Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Press Conference On Detroit Emergency Financial Manager

December 22, 2011 at 11:00 AM  there will be a Press Conference with Rainbow PUSH and Meeting on Detroit Emergency Financial Manager.  The event will be held at Bethany Baptist Church, 15122 West Chicago Street, Detroit.

All are encouraged to come.

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Michigan Forward To Put Emergency Manager Law To The Public

Brandon Jessup, Michigan Forward
As U.S. Representative John Conyers, Jr. proceeds with the next step after sending a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder requesting constitutional review of Michigan Public Act 4 of 2011, the "Emergency Manager Law", a petition drive has been launched across the state by CEO, Brandon Jessup of Michigan Forward  to put forth a referendum for public vote.

For more information on how to participate in collecting signatures, contact Micihgan Forward:

Mailing AddressMichigan ForwardP.O. Box 32860Detroit,Michigan 48232
Physical AddressMichigan Forward
600 W. Lafayette,Suite 100
Detroit,Michigan 4822
Phone:(313) 965-2722

Conyers will also be holding a townhall in the upcoming new year to further discuss alternative solutions to Michigan cities.

Attorney general tracking emergency manager law's future

Lansing— Attorney General Bill Schuette in an end-of-year interview Tuesday said he is undecided if Michigan will revert to Michigan's old emergency manager law if Public Act 4 is suspended.
Gov. Rick Snyder has said it's the position of his administration that the former Public Act 72, which grants fewer powers to emergency managers, would remain in force if a petition drive against the sweeping new emergency manager law succeeds in getting the issue on the ballot.
Schuette met with media at his Lansing office Tuesday to highlight his accomplishments for 2011 and talk about his plans for 2012. The former Court of Appeals judge is finishing his first year in office, having defeated Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton last November. He was swept into office on a GOP wave that also saw Republicans win the governor's seat, control of both chambers of the state Legislature, the Secretary of State's office and the Michigan Supreme Court.
Asked what would happen if the petitioners are successful, Schuette said, "I'm going to wait and see if that happens. There is a line of thought that the law that was in place prior to that comes into being, which is not quite as broad as the current law is. "I learned this as a judge: I wait till the facts come before me, and I always want to know all four corners of the issues involved. That is a possibility, but I'm not going to make any final decision until that occurs."
Asked if he's been requested to research the legalities surrounding the petition drive against P.A. 4, he said he's "on top of that issue, along with a lot of other issues."
Opponents of P.A. 4, a tougher emergency manager law signed by Snyder, say they are close to collecting the 161,000 signatures needed to put the question before votes on the November ballot. Emergency managers have been appointed in Flint, Pontiac, Benton Harbor, Ecorse and the Detroit Public Schools. The state has begun a review of Detroit's finances, and its findings could lead to the appointment of an emergency manger for the state's largest city.
Schuette listed among his accomplishments his fight to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes through a national coalition of attorneys general.
"This Asian carp issue is about the ecology and the economy," Schuette said.
He also noted his launch of a Public Corruption Unit within his office's Criminal Division that filed 115 charges and secured six convictions in 11 months.
He also said a warrant sweep his office conducted in cooperation with other law enforcement agencies removed 62 felons from the streets of Flint.
Other crime-fighting efforts included expanding and updating the Michigan Cyber Safety Initiative, which teaches kids, teachers and parents about Internet safety; efforts to curb exploitation of the medical marijuana law; and a crackdown on mortgage fraud.
Schuette also listed securing a five-year rate freeze for seniors who buy Medigap insurance through Blue Cross. He noted Michigan, along with 25 states, has challenged the individual mandate in the federal Affordable Healthcare Act.
Schuette has differed with Snyder on several issues, such as health benefits for same-sex partners of public employees, and whether Michigan should establish a health care exchange to conform to the federal health care law.
"If you can agree with your best friend about 95 percent of the time, I think that's great," Schuette said of his relationship with the governor. "The strength of so many issues where we agree far outweighs those where there are differences of opinions."

