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CBS Fawns Over Pro-Abortion State Senator Turned 'Political Star' in Texas; All But Encourage Her to Run For Governor

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Thu, 27 Jun 2013 23:48

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The 27 June 2013 broadcast of CBS This Morning heralded pro-abortion Texas State Senator Wendy Davis as a "new star in Democratic politics" for her "marathon filibuster that went viral". Charlie Rose and Norah O'Donnell tossed softball questions at Davis, and wondered if she would "run for governor or for national office now" because of her "new role in the national spotlight".

The transcript of the relevant portion of the interview:

ROSE: It has also catapulted you in the political limelight. Will you run for governor or for national office now?

DAVIS: You know, right now, I have my hands full, honestly. As we go into this next special session, we have a tremendous amount of work to do, and I'm focused fully on that. I don't know what the future will hold, but I'm honored to have people talking about that.

O'DONNELL: But I did hear you say you'd be lying to say that it '' that it '' it has crossed your mind about running for higher office, right?

DAVIS: Well, yes, it certainly has. (Rose and O'Donnell laugh) But I don't know if now is the right time for me. We'll see.

O'DONNELL: Well, there isn't a seat until 2014, right?

DAVIS: Yes. (O'Donnell laughs)

Planned Parenthood : 'We'll Be Ready' for TX Special Session | Occupy America

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Fri, 28 Jun 2013 01:25

Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards was at the Texas State Capitol until the early hours of Wednesday morning as protesters and Democratic lawmakers successfully blocked passage of a bill that would have shut down nearly all of the state's abortion clinics and banned abortion after 20-weeks post-fertilization.

State Senator Wendy Davis filibustered the bill for nearly 11 hours before Republican senators interrupted her. As the midnight deadline for the special session drew near, hundreds of protesters in the gallery erupted into cheers that drowned out the proceedings, but Republican lawmakers attempted to claim they had passed the bill anyway. Hours later, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst conceded the vote had not followed legislative procedures, blaming what he called an "unruly mob using Occupy Wall Street tactics." Shortly after 3 a.m., Richards delivered news of the pro-choice victory to protesters in the Capitol rotunda, an area that also houses the portrait of Richards' mother, former Texas Governor Ann Richards.

Democracy Now! spoke to Cecile Richards as she boarded a plane Wednesday morning and asked her what happens next. "With the thousands of people who were mobilized this time around, they will be doubly that way if in fact Gov. [Rick Perry] tries to push [the bill] through again in another special session. And if he does, we'll be ready," Richards says.

VIDEO-BBC News - New life for Texas abortion bill blocked by Wendy Davis

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Thu, 27 Jun 2013 01:54

26 June 2013Last updated at18:45 ETPlease turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.

Senator Wendy Davis had to stay on topic and remain standing over the 10-hour period

The governor of Texas has called a special legislative session in an attempt to pass an anti-abortion law blocked when a Democratic senator undertook a marathon delaying speech.

Republican Rick Perry ordered lawmakers to return on 1 July.

Senator Wendy Davis spoke for more than 10 hours on Tuesday, blocking Republicans from banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Republicans ran out of time when the legislative session ended at midnight.

The bill, opposed by many Democrats, who hold a minority in the legislature, would also require all pregnancy terminations to take place in specially-equipped surgical centres, effectively closing most of the state's abortion clinics.

Decorum 'breakdown'"Through their duly elected representatives, the citizens of our state have made crystal clear their priorities for our great state," Mr Perry said in a statement on Wednesday.

"We will not allow the breakdown of decorum and decency to prevent us from doing what the people of this state hired us to do."

Mr Perry said the special session would take up three pieces of legislation, including the abortion bill.

During her extended delaying speech on Tuesday, which is known in US political parlance as a filibuster, Sen Davis read testimony and messages from women and others opposing the legislation as she remained standing without any breaks.

Continue reading the main storyTwelve states have already passed 20-week bans, according to the Guttmacher InstituteCourts have blocked bans in Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia and Idaho.In March, North Dakota banned abortion after a foetal heartbeat is detected, which can be at six weeks.The US House of Representatives has passed a bill to limit abortions to the first 20 weeks, but it will not be passed by the Senate.Sen Davis was picked to lead the filibuster because she had her first child as a teenager and went on to graduate from Harvard Law School.

"I was a poor, uninsured woman, whose only care was provided through that facility. It was my medical home," said Sen Davis, 50.

Texas Lt Governor David Dewhurst, who is Senate president, eventually suspended the filibuster after ruling that she had gone off topic. Democrats appealed, sparking a debate over parliamentary rules.

State restrictionsAs the clock ticked to midnight, Republicans rushed to hold a vote on the bill, amid jeers from pro-abortion rights protesters in the public gallery.

But amid the disruption, Lt Gov Dewhurst said he had been unable to sign the bill within the deadline following a 19-10 vote. He blamed an "unruly mob" in the gallery.

Supporters of the bill say the measures will improve safety standards. It requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

Only five of Texas' 42 abortion clinics would remain in operation if the law passes, and opponents say this will force women to travel hundreds of miles or resort to dangerous methods to obtain the procedure.

The US Supreme Court legalised abortion nationwide in 1973, but about a dozen conservative states have enacted laws in recent years that seek to limit the procedure.

In March, North Dakota banned abortions once a foetal heartbeat is detected - as early as six weeks - in the most restrictive law of its kind in the US.

Sb5 abortion bill Texas

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Thu, 27 Jun 2013 02:00

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Wendy Davis (politician) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Thu, 27 Jun 2013 02:14

Wendy Russell Davis[1] (born May 16, 1963) is an American lawyer and Democratic politician from Fort Worth, Texas who represents District 10 of the Texas Senate. She previously served on the Fort Worth city council. On June 25, 2013, Davis held a filibuster to block Senate Bill 5, legislation that would create new abortion regulations in Texas. The filibuster lasted for ten hours and played a major role in Senate Democrats' successful efforts to delay passage of the bill beyond the midnight deadline for the end of the legislative session.

Early life and educationWendy Davis was born on May 16, 1963, and grew up in Fort Worth. Davis's parents divorced when she was 11 years old, and she was raised by a single mother. Davis began working at age 14 to help support her family. She graduated from Richland High School in 1981, marrying shortly thereafter at age 18 and having a daughter named Amber. A year later, Davis was divorced and a single mother. After learning about a two-year paralegal program from a co-worker, Davis enrolled at Tarrant County College and later transferred to Texas Christian University, where she graduated first in her class. Before and during college, Davis worked as a waitress at the Stage West Theatre caf(C).[2] After becoming the first person in her family to graduate from college, Davis went on to earn her law degree with honors from Harvard Law School.[3]

Law careerEarly in her law career, Davis served in a federal clerkship under U.S. District Judge Jerry Buchmeyer. In 1994, she joined the Fort Worth office of Haynes & Boone and began practicing specialized litigation. She later became part owner of Safeco Title Co. and served as Chief Executive Officer of Old Republic International Title's Fort Worth Division from 2004 to 2009. Davis joined Cantey Hanger in an Of Counsel role and partnered with Brian Newby to open Newby Davis, PLLC in 2010. Her current practice includes federal and local governmental affairs, litigation, economic development, contract compliance and real estate matters.[4]

Political careerCity CouncilDavis was first elected to the Fort Worthcity council in 1999. She was re-elected in 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007. During her nine-year tenure as a councilmember, Davis focused on transportation, economic development and neighborhood issues. She also spearheaded economic development projects, such as the Montgomery Plaza renovation, the Tower, Pier One and Radio Shack campuses.[4]

State SenateDavis represents Texas Senate, District 10, which includes portions of Tarrant County, Texas. In 2008, she defeated RepublicanKim Brimer for the seat.[5] She was re-elected in 2012, defeating a challenge from Mark Shelton, a Fort Worth pediatrician and Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives.[6]

Davis is the Vice-Chair on the Senate Select Committee on Open Government. She is also a Member of the Senate Committee on Economic Development, the Senate Committee on Transportation, and the Veteran Affairs and Military Installations Committee. She previously served on the Senate Committee for Education and as Vice-Chair on the Senate Committee on International Relations and Trade.[7]

In 2011, Davis launched a filibuster of a budget bill that cut $4 billion from public education in the state, resulting in a special session called by Texas Gov. Rick Perry.[8]

Davis has been honored with many awards and recognitions during her first term in the Texas Legislature, including the "Bold Woman Award" from Girls, Inc., "Freshman of the Year" from AARP, "Champion for Children Award" from the Equity Center, and "Texas Women's Health Champion Award" from the Texas Association of OB-GYNs. In 2009, Texas Monthly named her "Rookie of the Year".[9] She was also chosen by the readers of Fort Worth Weekly as the "Best Servant of the People".[3] Davis was recently listed among "12 State Legislators to Watch in 2012" by Governing Magazine[10] and is mentioned as a possible candidate for state-wide races.[11]

Early in the 83rd Session, senators drew for terms in a post-redistricting, once-a-decade process. Davis drew a two-year term and will be up for re-election in November 2014.[12] She recently announced her intention to run for re-election to the Senate.[13]

2013 filibusterOn June 25, 2013, Senator Davis began a filibuster to block the Senate Bill 5, a package of measures that would create new abortion regulations in Texas, including banning abortion past twenty weeks of gestation, requiring doctors performing the procedure to have rights to practice in nearby hospitals, and upgrading abortion facilities into ambulatory surgical centers.[14] She attempted to maintain the floor until midnight, when the Senate's special session ended, after which the state Senate would no longer be able to vote on the measure.[15] Following a 10-hour filibuster, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst ruled that Davis had gone off topic, forcing a vote on whether the filibuster could continue.[16] Despite Republican efforts, parliamentary inquiries from Leticia R. Van de Putte and others as well as raucous cheering from the people gathered in the Capitol carried on through midnight and the close of the special session.[17] Following the deadline, Republicans indicated that a vote had taken place and passed, while Democrats declared that the vote had taken place after midnight, making it illegal.[17] Dewhurst later conceded that the bill was dead.[18][19]

Election historyDavis ran unopposed for city council in 2001 and 2005 and for state senator in the 2008 and 2012 Democratic primaries.

2012 election2008 electionPrevious elections2007Fort Worth City Council general election, 2007: District 9[21]PartyCandidateVotes%±%nonpartisanBernie Scheffler40623.39nonpartisanWendy Davis1,33076.61+8.4Majority92453.2216.82003Fort Worth City Council general election, 2003: District 9[22]PartyCandidateVotes%±%nonpartisanWendy R. Davis2,58168.21+17.46nonpartisanBill Ray1,20331.79Majority137836.42+22.061999Fort Worth City Council general election, 1999: District 9[23]PartyCandidateVotes%±%nonpartisanWendy R. Davis1,82050.75nonpartisanDavid Minor1,47141.02nonpartisanDan Roberts2958.23Majority3499.73Arson attemptOn March 20, 2012, a pair of Molotov cocktails were thrown at Davis's office in Fort Worth. Davis was not in the office at the time though two of her staffers were. There were no injuries.[24] Cedric Steele, a homeless man with a history of mental illness, was arrested for the attack.[25]

References^"Wendy Russell Davis's Salary". ^"Wendy Davis stuck her neck out for schoolkids.". Fort Worth Weekly. ^ ab"Senator Wendy Davis: District 10". Texas State Senate. ^ ab"Partners - Newby Davis, PLLC". ^"Wendy Davis Defeats Sen. Kim Brimer". Quorum Report. ^"Wendy Davis Clinches Re-election in SD-10". Texas Tribune. ^"Texas Tribune - State Sen. Wendy Davis". Texas Tribune. ^"A Filibuster Creates an Overnight Celebrity". New York Times. ^"The Best and Worst Legislators 2009". Texas Monthly. ^"12 State Legislators to Watch in 2012". Governing Magazine. ^"Is Sen. Wendy Davis poised for statewide race?". Star-Telegraph. ^"Political futures at risk as Senators draw terms". Houston Chronicle. ^"Davis re-states intention to run for Senate". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. ^"Texas abortion bill falls after challenge". =The Eagle. June 26, 2013. Retrieved June 26, 2013. ^Tomlinson, C.; Vertuno, J. (June 26, 2013). "Marathon filibuster: Overnight drama stalls Texas abortion vote". KHOU. Retrieved June 26, 2013. ^Sutton, J.; Smith, M. (June 25, 2013). "Lawmaker's filibuster to kill Texas abortion bill ends early". CNN. Retrieved June 25, 2013. ^ abKing, Michael (June 26, 2013). "Yea or Nay?". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved June 26, 2013. ^"Liveblog: Senators Trying to Determine if Abortion Bill Passed". The Texas Tribune. June 26, 2013. Retrieved June 26, 2013. ^Helen Davidson (June 26, 2013). "Wendy Davis filibuster and public protest defeat Texas abortion bill: Texas senator stages 11-hour filibuster to block bill ' Vote derailed, lieutenant governor blames 'mob'". The Guardian. Retrieved June 26, 2013. ^ ab"Election Results". Secretary of State of Texas. Retrieved 2012-11-19. ^"2007 Cumulative Election Report" (PDF). City of Fort Worth. p. 3. Retrieved 2010-10-16. ^"2003 Cumulative Election Report". City of Fort Worth. Retrieved 2010-10-16. ^"1999 Cumulative Election Report". City of Fort Worth. Retrieved 2010-10-16. ^"Molotov cocktails thrown at Democratic Texas state senator's office". Fox News. 2012-03-20. ^http://www.wfaa.com/news/local/Family-says-firebomb-suspect-has-a-history-of-mental-illness-143758486.htmlExternal linksPersondataNameDavis, WendyAlternative namesShort descriptionAmerican politicianDate of birth1963-05-16Place of birthFort Worth, Texas, United StatesDate of deathPlace of death

79(2) SB 5 - Enrolled version - Bill Text

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Thu, 27 Jun 2013 01:57

79(2) SB 5 - Enrolled version - Bill Text S.B. No. 5 AN ACT

relating to furthering competition in the communications industry. BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS: SECTION 1. Section 33.001, Utilities Code, is amended to read as follows: Sec. 33.001. MUNICIPAL JURISDICTION. (a) To provide fair, just, and reasonable rates and adequate and efficient services, the governing body of a municipality has exclusive original jurisdiction over the rates, operations, and services of an electric utility in areas in the municipality, subject to the limitations imposed by this title. (b) Notwithstanding Subsection (a), the governing body of a municipality shall not have jurisdiction over the BPL system, BPL services, telecommunications using BPL services, or the rates, operations, or services of the electric utility or transmission and distribution utility to the extent that such rates, operations, or services are related, wholly or partly, to the construction, maintenance, or operation of a BPL system used to provide BPL services to affiliated or unaffiliated entities. SECTION 2. Subtitle B, Title 2, Utilities Code, is amended by adding Chapter 43 to read as follows:CHAPTER 43. USE OF ELECTRIC DELIVERY SYSTEM FOR ACCESS TO BROADBAND AND OTHER ENHANCED SERVICES, INCLUDING COMMUNICATIONS

SUBCHAPTER A. GENERAL PROVISIONS

Sec. 43.001. LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS. (a) The legislature finds that broadband over power lines, also known as BPL, is an emerging technology platform that offers a means of providing broadband services to reach homes and businesses. BPL services can also be used to enhance existing electric delivery systems, which can result in improved service and reliability for electric customers. (b) The legislature finds that access to quality, high speed broadband services is important to this state. BPL deployment in Texas has the potential to extend broadband service to customers where broadband access is currently not available and may provide an additional option for existing broadband consumers in Texas, resulting in a more competitive market for broadband services. The legislature further finds that BPL development in Texas is fully dependent upon the participation of electric utilities in this state that own and operate power lines and related facilities that are necessary for the construction of BPL systems and the provision of BPL services. (c) Consistent with the goal of increasing options for telecommunications in this state, the legislature finds that it is in the public interest to encourage the deployment of BPL by permitting affiliates of the electric utility, or permitting unaffiliated entities, to own or operate all or a portion of such BPL systems. The purpose of this chapter is to provide the appropriate framework to support the deployment of BPL. (d) The legislature finds that an electric utility may choose to implement BPL under the procedures set forth in this chapter, but is not required to do so. The electric utility shall have the right to decide, in its sole discretion, whether to implement BPL and may not be penalized for deciding to implement or not to implement BPL. Sec. 43.002. APPLICABILITY. (a) This chapter applies to an electric utility whether or not the electric utility is offering customer choice under Chapter 39. (b) If there is a conflict between the specific provisions of this chapter and any other provisions of this title, the provisions of this chapter control. (c) No provision of this title shall impose an obligation on an electric utility to implement BPL, to provide broadband services, or to allow others to install BPL facilities or use the electric utility's facilities for the provision of broadband services. Sec. 43.003. DEFINITIONS. In this chapter: (1) "BPL," "broadband over power lines," and "BPL services" mean the provision of broadband services over electric power lines and related facilities, whether above ground or in underground conduit. (2) "BPL access" means the ability to access broadband services via a BPL operator or BPL Internet service provider. (3) "BPL operator" means an entity that owns or operates a BPL system on the electric power lines and related facilities of an electric utility. (4) "BPL Internet service provider" and "BPL ISP" mean an entity that provides Internet services to others on a wholesale basis or to end-use customers on a retail basis. (5) "BPL system" means the materials, equipment, and other facilities installed on electric utility property to facilitate the provision of BPL services. (6) "BPL electric utility applications" means services and technologies that are used and useful and designed to improve the operational performance and service reliability of an electric utility including, but not limited to, automated meter reading, real time system monitoring and meter control, remote service control, outage detection and restoration, predictive maintenance and diagnostics, and monitoring and enhancement of power quality. (7) "Electric delivery system" means the power lines and related transmission and distribution facilities used by an electric utility to deliver electric energy. (8) "Electric utility" shall include an electric utility and a transmission and distribution utility as defined in Section 31.002(6) or (19).[Sections 43.004-43.050 reserved for expansion]

