House Democratic Leaders Sided with Greedy Trial Attorneys and Voted Against Class-Action Lawsuit Fairness (House Roll Call Vote no. 553, 10/27/05).
-- The House Democratic Leaders Have Refused To Call For A Ban on Internet Taxes (Press Release, House Democratic Leaders Issue Statement of Principles on Technology Industry, 03/12/04).
Against Innovation Through Research and Development
-- Will Leader Pelosi Vote for the Ways and Means Tax Reconciliation Package that Includes the Extension of the R&D Tax Credits?
-- The House Democratic Leaders Continue To Oppose the Deficit Reduction Act That Will Free Up Airwaves For Cutting-Edge Wireless Broadband and Other New Services By Completing the Digital Television Transition.
Against Expanding Broadband Access
-- The House Democratic Leaders Seek to Expand Waste-Ridden Subsidy Programs for Universal Access Instead of Creating Incentives for the Private Sector to Accelerate Broadband Internet Deployment.
Against American Energy Independence in 10 Years
-- The House Democrat Leadership Has Opposed Legislation That Makes America More Energy Independent Six Times (107th Roll Call no. 320; 108th Roll Call no. 145, no. 241, no. 630; 109th Roll Call no. 132, no. 445).

That was Then, This is Now: Alito Must Demonstrate Consistent Constitutional Stance on Civil Rights of Unborn, Says NPLAC

To: National Desk
Contact: Joe Giganti, 703-928-9695 or
WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 /U.S. Newswire/ -- "Judge Alito's comments in a 20-year-old job application may be a great source of encouragement, but they could easily become an even larger source of disappointment. We simply do not know, and that is why it is so important that he provide a clear picture of his judicial temperament in his upcoming confirmation hearing," stated Stephen G. Peroutka, Esq., chairman of the National Pro-Life Action Center (NPLAC) -- the uncompromising voice of pro-life America on Capitol Hill-in reference to a front page story in today's Washington Times.
The story by Bill Sammon quoted Judge Alito as saying, "the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion," as part of his application to become deputy assistant to then-Attorney General Edwin Meese III. The article went on to quote an anonymous Republican source who quickly pointed out that, "it proves no such thing," when asked if this was an indication that Alito would vote to overturn Roe. The same source added somewhat proudly, "In fact, if you look at some of the quotes of his former law clerks, they don't believe that he'll overturn Roe v. Wade."
"Of concern to pro-lifers is that Alito's opinions authored in his 15 years on the bench have not always appeared consistent with his previous statements," continued Peroutka, also a Maryland-based attorney. The article's unnamed source went on to state, "In none of the opinions is it evident what his political philosophy is."
"This is an unfortunate circumstance, as we should hope to have a nominee whose understanding of law would be clear before the hearings have even begun," said Peroutka.
"It absolutely essential that Judge Alito resist overtures to conceal his judicial philosophy behind the 'Ginsberg cloak of silence,' which the administration has touted as a just defense in the modern confirmation process," Peroutka said. "There is no honor in denying the personhood of the unborn, or in overlooking the clearly unconstitutional nature of the Roe and Doe decisions. This simply reinforces the misguided belief that these decisions are law, which, in fact, they are not."
"In the Miers debacle, pro-lifers and conservatives demonstrated that this was not simply a question of political ideology," observed Paul Chaim Schenck, director of NPLAC. "Pro-lifers want Supreme Court justices who not only have the academic training necessary for the job, but who have a clear and complete comprehension of an American view of law and justice. A nominee who is willing to take the seemingly mandated 'Roe oath,' whereby they testify that it is settled law, never to be overturned, is not the type of justice worthy of pro-life support."

New England Lawmakers Among More than 100 Members of Congress Calling for Repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

To: National Desk
Contact: Steve Ralls of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, 202-328-3244, ext. 116 or
WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Fifteen members of Congress from New England are among the bi-partisan coalition of 102 Members of Congress supporting a bill to repeal the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual military personnel. The Military Readiness Enhancement Act (H.R. 1059), introduced in March by Congressman Marty Meehan (D-MA), has broad support from lawmakers from Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont.
"New England's Congressional supporters represent a region rich with military history and service," said SLDN deputy director for policy and former Army Captain Sharon Alexander. "They are calling on Congress to put military readiness ahead of politics and repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' once and for all. Connecticut's Naval Submarine Base at Groton, Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts, Maine's Naval Air Station Brunswick, and the Naval War College in Rhode Island have all been home to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patriots. Their service and sacrifice has made our nation more secure. Our nation's birthplace of liberty is leading the way in ensuring liberty for our patriots today."
Since 1993 the Department of Defense reports it has fired more than 10,000 men and women under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban, including nearly 800 specialists with training in mission critical skills. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the military's ban has cost more than $190 million to maintain.
"New England is home to more than 41,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender veterans," Alexander said. "Among all states, Vermont has the highest per capita gay veteran population in the nation. SLDN encourages those veterans, and their heterosexual colleagues, to also speak up in favor of allowing gay Americans to serve openly. Nearly 8 out of 10 Americans support repealing the gay ban, and Congress should heed their guidance."
SLDN staff members will be in Rhode Island and Maine in November and December, meeting with veterans and community activists as part of a grassroots campaign to mobilize support for the Congressional legislation. For more information on SLDN's work to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," visit
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network is a national, non-profit legal services, watchdog and policy organization dedicated to ending discrimination against and harassment of military personnel affected by 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and related forms of intolerance. For more information, visit