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Women, Peace, and Security

Women, Peace, and Security

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
December 19, 2011

Thank you.  Well, it is wonderful to be back at Georgetown to give all of the students an excuse not to keep studying for their last finals.  (Laughter.)  That’s what accounts for the enthusiastic response here in Gaston Hall. 
But thank you so much, President DeGioia.  This great university has such a long history of nurturing diplomats and peacemakers and at least one former president who still bleeds blue and gray.  (Applause.)  And the little-known secret, which I’ll spill today, is that my husband and Melanne and her husband were all at Georgetown at the same time, so who knows what might happen in decades from now with all of you and your colleagues.
I also want to acknowledge two members of Congress who are here, Russ Carnahan and John Conyers – thank you very much – as well as members of the diplomatic corps.  And I personally wish to welcome President Jahjaga of Kosovo, who has been a champion for peace and reconciliation, and also for women in her country and beyond.  President Jahjaga has been a strong voice and someone who we are very proud of and impressed by.  I’m also pleased to be joined, as you’ve already heard, from a great group of colleagues from across our government – Under Secretary Michele Flournoy, Admiral Sandy Winnefeld, Deputy AID Director Don Steinberg, Samantha Power from the White House, and others who are here in the audience.
And on a personal basis, I want to say to Michele Flournoy, who has just announced that she will be leaving early next year from the Defense Department, what a valued partner she has been and a terrific leader for our country.  And we will miss you, but we know your public service days are far from over.  Thank you, Michele.  (Applause.)
I also want to recognize all the members of our Armed Forces who are with us today.  I’d like to give them all a round of applause.  (Applause.)  All of you and those who you are serving with and leading are on our minds and in our hearts this holiday season.  This is, after all, a time when we are called upon to think more deeply about peace and what more we can do to try to achieve it.  And we also think about security and what kind of a gift we can give to future generations so that they too have the opportunities that all of us enjoy.
Today, I want to focus on one aspect of peacemaking that too often goes overlooked – the role of women in ending conflict and building lasting security.  Some of you may have watched a week ago Saturday as three remarkable women – two from Liberia, one from Yemen – accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo.  For years, many of us have tried to show the world that women are not just victims of war; they are agents of peace.  And that was the wisdom behind the historic UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which was adopted a decade ago but whose promise remains largely unfulfilled.  So it was deeply heartening to see those three women command the global spotlight and urge the international community to adopt an approach to making peace that includes women as full and equal partners.
And that call was underscored this past Thursday when hundreds of leaders and activists gathered at the State Department to launch a new partnership with America’s top women’s colleges to train and support women and girls going into public service around the world.  And of course, those women were incredibly impressive and some were quite courageous.  One took me aside and said that she hadn’t gotten permission from her government to come, but she came anyway.  They are so eager to pour their talents and energy into their communities and to make their countries even better.  They are ready to work for peace, enter politics, serve in the military, lead civil society, live up to their own God-given potential.  They just need the opportunity.
And that is why, in a speech that I delivered in New York on Friday night, I highlighted the growing body of evidence that shows how women around the world contribute to making and keeping peace, and that these contributions lead to better outcomes for entire societies.  From Northern Ireland to Liberia to Nepal and many places in between, we have seen that when women participate in peace processes, they focus discussion on issues like human rights, justice, national reconciliation, and economic renewal that are critical to making peace, but often are overlooked in formal negotiations.  They build coalitions across ethnic and sectarian lines, and they speak up for other marginalized groups.  They act as mediators and help to foster compromise.  And when women organize in large numbers, they galvanize opinion and help change the course of history.
Think of those remarkable women in Liberia who marched and sang and prayed until their countries’ warring factions finally agreed to end their conflict and move toward democracy.  If you have seen the movie – and if you haven’t, I highly recommend it – it’s called Pray The Devil Back To Hell – you know that these brave women literally laid siege to the negotiations until the men inside the rooms signed a deal.
Now I know some of you may be thinking to yourself, “Well, there she goes again.  Hillary Clinton always talks about women, and why should I or anyone else really care?”  Well, you should care because this is not just a woman’s issue.  It cannot be relegated to the margins of international affairs.  It truly does cut to the heart of our national security and the security of people everywhere, because the sad fact is that the way the international community tries to build peace and security today just isn’t getting the job done.  Dozens of active conflicts are raging around the world, undermining regional and global stability, and ravaging entire populations.  And more than half of all peace agreements fail within five years.
At the same time, women are too often excluded from both the negotiations that make peace and the institutions that maintain it.  Now of course, some women wield weapons of war – that’s true – and many more are victims of it.  But too few are empowered to be instruments of peace and security.  That is an unacceptable waste of talent and of opportunity for the rest of us as well.  Across the Middle East and North Africa, nations are emerging from revolution and beginning the transition to democracy.  And here too, women are being excluded and increasingly even targeted.
Recent events in Egypt have been particularly shocking.  Women are being beaten and humiliated in the same streets where they risked their lives for the revolution only a few short months ago.  And this is part of a deeply troubling pattern.  Egyptian women have been largely shut out of decision-making in the transition by both the military authorities and the major political parties.  At the same time, they have been specifically targeted both by security forces and by extremists.
Marchers celebrating International Women’s Day were harassed and abused.  Women protesters have been rounded up and subjected to horrific abuse.  Journalists have been sexually assaulted.  And now, women are being attacked, stripped, and beaten in the streets.  This systematic degradation of Egyptian women dishonors the revolution, disgraces the state and its uniform, and is not worthy of a great people.  As some Egyptian politicians and commentators have themselves noted, a new democracy cannot be built on the persecution of women, nor can any stable society.  Whether it’s ending conflict, managing a transition, or rebuilding a country, the world cannot afford to continue ignoring half the population.  Not only can we do better; we have to do better, and now we have a path forward as to how we will do better.
That is why this morning, President Obama signed an Executive Order launching the first-ever U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security – a comprehensive roadmap for accelerating and institutionalizing efforts across the United States Government to advance women’s participation in making and keeping peace.  This plan builds on the President’s national security strategy, and it was jointly developed by the Departments of State and Defense, USAID, and others with guidance from the White House.  I also want to take a moment to recognize all our partners in civil society and the private sector who contributed, many of whom are here today.  Without your on-the-ground experience, your passionate commitment, and your tireless effort, this plan would not exist, and we look forward to working just as closely together with you on implementing it.
Let me describe briefly how we will do that.  The plan lays out five areas in which we will redouble our efforts.  First, we will partner with women in vulnerable areas to prevent conflicts from breaking out in the first place.  Women are bellwethers of society and, in fact, sometimes they do play the role of canary in the coal mine.  They know when communities are fraying and when citizens fear for their safety.  Studies suggest that women’s physical security and higher levels of gender equality correlate with security and peacefulness of entire countries.  But political leaders too often overlook women’s knowledge and experience until it’s too late to stop violence from spiraling out of control.