SUBCHAPTER B. DEVELOPMENT OF BPL SYSTEMS

Sec. 43.051. AUTHORIZATION FOR BPL SYSTEM. An affiliate of an electric utility or a person unaffiliated with an electric utility may own, construct, maintain, and operate a BPL system and provide BPL services on an electric utility's electric delivery system consistent with the requirements of this chapter. Nothing in this chapter shall prohibit an entity defined in Section 11.003(9) from providing BPL service or owning and operating a BPL system. Nothing in this chapter shall prohibit an electric utility from providing construction or maintenance services to a BPL operator or BPL ISP provided that the costs of these services are properly accounted for between the electric utility and the BPL operator or BPL ISP. Sec. 43.052. OWNERSHIP AND OPERATION OF BPL SYSTEM. (a) An electric utility may elect to: (1) allow an affiliate to own or operate a BPL system on the utility's electric delivery system; (2) allow an unaffiliated entity to own or operate a BPL system on the electric utility's electric delivery system; or (3) allow an affiliate or unaffiliated entity to provide Internet service over a BPL system. (b) The BPL operator and the electric utility shall determine what BPL Internet service providers may have access to broadband capacity on the BPL system. Sec. 43.053. FEES AND CHARGES. (a) An electric utility that allows an affiliate or an unaffiliated entity to own a BPL system on the electric utility's electric delivery system shall charge the owner of the BPL system for the use of the electric utility's electric delivery system. (b) An electric utility may pay a BPL owner, a BPL operator, or a BPL ISP for the use of the BPL system required to operate BPL utility applications. (c) If all or part of a BPL system is installed on poles or other structures of a telecommunications utility as that term is defined in Section 51.002, the owner of the BPL system shall be required to pay the telecommunications utility an annual fee consistent with the usual and customary charges for access to the space occupied by that portion of the BPL system so installed. (d) Notwithstanding Subsections (a)-(c): (1) an electric utility may not charge an affiliate under this section an amount less than the electric utility would charge an unaffiliated entity for the same item or class of items; (2) an electric utility may not pay an affiliate under this section an amount more than the affiliate would charge an unaffiliated entity for the same item or class of items; and (3) an electric utility or an affiliate of an electric utility may not discriminate against a retail electric provider that is not affiliated with the utility in the terms or availability of BPL services. Sec. 43.054. NO ADDITIONAL EASEMENTS OR CONSIDERATION REQUIRED. Because BPL systems provide benefits to electric delivery systems, the installation of a BPL system on an electric delivery system shall not require the electric utility or the owner of the BPL system or an entity defined in Section 11.003(9) to obtain or expand easements or other rights-of-way for the BPL system or to give additional consideration as a result of the installation or the operation of a BPL system. For purposes of this section, installation of a BPL system shall be deemed to be consistent with installation of an electric delivery system. Sec. 43.055. RELIABILITY OF ELECTRIC SYSTEMS MAINTAINED. An electric utility that allows the installation and operation of a BPL system on its electric delivery system shall employ all reasonable measures to ensure that the operation of the BPL system does not interfere with or diminish the reliability of the utility's electric delivery system. Should a disruption in the provision of electric service occur, the electric utility shall be governed by the terms and conditions of the retail electric delivery service tariff. At all times, the provision of broadband services shall be secondary to the reliable provision of electric delivery services.[Sections 43.056-43.100 reserved for expansion]

SUBCHAPTER C. IMPLEMENTATION OF BPL SYSTEM BY

ELECTRIC UTILITY

Sec. 43.101. PARTICIPATION BY ELECTRIC UTILITY. (a) An electric utility, through an affiliate or through an unaffiliated entity, may elect to install and operate a BPL system on some or all of its electric delivery system in any part or all of its certificated service area. (b) The installation, operation, and use of a BPL system and the provision of BPL services shall not be regulated by any state agency, a municipality, or local government other than as provided for in this chapter. (c) The commission or a state or local government or a regulatory or quasi-governmental or a quasi-regulatory authority may not: (1) require an electric utility, either through an affiliate or an unaffiliated entity, to install a BPL system on its power lines or offer BPL services in all or any part of the electric utility's certificated service area; (2) require an electric utility to allow others to install a BPL system on the utility's electric delivery system in any part or all of the electric utility's certificated service area; or (3) prohibit an electric utility from having an affiliate or unaffiliated entity install a BPL system or offering BPL services in any part or all of the electric utility's certificated service area. (d) If a municipality or local government is already collecting a charge or fee from the electric utility for the use of the public rights-of-way for the delivery of electricity to retail electric customers, the municipality or local government is prohibited from requiring a franchise or an amendment to a franchise or from requiring a charge, fee, or tax from any entity for use of the public rights-of-way for a BPL system. (e) The state or a municipality may impose a charge on the provision of BPL services, but the charge may not be greater than the lowest charge that the state or municipality imposes on other providers of broadband services for use of the public rights-of-way in its respective jurisdiction. Sec. 43.102. COST RECOVERY FOR DEPLOYMENT OF BPL AND UTILITY APPLICATIONS. (a) Where an electric utility permits the installation of a BPL system on its electric delivery system under Section 43.052(a), the electric utility's investment in that BPL system to directly support the BPL electric utility applications and other BPL services consumed by the electric utility that are used and useful in providing electric utility service shall be eligible for inclusion in the electric utility's invested capital, and any fees or operating expenses that are reasonable and necessary shall be eligible for inclusion as operating expenses for purposes of any proceeding under Chapter 36. The invested capital and expenses described in this section must be allocated to the customer classes directly receiving the services. (b) In any proceeding under Chapter 36, just and reasonable charges for the use of the electric utility's electric delivery system by a BPL owner or operator shall be limited to the usual and customary pole attachment charges paid to the electric utility for comparable space by cable television operators. (c) The revenues of an affiliated BPL operator or an affiliated BPL ISP shall not be deemed the revenues of an electric utility for purposes of setting rates under Chapter 36.[Sections 43.103-43.150 reserved for expansion]

SUBCHAPTER D. MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS

Sec. 43.151. AFFILIATES OF ELECTRIC UTILITY. (a) Subject to the limitations of this chapter, an electric utility may have a full or partial ownership interest in a BPL operator or a BPL ISP. Whether a BPL operator or a BPL ISP is an affiliate of the electric utility shall be determined under Section 11.003(2) or Section 11.006. (b) Neither a BPL operator nor a BPL ISP shall be considered a "competitive affiliate" of an electric utility as that term is defined in Section 39.157. Sec. 43.152. COMPLIANCE WITH FEDERAL LAW. BPL operators shall comply with all applicable federal laws, including those protecting licensed spectrum users from interference by BPL systems. The operator of a radio frequency device shall be required to cease operating the device upon notification by a Federal Communications Commission or Public Utilities Commission representative that the device is causing harmful interference. Operation shall not resume until the condition causing the harmful interference has been corrected. SECTION 3. Section 52.155, Utilities Code, is amended by amending Subsection (a) and adding Subsection (c) to read as follows: (a) A telecommunications utility that holds a certificate of operating authority or a service provider certificate of operating authority may not charge a higher amount for originating or terminating intrastate switched access than the prevailing rates charged by the holder of the certificate of convenience and necessity or the holder of a certificate of operating authority issued under Chapter 65 in whose territory the call originated or terminated unless: (1) the commission specifically approves the higher rate; or (2) subject to commission review, the telecommunications utility establishes statewide average composite originating and terminating intrastate switched access rates based on a reasonable approximation of traffic originating and terminating between all holders of certificates of convenience and necessity in this state. (c) Notwithstanding Subsection (a), Chapter 65 governs the switched access rates of a company that holds a certificate of operating authority issued under Chapter 65. SECTION 4. Subchapter D, Chapter 52, Utilities Code, is amended by adding Section 52.156 to read as follows: Sec. 52.156. RETAIL RATES, TERMS, AND CONDITIONS. A telecommunications utility may not: (1) establish a retail rate, term, or condition that is anticompetitive or unreasonably preferential, prejudicial, or discriminatory; or (2) engage in predatory pricing or attempt to engage in predatory pricing. SECTION 5. Section 54.202, Utilities Code, is amended by adding Subsection (c) to read as follows: (c) This section may not be construed to prevent a municipally owned utility from providing to its energy customers, either directly or indirectly, any energy related service involving the transfer or receipt of information or data concerning the use, measurement, monitoring, or management of energy utility services provided by the municipally owned utility, including services such as load management or automated meter reading. SECTION 6. Subsections (a), (b), and (c), Section 54.204, Utilities Code, are amended to read as follows: (a) Notwithstanding Section 14.008, a municipality or a municipally owned utility may not discriminate against a certificated telecommunications provider [telecommunications utility] regarding: (1) the authorization or placement of a [telecommunications] facility in a public right-of-way; (2) access to a building; or (3) a municipal utility pole attachment rate or term[, to the extent not addressed by federal law]. (b) In granting consent, a franchise, or a permit for the use of a public street, alley, or right-of-way within its municipal boundaries, a municipality or municipally owned utility may not discriminate in favor of or against a certificated telecommunications provider [telecommunications utility that holds or has applied for a certificate of convenience and necessity, a certificate of operating authority, or a service provider certificate of operating authority] regarding: (1) municipal utility pole attachment or underground conduit rates or terms[, to the extent not addressed by federal law]; or (2) the authorization, placement, replacement, or removal of a [telecommunications] facility in a public right-of-way and the reasonable compensation for the authorization, placement, replacement, or removal regardless of whether the compensation is in the form of: (A) money; (B) services; (C) use of facilities; or (D) another kind of consideration. (c) A municipality or a municipally owned [Notwithstanding Subsection (b)(1), a municipal] utility may not charge any entity, regardless of the nature of the services provided by that entity, a pole attachment rate or underground conduit rate that exceeds the fee the municipality or municipally owned utility would be permitted to charge under rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission under 47 U.S.C. Section 224(e) if the municipality's or municipally owned utility's rates were regulated under federal law and the rules of the Federal Communications Commission. In addition, not later than September 1, 2006, a municipality or municipally owned utility shall charge a single, uniform pole attachment or underground conduit rate to all entities that are not affiliated with the municipality or municipally owned utility regardless of the services carried over the networks attached to the poles or underground conduit. SECTION 7. Section 54.251, Utilities Code, is amended by amending Subsection (b) and adding Subsection (c) to read as follows: (b) Except as specifically determined otherwise by the commission under this subchapter or Subchapter G, the holder of a certificate of convenience and necessity, or the holder of a certificate of operating authority issued under Chapter 65, for an area has the obligations of a provider of last resort regardless of whether another provider has a certificate of operating authority or service provider certificate of operating authority for that area. (c) A certificate holder may meet the holder's provider of last resort obligations using any available technology. Notwithstanding any provision of Chapter 56, the commission may adjust disbursements from the universal service fund to companies using technologies other than traditional wireline or landline technologies to meet provider of last resort obligations. As determined by the commission, the certificate holder shall meet minimum quality of service standards, including standards for 911 service, comparable to those established for traditional wireline or landline technologies and shall offer services at a price comparable to the monthly service charge for comparable services in that exchange or the provider's nearest exchange. SECTION 8. Subchapter G, Chapter 54, Utilities Code, is amended by adding Section 54.3015 to read as follows: Sec. 54.3015. APPLICABILITY OF SUBCHAPTER. This subchapter applies to a holder of a certificate of operating authority issued under Chapter 65 in the same manner and to the same extent this subchapter applies to a holder of a certificate of convenience and necessity. SECTION 9. Section 55.015, Utilities Code, is amended by amending Subsections (a), (c), and (d) and adding Subsections (b-1), (d-1), and (d-2) to read as follows: (a) The commission shall adopt rules prohibiting a certificated provider of local exchange telephone service[telecommunications provider] from discontinuing basic network services listed in Section 58.051 [local exchange telephone service] to a consumer who receives lifeline service because of nonpayment by the consumer of charges for other services billed by the provider, including interexchange telecommunications [long distance] service. (b-1) The commission shall adopt rules requiring certificated providers of local exchange telephone service to implement procedures to ensure that all consumers are clearly informed both orally and in writing of the existence of the lifeline service program when they request or initiate service or change service locations or providers. On or before June 1, 2006, the commission shall enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Health and Human Services Commission, and, to the maximum extent feasible, housing authorities in the principal cities of each metropolitan statistical area, to improve enrollment rates in the lifeline service program. (c) A certificated provider of local exchange telephone service [telecommunications provider] may block a lifeline service participant's access to all interexchange telecommunications [long distance] service except toll-free numbers when the participant owes an outstanding amount for that service. The provider[telecommunications provider] shall remove the block without additional cost to the participant on payment of the outstanding amount. (d) A certificated provider of local exchange telephone service [telecommunications provider] shall offer a consumer who applies for or receives lifeline service the option of blocking all toll calls or, if technically capable, placing a limit on the amount of toll calls. The provider may not charge the consumer an administrative charge or other additional amount for the blocking service. (d-1) A certificated provider of local exchange telephone service shall provide access to lifeline service to a customer whose income is not more than 150 percent of the applicable income level established by the federal poverty guidelines or in whose household resides a person who receives or has a child who receives: (1) Medicaid; (2) food stamps; (3) Supplemental Security Income; (4) federal public housing assistance; (5) Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) assistance; or (6) health benefits coverage under the state child health plan under Chapter 62, Health and Safety Code. (d-2) A certificated provider of local exchange telephone service shall provide consumers who apply for or receive lifeline service access to available vertical services or custom calling features, including caller ID, call waiting, and call blocking, at the same price as other consumers. Lifeline discounts shall only apply to that portion of the bill that is for basic network service. SECTION 10. Subchapter A, Chapter 55, Utilities Code, is amended by adding Section 55.017 to read as follows: Sec. 55.017. IDENTIFICATION REQUIRED. (a) A representative of a telecommunications provider or a video or cable service provider that has an easement in or a right-of-way over or through real property must show proof of identification to the owner of the real property when entering the property if requested by the owner. (b) This section does not apply to regularly scheduled service readings or examinations. SECTION 11. Subchapter H, Chapter 55, Utilities Code, is amended by adding Section 55.1735 to read as follows: Sec. 55.1735. CHARGE FOR PAY PHONE ACCESS LINE. The charge or surcharge a local exchange company imposes for an access line used to provide pay telephone service in an exchange may not exceed the amount of the charge or surcharge the company imposes for an access line used for regular business purposes in that exchange. SECTION 12. Section 56.021, Utilities Code, is amended to read as follows: Sec. 56.021. UNIVERSAL SERVICE FUND ESTABLISHED. The commission shall adopt and enforce rules requiring local exchange companies to establish a universal service fund to: (1) assist telecommunications providers in providing basic local telecommunications service at reasonable rates in high cost rural areas; (2) reimburse the telecommunications carrier that provides the statewide telecommunications relay access service under Subchapter D; (3) finance the specialized telecommunications assistance program established under Subchapter E; (4) reimburse the department, the Texas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and the commission for costs incurred in implementing this chapter and Chapter 57; (5) reimburse a telecommunications carrier providing lifeline service as provided by 47 C.F.R. Part 54, Subpart E, as amended; (6) finance the implementation and administration of an integrated eligibility process created under Section 17.007 for customer service discounts relating to telecommunications services, including outreach expenses the commission determines are reasonable and necessary; (7) reimburse a designated provider under Subchapter F; [and] (8) reimburse a successor utility under Subchapter G; and (9) finance the program established under Subchapter H. SECTION 13. Subsection (a), Section 56.025, Utilities Code, is amended to read as follows: (a) In addition to the authority provided by Section 56.021, for each local exchange company that serves fewer than 31,000 [five million] access lines and each cooperative, the commission: (1) may adopt a mechanism necessary to maintain reasonable rates for local exchange telephone service; and (2) shall adopt rules to expand the universal service fund in the circumstances prescribed by this section. SECTION 14. Section 56.026, Utilities Code, is amended by adding Subsection (e) to read as follows: (e) This subsection and Subsections (c) and (d) expire August 31, 2007. SECTION 15. Subchapter B, Chapter 56, Utilities Code, is amended by adding Sections 56.029, 56.030, and 56.031 to read as follows: Sec. 56.029. UNIVERSAL SERVICE FUND STUDY; ATTESTATION REQUIREMENT. (a) The commission shall conduct a review and evaluation of whether the universal service fund accomplishes the fund's purposes as prescribed by Section 56.021 and the commission's final orders issued in Docket No. 18515 and Docket No. 18516. The evaluation shall determine whether the fund's purposes have been sufficiently achieved, whether the fund should be abolished or phased out, whether the fund should be brought within the state treasury, and whether the entities receiving those funds are spending the money for its intended purposes. The evaluation must include a forward-looking, comprehensive assessment of the appropriate use of the money in the fund and the manner in which that money is collected and disbursed. (b) Not later than January 1, 2006, the commission shall require telecommunications providers receiving disbursements under the universal service fund to provide to the commission the information that the commission determines is necessary to discharge the commission's duties under this section, including information necessary to review and evaluate how money is collected for the universal service fund and expended. (c) Information provided under Subsection (b) is confidential and is not subject to disclosure under Chapter 552, Government Code. (d) The commission may classify telecommunications providers as the commission considers appropriate for efficiency and may permit providers to share the cost of developing information the commission determines is necessary to discharge the commission's responsibilities under this section. (e) Not later than January 5, 2007, the commission shall deliver to the legislature a report for the legislature's revision and approval on the results of the review and evaluation. The report must: (1) include recommendations that are consistent with the policies provided by this title; (2) include the commission's assessment of the universal service fund, including: (A) how the money in the fund should be collected; (B) how the money in the fund should be disbursed and the purposes for which the money should be used by the telecommunications provider receiving the money; and (C) any recommendations the commission has in relation to accountability for use of the money in the fund, including the usefulness of the attestation required by Subsection (g); and (3) include recommendations that ensure that a telecommunications provider's support from the universal service fund for a geographic area is consistent with Section 56.021 and the commission's final orders issued in Docket No. 18515 and Docket No. 18516. (f) The evaluation shall determine whether the fund's purposes have been sufficiently achieved, whether the fund should be abolished or phased out, whether the fund should be brought within the state treasury, and whether the entities receiving those funds are spending the money for its intended purposes. (g) Not later than December 31, 2005, each telecommunications provider receiving universal service fund money shall file with the commission an affidavit attesting that the money from the fund has been used in a manner that is consistent with the purposes provided by Section 56.021 and the commission's final orders issued in Docket No. 18515 and Docket No. 18516. (h) In addition to the study required by this section, the commission shall compile information necessary to determine whether the current funding mechanism for the universal service fund will be adequate in the future to sustain the purposes for which the fund was created considering the development of new technologies that are not subject to the existing funding mechanism and the shift in jurisdictional control from this state to the federal government. The commission shall also review and make recommendations on any mechanisms adopted under Section 56.025. Not later than January 5, 2007, the commission shall deliver to the legislature a report on these issues. If the commission determines that the existing funding mechanism is not adequate, or proposes to change the manner or level of current funding, the commission must include recommendations for alternative funding and basic service pricing methods that will be adequate and are consistent with a policy of technology and competitive neutrality in the assessment of fees and other state-imposed economic burdens. (i) This section expires September 1, 2007. Sec. 56.030. AFFIDAVITS OF COMPLIANCE. On or before September 1 of each year, a telecommunications provider that receives disbursements from the universal service fund shall file with the commission an affidavit certifying that the telecommunications provider is in compliance with the requirements for receiving money from the universal service fund and requirements regarding the use of money from each universal service fund program for which the telecommunications provider receives disbursements. Sec. 56.031. ADJUSTMENTS. The commission may revise the monthly per line support amounts to be made available from the Texas High Cost Universal Service Plan and from the Small and Rural Incumbent Local Exchange Company Universal Service Plan at any time after September 1, 2007, after notice and an opportunity for hearing. In determining appropriate monthly per line support amounts, the commission shall consider the adequacy of basic rates to support universal service. SECTION 16. Subchapter B, Chapter 56, Utilities Code, is amended by adding Section 56.032 to read as follows: Sec. 56.032. COMMISSION REVIEW AND EVALUATION OF DISTANCE LEARNING DISCOUNTS AND PRIVATE NETWORK SERVICES FOR CERTAIN ENTITIES. (a) On or before October 1, 2005, the commission shall initiate a study for the purpose of evaluating a new funding mechanism to provide financial support to all telecommunications utilities that provide discounts or private network services at prescribed rates to the entities identified in Subchapter B, Chapter 57, Subchapter G, Chapter 58, and Subchapter D, Chapter 59. (b) The study must include an evaluation of alternative sources of funding such support, including utilizing federal E-rate funding, and an evaluation of alternative funding mechanisms that would result in support being made available to all telecommunications utilities on a nondiscriminatory basis and on a technology neutral basis in exchange for providing services at rates comparable to those preferred rates being paid by the entities identified under Subchapter B, Chapter 57, Subchapter G, Chapter 58, and Subchapter D, Chapter 59, provisions. (c) The commission shall conduct necessary proceedings to evaluate the appropriate funding mechanism and the appropriate method for determining the amount of support to be made available to telecommunications utilities that provide discounts to entities listed in Subsection (b). (d) On or before November 15, 2006, the commission shall issue a report to the speaker of the house of representatives and the lieutenant governor on the viability of establishing a new program or funding mechanism through which support shall be funded and disbursed in exchange for providing discounts to the entities listed in Subsection (b). The commission shall include in the report its findings regarding the cost of any new funding mechanism, the benefit of establishing a new program or funding mechanism, and any other relevant information the commission deems appropriate to assist the legislature in its review of discounts for distance learning and private network services. (e) This section expires September 1, 2007. SECTION 17. Chapter 56, Utilities Code, is amended by adding Subchapter H to read as follows:SUBCHAPTER H. AUDIO NEWSPAPER PROGRAM