So the United States will invest in early warning systems that incorporate gender analysis and monitor increases in violence and discrimination against women, which can be indicators of future conflict.  We will also support grassroots women’s organizations that work to stop violence and promote peace.  And because women’s economic empowerment leads to greater prosperity for their societies, we are putting women and girls at the center of our global efforts on food security, health, and entrepreneurship.  We are working to lower barriers to their economic participation so more women in more places have the opportunity to own their land, start their businesses, access markets, steps that will ultimately lift up not only their families but entire economies and societies.
But what if, despite our best efforts, conflict does flare?  A second focus of our National Action Plan is strengthening protection for women and girls during and after conflict.  We will work with partners on the ground to crack down on rape as a tactic of war, hold perpetrators of violence accountable, and support survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.
Now one place to start is with the poorly trained soldiers and police who contribute to a culture of lawlessness, of violence and impunity, and often are fueled by discrimination against any woman outside their family.  The United States will help build the capacity of foreign militaries, police forces, and justice systems to strengthen the rule of law and ensure that protecting civilians and stopping sexual and gender-based violence in particular is a shared priority.  We are also working with the UN to recruit more female peacekeepers, to better train all peacekeepers to prevent, predict, and react to violence against civilians, and to address the political dynamics that drive sexual violence in conflict areas, because it’s not just soldiers.  Political leaders, local influentials set the tone for these abuses, and they must be held accountable as well.
The United States will support survivors of violence and help give them new tools to report crimes and access shelters, rehabilitation centers, legal support, and other services.  We will also back advocacy organizations that reach out to men and boys, including religious and tribal leaders, to reduce sexual and gender-based violence in homes and communities.
I worked some years ago with citizens in Senegal to end the practice of female circumcision, and we made the case on the basis that it was bad for the health of the future mothers of Senegal.  And we were able to convince tribal and religious leaders to join our cause, and it’s that kind of programmatic approach that we want to see more of.
Now ultimately, the best way to protect citizens is to end the conflict itself.  So a third focus of the National Action Plan is expanding women’s participation in peace processes and decision-making institutions before, during, and after conflicts.  As I explained in my speech on Friday in New York, women bring critical perspectives and concerns to the peace table, and can help shape stronger and more durable agreements.
Take just one example.  During 2006 peace negotiations in Darfur, male negotiators deadlocked over the control of a particular river until local women, who have the experience of fetching water and washing clothes, pointed out that the river had already dried up.  (Laughter.)  Yeah, I know.  I particularly like that one, too.  (Laughter.)
Excluding women means excluding the entire wealth of knowledge, experience, and talent we can offer.  So the United States will use the full weight of our diplomacy to push combatants and mediators to include women as equal partners in peace negotiations.  We will work with civil society to help women and other leaders give voice to the voiceless.  And we will also help countries affected by conflict design laws, policies, and practices that promote gender equality so that women can be partners in rebuilding their societies after the violence ends.
And that brings me to the fourth focus of our plan – ensuring that relief and recovery efforts address the distinct needs of women and girls who are the linchpins of families and communities and invaluable partners in stabilizing countries scarred by conflict.  This is crucial because humanitarian crises caused by conflict can be just as dangerous as the fighting itself and can sow the seeds of future instability.   Women are often among the most vulnerable in crises, yet they rarely receive a proportionate share of assistance or have the chance to help set post-conflict priorities.  But with the right tools and support, women can lead recovery efforts and help get their communities back on their feet.
So the United States will encourage our international partners to include women and civil society organizations in the design and implementation of relief efforts and reconstruction planning.  We will designate gender advisors for all USAID crisis response and recovery teams, and these advisors will highlight the specific concerns of women and girls to ensure that their perspectives are solicited and incorporated in the design and implementation of our programs.  Refugees and other displaced people are highly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, including sexual violence.  So we will prioritize prevention and response to sexual violence, along with other lifesaving humanitarian assistance, and help build critical services such as food distribution, emergency education, cash-for-work programs, and health centers around women and their needs, including reproductive and maternal healthcare.
Small steps can have a big impact.  For example, I’ve talked with women who walk long distances from their refugee camps to find wood for their cooking fires, putting them at great risk of assault and rape.  I remember being in the very large camp in Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.  And all the women told me the same thing – that they were in this camp where there were many international NGOs and humanitarian relief organizations, but they were still having to go out on their own to find wood, to make sure that they had an adequate supply of fuel, and they were subject to attack when they left the camp.  And it struck me as sort of strange that here we had all these people; couldn’t we organize either teams of people to help the women as they went out and to protect them, or was there a better way that we could pursue to really eliminate this problem?
So we are supporting a global effort to provide cleaner and safer stoves that require less fuel and, therefore, fewer trips through dangerous territory.  The Clean Cookstoves Global Alliance that we are at the center of creating and expanding is doing research with the National Institutes of Health because this is a three-for-one investment.  Yes, women don’t have to stray so far from home or from a refugee camp to have fuel to cook the family’s food.  Secondly, children and women will not be dying from respiratory diseases which are, unfortunately, the byproduct of breathing that smoke all day every day, sometimes in very confined spaces.  And thirdly, we will cut down on black carbon and black soot, which is good for the environment.  So we’re very focused on bringing this to scale over the next years, and we have a lot of support in doing so.
Now, I realize that this National Action Plan lays out an ambitious agenda that will require a lot of concentrated and coordinated effort.  So the fifth focus is institutionalizing this work across the United States Government.  As part of this process, we will increase training for our troops, diplomats, and development experts on international human rights and humanitarian law, protecting civilians, preventing and responding to sexual and gender-based violence, and combating trafficking-in-persons.  We will update policies and practices across our government, because our goal is to fundamentally change the way we do business.
The President’s Executive Order directs key departments and agencies to develop comprehensive strategies to implement the National Action Plan within five months.  And let me offer a few specific examples of what this will look like.  At the State Department, we have already begun a new initiative on women, peace, and security in Africa, focused on building local capacity in countries affected by conflict.  Its first round of grants will train women activists and journalists in Kenya in early-warning systems for violence, support a new trauma center for rape survivors in Sudan, help women in the Central African Republic access legal and economic services, and improve collection of medical evidence for prosecution of gender-based violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
And that’s just the beginning, because around the world, from Iraq and Afghanistan, to South Sudan, the new transitional democracies in the Middle East and North Africa, our embassies are developing local strategies to empower women politically, economically, and socially.
At USAID, among other projects, we will be launching a new Global Women’s Leadership Fund in partnership with the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening.  This will train women activists and civil society leaders and support their participation in peace negotiations, political transitions, and democratic institutions.  And we’re also stepping up our efforts to combat human trafficking in conflict zones.
The Department of Defense, which helped develop the National Action Plan, will have a lead role in implementing it.  The fact that both Sandy Winnefeld and Michele Flournoy are here reflects the lessons our nation’s military has learned in the last ten years and its deep understanding about the links between the security and agency of women and the peace and stability of nations.   So by working with partner militaries, the Pentagon will build on the excellent work already underway in places like Afghanistan – where our Provincial Reconstruction Teams engage with communities to curb violence against women, honor killings, and female immolation – and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where AFRICOM experts are training local soldiers to protect human rights and prevent sexual and gender-based violence. 
And I’m very proud that we have several female flag and general officers with us today, living proof of how important women are to American national security.  In today’s military, women are leading carrier strike groups, expeditionary strike groups, and numbered air forces.  They are on the frontlines, defending our country, responding to disasters, and working with our allies and our partners.
And other parts of our government are also stepping forward.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is launching a new system to monitor sexual and gender-based violence in nearly 20 countries.  The Department of Justice is working with police, prosecutors, judges, and jail workers around the world to increase accountability for sexual violence and human trafficking.  And the list goes on.  Suffice it to say, this is truly a whole-of-government effort as well as an international effort.
And the National Action Plan will help us work with allies and partners here at home as well as abroad, and I’m delighted by the announcement, President DeGioia and Dean Lancaster, about Georgetown’s leadership.  There couldn’t be a better institution to lead the way in the academic work that is necessary around these issues.  And in fact, more than 30 countries have already developed their own national action plans.
NATO is factoring women and their needs into key planning processes and training courses, stationing gender experts throughout operational headquarters, and deploying female engagement teams to Afghanistan, where the alliance is also training local women to serve in the security forces.  In 2012, 10 percent of the Afghan military academy’s class will be women, and by 2014 Afghanistan expects to field 5,000 women Afghan national police officers.
The United Nations is also making important progress, building on Resolution 1325.  With strong U.S. support, the Security Council has already adopted four additional resolutions on women and security in just the past three years.  And last month, the General Assembly’s Third Committee adopted a new U.S.-led resolution to encourage greater political participation for women and an expanded role in making and keeping peace.  And the establishment of a new organization within the UN system focused on gender called UN Women, headed by the former President of Chile Michele Bachelet is also making this an important focus.  And the Secretary General has appointed a special representative for sexual violence in conflict – a step we strongly supported – and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations has steadily improved its guidance to peacekeeping in order to offer protection and leadership as key training components.
Now, why is all this happening, all these countries, the United Nations, NATO, and certainly us?  Well, the reason is because we are convinced.  We have enough anecdotal evidence and research that demonstrates women in peacekeeping is both the right thing to do and the smart thing, as well.  It’s right, because, after all, women are affected disproportionately by conflict; they deserve to participate in the decisions that shape their own lives.  And it’s the smart thing because we have seen again and again that women participating in these processes builds more durable peace.
But as strong as the case is, it’s true that the question of just how women contribute to peace and security, aside from the high-profile woman who sits at the table, or the nation’s leader that makes the peace, what it is that women themselves across the board can do?  Well, this does deserve far more quantitative research and rigorous study.  That’s why Georgetown’s plan to establish an Institute for Women, Peace, Security, and Development, to support scholarship and research, as well as outreach, will help us elevate public understanding of this important matter.  It will be a home for primary source material such as oral histories, and quality analysis that will help activists and leaders as well.  I can’t wait to see it up and going.  A new push on research and data collection will be particularly useful for us as we implement our own National Action Plan.
Of course, we know that change will not come easily and it certainly won’t come quickly. But to ensure that we are headed in the right direction, that our strategies are effective and sustainable, we have to be able to measure what we are doing.  And that means developing sound metrics to guide us.  So thanks to Georgetown for taking on this really important task.
Let me close by telling you about one woman whose experiences and accomplishments embody much of what we are discussing today, and that is our special guest, the president of Kosovo.  She’s here with us today, and I’ve been able to spend some wonderful time with her over the last few days and in meetings before she came.  And I won’t, like Carol, tell you how young she is, but let’s just say that she’s accomplished a great deal in a very short period.
The future president was still a student when war tore apart her homeland.  Now, I will never forget those days – meeting Kosovar families in a refugee camp, meeting others in Europe, hearing their stories of being forced from their homes at gunpoint, or the haunted pain in the eyes of a doctor who was literally chased from caring for her patients.  It was a terrible conflict, and I’m very proud of the role that the United States played in ending the violence.
After finishing her studies, this young woman, who would not have been identified as a future president of an independent Kosovo, went to work as a police officer so she could help keep the peace and protect her community.  She worked closely with international troops.  She earned the respect of her colleagues, both on the frontlines and in the offices where decisions were made, and she earned the trust of her fellow citizens, men and women alike.
She rose through the ranks quickly, eventually helping lead the new Kosovo police force.  And then earlier this year, she became the first woman-elected president of Kosovo, and also the first woman-elected president anywhere in the Balkans.  Since then, she has shown consistent leadership and worked to bring her country together behind a program of good governance, rule of law, ethnic reconciliation, and regional stability.  She has also stood up for the rights and opportunities of Kosovo’s women.  And as she explained at a recent investment conference in Zagreb with women entrepreneurs, she understands the role that women must play in increasing regional prosperity and security.
Like so many women around the world, President Jahjaga endured the pain of war and was determined to secure the benefits of peace.  Kosovo is better off because she insisted on being part of the solution.  Our goal together should be to open that opportunity to women in every place where peace and stability are threatened so they too can contribute to lasting security for their communities and their countries.  That is what this national action plan is all about.  And that is now the mission and the redoubled purpose of our own government.  And it is the future of peacemaking.  There is so much to be done, and I know that many of you here who are studying at Georgetown have a future ahead of you of being among the peacemakers and keepers in government, in NGOs, in multilateral institutions, in our nation’s military, in academia.  We need you and we welcome your commitment to this great struggle of the 21st century, ensuring peace, equality, prosperity, and opportunity in the context of freedom and democracy for people everywhere.
Thank you for deciding to be part of the solution, and I now look forward to taking some questions about how we can chart this new approach together.  (Applause.)
Thank you.  (Applause.)
MODERATOR:  Secretary Clinton has agreed to take two questions.  And so we’ll begin with you.  Please introduce yourself and say where you’re from.
QUESTION:  Sure.  My name’s Emily Roskowski. I’m a second year Master of Science and Foreign Service student, and I’m originally from Maryland – Bel Air, Maryland, and I was wondering how the action plan will deal with the cultural, sensitive issues of including cultural norms and sensitivities within the plan, and how it might have an implementation mechanism that will – that might take into account any potential community backlash.