Sec. 56.301. AUDIO NEWSPAPER ASSISTANCE PROGRAM. The commission by rule shall establish a program to provide from the universal service fund financial assistance for a free telephone service for blind and visually impaired persons that offers the text of newspapers using synthetic speech. The commission may adopt rules to implement the program. SECTION 18. Section 58.051, Utilities Code, is amended by amending Subsection (a) and adding Subsections (a-1), (c), and (d) to read as follows: (a) Unless reclassified under Section 58.024, the following services are basic network services: (1) flat rate residential local exchange telephone service, including primary directory listings and the receipt of a directory and any applicable mileage or zone charges; (2) residential tone dialing service; (3) lifeline and tel-assistance service; (4) service connection for basic residential services; (5) direct inward dialing service for basic residential services; (6) private pay telephone access service; (7) call trap and trace service; (8) access for all residential and business end users to 911 service provided by a local authority and access to dual party relay service; (9) mandatory residential extended area service arrangements; and (10) mandatory residential extended metropolitan service or other mandatory residential toll-free calling arrangements[; and [(11) residential call waiting service]. (a-1) Notwithstanding Subsection (a) and Section 58.151, basic network services include residential caller identification services if the customer to whom the service is billed is at least 65 years of age. (c) At the election of the affected incumbent local exchange company, the price for basic network service shall also include the fees and charges for any mandatory extended area service arrangements, mandatory expanded toll-free calling plans, and any other service included in the definition of basic network service. (d) A nonpermanent expanded toll-free local calling service surcharge established by the commission to recover the costs of mandatory expanded toll-free local calling service: (1) is considered a part of basic network service; (2) may not be aggregated under Subsection (c); and (3) continues to be transitioned in accordance with commission orders and substantive rules. SECTION 19. Section 58.151, Utilities Code, is amended to read as follows: Sec. 58.151. SERVICES INCLUDED. The following services are classified as nonbasic services: (1) flat rate business local exchange telephone service, including primary directory listings and the receipt of a directory, and any applicable mileage or zone charges, except that the prices for this service shall be capped until September 1, 2005, at the prices in effect on September 1, 1999; (2) business tone dialing service, except that the prices for this service shall be capped until September 1, 2005, at the prices in effect on September 1, 1999; (3) service connection for all business services, except that the prices for this service shall be capped until September 1, 2005, at the prices in effect on September 1, 1999; (4) direct inward dialing for basic business services, except that the prices for this service shall be capped until September 1, 2005, at the prices in effect on September 1, 1999; (5) "1-plus" intraLATA message toll services; (6) 0+ and 0- operator services; (7) call waiting, call forwarding, and custom calling, except that: (A) residential call waiting service shall be classified as a basic network service until July 1, 2006; and (B) for an electing company subject to Section 58.301, prices for residential call forwarding and other custom calling services shall be capped at the prices in effect on September 1, 1999, until the electing company implements the reduction in switched access rates described by Section 58.301(2); (8) call return, caller identification, and call control options, except that, for an electing company subject to Section 58.301, prices for residential call return, caller identification, and call control options shall be capped at the prices in effect on September 1, 1999, until the electing company implements the reduction in switched access rates described by Section 58.301(2); (9) central office based PBX-type services; (10) billing and collection services, including installment billing and late payment charges for customers of the electing company; (11) integrated services digital network (ISDN) services, except that prices for Basic Rate Interface (BRI) ISDN services, which comprise up to two 64 Kbps B-channels and one 16 Kbps D-channel, shall be capped until September 1, 2005, at the prices in effect on September 1, 1999; (12) new services; (13) directory assistance services, except that an electing company shall provide to a residential customer the first three directory assistance inquiries in a monthly billing cycle at no charge until July 1, 2006; (14) services described in the WATS tariff as the tariff existed on January 1, 1995; (15) 800 and foreign exchange services; (16) private line service; (17) special access service; (18) services from public pay telephones; (19) paging services and mobile services (IMTS); (20) 911 services provided to a local authority that are available from another provider; (21) speed dialing; (22) three-way calling; and (23) all other services subject to the commission's jurisdiction that are not specifically classified as basic network services in Section 58.051, except that nothing in this section shall preclude a customer from subscribing to a local flat rate residential or business line for a computer modem or a facsimile machine. SECTION 20. Subsection (a), Section 58.258, Utilities Code, is amended to read as follows: (a) Notwithstanding the pricing flexibility authorized by this subtitle, an electing company's rates for private network services may not be increased [on or] before January 1, 2012 [the sixth anniversary of the company's date of election]. However, an electing company may increase a rate in accordance with the provisions of a customer specific contract. SECTION 21. Subchapter G, Chapter 58, Utilities Code, is amended by adding Section 58.268 to read as follows: Sec. 58.268. CONTINUATION OF OBLIGATION. Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, an electing company shall continue to comply with this subchapter until January 1, 2012, regardless of: (1) the date the company elected under this chapter; or (2) any action taken in relation to that company under Chapter 65. SECTION 22. Subsection (a), Section 59.077, Utilities Code, is amended to read as follows: (a) Notwithstanding the pricing flexibility authorized by this subtitle, an electing company's rates for private network services may not be increased [on or] before January 1, 2012 [the sixth anniversary of the company's election date]. SECTION 23. Subchapter D, Chapter 59, Utilities Code, is amended by adding Section 59.083 to read as follows: Sec. 59.083. CONTINUATION OF OBLIGATION. Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, an electing company shall continue to comply with this subchapter until January 1, 2012, regardless of: (1) the date the company elected under this chapter; or (2) any action taken in relation to that company under Chapter 65. SECTION 24. Chapter 60, Utilities Code, is amended by adding Subchapter J to read as follows:SUBCHAPTER J. WHOLESALE CODE OF CONDUCT

Sec. 60.201. STATEMENT OF POLICY. It is the policy of this state that providers of telecommunications services operate in a manner that is consistent with minimum standards to provide customers with continued competitive choices. Sec. 60.202. APPLICABILITY OF SUBCHAPTER. A provision of this subchapter applies only to the extent the provision has not been preempted by federal law or a rule, regulation, or order of the Federal Communications Commission. Sec. 60.203. MINIMUM SERVICE REQUIREMENTS. A telecommunications provider may not unreasonably: (1) discriminate against another provider by refusing access to an exchange; (2) refuse or delay an interconnection to another provider; (3) degrade the quality of access the telecommunications provider provides to another provider; (4) impair the speed, quality, or efficiency of a line used by another provider; (5) fail to fully disclose in a timely manner on request all available information necessary to design equipment that will meet the specifications of the network; or (6) refuse or delay access by a person to another provider. Sec. 60.204. INTERCONNECTION. A telecommunications provider shall provide interconnection with other telecommunications providers' networks for the transmission and routing of telephone exchange service and exchange access. Sec. 60.205. NUMBER PORTABILITY. A telecommunications provider shall provide number portability in accordance with federal requirements. Sec. 60.206. DUTY TO NEGOTIATE. A telecommunications provider shall negotiate in good faith the terms and conditions of any agreement. Sec. 60.207. DIALING PARITY. (a) A telecommunications provider shall provide dialing parity to competing telecommunications providers of telephone exchange service and telephone toll service. (b) A telecommunications provider shall provide nondiscriminatory access to telephone numbers, operator services, directory assistance, and directory listings and may not delay that access unreasonably. Sec. 60.208. ACCESS TO RIGHTS-OF-WAY. A telecommunications provider shall provide access to poles, ducts, conduits, and rights-of-way to competing providers of telecommunications service on rates, terms, and conditions that are just, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory. Sec. 60.209. RECIPROCAL COMPENSATION. A telecommunications provider shall establish reciprocal compensation arrangements for the transport and termination of telecommunications. Sec. 60.210. ACCESS TO SERVICES. A telecommunications provider shall provide access to: (1) 911 and E-911 service; (2) directory assistance service to allow other telecommunications providers' customers to obtain telephone numbers; and (3) operator call completion service. SECTION 25. Subchapter A, Chapter 62, Utilities Code, is amended by adding Section 62.003 to read as follows: Sec. 62.003. REQUIREMENTS RELATING TO AUDIO AND VIDEO PROGRAMMING. (a) This section applies only to a provider of advanced services or local exchange telephone service that has more than 500,000 access lines in service in this state and that delivers audio programming with localized content or video programming to its subscribers in those service areas where such provider is not regulated as a cable system under federal law. (b) Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, a provider of advanced services or local exchange telephone service shall provide subscribers access to the signals of the local broadcast television and radio stations licensed by the Federal Communications Commission to serve those subscribers over the air; provided with respect to low power television stations, this section shall only apply to those low power television stations that are "qualified low power stations" as defined in 47 U.S.C. Section 534(h)(2). (c) To facilitate access by subscribers of a provider of advanced services or local exchange telephone service to the signals of local broadcast stations, a station either shall be granted mandatory carriage or may request retransmission consent with the provider. (d) This title does not require a provider of advanced services or local exchange telephone service to provide a television or radio station valuable consideration in exchange for carriage. (e) A provider of advanced services or local exchange telephone service shall transmit without degradation the signals a local broadcast station delivers to the provider. The transmission quality offered a broadcast station may not be lower than the quality made available to another broadcast station or video or audio programming source. (f) A provider of advanced services or local exchange telephone service that delivers audio or video programming to its subscribers may not: (1) discriminate among broadcast stations or between broadcast stations on the one hand and programming providers on the other with respect to transmission of their signals, taking into account any consideration afforded a provider of advanced services or local exchange telephone service by any such programming provider or broadcast station; or (2) delete, change, or alter a copyright identification transmitted as part of a broadcast station's signal. (g) A provider of advanced services or local exchange telephone service that delivers audio or video programming shall be subject to any applicable network nonduplication or syndicated exclusivity rules promulgated by the Federal Communications Commission to the extent applicable to cable systems as defined by the commission. (h) A provider of advanced services or local exchange telephone service that delivers audio or video programming to its subscribers shall include all programming providers in a subscriber programming guide, if any, that lists program schedules. SECTION 26. Subtitle C, Title 2, Utilities Code, is amended by adding Chapter 65 to read as follows:CHAPTER 65. DEREGULATION OF CERTAIN INCUMBENT LOCAL EXCHANGE COMPANY MARKETS