SECRETARY CLINTON:  I think that’s an excellent question, and of course, it’s something we think about all the time.  And it’s really along a spectrum of actions and reactions.  Of course, we understand that there are differences that are of historic and cultural importance in many places around the world.  And many of those we respect, and we try to be very sensitive to the legitimate concerns that people have about protecting what they value in their own societies.
But there are certain actions that are beyond any cultural norm.  Beating women is not cultural, it’s criminal, and it needs to be addressed and treated as such.  (Applause.)  And then there are those historic practices like female circumcision that have been around for centuries, or honor killings, which served a purpose in a prior time, that we believe we must address by demonstrating how counterproductive, how destructive they are of the very fabric of the society that is being affected by them.
So when you look at the work we did in Senegal, we pointed to the great difficulties women had bearing children.  Now, bearing children is a high priority.  So if you are doing something that you’ve inherited from centuries before that now, today, you know is destructive and undermining of an even higher priority, namely having children and producing the next generation, you begin the conversation not in an accusatory fashion but in a effort to try to have a dialogue about what works today that perhaps didn’t.  I mean, a lot of people, if you look at the series Mad Men, were smoking madly, until it became pretty irrefutable that doing so would shorten you life.  And then we learned second hand smoke might shorten other people’s lives.  Well, there are things we learn that can’t be viewed as somehow outside of the historical and even cultural framework.
So we are aware of the sensitivities, and what we try to do is, wherever possible, have a respectful dialogue.  The training and programmatic approaches that we support through USAID and other institutions, certainly attempts to do that.  But then there are certain areas where you cannot accommodate, you cannot be sensitive, you have to draw lines, and we are looking for how to do that.
Now in this area of women, peace, and security, we are acquiring a body of evidence about the roles that women play.  Women played a very critical role in ending the Northern Ireland troubles, in ending the civil wars in Central America, in ending the Liberian war that I just mentioned, in being part of peacemaking in other conflicts throughout the world.  And so we have both an argument as to it being an important goal, but we also have evidence that points to tactics and strategies about how you achieve that goal.  So I’m hopeful that we will get a broader discussion.
And finally, I would say that when people set their own goals, norms, and values, and then they violate them, it provides an opening for a discussion not only coming from the outside, but from within.  Certainly, the scenes that we’re seeing out of Egypt today should be first and foremost distressing to Egyptians and not to us or others before the Egyptian people themselves.  The promise, the beauty of the revolutionary aspirations that everyone watched unfold in Tahrir Square, the restraint of the security forces in how they responded, all of that was very promising, and it was held up by the Egyptian people – leaders and citizens alike – as what a new Egypt would look like.  The scenes of Coptic Christians protecting Muslims while praying, and then Muslims protecting Coptic Christians while praying was an Egyptian scene – not American or European or Western.  And so when countries are running afoul of their own best selves, when a great country with such a history as Egypt is seeing unfold before their eyes this kind of violence, then there needs to be a reaction from within.  And women’s voices need to be heard and women need to be protected as they assume a position at every table in the country to make decisions about the future.
So it’s – there’s no formula or guidebook that you can look at.  But those are some of the general principles by which we try to think through and do our work.  (Applause.)
MODERATOR:  One more – one more question.  Introduce yourself, please.
QUESTION:  I’m Mark Lehgan, and I’m on the faculty of the Master of Science and Foreign Service program, and I’m thankful that Dean Lancaster has asked me to be on the advisory board of the new institute.
I’ve got a question that was informed by being Ambassador CdeBaca’s predecessor heading the Human Trafficking Office at the State Department.  I saw there that prevention is as important as the activity afterwards, after the gender crime, the human rights abuses, the breakdown of the rule of law happens.  I was delighted to see your emphasis on prevention, getting women involved up front, and political participation.  As you roll out a presidential plan, I would imagine that the prevention matters would be the ones that would be hardest to maintain the momentum on for implementation.  What do you think you can do to look at that prevention side and make sure that sticks through the years following on to this plan?
SECRETARY CLINTON:  Great question, Ambassador.  And, obviously, it’s something that we work on a lot because what often happens – and it’s not just in international affairs; I mean it is also in our own domestic resource allocation.  Very often prevention gets short shrift because you deal with the crisis and then it’s a kind of circular argument, maybe we could have avoided the crisis if we’d actually spent more on prevention.  So it’s one of those conundrums that we face in policy across the board.  But certainly in this particular area of women, peace, and security, the more we can invest in prevention – and it is broadly defined.  There are programs which we think work.  There are interventions like the Global Cookstoves Alliance that can prevent perhaps more women from being assaulted or killed as they seek firewood.  There are programs that support NGOs and even other governments’ efforts to protect and empower women.
So we have to be smart about what we invest in, especially in these budgetary times but really any time we need to be.  And we also need the metrics, the measurable outcomes.  We have to be quite clear about this.  We can’t continue supporting programs because we know the people and we like them, or because they worked 10 years ago but they’re not working today.  So we have to be creative and innovative and very clear-eyed.
Now I do think we have some tools that we’re beginning to understand better how to use, and that’s cell phones and the internet.  Equipping women with cell phones so that they can get information in real time about matters that are important to them empowers them in ways that we couldn’t have imagined just a few short years ago.  Getting information to go to your area of trafficking, trying to get broader information about what to look out for, be aware of; don’t accept that nanny job or that factory job without really going to this source of information and trying to vet it.
There’s a lot of ways now, since cell phone usage is just exploding all over the world, that we can be smart about how we use technology to empower women to protect themselves.  I think that prevention is going to be a major pillar of this whole policy that we are developing, and we’re looking for good ideas, we’re looking for good outcomes.  And as part of the QDDR that I commissioned two years ago that we’re now implementing in the State Department and USAID, we have to be quicker on the evaluation.  That’s something that Raj Shah and Don Steinberg and their team at AID have really zeroed in on:  How do we get more real time information so we can support what works and, frankly, no longer support what doesn’t work, so that we can shift those scarce resources somewhere else.
I think that we know for sure that making changes in laws that give women an economic stake protects women.  It is a prevention strategy; so that if – since 60 to 70 percent of the small holder farmers in the world are women in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and many – in many places, particularly in Africa, if a woman’s husband dies, if her father dies, she cannot inherit the property that she has spent years working on and been the primary harvester of the crops.  Well, changing that gives women a status that protects them, to be honest, and gives them a stake that is recognizable.  If a woman shows up and says, “I own land in this province and I want to be part of helping to resolve this conflict,” that carries a higher status than if you show up and say I’m a market lady and I sell vegetables that somebody else grows.
So all of this is part of the cultural milieu that we have to understand better, and I think we’re getting smarter about it, and we hope that prevention will always be right up there with – among our other strategic priorities.
Thank you.  (Applause.)
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Friday, December 16, 2011

Conyers: Stopping Online Piracy Act Urged by Unions, Businesses, and Scholars

For Immediate Release
Date: Thursday, December 15, 2011
Contact: Matthew Morgan – 202-226-5543

Conyers: Stopping Online Piracy Act Urged by Unions, Businesses, and Scholars 

(WASHINGTON) – Today, the House Judiciary Committee is considering H.R. 3261, the “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA), a bill to combat online intellectual property theft and protect American jobs and consumers.  House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) released the following statement.

“Prior to the bill’s passage, I am urging the Committee to adopt Mr. Smith’s manager’s amendment.  The amendment contains a number of significant changes, including language that ensures domestic websites cannot be construed as ‘rogue sites’ for the purposes of the rights-holder initiated remedy.  Additionally, the manager’s amendment addresses any due process and free speech concerns by removing the statutory notification provision from the rights-holders’ process and ensuring that a federal court is involved at every juncture in that process. 

“Passing this bill is vital to preserving American creativity and artistry in the digital age.  Online property theft costs our economy billions of dollars, and millions of American jobs depend on strong intellectual property enforcement.  Today’s markup is a victory for American artists and our economy.

“As the markup moves forward, it is clear that a great deal of misinformation has been disseminated about what is actually in the original bill and manager’s amendment.  To say that Domain Name Server Security Protocols, or DNSSEC, will be wholly gutted by the bill is false.  The manager’s amendment makes it abundantly clear through the additional savings clauses and clarification language in Section 102 that no action by the federal bench and Attorney General can undermine the architecture and security of the Internet.  The notion that the U.S. government, in protecting American jobs and property, is censoring its citizenry like China and Iran is preposterous. 

Free Speech and Due Process are core pillars of our Democracy that I would never allow to be trampled – in this bill or any other. “I would like to thank my colleagues Howard Berman, Mel Watt, Lamar Smith, and Bob Goodlatte for their commitment and leadership on intellectual property issues.”
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Congressional Letter To Michigan Governor Rick Snyder On Emergency Manager Takeover Of Detroit

Congressional and Stete Elected Officials Letter to Governor Snyder Regarding Emergency Manager Law Public ...
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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Conyers: Congress Must Pass Clean Unemployment Insurance Extension

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For Immediate Release
Date: Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Contact: Matthew Morgan – 202-226-5543

Conyers: Congress Must Pass Clean Unemployment Insurance Extension
GOP proposal unacceptable; 160,000 Michigan Residents Stand to Lose Economic Lifeline Should Congress Fail to Act on President Obama’s Request

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Representative John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) called on the House of Representatives to comply with President Obama’s request to extend unemployment insurance benefits.  Should the Congress fail to act, 61,000 Michigan residents stand to lose unemployment insurance immediately.  Additionally this will leave another 98,743 residents receiving state-based insurance without additional support if they have not found a job within the 26 weeks before their state unemployment insurance expires.          

“Congress must stand behind President Obama and extend unemployment insurance,” said Conyers.  “Thousands of Michigan residents lost their jobs through no fault of their own due to the largest economic recession since the Great Depression.  These individuals earned their unemployment insurance while they were still working.  Congress cannot now abandon its obligation to see these individuals through tough economic times.”

“The proposal put forward by House Republicans is an unacceptable, tone deaf response to the legitimate needs of the American people.  This proposal would cut back the maximum weeks of unemployment benefits from 99 weeks to 59 weeks for current beneficiaries in Michigan.  Additionally, the bill would include additional provisions that would humiliate those seeking benefits, by requiring the unemployed to take drug tests in order to receive benefits. 

“I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to reject this partisan Republican proposal and come together to find a solution that provides dignity and relief for the unemployed.”       

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ed Garvey: Takeovers show how GOP aims to steal election

Ed Garvey: Takeovers show how GOP aims to steal election
We began discussing the so-called financial emergency legislation shortly after Michigan’s Walker-like governor; Rick Snyder, seized control of the city of Benton Harbor. In a move of questionable constitutionality, Snyder, a pal of our Gov. Scott Walker and Ohio’s Gov. John Kasich, simply hit the delete button and elected officials were no more. I posted a blog suggesting that Walker, with support from the Greater Milwaukee Committee, was planning to ask the Legislature for the authority to permit Wisconsin’s governor to do the same to any elected entity if, in his view, there was a fiscal emergency. The Walker administration quickly denied that such a plan was in the works but since Walker was working with Foley and Lardner on the legislation, it seemed that the cries of “innocent” were insincere.
Snyder, Kasich, and Walker are three peas in a pod — anti-democrats all. They seemed to be singing from the same hymnal. Walker would get rid of public sector unions; Snyder would use legislation to take over economically troubled local governments or school districts, with no duty to consult with elected officials. Kasich got his legislature to pass a bill severely restricting public employee union rights. It is governor as dictator. (Where is Charlie Chaplin when we need him?)
Although Ohio voters overturned Kasich’s anti-union law in a November referendum, Snyder is now proceeding full speed ahead. He is reaching out well beyond Benton Harbor looking for takeover targets. Pontiac and Inkster have felt the lash. Guess who will be the biggest fish in the net unless we stop Snyder? Wait, wait don’t tell me … Detroit! Mayor Dave Bing and Congressman John Conyers are getting prepared for a fight to stop Snyder’s incredible power grab but Snyder will try to pull it off all in the name of fiscal emergency.
One thing Snyder’s “victims” share is that a majority of citizens in the target cities are black. Hot news: Most blacks like President Obama and plan to vote for him next November. Who will monitor the elections? Who will handle voter registration? One very white Gov. Snyder, of course. Remember Florida, hanging chads and butterfly ballots? Do you believe George W. Bush won fair and square in 2000? How about Ohio in 2004?
If the right wing can take over a city — Detroit, for example — they will do it. All sorts of mischief can, and undoubtedly will, happen. We were shocked in 2000. We were shocked again in 2004 when exit polls made it clear that Kerry would win but something happened and suddenly states called for Kerry were put into the red column. In my wildest dreams I would not have guessed that the right wing would literally steal elections, but after the shenanigans in the past three presidential elections, I not only think they are capable of cheating in 2012, I think it is a certainty.
What are the Democrats doing about this? Not much. The U.S. attorney general must be on sabbatical. Apparently, the Democrats continue to think that elections are a fair fight. This will not be a fair fight. Thanks to Citizens United, the GOP will have over a billion dollars to adopt gerrymandered districts, defeat Obama, and make gains in the Congress. It is not a fair fight and we are in trouble!
After watching the last big GOP debate, I can hardly wait for Obama vs. Newt Gingrich or Obama vs. Mitt Romney — any one of this group of clowns will do. I wouldn’t hire one of these Republicans.