SUBCHAPTER A. GENERAL PROVISIONS

Sec. 65.001. STATEMENT OF POLICY. It is the policy of this state to provide for full rate and service competition in the telecommunications market of this state so that customers may benefit from innovations in service quality and market-based pricing. Sec. 65.002. DEFINITIONS. In this chapter: (1) "Deregulated company" means an incumbent local exchange company for which all of the company's markets have been deregulated. (2) "Market" means an exchange in which an incumbent local exchange company provides residential local exchange telephone service. (3) "Regulated company" means an incumbent local exchange company for which none of the company's markets have been deregulated. (4) "Stand-alone residential local exchange voice service" means: (A) residential tone dialing service; (B) services and functionalities supported under the lifeline program; (C) access for all residential end users to 911 service provided by a local authority and access to dual party relay service; (D) at the election of the incumbent local exchange company, mandatory residential extended area service arrangements, mandatory residential extended metropolitan service or other mandatory residential toll-free calling arrangements, mandatory expanded local calling service arrangements, or another service that a company is required under a tariff to provide to a customer who subscribes or may subscribe to basic network services; (E) flat rate residential local exchange telephone service delivered by landline, but only if the service is ordered and received independent of: (i) a service classified as a nonbasic service under Section 58.151 or residential call waiting service; (ii) a package of services that includes a service classified as a nonbasic service under Section 58.151; or (iii) another flat rate residential local exchange service delivered by landline; and (F) residential caller identification services if the customer to whom the service is billed is at least 65 years of age. (5) "Transitioning company" means an incumbent local exchange company for which at least one, but not all, of the company's markets has been deregulated. Sec. 65.003. COMMISSION AUTHORITY. (a) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this title, the commission has authority to implement and enforce this chapter. (b) The commission may adopt rules and conduct proceedings necessary to administer and enforce this chapter, including rules to determine whether a market should remain regulated, should be deregulated, or should be reregulated. Sec. 65.004. INFORMATION. (a) The commission may collect and compile information from all telecommunications providers as necessary to implement and enforce this chapter. (b) The commission shall maintain the confidentiality of information collected under this chapter that is claimed to be confidential for competitive purposes. Information that is claimed to be confidential is exempt from disclosure under Chapter 552, Government Code. Sec. 65.005. CUSTOMER PROTECTION. This chapter does not affect a customer's right to complain to the commission regarding a telecommunications provider.[Sections 65.006-65.050 reserved for expansion]

SUBCHAPTER B. DETERMINATION OF WHETHER MARKET SHOULD BE REGULATED

Sec. 65.051. MARKETS DEREGULATED. (a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), all markets of all incumbent local exchange companies are deregulated on January 1, 2006, unless the commission determines under Section 65.052(a) that a market or markets should remain regulated. (b) A market of an incumbent local exchange company in which the population in the area included in the market is less than 30,000 is deregulated on January 1, 2007, unless the commission determines under Section 65.052(f) that the market should remain regulated. Sec. 65.052. DETERMINATION OF WHETHER A MARKET SHOULD REMAIN REGULATED. (a) Except as provided by Subsection (f), the commission shall: (1) determine whether each market of an incumbent local exchange company should remain regulated on and after January 1, 2006; and (2) issue a final order classifying the company in accordance with this section effective January 1, 2006. (b) In making a determination under Subsection (a), the commission may not determine that a market should remain regulated if: (1) the population in the area included in the market is at least 100,000; or (2) the population in the area included in the market is at least 30,000 but less than 100,000 and, in addition to the incumbent local exchange company, there are at least three competitors of which: (A) at least one is a telecommunications provider that holds a certificate of operating authority or service provider certificate of operating authority and provides residential local exchange telephone service in the market; (B) at least one is an entity providing residential telephone service in the market using facilities that the entity or its affiliate owns; and (C) at least one is a provider in that market of commercial mobile service as defined by Section 332(d), Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. Section 151 et seq.), Federal Communications Commission rules, and the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 (Pub. L. No. 103-66), that is not affiliated with the incumbent local exchange company. (c) The commission shall issue an order classifying an incumbent local exchange company as a deregulated company that is subject to Subchapter C if: (1) the company does not have any markets in which the population in the area included in the market is less than 30,000; and (2) the commission does not determine that a market of the company should remain regulated on and after January 1, 2006. (d) Regardless of the population in the area included in an incumbent local exchange company's markets, the commission shall issue an order classifying the company as a transitioning company that is subject to Subchapter D if the commission determines that one or more, but not all, of the markets of the company should remain regulated on and after January 1, 2006. (e) The commission shall issue an order classifying the company as a regulated company that is subject to the provisions of this title that applied to the company on September 1, 2005, if the commission determines that all of the markets of the company in which the population in each area included in the markets is at least 30,000 should remain regulated on and after January 1, 2006. This subsection does not affect the authority of a regulated company to elect under Chapter 58 or 59 after January 1, 2005, and to be regulated under the chapter under which the company elected. (f) Not later than November 30, 2006, the commission shall determine whether a market of an incumbent local exchange company in which the population in the area included in the market is less than 30,000 should remain regulated on or after January 1, 2007. The commission by rule shall determine the market test to be applied in determining whether the market should remain regulated. If the commission does not determine that the market should remain regulated on or after January 1, 2007, and the deregulation of that market results in a transitioning or regulated company no longer meeting the definition of a transitioning or regulated company, as appropriate, the commission shall issue an order reclassifying the company appropriately. Sec. 65.053. INCUMBENT LOCAL EXCHANGE COMPANY MARKETS. (a) Notwithstanding Section 65.052, an incumbent local exchange company may elect to have all of the company's markets remain regulated on and after January 1, 2006. (b) To make an election under Subsection (a), an incumbent local exchange company must file an affidavit with the commission making that election not later than December 1, 2005. (c) If an incumbent local exchange company makes an election under this section, the commission shall issue an order classifying the company as a regulated company that is subject to the provisions of this title that applied to the company on September 1, 2005. This subsection does not affect the authority of a regulated company to elect under Chapter 58 or 59 after January 1, 2005, and to be regulated under the chapter under which the company elected. Sec. 65.054. PETITION FOR DEREGULATION. (a) After July 1, 2007, a company may petition the commission to deregulate a market that the commission previously determined should remain regulated. (b) If the commission deregulates a market under this section and the deregulation results in the transitioning or regulated company no longer meeting the definition of a transitioning or regulated company, as appropriate, the commission shall issue an order reclassifying the company appropriately. Sec. 65.055. COMMISSION AUTHORITY TO REREGULATE CERTAIN MARKETS. (a) This section applies only to a market of an incumbent local exchange company in which the population in the area included in the market is less than 100,000. (b) The commission, on its own motion or on a complaint that the commission considers to have merit, may determine that a market that was previously deregulated should again be subject to regulation. (c) The commission by rule shall prescribe the procedures and standards applicable to a determination under this section.[Sections 65.056-65.100 reserved for expansion]

SUBCHAPTER C. DEREGULATED COMPANY

Sec. 65.101. ISSUANCE OF CERTIFICATE OF OPERATING AUTHORITY. (a) A deregulated company may petition the commission to relinquish the company's certificate of convenience and necessity and receive a certificate of operating authority. (b) The commission shall issue the deregulated company a certificate of operating authority and rescind the deregulated company's certificate of convenience and necessity if the commission finds that all of the company's markets have been deregulated under Subchapter B. Sec. 65.102. REQUIREMENTS. (a) A deregulated company that holds a certificate of operating authority issued under this subchapter is a nondominant carrier governed in the same manner as a holder of a certificate of operating authority issued under Chapter 54, except that the deregulated company: (1) retains the obligations of a provider of last resort under Chapter 54; (2) is subject to the following provisions in the same manner as an incumbent local exchange company that is not deregulated: (A) Sections 54.156, 54.158, and 54.159; (B) Section 55.012; and (C) Chapter 60; and (3) may not increase the company's rates for stand-alone residential local exchange voice service before the date that the commission has the opportunity to revise the monthly per line support under the Texas High Cost Universal Service Plan pursuant to Section 56.031, regardless of whether the company is an electing company under Chapter 58. (b) In each deregulated market, a deregulated company shall make available to all residential customers uniformly throughout that market the same price, terms, and conditions for all basic and non-basic services, consistent with any pricing flexibility available to such company on or before August 31, 2005.[Sections 65.103-65.150 reserved for expansion]

SUBCHAPTER D. TRANSITIONING COMPANY

Sec. 65.151. PROVISIONS APPLICABLE TO TRANSITIONING COMPANY. A transitioning company is governed by this subchapter and the provisions of this title that applied to the company immediately before the date the company was classified as a transitioning company. If there is a conflict between this subchapter and the other applicable provisions of this title, this subchapter controls. Sec. 65.152. GENERAL REQUIREMENTS. (a) A transitioning company may: (1) exercise pricing flexibility in a market in the manner provided by Section 58.063 one day after providing an informational notice as required by that section; and (2) introduce a new service in a market in the manner provided by Section 58.153 one day after providing an informational notice as required by that section. (b) A transitioning company may not be required to comply with exchange-specific retail quality of service standards or reporting requirements in a market that is deregulated. Sec. 65.153. RATE REQUIREMENTS. (a) In a market that remains regulated, a transitioning company shall price the company's retail services in accordance with the provisions that applied to that company immediately before the date the company was classified as a transitioning company. (b) In a market that is deregulated, a transitioning company shall price the company's retail services as follows: (1) for all services, other than basic local telecommunications service, at any price higher than the service's long run incremental cost; and (2) for basic local telecommunications service, at any price higher than the lesser of the service's long run incremental cost or the tariffed price on the date that market was deregulated, provided that the company may not increase the company's rates for stand-alone residential local exchange voice service before the date that the commission has the opportunity to revise the monthly per line support under the Texas High Cost Universal Service Plan pursuant to Section 56.031, regardless of whether the company is an electing company under Chapter 58. (c) In each deregulated market, a transitioning company shall make available to all residential customers uniformly throughout that market the same price, terms, and conditions for all basic and non-basic services, consistent with any pricing flexibility available to such company on or before August 31, 2005. (d) In any market, regardless of whether regulated or deregulated, the transitioning company may not: (1) establish a retail rate, term, or condition that is anticompetitive or unreasonably preferential, prejudicial, or discriminatory; (2) establish a retail rate for a basic or non-basic service in a deregulated market that is subsidized either directly or indirectly by a basic or non-basic service provided in an exchange that is not deregulated; or (3) engage in predatory pricing or attempt to engage in predatory pricing. (e) A rate that meets the pricing requirements in Subsection (b) shall be deemed compliant with Subsection (d)(2).[Sections 65.154-65.200 reserved for expansion]

SUBCHAPTER E. REDUCTION OF SWITCHED ACCESS RATES

Sec. 65.201. REDUCTION OF SWITCHED ACCESS RATES BY DEREGULATED COMPANY. (a) On the date the last market of an incumbent local exchange company is deregulated, the company shall reduce both the company's originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in each market to parity with the company's respective federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates. (b) After reducing the rates under Subsection (a), a deregulated company shall maintain parity with the company's federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates. If the company's federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates are changed, the company shall change the company's per minute of use switched access rates in each market as necessary to re-achieve parity with the company's federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates. Sec. 65.202. REDUCTION OF SWITCHED ACCESS RATES BY TRANSITIONING COMPANY WITH MORE THAN THREE MILLION ACCESS LINES. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, a transitioning company that has more than three million access lines in service in this state on January 1, 2006, shall: (1) on July 1, 2006, reduce both the company's originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in each market by an amount equal to 33 percent of the difference in the rates in effect on June 30, 2006, and the company's respective federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates; (2) on July 1, 2007, reduce both the company's originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in each market by an amount equal to 33 percent of the difference in the rates in effect on June 30, 2006, and the company's respective federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates; and (3) on July 1, 2008, reduce both the company's originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in each market to parity with the company's respective federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates. (b) After reducing the rates under Subsection (a), a transitioning company shall maintain parity with the company's federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates. If the company's federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates are changed, the company shall change the company's per minute of use switched access rates in each market as necessary to re-achieve parity with the company's federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates. Sec. 65.203. REDUCTION OF SWITCHED ACCESS RATES BY CERTAIN TRANSITIONING COMPANIES WITH NOT MORE THAN THREE MILLION ACCESS LINES. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, a company that is classified as a transitioning company effective January 1, 2006, and that has not more than three million access lines in service in this state on that date shall reduce both the company's originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in each market in accordance with this section. (b) On July 1, 2006, the transitioning company shall reduce both the company's originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in each market by an amount equal to the lesser of: (1) 25 percent of the difference in the company's rates in effect on June 30, 2006, and the company's respective federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in effect on that date; or (2) an amount derived by multiplying that difference by a percentage derived by dividing the number of the company's markets that are not regulated on July 1, 2006, by the total number of the company's markets on December 30, 2005. (c) On July 1, 2007, the transitioning company shall reduce both the company's originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in each market by an amount equal to the lesser of: (1) 25 percent of the difference in the company's rates in effect on June 30, 2006, and the company's respective federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in effect on that date; or (2) an amount derived by multiplying that difference by a percentage derived by dividing the number of the company's markets that were deregulated in the prior 12 months by the total number of the company's markets on December 30, 2005. (d) On July 1, 2008, the transitioning company shall reduce both the company's originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in each market by an amount equal to the lesser of: (1) 25 percent of the difference in the company's rates in effect on June 30, 2006, and the company's respective federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in effect on that date; or (2) an amount derived by multiplying that difference by a percentage derived by dividing the number of the company's markets that were deregulated in the prior 12 months by the total number of the company's markets on December 30, 2005. (e) On July 1, 2009, and each succeeding year thereafter on July 1, the transitioning company shall reduce both the company's originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in each market by an amount derived by multiplying the difference in the company's rates in effect on June 30, 2006, and the company's respective federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in effect on that date by a percentage derived by dividing the number of the company's markets that were deregulated in the prior 12 months by the total number of the company's markets on December 30, 2005, except that a transitioning company shall be required to reduce both the company's originating and terminating per minute of use switched access charges to parity with the company's respective federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access charges if more than 75 percent of the transitioning company's markets are not regulated on July 1 of 2009 or any succeeding year. (f) After reducing the rates under Subsection (e), a transitioning company shall maintain parity with the company's federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates. If the company's federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates are changed, the company shall change the company's per minute of use switched access rates in each market as necessary to re-achieve parity with the company's federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates. Sec. 65.204. REDUCTION OF SWITCHED ACCESS RATES BY NEWLY DESIGNATED TRANSITIONING COMPANY. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, a company that is classified as a transitioning company after January 1, 2006, shall reduce both the company's originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in each market in accordance with this section. (b) On the date the company is classified as a transitioning company, the company shall reduce both the company's originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in each market by an amount equal to the lesser of: (1) 25 percent of the difference in the company's rates in effect on the day before the date the company was classified, and the company's respective federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in effect on that date; or (2) an amount derived by multiplying that difference by a percentage derived by dividing the number of the company's markets that are not regulated on the date the company is classified as a transitioning company by the total number of the company's markets on December 30, 2005. (c) On the first anniversary of the date the company is classified as a transitioning company, the company shall reduce both the company's originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in each market by an amount equal to the lesser of: (1) 25 percent of the difference in the company's rates in effect on the day before the date the company was classified, and the company's respective federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in effect on that date; or (2) an amount derived by multiplying that difference by a percentage derived by dividing the number of the company's markets that were deregulated in the prior 12 months by the total number of the company's markets on December 30, 2005. (d) On the second anniversary of the date the company is classified as a transitioning company, the company shall reduce both the company's originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in each market by an amount equal to the lesser of: (1) 25 percent of the difference in the company's rates in effect on the day before the date the company was classified, and the company's respective federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in effect on that date; or (2) an amount derived by multiplying that difference by a percentage derived by dividing the number of the company's markets that were deregulated in the prior 12 months by the total number of the company's markets on December 30, 2005. (e) On the third anniversary of the date the company is classified as a transitioning company and each anniversary thereafter, the company shall reduce both the company's originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in each market by an amount derived by multiplying the difference in the company's rates in effect on the day before the date the company was classified as a transitioning company, and the company's respective federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in effect on that date by a percentage derived by dividing the number of the company's markets that were deregulated in the prior 12 months by the total number of the company's markets on December 30, 2005, except that a transitioning company shall be required to reduce both the company's originating and terminating per minute of use switched access charges to parity with the company's respective federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access charges if more than 75 percent of the transitioning company's markets are not regulated on July 1 of 2009 or any succeeding year. (f) After reducing the rates under Subsection (e), a transitioning company shall maintain parity with the company's federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates. If the company's federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates are changed, the company shall change the company's per minute of use switched access rates in each market as necessary to re-achieve parity with the company's federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates. Sec. 65.205. MAINTENANCE OF REDUCTION OR PARITY. (a) After a deregulated or transitioning company reduces the company's rates under this subchapter, the company may not increase those rates above the applicable rates prescribed by this subchapter. (b) If a transitioning company's federal per minute of use switched access rates are reduced, the company shall reduce the company's per minute of use switched access rates to not more than the applicable rates prescribed by this subchapter. (c) Notwithstanding Subsections (a) and (b), a deregulated or transitioning company may decrease the company's per minute of use switched access rates to amounts that are less than the applicable rates prescribed by this subchapter.[Sections 65.206-65.250 reserved for expansion]

SUBCHAPTER F. LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE

Sec. 65.251. OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE. (a) In this subchapter, "committee" means the telecommunications competitiveness legislative oversight committee. (b) The committee is composed of nine members as follows: (1) the chair of the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce; (2) the chair of the House Committee on Regulated Industries; (3) three members of the senate appointed by the lieutenant governor; (4) three members of the house of representatives appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives; and (5) the chief executive of the Office of Public Utility Counsel. (c) An appointed member of the committee serves at the pleasure of the appointing official. Sec. 65.252. COMMITTEE DUTIES. (a) The committee shall conduct joint public hearings with the commission at least annually regarding the introduction of full competition to telecommunications services in this state. (b) The commission shall: (1) collect and compile information from all telecommunications providers as necessary to conduct a hearing under this section; and (2) maintain the confidentiality of information collected under this section that is claimed to be confidential for competitive purposes. (c) Information that is claimed to be confidential under Subsection (b) is exempt from disclosure under Chapter 552, Government Code. (d) The commission shall provide to the committee information regarding rules relating to telecommunications deregulation proposed by the commission. The committee may submit comments to the commission on those proposed rules. (e) The committee shall monitor the effectiveness of telecommunications deregulation, including the fairness of rates, the quality of service, and the effect of regulation on the normal forces of competition. (f) The committee may request reports and other information from the commission as necessary to carry out this subchapter. (g) Not later than November 15 of each even-numbered year, the committee shall report to the governor, lieutenant governor, and speaker of the house of representatives on the committee's activities under this subchapter. The report must include: (1) an analysis of any problems caused by telecommunications deregulation; and (2) recommendations for any legislative action necessary to address those problems and to further competition within the telecommunications industry. SECTION 27. Subtitle C, Title 2, Utilities Code, is amended by adding Chapter 66 to read as follows:CHAPTER 66. STATE-ISSUED CABLE AND VIDEO FRANCHISE