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Monday, December 12, 2011

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash gathering support in fight against the National Defense Authorization Act

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash gathering support in fight against the National Defense Authorization Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Justin Amash announced today he has 10 fellow congressmen on his side as he carries his fight against the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to the floor of the U.S. House.
Amash, R-Cascade Township, has beenoutspoken in his opposition to language in the bill that allows the indefinite detention of Americans citizens without charge or trial. The bill passed in the U.S. Senate last week and has been sent to a conference committee in the U.S. House.
“As we learn more about the Senate’s detention provisions, we are increasingly concerned with their breadth and their potential to authorize the indefinite detention of American citizens without charge or trial,” the bipartisan group wrote to the House conferees who are negotiating a final version of the bill with the Senate. The House is expected to vote on the final version later this week.
The group, which included U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Detroit, asked the conferees to “insist the detention provisions be stripped from the bill or modified to protect Americans’ constitutional rights.”
Others signing the letter so far include: Rep. Michael Capuano. D-Mass.; Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va.; Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C.; Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio,; Rep. Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho, Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va.; Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla.; Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo. and Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga.
Here is the full text of the letter:
Dear House Conferees:
The Senate’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) gives the President new authority to detain persons he suspects are associated with terrorism.  As we learn more about the Senate’s detention provisions, we are increasingly concerned with their breadth and their potential to authorize the indefinite detention of American citizens without charge or trial.  When you begin negotiations with your Senate counterparts in the coming weeks, we ask that you insist the detention provisions be stripped from the bill or modified to protect Americans’ constitutional rights.
Section 1031 of the Senate’s NDAA authorizes the President to detain persons who “substantially supported” forces “associated” with al-Qaeda or the Taliban that “are engaged in hostilities” against the U.S. or its “coalition partners.”  None of the quoted terms are defined.  We do not know what constitutes substantial support, hostilities, or our coalition partners.  Critically, the bill does not attempt to define “associated forces,” either.  Without knowing what qualifies as an associated force, no one can be sure they are safe from the government’s detention when they support any group.
We also are concerned that the Senate’s NDAA allows one past act of support for a group permanently to subject a person to detention.  The Senate’s NDAA states that a person who “substantially supported . . . associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners” may be detained indefinitely.  The bill thus allows one act of support for a group that at the time was not hostile to the U.S. to endanger the person’s future liberty.
For example, a person makes a one-time donation to a non-violent humanitarian group.  Years later, the group commits hostile acts against an ally of the U.S.  Under the Senate’s NDAA, if the President determines the group was “associated” with terrorists, the President is authorized to detain the donor indefinitely, and without charge or trial.
The Senate’s NDAA does not even distinguish between American citizens and non-citizens, or between persons caught domestically and abroad.  The President’s power, in his discretion, to detain persons he determines have supported associated forces applies just as strongly to Americans seized on U.S. soil as it does to foreigners captured on a far away battlefield.
Our Constitution does not permit the federal government to detain American citizens indefinitely without charge or trial.  We strongly believe in protecting the country’s security and equipping our Armed Forces with the tools they need to defeat our enemies.  But we cannot support measures that, in the name of security, violate Americans’ constitutional rights.
House and Senate conferees will have the last chance to amend the bill.  We ask that you take this final opportunity to narrow the broad and dangerous scope of the Senate’s NDAA."

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Conyers Deplores Lowe’s Decision to Pull Ads from Dearborn Based “All- American Muslim”

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For Immediate Release
Date: Monday, December 12, 2011
Contact: Matthew Morgan – 202-226-5543

Conyers Deplores Lowe’s Decision to Pull Ads from Dearborn Based “All- American Muslim”

(WASHINGTON) –  Representative John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.)issued the following statement in response to news reports that Lowes’ Companies, Inc., owner of Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouses, bowed to pressure from an anti-Muslim group and pulled television advertisements from the program “All-American Muslim”, a series which follows the lives of several Muslim American families in Dearborn, Michigan.  The City of Dearborn is located within Michigan’s 14th Congressional District.

“Over the past 10 years, the Muslim and Arab American community in this country has faced a growing level of discrimination which threatens their quality of life.  The Muslim and Arab Americans in the community of Dearborn, the State of Michigan and  around the Nation, have often been the target of this intolerance.  I am disappointed that a company like Lowe’s would fall prey to the intolerance and fundamentally un-American values preached by a small, but vocal minority.  Lowe’s Companies, Inc. should unequivocally apologize to the Muslim and Arab American community and strongly repudiate the intolerant messages espoused by anti-Muslim groups. ”         


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Conyers Praises DHS for Complying with Subpoena

For Immediate Release
Date: Monday, December 12, 2011
Contact: Matthew Morgan – 202-226-5543

Conyers Praises DHS for Complying with Subpoena  
Chastises Republicans for playing political games with immigration files
(WASHINGTON) – Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) produced additional documents requested by the House Judiciary Committee through a subpoena issued by the Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement.  Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) made the following statement in response:
“This committee has a legitimate oversight role with regard to DHS’s enforcement actions, and I agree that it is entitled to obtain the information received today from the Department.  I also appreciate that the Committee has agreed to protect this information—which includes sensitive data about U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents—and keep it out of the public eye.  But I feel it is necessary to clarify what this information is and what it is not. 
“Today, DHS delivered a list of individuals who were identified in its databases but who – for some reason or another – were not subject to additional enforcement action.  This list includes U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who are not deportable.  It includes individuals who are otherwise legally present and have not committed any criminal offense.  And it includes victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, and other egregious crimes who are eligible for immigration relief.  This is not a list of people who are all subject to removal but were ‘intentionally released.’ 
“Despite the Administration’s record removal numbers, the Committee’s Majority has spent most of this year attacking the Administration for prioritizing the removal of immigrants with criminal convictions over those who pose no danger to the United States. The Majority has said this prioritization is tantamount to ‘backdoor amnesty.’  Now the Majority seems to be looking for ways to attack the Administration for not doing more to prioritize resources to protect our country. 
“It is clear that the Majority’s request is nothing more than a massive and extremely expensive fishing expedition aimed at discrediting the Administration’s efforts to enforce our immigration laws.  Rather than playing politics, we should be working together to reform our broken immigration system so that it works better for our country.

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Conyers: Congress Must Honor Veterans Service and Pass President Obama’s American Jobs Act Now

For Immediate Release
Date: Monday, December 12, 2011
Contact: Matthew Morgan – 202-226-5543

Conyers: Congress Must Honor Veterans Service and Pass President Obama’s American Jobs Act Now
Thousands of returning veterans face high unemployment

(DETROIT) – Today at an event in Westland, Representative John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) joined veterans and members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers (AFSCME)in calling on Congress to provide jobs for the thousands of veterans returning home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by passing President Obama’s American Jobs Act.  As of October, 41,000 U.S. troops are deployed in Iraq and are due to return by the end of 2011.  In June, President Obama outlined a plan to return 33,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of summer 2012.  However there may not be a job waiting for many of these  returning service members. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the jobless rate among post-9/11 veterans in October stood at 12.1 percent, 3.5 percent higher than the national unemployment rate.  Michigan veterans, retirees and AFSCME members joined Representative Conyers to focus public attention on the jobless rate facing returning veterans who have served the Nation with distinction overseas and the need for Congress to take up job creating legislation.

“Congress needs to pass President Obama’s American Jobs Act now,” said Conyers.  “The jobless rate overall has declined a bit in the past year, but among veterans who have served in conflict since 2003, it is increasing. The unemployment rate for veterans serving since the Iraq war began has risen 1.5 percentage points to more than 12 percent in the past year.

“President Obama’s jobs bill, the American Jobs Act, would create as many as 2 million jobs. These jobs would be focused on rebuilding our nation’s roads, bridges and schools and preserving jobs for our teachers and vital public servants like police officers and firefighters. Our returning servicemen and women have the skills to fill these jobs.  In Iraq and Afghanistan they oversaw projects to rebuild that country’s schools, roads and bridges. They managed budgets and worked on engineering projects.  And Congress must  give them the opportunity to do so in their own country.

“So I ask our Republican colleagues and friends to truly honor our veterans – those who are just now returning from Iraq and those who have fought valiantly around the world to protect American interests.  Pass the American Jobs Act.  America’s veterans deserve better.”


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Majority Squanders Opportunity to Help Law Enforcement Fight Gun Violence

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For Immediate Release
Date: Thursday, December 8, 2011
Contact: Matthew Morgan – 202-226-5543

Majority Squanders Opportunity to Help Law Enforcement Fight Gun Violence
Conyers calls for more effective law enforcement tools to combat gun trafficking

(WASHINGTON) –  Today, the House Judiciary Committee held an oversight hearing on the United States Department of Justice at which U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder testified.  The Majority focused most of their questioning on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) tactics during Operation Fast and Furious, a local operation planned by agents and prosecutors in Arizona.  Operation Fast and Furious used the same “gun walking” tactics initiated by investigations such as Operation Wide Receiver during the Bush Administration.  During Fast and Furious, the ATF allowed guns to move up the chain of illegal commerce instead of seizing dangerous firearms at the first opportunity.  Some of these firearms were found at crime scenes, including the scene of the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, a former Detroit area police officer.     

“Agent Terry’s death was a tragedy,” said Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr.   “And the tactics employed by Operation Fast and Furious were reckless and never should have been used.  But there is no evidence that Attorney General Holder approved or even knew of these tactics at the time, and the Attorney General has consistently maintained that these tactics are unacceptable.  The tactic of letting guns walk began during multiple investigations initiated during the Bush administration, some with the possible knowledge of then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey.  When the current Justice Department’s Criminal Division chief learned that this tactic had been used in Operation Wide Receiver during the Bush years, he warned ATF leadership that the tactic was unacceptable.

“Gun trafficking is a serious problem in the Southwest border region.  In order to combat gun violence, we must commit to maintaining the new rule requiring the reporting of multiple sales of large numbers of semiautomatic rifles and shotguns by individuals in the Southwest border states.  Many of my colleagues expressing outrage at Fast and Furious voted to prevent the use of funds to implement this rule, which is necessary to help fight the type of illegal straw purchases fueling the border violence.

“But we must do more. Congress must enact H.R. 2554, a bill to prohibit gun trafficking.  The bill will prohibit the transfer of multiple guns when the individual knows or has reasonable cause to believe the guns will be further transferred to those legally prohibited from carrying guns or who intend to use the guns illegally.  Current law is inadequate to deal with straw purchasers, and we need to enact this bill, which Congresswoman Maloney has sponsored and which I have cosponsored, to help address gun trafficking at the border.

“But the problem of gun violence on city streets across the nation is just as serious.  I applaud Attorney General Holder’s leadership and the Department of Justice’s commitment to helping cities combat gun violence in our communities.  For example, Detroit is one of six cities participating in the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, a Department of Justice led effort.  And I commend the Detroit Police Department Chief Ralph Godbee, who accompanied Attorney General Holder at the hearing today, for spearheading this DOJ led effort in Detroit.
“Fast and Furious was a poorly conceived local operation that should never have been implemented.  However, this committee should take action to do the things we know will make us safer from gun violence.” 

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

DOJ and FTC Must Do More To Rein in Corporate Excesses

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For Immediate Release
Date: Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Contact: Matthew Morgan – 202-226-5543

DOJ and FTC Must Do More To Rein in Corporate Excesses
Free and competitive markets are the foundation of a strong economy

(WASHINGTON) –  Today, the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet held an oversight hearing on the antitrust enforcement agencies.  The top federal officials charged with enforcing antitrust laws, Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz and Acting Assistant Attorney General Sharis Pozen of the Department of Justice Antitrust Division, testified before the subcommittee.  House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) made the following statement: 

“It is worth noting that under this administration the Federal Trade Commission and the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice have done more to enforce our antitrust laws than under the previous one.  However this gives me little comfort.

“American and transnational conglomerates continue to engage in unlawful and anticompetitive conduct.  Companies like Google, Monsanto, and Goldman Sachs often act with impunity when it comes to engaging in unlawful and anti-competitive practices because they know they can exploit gaping loopholes and a government whose antitrust and criminal enforcement resources and commitment are weak.

“Strong antitrust enforcement is critical to our nation.  Free and competitive markets are the foundation of a strong economy.       

 “Weak antitrust enforcement stifles job creation and weakens the economy.  The phrase “Too-big-to-fail” sums it all up: Companies like AIG, CitiGroup, and the Wall Street predators are so large that our entire economy depends on their success.  Yet three years after a recession that stemmed from Wall Street excesses, not one Wall Street CEO has gone to prison.  The result is an economy that has become too concentrated and distorted. 
“In each case when our federal antitrust enforcers have stepped up, they have helped restore competition to the market to protect consumers. The Justice Department’s successful challenge to block the H&R Block/TaxACT merger, ongoing suit to block AT&T’s proposed acquisition of T-Mobile, and the FTC’s 2010 settlement with Intel are wins for consumers.  Promising developments may come with the Justice Department’s challenge against Blue Cross Blue Shield’s conduct in Michigan and the FTC’s work on the anti-competitive pay-for-delay agreements among pharmaceutical manufacturers that keep generic drugs off the market.

“As Google attempts to purchase Motorola, as Verizon teams up with the new Comcast-NBC-Universal on shared service ventures, and as the whims of Wall Street Investment firms wreak havoc on the global economy, we need consumer and competition-oriented antitrust enforcement to become a top priority for our government.”

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