Sec. 66.001. FRANCHISING AUTHORITY. The commission shall be designated as the franchising authority for a state-issued franchise for the provision of cable service or video service. Sec. 66.002. DEFINITIONS. In this chapter: (1) "Actual incremental cost" means only current out-of-pocket expenses for labor, equipment repair, equipment replacement, and tax expenses directly associated with the labor or the equipment of a service provider that is necessarily and directly used to provide what were, under a superseded franchise, in-kind services, exclusive of any profit or overhead such as depreciation, amortization, or administrative expense. (2) "Cable service" is defined as set forth in 47 U.S.C. Section 522(6). (3) "Cable service provider" means a person who provides cable service. (4) "Communications network" means a component or facility that is, wholly or partly, physically located within a public right-of-way and that is used to provide video programming, cable, voice, or data services. (5) "Franchise" means an initial authorization, or renewal of an authorization, issued by a franchising authority, regardless of whether the authorization is designated as a franchise, permit, license, resolution, contract, certificate, agreement, or otherwise, that authorizes the construction and operation of a cable or video services network in the public rights-of-way. (6)(A) "Gross revenues" means all consideration of any kind or nature including without limitation cash, credits, property, and in-kind contributions (services or goods) derived by the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority from the operation of the cable service provider's or the video service provider's network to provide cable service or video service within the municipality. Gross revenue shall include all consideration paid to the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority and its affiliates (to the extent either is acting as a provider of a cable service or video service as authorized by this chapter), which shall include but not be limited to the following: (i) all fees charged to subscribers for any and all cable service or video service provided by the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority; (ii) any fee imposed on the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority by this chapter that is passed through and paid by subscribers (including without limitation the franchise fee set forth in this chapter); and (iii) compensation received by the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority or its affiliates that is derived from the operation of the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority's network to provide cable service or video service with respect to commissions that are paid to the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority as compensation for promotion or exhibition of any products or services on the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority's network, such as a "home shopping" or a similar channel, subject to Paragraph (B)(v). Gross revenue includes a pro rata portion of all revenue derived by the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority or its affiliates pursuant to compensation arrangements for advertising derived from the operation of the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority's network to provide cable service or the video service within a municipality, subject to Paragraph (B)(iii). The allocation shall be based on the number of subscribers in the municipality divided by the total number of subscribers in relation to the relevant regional or national compensation arrangement. Advertising commissions paid to third parties shall not be netted against advertising revenue included in gross revenue. Revenue of an affiliate derived from the affiliate's provision of cable service or the video service shall be gross revenue to the extent the treatment of such revenue as revenue of the affiliate and not of the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority has the effect (whether intentional or unintentional) of evading the payment of fees which would otherwise be paid to the municipality. In no event shall revenue of an affiliate be gross revenue to the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority if such revenue is otherwise subject to fees to be paid to the municipality. (B) For purposes of this section, "gross revenues" does not include: (i) any revenue not actually received, even if billed, such as bad debt; (ii) non-cable services or non-video services revenues received by any affiliate or any other person in exchange for supplying goods or services used by the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority to provide cable service or video service; (iii) refunds, rebates, or discounts made to subscribers, leased access providers, advertisers, or a municipality; (iv) any revenues from services classified as non-cable service or non-video service under federal law including without limitation revenue received from telecommunications services; revenue received from information services (but not excluding cable services or video services); and any other revenues attributed by the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority to non-cable service or non-video service in accordance with Federal Communications Commission or commission rules, regulations, standards, or orders; (v) any revenue paid by subscribers to home shopping programmers directly from the sale of merchandise through any home shopping channel offered as part of the cable services or video services, but not excluding any commissions that are paid tothe holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority as compensation for promotion or exhibition of any products or services on the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority's network, such as a "home shopping" or a similar channel; (vi) the sale of cable services or video services for resale in which the purchaser is required to collect this chapter's fees from the purchaser's customer. Nothing under this chapter is intended to limit state's rights pursuant to 47 U.S.C. Section 542(h); (vii) the provision of cable services or video services to customers at no charge, as required or allowed by this chapter, including without limitation the provision of cable services or video services to public institutions, as required or permitted in this chapter, including without limitation public schools or governmental entities, as required or permitted in this chapter; (viii) any tax of general applicability imposed upon the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority or upon subscribers by a city, state, federal, or any other governmental entity and required to be collected by the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority and remitted to the taxing entity (including, but not limited to, sales and use tax, gross receipts tax, excise tax, utility users tax, public service tax, communication taxes, and fees not imposed by this chapter); (ix) any forgone revenue from the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority's provision of free or reduced cost cable services or video services to any person including without limitation employees of the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority, to the municipality and other public institutions or other institutions as allowed in this chapter; provided, however, that any forgone revenue which the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority chooses not to receive in exchange for trades, barters, services, or other items of value shall be included in gross revenue; (x) sales of capital assets or sales of surplus equipment that is not used by the purchaser to receive cable services or video services from the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority; (xi) directory or Internet advertising revenue including, but not limited to, yellow pages, white pages, banner advertisement, and electronic publishing; and (xii) reimbursement by programmers of marketing costs incurred by the holder of a state-issued franchise for the introduction of new programming that exceed the actual costs. (C) For purposes of this definition, a provider's network consists solely of the optical spectrum wavelengths, bandwidth, or other current or future technological capacity used for the transmission of video programming over wireline directly to subscribers within the geographic area within the municipality as designated by the provider in its franchise. (7) "Incumbent cable service provider" means the cable service provider serving the largest number of cable subscribers in a particular municipal franchise area on September 1, 2005. (8) "Public right-of-way" means the area on, below, or above a public roadway, highway, street, public sidewalk, alley, waterway, or utility easement in which a municipality has an interest. (9) "Video programming" means programming provided by, or generally considered comparable to programming provided by, a television broadcast station, as set forth in 47 U.S.C. Section 522(20). (10) "Video service" means video programming services provided through wireline facilities located at least in part in the public right-of-way without regard to delivery technology, including Internet protocol technology. This definition does not include any video service provided by a commercial mobile service provider as defined in 47 U.S.C. Section 332(d). (11) "Video service provider" means a video programming distributor that distributes video programming services through wireline facilities located at least in part in the public right-of-way without regard to delivery technology. This term does not include a cable service provider. Sec. 66.003. STATE AUTHORIZATION TO PROVIDE CABLE SERVICE OR VIDEO SERVICE. (a) An entity or person seeking to provide cable service or video service in this state after September 1, 2005, shall file an application for a state-issued certificate of franchise authority with the commission as required by this section. An entity providing cable service or video service under a franchise agreement with a municipality is not subject to this subsection with respect to such municipality until the franchise agreement expires, except as provided by Section 66.004. (a-1) The commission shall notify an applicant for a state-issued certificate of franchise authority whether the applicant's affidavit described by Subsection (b) is complete before the 15th business day after the applicant submits the affidavit. (b) The commission shall issue a certificate of franchise authority to offer cable service or video service before the 17th business day after receipt of a completed affidavit submitted by the applicant and signed by an officer or general partner of the applicant affirming: (1) that the applicant has filed or will timely file with the Federal Communications Commission all forms required by that agency in advance of offering cable service or video service in this state; (2) that the applicant agrees to comply with all applicable federal and state statutes and regulations; (3) that the applicant agrees to comply with all applicable municipal regulations regarding the use and occupation of public rights-of-way in the delivery of the cable service or video service, including the police powers of the municipalities in which the service is delivered; (4) a description of the service area footprint to be served within the municipality, if applicable, otherwise the municipality to be served by the applicant, which may include certain designations of unincorporated areas, which description shall be updated by the applicant prior to the expansion of cable service or video service to a previously undesignated service area and, upon such expansion, notice to the commission of the service area to be served by the applicant; and (5) the location of the applicant's principal place of business and the names of the applicant's principal executive officers. (c) The certificate of franchise authority issued by the commission shall contain: (1) a grant of authority to provide cable service or video service as requested in the application; (2) a grant of authority to use and occupy the public rights-of-way in the delivery of that service, subject to the laws of this state, including the police powers of the municipalities in which the service is delivered; and (3) a statement that the grant of authority is subject to lawful operation of the cable service or video service by the applicant or its successor in interest. (d) The certificate of franchise authority issued by the commission is fully transferable to any successor in interest to the applicant to which it is initially granted. A notice of transfer shall be filed with the commission and the relevant municipality within 14 business days of the completion of such transfer. (e) The certificate of franchise authority issued by the commission may be terminated by the cable service provider or video service provider by submitting notice to the commission. Sec. 66.004. ELIGIBILITY FOR COMMISSION-ISSUED FRANCHISE. (a) A cable service provider or a video service provider that currently has or had previously received a franchise to provide cable service or video service with respect to such municipalities is not eligible to seek a state-issued certificate of franchise authority under this chapter as to those municipalities until the expiration date of the existing franchise agreement, except as provided by Subsections (b) and (c). (b) Beginning September 1, 2005, a cable service provider or video service provider that is not the incumbent cable service provider and serves fewer than 40 percent of the total cable customers in a particular municipal franchise area may elect to terminate that municipal franchise and seek a state-issued certificate of franchise authority by providing written notice to the commission and the affected municipality before January 1, 2006. The municipal franchise is terminated on the date the commission issues the state-issued certificate of franchise authority. (c) A cable service provider that serves fewer than 40 percent of the total cable customers in a municipal franchise area and that elects under Subsection (b) to terminate an existing municipal franchise is responsible for remitting to the affected municipality before the 91st day after the date the municipal franchise is terminated any accrued but unpaid franchise fees due under the terminated franchise. If the cable service provider has credit remaining from prepaid franchise fees, the provider may deduct the amount of the remaining credit from any future fees or taxes it must pay to the municipality, either directly or through the comptroller. (d) For purposes of this section, a cable service provider or video service provider will be deemed to have or have had a franchise to provide cable service or video service in a specific municipality if any affiliates or successor entity of the cable or video provider has or had a franchise agreement granted by that specific municipality. (e) The terms "affiliates or successor entity" in this section shall include but not be limited to any entity receiving, obtaining, or operating under a municipal cable or video franchise through merger, sale, assignment, restructuring, or any other type of transaction. (f) Except as provided in this chapter, nothing in this chapter is intended to abrogate, nullify, or adversely affect in any way the contractual rights, duties, and obligations existing and incurred by a cable service provider or a video service provider before the enactment of this chapter, and owed or owing to any private person, firm, partnership, corporation, or other entity including without limitation those obligations measured by and related to the gross revenue hereafter received by the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority for services provided in the geographic area to which such prior franchise or permit applies. All liens, security interests, royalties, and other contracts, rights, and interests in effect on September 1, 2005, shall continue in full force and effect, without the necessity for renewal, extension, or continuance, and shall be paid and performed by the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority, and shall apply as though the revenue generated by the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority continued to be generated pursuant to the permit or franchise issued by the prior local franchising authority or municipality within the geographic area to which the prior permit or franchise applies. It shall be a condition to the issuance and continuance of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority that the private contractual rights and obligations herein described continue to be honored, paid, or performed to the same extent as though the cable service provider continued to operate under its prior franchise or permit, for the duration of such state-issued certificate of franchise authority and any renewals or extensions thereof, and that the applicant so agrees. Any person, firm, partnership, corporation, or other entity holding or claiming rights herein reserved may enforce same by an action brought in a court of competent jurisdiction. Sec. 66.005. FRANCHISE FEE. (a) The holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority shall pay each municipality in which it provides cable service or video service a franchise fee of five percent based upon the definition of gross revenues as set forth in this chapter. That same franchise fee structure shall apply to any unincorporated areas that are annexed by a municipality after the effective date of the state-issued certificate of franchise authority. (b) The franchise fee payable under this section is to be paid quarterly, within 45 days after the end of the quarter for the preceding calendar quarter. Each payment shall be accompanied by a summary explaining the basis for the calculation of the fee. A municipality may review the business records of the cable service provider or video service provider to the extent necessary to ensure compensation in accordance with Subsection (a). Each party shall bear the party's own costs of the examination. A municipality may, in the event of a dispute concerning compensation under this section, bring an action in a court of competent jurisdiction. (c) The holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority may recover from the provider's customers any fee imposed by this chapter. Sec. 66.006. IN-KIND CONTRIBUTIONS TO MUNICIPALITY. (a) Until the expiration of the incumbent cable service provider's agreement, the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority shall pay a municipality in which it is offering cable service or video service the same cash payments on a per subscriber basis as required by the incumbent cable service provider's franchise agreement. All cable service providers and all video service providers shall report quarterly to the municipality the total number of subscribers served within the municipality. The amount paid by the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority shall be calculated quarterly by the municipality by multiplying the amount of cash payment under the incumbent cable service provider's franchise agreement by a number derived by dividing the number of subscribers served by a video service provider or cable service provider by the total number of video or cable service subscribers in the municipality. Such pro rata payments are to be paid quarterly to the municipality within 45 days after the end of the quarter for the preceding calendar quarter. (b) On the expiration of the incumbent cable service provider's agreement, the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority shall pay a municipality in which it is offering cable service or video service one percent of the provider's gross revenues, as defined by this chapter, or at the municipality's election, the per subscriber fee that was paid to the municipality under the expired incumbent cable service provider's agreement, in lieu of in-kind compensation and grants. Payments under this subsection shall be paid in the same manner as outlined in Section 66.005(b). (c) All fees paid to municipalities under this section are paid in accordance with 47 U.S.C. Sections 531 and 541(a)(4)(B) and may be used by the municipality as allowed by federal law; further, these payments are not chargeable as a credit against the franchise fee payments authorized under this chapter. (d) The following services shall continue to be provided by the cable provider that was furnishing services pursuant to its municipal cable franchise until January 1, 2008, or until the term of the franchise was to expire, whichever is later, and thereafter as provided in Subdivisions (1) and (2) below: (1) institutional network capacity, however defined or referred to in the municipal cable franchise but generally referring to a private line data network capacity for use by the municipality for noncommercial purposes, shall continue to be provided at the same capacity as was provided to the municipality prior to the date of the termination, provided that the municipality will compensate the provider for the actual incremental cost of the capacity; and (2) cable services to community public buildings, such as municipal buildings and public schools, shall continue to be provided to the same extent provided immediately prior to the date of the termination. Beginning on January 1, 2008, or the expiration of the franchise agreement, whichever is later, a provider that provides the services may deduct from the franchise fee to be paid to the municipality an amount equal to the actual incremental cost of the services if the municipality requires the services after that date. Such cable service generally refers to the existing cable drop connections to such facilities and the tier of cable service provided pursuant to the franchise at the time of the termination. Sec. 66.007. BUILD-OUT. The holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority shall not be required to comply with mandatory build-out provisions. Sec. 66.008. CUSTOMER SERVICE STANDARDS. The holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority shall comply with customer service requirements consistent with 47 C.F.R. Section 76.309(c) until there are two or more providers offering service, excluding direct-to-home satellite service, in the relevant municipality. Sec. 66.009. PUBLIC, EDUCATIONAL, AND GOVERNMENTAL ACCESS CHANNELS. (a) Not later than 120 days after a request by a municipality, the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority shall provide the municipality with capacity in its communications network to allow public, educational, and governmental (PEG) access channels for noncommercial programming. (b) The holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority shall provide no fewer than the number of PEG access channels a municipality has activated under the incumbent cable service provider's franchise agreement as of September 1, 2005. (c) If a municipality did not have PEG access channels as of September 1, 2005, the cable service provider or video service provider shall furnish: (1) up to three PEG channels for a municipality with a population of at least 50,000; and (2) up to two PEG channels for a municipality with a population of less than 50,000. (d) Any PEG channel provided pursuant to this section that is not utilized by the municipality for at least eight hours a day shall no longer be made available to the municipality, but may be programmed at the cable service provider's or video service provider's discretion. At such time as the municipality can certify to the cable service provider or video service provider a schedule for at least eight hours of daily programming, the cable service provider or video service provider shall restore the previously lost channel but shall be under no obligation to carry that channel on a basic or analog tier. (e) In the event a municipality has not utilized the minimum number of access channels as permitted by Subsection (c), access to the additional channel capacity allowed in Subsection (c) shall be provided upon 90 days' written notice if the municipality meets the following standard: if a municipality has one active PEG channel and wishes to activate an additional PEG channel, the initial channel shall be considered to be substantially utilized when 12 hours are programmed on that channel each calendar day. In addition, at least 40 percent of the 12 hours of programming for each business day on average over each calendar quarter must be nonrepeat programming. Nonrepeat programming shall include the first three video-castings of a program. If a municipality is entitled to three PEG channels under Subsection (c) and has in service two active PEG channels, each of the two active channels shall be considered to be substantially utilized when 12 hours are programmed on each channel each calendar day and at least 50 percent of the 12 hours of programming for each business day on average over each calendar quarter is nonrepeat programming for three consecutive calendar quarters. (f) The operation of any PEG access channel provided pursuant to this section shall be the responsibility of the municipality receiving the benefit of such channel, and the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority bears only the responsibility for the transmission of such channel. The holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority shall be responsible for providing the connectivity to each PEG access channel distribution point up to the first 200 feet. (g) The municipality must ensure that all transmissions, content, or programming to be transmitted over a channel or facility by a holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority are provided or submitted to the cable service provider or video service provider in a manner or form that is capable of being accepted and transmitted by a provider, without requirement for additional alteration or change in the content by the provider, over the particular network of the cable service provider or video service provider, which is compatible with the technology or protocol utilized by the cable service provider or video service provider to deliver services. (h) Where technically feasible, the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority and an incumbent cable service provider shall use reasonable efforts to interconnect their cable or video systems for the purpose of providing PEG programming. Interconnection may be accomplished by direct cable, microwave link, satellite, or other reasonable method of connection. Holders of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority and incumbent cable service providers shall negotiate in good faith and incumbent cable service providers may not withhold interconnection of PEG channels. (i) A court of competent jurisdiction shall have exclusive jurisdiction to enforce any requirement under this section. Sec. 66.010. NONDISCRIMINATION BY MUNICIPALITY. (a) A municipality shall allow the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority to install, construct, and maintain a communications network within a public right-of-way and shall provide the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority with open, comparable, nondiscriminatory, and competitively neutral access to the public right-of-way. All use of a public right-of-way by the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority is nonexclusive and subject to Section 66.011. (b) A municipality may not discriminate against the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority regarding: (1) the authorization or placement of a communications network in a public right-of-way; (2) access to a building; or (3) a municipal utility pole attachment term. Sec. 66.011. MUNICIPAL POLICE POWER; OTHER AUTHORITY. (a) A municipality may enforce police power-based regulations in the management of a public right-of-way that apply to the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority within the municipality. A municipality may enforce police power-based regulations in the management of the activities of the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority to the extent that they are reasonably necessary to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public. Police power-based regulation of the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority's use of the public right-of-way must be competitively neutral and may not be unreasonable or discriminatory. A municipality may not impose on activities of the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority a requirement: (1) that particular business offices be located in the municipality; (2) regarding the filing of reports and documents with the municipality that are not required by state or federal law and that are not related to the use of the public right-of-way except that a municipality may request maps and records maintained in the ordinary course of business for purposes of locating the portions of a communications network that occupy public rights-of-way. Any maps or records of the location of a communications network received by a municipality shall be confidential and exempt from disclosure under Chapter 552, Government Code, and may be used by a municipality only for the purpose of planning and managing construction activity in the public right-of-way. A municipality may not request information concerning the capacity or technical configuration of the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority's facilities; (3) for the inspection of the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority's business records except to extent permitted under Section 66.005(b); (4) for the approval of transfers of ownership or control of the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority's business, except that a municipality may require that the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority maintain a current point of contact and provide notice of a transfer within a reasonable time; or (5) that the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority that is self-insured under the provisions of state law obtain insurance or bonding for any activities within the municipality, except that a self-insured provider shall provide substantially the same defense and claims processing as an insured provider. A bond may not be required from a provider for any work consisting of aerial construction except that a reasonable bond may be required of a provider that cannot demonstrate a record of at least four years' performance of work in any municipal public right-of-way free of currently unsatisfied claims by a municipality for damage to the right-of-way. (b) Notwithstanding any other law, a municipality may require the issuance of a construction permit, without cost, to the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority that is locating facilities in or on a public right-of-way in the municipality. The terms of the permit shall be consistent with construction permits issued to other persons excavating in a public right-of-way. (c) In the exercise of its lawful regulatory authority, a municipality shall promptly process all valid and administratively complete applications of the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority for a permit, license, or consent to excavate, set poles, locate lines, construct facilities, make repairs, affect traffic flow, or obtain zoning or subdivision regulation approvals or other similar approvals. A municipality shall make every reasonable effort not to delay or unduly burden the provider in the timely conduct of the provider's business. (d) If there is an emergency necessitating response work or repair, the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority may begin the repair or emergency response work or take any action required under the circumstances without prior approval from the affected municipality, if the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority notifies the municipality as promptly as possible after beginning the work and later obtains any approval required by a municipal ordinance applicable to emergency response work. (e) The commission shall have no jurisdiction to review such police power-based regulations and ordinances adopted by a municipality to manage the public rights-of-way. Sec. 66.012. INDEMNITY IN CONNECTION WITH RIGHT-OF-WAY; NOTICE OF LIABILITY. (a) The holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority shall indemnify and hold a municipality and its officers and employees harmless against any and all claims, lawsuits, judgments, costs, liens, losses, expenses, fees (including reasonable attorney's fees and costs of defense), proceedings, actions, demands, causes of action, liability, and suits of any kind and nature, including personal or bodily injury (including death), property damage, or other harm for which recovery of damages is sought, that is found by a court of competent jurisdiction to be caused solely by the negligent act, error, or omission of the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority or any agent, officer, director, representative, employee, affiliate, or subcontractor of the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority or their respective officers, agents, employees, directors, or representatives, while installing, repairing, or maintaining facilities in a public right-of-way. The indemnity provided by this subsection does not apply to any liability resulting from the negligence of the municipality or its officers, employees, contractors, or subcontractors. If the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority and the municipality are found jointly liable by a court of competent jurisdiction, liability shall be apportioned comparatively in accordance with the laws of this state without, however, waiving any governmental immunity available to the municipality under state law and without waiving any defenses of the parties under state law. This subsection is solely for the benefit of the municipality and the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority and does not create or grant any rights, contractual or otherwise, for or to any other person or entity. (b) The holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority and a municipality shall promptly advise the other in writing of any known claim or demand against the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority or the municipality related to or arising out of the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority's activities in a public right-of-way. (c) The commission shall have no jurisdiction to review such police power-based regulations and ordinances adopted by a municipality to manage the public rights-of-way. Sec. 66.013. MUNICIPAL AUTHORITY. In addition to a municipality's authority to exercise its nondiscriminatory police power with respect to public rights-of-way under current law, a municipality's authority to regulate the holder of state-issued certificate of franchise authority is limited to: (1) a requirement that the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority who is providing cable service or video service within the municipality register with the municipality and maintain a point of contact; (2) the establishment of reasonable guidelines regarding the use of public, educational, and governmental access channels; and (3) submitting reports within 30 days on the customer service standards referenced in Section 66.008 if the provider is subject to those standards and has continued and unresolved customer service complaints indicating a clear failure on the part of the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority to comply with the standards. Sec. 66.014. DISCRIMINATION PROHIBITED. (a) The purpose of this section is to prevent discrimination among potential residential subscribers. (b) A cable service provider or video service provider that has been granted a state-issued certificate of franchise authority may not deny access to service to any group of potential residential subscribers because of the income of the residents in the local area in which such group resides. (c) An affected person may seek enforcement of the requirements described by Subsection (b) by initiating a proceeding with the commission. A municipality within which the potential residential cable service or video service subscribers referenced in Subsection (b) may be considered an affected person for purposes of this section. (d) The holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority shall have a reasonable period of time to become capable of providing cable service or video service to all households within the designated franchise area as defined in Section 66.003(b)(4) and may satisfy the requirements of this section through the use of an alternative technology that provides comparable content, service, and functionality. (e) Notwithstanding any provision of this chapter, the commission has the authority to make the determination regarding the comparability of the technology and the service provided. Notwithstanding any provision of this chapter, the commission has the authority to monitor the deployment of cable services, video services, or alternate technology. Sec. 66.015. COMPLIANCE. (a) Should the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority be found by a court of competent jurisdiction to be in noncompliance with the requirements of this chapter, the court shall order the holder a state-issued certificate of franchise authority, within a specified reasonable period of time, to cure such noncompliance. Failure to comply shall subject the holder of the state-issued franchise of franchise authority to penalties as the court shall reasonably impose, up to and including revocation of the state-issued certificate of franchise authority granted under this chapter. (b) A municipality within which the provider offers cable service or video service shall be an appropriate party in any such litigation. Sec. 66.016. APPLICABILITY OF OTHER LAWS. (a) Nothing in this chapter shall be interpreted to prevent a voice provider, cable service provider or video service provider, or municipality from seeking clarification of its rights and obligations under federal law or to exercise any right or authority under federal or state law. (b) Nothing in this chapter shall limit the ability of a municipality under existing law to receive compensation for use of the public rights-of-way from entities determined not to be subject to all or part of this chapter, including but not limited to provider of Internet protocol cable or video services, unless such payments are expressly prohibited by federal law. Sec. 66.017. STUDY. (a) The telecommunications competitiveness legislative oversight committee shall conduct a joint interim study with the commission regarding the following: (1) appropriate alternative forms of competitively neutral compensation methodology that should flow to municipalities from all sources related to the provision of information services, telecommunication services, cable services, and video services; (2) right-of-way access and fees; (3) the transition from local franchise authority to state-issued authority, including methods to maintain current municipal revenue streams, including franchise fees and in-kind contributions; continuation of public, educational, and governmental access channels; and build-out requirements; and (4) other relevant issues. (b) The committee shall report its findings to the lieutenant governor and speaker of the House of Representatives no later than December 31, 2006. (c) This section expires January 1, 2007. SECTION 28. Section 283.002, Local Government Code, is amended by amending Subdivision (2) and adding Subdivision (7) to read as follows: (2) "Certificated telecommunications provider" means a person who has been issued a certificate of convenience and necessity, certificate of operating authority, or service provider certificate of operating authority by the commission to offer local exchange telephone service or a person who provides voice service. (7) "Voice service" means voice communications services provided through wireline facilities located at least in part in the public right-of-way, without regard to the delivery technology, including Internet protocol technology. The term does not include voice service provided by a commercial mobile service provider as defined by 47 U.S.C. Section 332(d). SECTION 29. The following provisions of the Utilities Code are repealed: (1) Subchapters B through F, Chapter 62; and (2) Chapters 61 and 63. SECTION 30. The Public Utility Commission of Texas shall conduct a study to determine whether Title 2, Utilities Code, adequately preserves customer choice in the Internet-enabled applications employed in association with broadband service and shall report its conclusions and recommendations to the legislature not later than January 1, 2007. The study must include consultation with and comment from all interested parties. SECTION 31. If any provision of this Act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the invalidity does not affect other provisions or applications of this Act that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this Act are declared to be severable. SECTION 32. This Act takes effect September 1, 2005, if it receives a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, as provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution. If this Act does not receive the vote necessary for effect on that date, this Act takes effect on the 91st day after the last day of the legislative session. ______________________________ ______________________________ President of the Senate Speaker of the House

I hereby certify that S.B. No. 5 passed the Senate on August 9, 2005, by the following vote: Yeas 24, Nays 3, one present not voting.______________________________ Secretary of the Senate I hereby certify that S.B. No. 5 passed the House on August 10, 2005, by the following vote: Yeas 144, Nays 1, one present not voting.______________________________ Chief Clerk of the House Approved:______________________________ Date______________________________ Governor79(2) SB 5 - Enrolled version - Bill Text S.B. No. 5 AN ACT

relating to furthering competition in the communications industry. BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS: SECTION 1. Section 33.001, Utilities Code, is amended to read as follows: Sec. 33.001. MUNICIPAL JURISDICTION. (a) To provide fair, just, and reasonable rates and adequate and efficient services, the governing body of a municipality has exclusive original jurisdiction over the rates, operations, and services of an electric utility in areas in the municipality, subject to the limitations imposed by this title. (b) Notwithstanding Subsection (a), the governing body of a municipality shall not have jurisdiction over the BPL system, BPL services, telecommunications using BPL services, or the rates, operations, or services of the electric utility or transmission and distribution utility to the extent that such rates, operations, or services are related, wholly or partly, to the construction, maintenance, or operation of a BPL system used to provide BPL services to affiliated or unaffiliated entities. SECTION 2. Subtitle B, Title 2, Utilities Code, is amended by adding Chapter 43 to read as follows:CHAPTER 43. USE OF ELECTRIC DELIVERY SYSTEM FOR ACCESS TO BROADBAND AND OTHER ENHANCED SERVICES, INCLUDING COMMUNICATIONS

SUBCHAPTER A. GENERAL PROVISIONS

Sec. 43.001. LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS. (a) The legislature finds that broadband over power lines, also known as BPL, is an emerging technology platform that offers a means of providing broadband services to reach homes and businesses. BPL services can also be used to enhance existing electric delivery systems, which can result in improved service and reliability for electric customers. (b) The legislature finds that access to quality, high speed broadband services is important to this state. BPL deployment in Texas has the potential to extend broadband service to customers where broadband access is currently not available and may provide an additional option for existing broadband consumers in Texas, resulting in a more competitive market for broadband services. The legislature further finds that BPL development in Texas is fully dependent upon the participation of electric utilities in this state that own and operate power lines and related facilities that are necessary for the construction of BPL systems and the provision of BPL services. (c) Consistent with the goal of increasing options for telecommunications in this state, the legislature finds that it is in the public interest to encourage the deployment of BPL by permitting affiliates of the electric utility, or permitting unaffiliated entities, to own or operate all or a portion of such BPL systems. The purpose of this chapter is to provide the appropriate framework to support the deployment of BPL. (d) The legislature finds that an electric utility may choose to implement BPL under the procedures set forth in this chapter, but is not required to do so. The electric utility shall have the right to decide, in its sole discretion, whether to implement BPL and may not be penalized for deciding to implement or not to implement BPL. Sec. 43.002. APPLICABILITY. (a) This chapter applies to an electric utility whether or not the electric utility is offering customer choice under Chapter 39. (b) If there is a conflict between the specific provisions of this chapter and any other provisions of this title, the provisions of this chapter control. (c) No provision of this title shall impose an obligation on an electric utility to implement BPL, to provide broadband services, or to allow others to install BPL facilities or use the electric utility's facilities for the provision of broadband services. Sec. 43.003. DEFINITIONS. In this chapter: (1) "BPL," "broadband over power lines," and "BPL services" mean the provision of broadband services over electric power lines and related facilities, whether above ground or in underground conduit. (2) "BPL access" means the ability to access broadband services via a BPL operator or BPL Internet service provider. (3) "BPL operator" means an entity that owns or operates a BPL system on the electric power lines and related facilities of an electric utility. (4) "BPL Internet service provider" and "BPL ISP" mean an entity that provides Internet services to others on a wholesale basis or to end-use customers on a retail basis. (5) "BPL system" means the materials, equipment, and other facilities installed on electric utility property to facilitate the provision of BPL services. (6) "BPL electric utility applications" means services and technologies that are used and useful and designed to improve the operational performance and service reliability of an electric utility including, but not limited to, automated meter reading, real time system monitoring and meter control, remote service control, outage detection and restoration, predictive maintenance and diagnostics, and monitoring and enhancement of power quality. (7) "Electric delivery system" means the power lines and related transmission and distribution facilities used by an electric utility to deliver electric energy. (8) "Electric utility" shall include an electric utility and a transmission and distribution utility as defined in Section 31.002(6) or (19).[Sections 43.004-43.050 reserved for expansion]

SUBCHAPTER B. DEVELOPMENT OF BPL SYSTEMS

Sec. 43.051. AUTHORIZATION FOR BPL SYSTEM. An affiliate of an electric utility or a person unaffiliated with an electric utility may own, construct, maintain, and operate a BPL system and provide BPL services on an electric utility's electric delivery system consistent with the requirements of this chapter. Nothing in this chapter shall prohibit an entity defined in Section 11.003(9) from providing BPL service or owning and operating a BPL system. Nothing in this chapter shall prohibit an electric utility from providing construction or maintenance services to a BPL operator or BPL ISP provided that the costs of these services are properly accounted for between the electric utility and the BPL operator or BPL ISP. Sec. 43.052. OWNERSHIP AND OPERATION OF BPL SYSTEM. (a) An electric utility may elect to: (1) allow an affiliate to own or operate a BPL system on the utility's electric delivery system; (2) allow an unaffiliated entity to own or operate a BPL system on the electric utility's electric delivery system; or (3) allow an affiliate or unaffiliated entity to provide Internet service over a BPL system. (b) The BPL operator and the electric utility shall determine what BPL Internet service providers may have access to broadband capacity on the BPL system. Sec. 43.053. FEES AND CHARGES. (a) An electric utility that allows an affiliate or an unaffiliated entity to own a BPL system on the electric utility's electric delivery system shall charge the owner of the BPL system for the use of the electric utility's electric delivery system. (b) An electric utility may pay a BPL owner, a BPL operator, or a BPL ISP for the use of the BPL system required to operate BPL utility applications. (c) If all or part of a BPL system is installed on poles or other structures of a telecommunications utility as that term is defined in Section 51.002, the owner of the BPL system shall be required to pay the telecommunications utility an annual fee consistent with the usual and customary charges for access to the space occupied by that portion of the BPL system so installed. (d) Notwithstanding Subsections (a)-(c): (1) an electric utility may not charge an affiliate under this section an amount less than the electric utility would charge an unaffiliated entity for the same item or class of items; (2) an electric utility may not pay an affiliate under this section an amount more than the affiliate would charge an unaffiliated entity for the same item or class of items; and (3) an electric utility or an affiliate of an electric utility may not discriminate against a retail electric provider that is not affiliated with the utility in the terms or availability of BPL services. Sec. 43.054. NO ADDITIONAL EASEMENTS OR CONSIDERATION REQUIRED. Because BPL systems provide benefits to electric delivery systems, the installation of a BPL system on an electric delivery system shall not require the electric utility or the owner of the BPL system or an entity defined in Section 11.003(9) to obtain or expand easements or other rights-of-way for the BPL system or to give additional consideration as a result of the installation or the operation of a BPL system. For purposes of this section, installation of a BPL system shall be deemed to be consistent with installation of an electric delivery system. Sec. 43.055. RELIABILITY OF ELECTRIC SYSTEMS MAINTAINED. An electric utility that allows the installation and operation of a BPL system on its electric delivery system shall employ all reasonable measures to ensure that the operation of the BPL system does not interfere with or diminish the reliability of the utility's electric delivery system. Should a disruption in the provision of electric service occur, the electric utility shall be governed by the terms and conditions of the retail electric delivery service tariff. At all times, the provision of broadband services shall be secondary to the reliable provision of electric delivery services.[Sections 43.056-43.100 reserved for expansion]

SUBCHAPTER C. IMPLEMENTATION OF BPL SYSTEM BY

ELECTRIC UTILITY

Sec. 43.101. PARTICIPATION BY ELECTRIC UTILITY. (a) An electric utility, through an affiliate or through an unaffiliated entity, may elect to install and operate a BPL system on some or all of its electric delivery system in any part or all of its certificated service area. (b) The installation, operation, and use of a BPL system and the provision of BPL services shall not be regulated by any state agency, a municipality, or local government other than as provided for in this chapter. (c) The commission or a state or local government or a regulatory or quasi-governmental or a quasi-regulatory authority may not: (1) require an electric utility, either through an affiliate or an unaffiliated entity, to install a BPL system on its power lines or offer BPL services in all or any part of the electric utility's certificated service area; (2) require an electric utility to allow others to install a BPL system on the utility's electric delivery system in any part or all of the electric utility's certificated service area; or (3) prohibit an electric utility from having an affiliate or unaffiliated entity install a BPL system or offering BPL services in any part or all of the electric utility's certificated service area. (d) If a municipality or local government is already collecting a charge or fee from the electric utility for the use of the public rights-of-way for the delivery of electricity to retail electric customers, the municipality or local government is prohibited from requiring a franchise or an amendment to a franchise or from requiring a charge, fee, or tax from any entity for use of the public rights-of-way for a BPL system. (e) The state or a municipality may impose a charge on the provision of BPL services, but the charge may not be greater than the lowest charge that the state or municipality imposes on other providers of broadband services for use of the public rights-of-way in its respective jurisdiction. Sec. 43.102. COST RECOVERY FOR DEPLOYMENT OF BPL AND UTILITY APPLICATIONS. (a) Where an electric utility permits the installation of a BPL system on its electric delivery system under Section 43.052(a), the electric utility's investment in that BPL system to directly support the BPL electric utility applications and other BPL services consumed by the electric utility that are used and useful in providing electric utility service shall be eligible for inclusion in the electric utility's invested capital, and any fees or operating expenses that are reasonable and necessary shall be eligible for inclusion as operating expenses for purposes of any proceeding under Chapter 36. The invested capital and expenses described in this section must be allocated to the customer classes directly receiving the services. (b) In any proceeding under Chapter 36, just and reasonable charges for the use of the electric utility's electric delivery system by a BPL owner or operator shall be limited to the usual and customary pole attachment charges paid to the electric utility for comparable space by cable television operators. (c) The revenues of an affiliated BPL operator or an affiliated BPL ISP shall not be deemed the revenues of an electric utility for purposes of setting rates under Chapter 36.[Sections 43.103-43.150 reserved for expansion]

SUBCHAPTER D. MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS

Sec. 43.151. AFFILIATES OF ELECTRIC UTILITY. (a) Subject to the limitations of this chapter, an electric utility may have a full or partial ownership interest in a BPL operator or a BPL ISP. Whether a BPL operator or a BPL ISP is an affiliate of the electric utility shall be determined under Section 11.003(2) or Section 11.006. (b) Neither a BPL operator nor a BPL ISP shall be considered a "competitive affiliate" of an electric utility as that term is defined in Section 39.157. Sec. 43.152. COMPLIANCE WITH FEDERAL LAW. BPL operators shall comply with all applicable federal laws, including those protecting licensed spectrum users from interference by BPL systems. The operator of a radio frequency device shall be required to cease operating the device upon notification by a Federal Communications Commission or Public Utilities Commission representative that the device is causing harmful interference. Operation shall not resume until the condition causing the harmful interference has been corrected. SECTION 3. Section 52.155, Utilities Code, is amended by amending Subsection (a) and adding Subsection (c) to read as follows: (a) A telecommunications utility that holds a certificate of operating authority or a service provider certificate of operating authority may not charge a higher amount for originating or terminating intrastate switched access than the prevailing rates charged by the holder of the certificate of convenience and necessity or the holder of a certificate of operating authority issued under Chapter 65 in whose territory the call originated or terminated unless: (1) the commission specifically approves the higher rate; or (2) subject to commission review, the telecommunications utility establishes statewide average composite originating and terminating intrastate switched access rates based on a reasonable approximation of traffic originating and terminating between all holders of certificates of convenience and necessity in this state. (c) Notwithstanding Subsection (a), Chapter 65 governs the switched access rates of a company that holds a certificate of operating authority issued under Chapter 65. SECTION 4. Subchapter D, Chapter 52, Utilities Code, is amended by adding Section 52.156 to read as follows: Sec. 52.156. RETAIL RATES, TERMS, AND CONDITIONS. A telecommunications utility may not: (1) establish a retail rate, term, or condition that is anticompetitive or unreasonably preferential, prejudicial, or discriminatory; or (2) engage in predatory pricing or attempt to engage in predatory pricing. SECTION 5. Section 54.202, Utilities Code, is amended by adding Subsection (c) to read as follows: (c) This section may not be construed to prevent a municipally owned utility from providing to its energy customers, either directly or indirectly, any energy related service involving the transfer or receipt of information or data concerning the use, measurement, monitoring, or management of energy utility services provided by the municipally owned utility, including services such as load management or automated meter reading. SECTION 6. Subsections (a), (b), and (c), Section 54.204, Utilities Code, are amended to read as follows: (a) Notwithstanding Section 14.008, a municipality or a municipally owned utility may not discriminate against a certificated telecommunications provider [telecommunications utility] regarding: (1) the authorization or placement of a [telecommunications] facility in a public right-of-way; (2) access to a building; or (3) a municipal utility pole attachment rate or term[, to the extent not addressed by federal law]. (b) In granting consent, a franchise, or a permit for the use of a public street, alley, or right-of-way within its municipal boundaries, a municipality or municipally owned utility may not discriminate in favor of or against a certificated telecommunications provider [telecommunications utility that holds or has applied for a certificate of convenience and necessity, a certificate of operating authority, or a service provider certificate of operating authority] regarding: (1) municipal utility pole attachment or underground conduit rates or terms[, to the extent not addressed by federal law]; or (2) the authorization, placement, replacement, or removal of a [telecommunications] facility in a public right-of-way and the reasonable compensation for the authorization, placement, replacement, or removal regardless of whether the compensation is in the form of: (A) money; (B) services; (C) use of facilities; or (D) another kind of consideration. (c) A municipality or a municipally owned [Notwithstanding Subsection (b)(1), a municipal] utility may not charge any entity, regardless of the nature of the services provided by that entity, a pole attachment rate or underground conduit rate that exceeds the fee the municipality or municipally owned utility would be permitted to charge under rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission under 47 U.S.C. Section 224(e) if the municipality's or municipally owned utility's rates were regulated under federal law and the rules of the Federal Communications Commission. In addition, not later than September 1, 2006, a municipality or municipally owned utility shall charge a single, uniform pole attachment or underground conduit rate to all entities that are not affiliated with the municipality or municipally owned utility regardless of the services carried over the networks attached to the poles or underground conduit. SECTION 7. Section 54.251, Utilities Code, is amended by amending Subsection (b) and adding Subsection (c) to read as follows: (b) Except as specifically determined otherwise by the commission under this subchapter or Subchapter G, the holder of a certificate of convenience and necessity, or the holder of a certificate of operating authority issued under Chapter 65, for an area has the obligations of a provider of last resort regardless of whether another provider has a certificate of operating authority or service provider certificate of operating authority for that area. (c) A certificate holder may meet the holder's provider of last resort obligations using any available technology. Notwithstanding any provision of Chapter 56, the commission may adjust disbursements from the universal service fund to companies using technologies other than traditional wireline or landline technologies to meet provider of last resort obligations. As determined by the commission, the certificate holder shall meet minimum quality of service standards, including standards for 911 service, comparable to those established for traditional wireline or landline technologies and shall offer services at a price comparable to the monthly service charge for comparable services in that exchange or the provider's nearest exchange. SECTION 8. Subchapter G, Chapter 54, Utilities Code, is amended by adding Section 54.3015 to read as follows: Sec. 54.3015. APPLICABILITY OF SUBCHAPTER. This subchapter applies to a holder of a certificate of operating authority issued under Chapter 65 in the same manner and to the same extent this subchapter applies to a holder of a certificate of convenience and necessity. SECTION 9. Section 55.015, Utilities Code, is amended by amending Subsections (a), (c), and (d) and adding Subsections (b-1), (d-1), and (d-2) to read as follows: (a) The commission shall adopt rules prohibiting a certificated provider of local exchange telephone service[telecommunications provider] from discontinuing basic network services listed in Section 58.051 [local exchange telephone service] to a consumer who receives lifeline service because of nonpayment by the consumer of charges for other services billed by the provider, including interexchange telecommunications [long distance] service. (b-1) The commission shall adopt rules requiring certificated providers of local exchange telephone service to implement procedures to ensure that all consumers are clearly informed both orally and in writing of the existence of the lifeline service program when they request or initiate service or change service locations or providers. On or before June 1, 2006, the commission shall enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Health and Human Services Commission, and, to the maximum extent feasible, housing authorities in the principal cities of each metropolitan statistical area, to improve enrollment rates in the lifeline service program. (c) A certificated provider of local exchange telephone service [telecommunications provider] may block a lifeline service participant's access to all interexchange telecommunications [long distance] service except toll-free numbers when the participant owes an outstanding amount for that service. The provider[telecommunications provider] shall remove the block without additional cost to the participant on payment of the outstanding amount. (d) A certificated provider of local exchange telephone service [telecommunications provider] shall offer a consumer who applies for or receives lifeline service the option of blocking all toll calls or, if technically capable, placing a limit on the amount of toll calls. The provider may not charge the consumer an administrative charge or other additional amount for the blocking service. (d-1) A certificated provider of local exchange telephone service shall provide access to lifeline service to a customer whose income is not more than 150 percent of the applicable income level established by the federal poverty guidelines or in whose household resides a person who receives or has a child who receives: (1) Medicaid; (2) food stamps; (3) Supplemental Security Income; (4) federal public housing assistance; (5) Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) assistance; or (6) health benefits coverage under the state child health plan under Chapter 62, Health and Safety Code. (d-2) A certificated provider of local exchange telephone service shall provide consumers who apply for or receive lifeline service access to available vertical services or custom calling features, including caller ID, call waiting, and call blocking, at the same price as other consumers. Lifeline discounts shall only apply to that portion of the bill that is for basic network service. SECTION 10. Subchapter A, Chapter 55, Utilities Code, is amended by adding Section 55.017 to read as follows: Sec. 55.017. IDENTIFICATION REQUIRED. (a) A representative of a telecommunications provider or a video or cable service provider that has an easement in or a right-of-way over or through real property must show proof of identification to the owner of the real property when entering the property if requested by the owner. (b) This section does not apply to regularly scheduled service readings or examinations. SECTION 11. Subchapter H, Chapter 55, Utilities Code, is amended by adding Section 55.1735 to read as follows: Sec. 55.1735. CHARGE FOR PAY PHONE ACCESS LINE. The charge or surcharge a local exchange company imposes for an access line used to provide pay telephone service in an exchange may not exceed the amount of the charge or surcharge the company imposes for an access line used for regular business purposes in that exchange. SECTION 12. Section 56.021, Utilities Code, is amended to read as follows: Sec. 56.021. UNIVERSAL SERVICE FUND ESTABLISHED. The commission shall adopt and enforce rules requiring local exchange companies to establish a universal service fund to: (1) assist telecommunications providers in providing basic local telecommunications service at reasonable rates in high cost rural areas; (2) reimburse the telecommunications carrier that provides the statewide telecommunications relay access service under Subchapter D; (3) finance the specialized telecommunications assistance program established under Subchapter E; (4) reimburse the department, the Texas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and the commission for costs incurred in implementing this chapter and Chapter 57; (5) reimburse a telecommunications carrier providing lifeline service as provided by 47 C.F.R. Part 54, Subpart E, as amended; (6) finance the implementation and administration of an integrated eligibility process created under Section 17.007 for customer service discounts relating to telecommunications services, including outreach expenses the commission determines are reasonable and necessary; (7) reimburse a designated provider under Subchapter F; [and] (8) reimburse a successor utility under Subchapter G; and (9) finance the program established under Subchapter H. SECTION 13. Subsection (a), Section 56.025, Utilities Code, is amended to read as follows: (a) In addition to the authority provided by Section 56.021, for each local exchange company that serves fewer than 31,000 [five million] access lines and each cooperative, the commission: (1) may adopt a mechanism necessary to maintain reasonable rates for local exchange telephone service; and (2) shall adopt rules to expand the universal service fund in the circumstances prescribed by this section. SECTION 14. Section 56.026, Utilities Code, is amended by adding Subsection (e) to read as follows: (e) This subsection and Subsections (c) and (d) expire August 31, 2007. SECTION 15. Subchapter B, Chapter 56, Utilities Code, is amended by adding Sections 56.029, 56.030, and 56.031 to read as follows: Sec. 56.029. UNIVERSAL SERVICE FUND STUDY; ATTESTATION REQUIREMENT. (a) The commission shall conduct a review and evaluation of whether the universal service fund accomplishes the fund's purposes as prescribed by Section 56.021 and the commission's final orders issued in Docket No. 18515 and Docket No. 18516. The evaluation shall determine whether the fund's purposes have been sufficiently achieved, whether the fund should be abolished or phased out, whether the fund should be brought within the state treasury, and whether the entities receiving those funds are spending the money for its intended purposes. The evaluation must include a forward-looking, comprehensive assessment of the appropriate use of the money in the fund and the manner in which that money is collected and disbursed. (b) Not later than January 1, 2006, the commission shall require telecommunications providers receiving disbursements under the universal service fund to provide to the commission the information that the commission determines is necessary to discharge the commission's duties under this section, including information necessary to review and evaluate how money is collected for the universal service fund and expended. (c) Information provided under Subsection (b) is confidential and is not subject to disclosure under Chapter 552, Government Code. (d) The commission may classify telecommunications providers as the commission considers appropriate for efficiency and may permit providers to share the cost of developing information the commission determines is necessary to discharge the commission's responsibilities under this section. (e) Not later than January 5, 2007, the commission shall deliver to the legislature a report for the legislature's revision and approval on the results of the review and evaluation. The report must: (1) include recommendations that are consistent with the policies provided by this title; (2) include the commission's assessment of the universal service fund, including: (A) how the money in the fund should be collected; (B) how the money in the fund should be disbursed and the purposes for which the money should be used by the telecommunications provider receiving the money; and (C) any recommendations the commission has in relation to accountability for use of the money in the fund, including the usefulness of the attestation required by Subsection (g); and (3) include recommendations that ensure that a telecommunications provider's support from the universal service fund for a geographic area is consistent with Section 56.021 and the commission's final orders issued in Docket No. 18515 and Docket No. 18516. (f) The evaluation shall determine whether the fund's purposes have been sufficiently achieved, whether the fund should be abolished or phased out, whether the fund should be brought within the state treasury, and whether the entities receiving those funds are spending the money for its intended purposes. (g) Not later than December 31, 2005, each telecommunications provider receiving universal service fund money shall file with the commission an affidavit attesting that the money from the fund has been used in a manner that is consistent with the purposes provided by Section 56.021 and the commission's final orders issued in Docket No. 18515 and Docket No. 18516. (h) In addition to the study required by this section, the commission shall compile information necessary to determine whether the current funding mechanism for the universal service fund will be adequate in the future to sustain the purposes for which the fund was created considering the development of new technologies that are not subject to the existing funding mechanism and the shift in jurisdictional control from this state to the federal government. The commission shall also review and make recommendations on any mechanisms adopted under Section 56.025. Not later than January 5, 2007, the commission shall deliver to the legislature a report on these issues. If the commission determines that the existing funding mechanism is not adequate, or proposes to change the manner or level of current funding, the commission must include recommendations for alternative funding and basic service pricing methods that will be adequate and are consistent with a policy of technology and competitive neutrality in the assessment of fees and other state-imposed economic burdens. (i) This section expires September 1, 2007. Sec. 56.030. AFFIDAVITS OF COMPLIANCE. On or before September 1 of each year, a telecommunications provider that receives disbursements from the universal service fund shall file with the commission an affidavit certifying that the telecommunications provider is in compliance with the requirements for receiving money from the universal service fund and requirements regarding the use of money from each universal service fund program for which the telecommunications provider receives disbursements. Sec. 56.031. ADJUSTMENTS. The commission may revise the monthly per line support amounts to be made available from the Texas High Cost Universal Service Plan and from the Small and Rural Incumbent Local Exchange Company Universal Service Plan at any time after September 1, 2007, after notice and an opportunity for hearing. In determining appropriate monthly per line support amounts, the commission shall consider the adequacy of basic rates to support universal service. SECTION 16. Subchapter B, Chapter 56, Utilities Code, is amended by adding Section 56.032 to read as follows: Sec. 56.032. COMMISSION REVIEW AND EVALUATION OF DISTANCE LEARNING DISCOUNTS AND PRIVATE NETWORK SERVICES FOR CERTAIN ENTITIES. (a) On or before October 1, 2005, the commission shall initiate a study for the purpose of evaluating a new funding mechanism to provide financial support to all telecommunications utilities that provide discounts or private network services at prescribed rates to the entities identified in Subchapter B, Chapter 57, Subchapter G, Chapter 58, and Subchapter D, Chapter 59. (b) The study must include an evaluation of alternative sources of funding such support, including utilizing federal E-rate funding, and an evaluation of alternative funding mechanisms that would result in support being made available to all telecommunications utilities on a nondiscriminatory basis and on a technology neutral basis in exchange for providing services at rates comparable to those preferred rates being paid by the entities identified under Subchapter B, Chapter 57, Subchapter G, Chapter 58, and Subchapter D, Chapter 59, provisions. (c) The commission shall conduct necessary proceedings to evaluate the appropriate funding mechanism and the appropriate method for determining the amount of support to be made available to telecommunications utilities that provide discounts to entities listed in Subsection (b). (d) On or before November 15, 2006, the commission shall issue a report to the speaker of the house of representatives and the lieutenant governor on the viability of establishing a new program or funding mechanism through which support shall be funded and disbursed in exchange for providing discounts to the entities listed in Subsection (b). The commission shall include in the report its findings regarding the cost of any new funding mechanism, the benefit of establishing a new program or funding mechanism, and any other relevant information the commission deems appropriate to assist the legislature in its review of discounts for distance learning and private network services. (e) This section expires September 1, 2007. SECTION 17. Chapter 56, Utilities Code, is amended by adding Subchapter H to read as follows:SUBCHAPTER H. AUDIO NEWSPAPER PROGRAM

Sec. 56.301. AUDIO NEWSPAPER ASSISTANCE PROGRAM. The commission by rule shall establish a program to provide from the universal service fund financial assistance for a free telephone service for blind and visually impaired persons that offers the text of newspapers using synthetic speech. The commission may adopt rules to implement the program. SECTION 18. Section 58.051, Utilities Code, is amended by amending Subsection (a) and adding Subsections (a-1), (c), and (d) to read as follows: (a) Unless reclassified under Section 58.024, the following services are basic network services: (1) flat rate residential local exchange telephone service, including primary directory listings and the receipt of a directory and any applicable mileage or zone charges; (2) residential tone dialing service; (3) lifeline and tel-assistance service; (4) service connection for basic residential services; (5) direct inward dialing service for basic residential services; (6) private pay telephone access service; (7) call trap and trace service; (8) access for all residential and business end users to 911 service provided by a local authority and access to dual party relay service; (9) mandatory residential extended area service arrangements; and (10) mandatory residential extended metropolitan service or other mandatory residential toll-free calling arrangements[; and [(11) residential call waiting service]. (a-1) Notwithstanding Subsection (a) and Section 58.151, basic network services include residential caller identification services if the customer to whom the service is billed is at least 65 years of age. (c) At the election of the affected incumbent local exchange company, the price for basic network service shall also include the fees and charges for any mandatory extended area service arrangements, mandatory expanded toll-free calling plans, and any other service included in the definition of basic network service. (d) A nonpermanent expanded toll-free local calling service surcharge established by the commission to recover the costs of mandatory expanded toll-free local calling service: (1) is considered a part of basic network service; (2) may not be aggregated under Subsection (c); and (3) continues to be transitioned in accordance with commission orders and substantive rules. SECTION 19. Section 58.151, Utilities Code, is amended to read as follows: Sec. 58.151. SERVICES INCLUDED. The following services are classified as nonbasic services: (1) flat rate business local exchange telephone service, including primary directory listings and the receipt of a directory, and any applicable mileage or zone charges, except that the prices for this service shall be capped until September 1, 2005, at the prices in effect on September 1, 1999; (2) business tone dialing service, except that the prices for this service shall be capped until September 1, 2005, at the prices in effect on September 1, 1999; (3) service connection for all business services, except that the prices for this service shall be capped until September 1, 2005, at the prices in effect on September 1, 1999; (4) direct inward dialing for basic business services, except that the prices for this service shall be capped until September 1, 2005, at the prices in effect on September 1, 1999; (5) "1-plus" intraLATA message toll services; (6) 0+ and 0- operator services; (7) call waiting, call forwarding, and custom calling, except that: (A) residential call waiting service shall be classified as a basic network service until July 1, 2006; and (B) for an electing company subject to Section 58.301, prices for residential call forwarding and other custom calling services shall be capped at the prices in effect on September 1, 1999, until the electing company implements the reduction in switched access rates described by Section 58.301(2); (8) call return, caller identification, and call control options, except that, for an electing company subject to Section 58.301, prices for residential call return, caller identification, and call control options shall be capped at the prices in effect on September 1, 1999, until the electing company implements the reduction in switched access rates described by Section 58.301(2); (9) central office based PBX-type services; (10) billing and collection services, including installment billing and late payment charges for customers of the electing company; (11) integrated services digital network (ISDN) services, except that prices for Basic Rate Interface (BRI) ISDN services, which comprise up to two 64 Kbps B-channels and one 16 Kbps D-channel, shall be capped until September 1, 2005, at the prices in effect on September 1, 1999; (12) new services; (13) directory assistance services, except that an electing company shall provide to a residential customer the first three directory assistance inquiries in a monthly billing cycle at no charge until July 1, 2006; (14) services described in the WATS tariff as the tariff existed on January 1, 1995; (15) 800 and foreign exchange services; (16) private line service; (17) special access service; (18) services from public pay telephones; (19) paging services and mobile services (IMTS); (20) 911 services provided to a local authority that are available from another provider; (21) speed dialing; (22) three-way calling; and (23) all other services subject to the commission's jurisdiction that are not specifically classified as basic network services in Section 58.051, except that nothing in this section shall preclude a customer from subscribing to a local flat rate residential or business line for a computer modem or a facsimile machine. SECTION 20. Subsection (a), Section 58.258, Utilities Code, is amended to read as follows: (a) Notwithstanding the pricing flexibility authorized by this subtitle, an electing company's rates for private network services may not be increased [on or] before January 1, 2012 [the sixth anniversary of the company's date of election]. However, an electing company may increase a rate in accordance with the provisions of a customer specific contract. SECTION 21. Subchapter G, Chapter 58, Utilities Code, is amended by adding Section 58.268 to read as follows: Sec. 58.268. CONTINUATION OF OBLIGATION. Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, an electing company shall continue to comply with this subchapter until January 1, 2012, regardless of: (1) the date the company elected under this chapter; or (2) any action taken in relation to that company under Chapter 65. SECTION 22. Subsection (a), Section 59.077, Utilities Code, is amended to read as follows: (a) Notwithstanding the pricing flexibility authorized by this subtitle, an electing company's rates for private network services may not be increased [on or] before January 1, 2012 [the sixth anniversary of the company's election date]. SECTION 23. Subchapter D, Chapter 59, Utilities Code, is amended by adding Section 59.083 to read as follows: Sec. 59.083. CONTINUATION OF OBLIGATION. Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, an electing company shall continue to comply with this subchapter until January 1, 2012, regardless of: (1) the date the company elected under this chapter; or (2) any action taken in relation to that company under Chapter 65. SECTION 24. Chapter 60, Utilities Code, is amended by adding Subchapter J to read as follows:SUBCHAPTER J. WHOLESALE CODE OF CONDUCT

Sec. 60.201. STATEMENT OF POLICY. It is the policy of this state that providers of telecommunications services operate in a manner that is consistent with minimum standards to provide customers with continued competitive choices. Sec. 60.202. APPLICABILITY OF SUBCHAPTER. A provision of this subchapter applies only to the extent the provision has not been preempted by federal law or a rule, regulation, or order of the Federal Communications Commission. Sec. 60.203. MINIMUM SERVICE REQUIREMENTS. A telecommunications provider may not unreasonably: (1) discriminate against another provider by refusing access to an exchange; (2) refuse or delay an interconnection to another provider; (3) degrade the quality of access the telecommunications provider provides to another provider; (4) impair the speed, quality, or efficiency of a line used by another provider; (5) fail to fully disclose in a timely manner on request all available information necessary to design equipment that will meet the specifications of the network; or (6) refuse or delay access by a person to another provider. Sec. 60.204. INTERCONNECTION. A telecommunications provider shall provide interconnection with other telecommunications providers' networks for the transmission and routing of telephone exchange service and exchange access. Sec. 60.205. NUMBER PORTABILITY. A telecommunications provider shall provide number portability in accordance with federal requirements. Sec. 60.206. DUTY TO NEGOTIATE. A telecommunications provider shall negotiate in good faith the terms and conditions of any agreement. Sec. 60.207. DIALING PARITY. (a) A telecommunications provider shall provide dialing parity to competing telecommunications providers of telephone exchange service and telephone toll service. (b) A telecommunications provider shall provide nondiscriminatory access to telephone numbers, operator services, directory assistance, and directory listings and may not delay that access unreasonably. Sec. 60.208. ACCESS TO RIGHTS-OF-WAY. A telecommunications provider shall provide access to poles, ducts, conduits, and rights-of-way to competing providers of telecommunications service on rates, terms, and conditions that are just, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory. Sec. 60.209. RECIPROCAL COMPENSATION. A telecommunications provider shall establish reciprocal compensation arrangements for the transport and termination of telecommunications. Sec. 60.210. ACCESS TO SERVICES. A telecommunications provider shall provide access to: (1) 911 and E-911 service; (2) directory assistance service to allow other telecommunications providers' customers to obtain telephone numbers; and (3) operator call completion service. SECTION 25. Subchapter A, Chapter 62, Utilities Code, is amended by adding Section 62.003 to read as follows: Sec. 62.003. REQUIREMENTS RELATING TO AUDIO AND VIDEO PROGRAMMING. (a) This section applies only to a provider of advanced services or local exchange telephone service that has more than 500,000 access lines in service in this state and that delivers audio programming with localized content or video programming to its subscribers in those service areas where such provider is not regulated as a cable system under federal law. (b) Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, a provider of advanced services or local exchange telephone service shall provide subscribers access to the signals of the local broadcast television and radio stations licensed by the Federal Communications Commission to serve those subscribers over the air; provided with respect to low power television stations, this section shall only apply to those low power television stations that are "qualified low power stations" as defined in 47 U.S.C. Section 534(h)(2). (c) To facilitate access by subscribers of a provider of advanced services or local exchange telephone service to the signals of local broadcast stations, a station either shall be granted mandatory carriage or may request retransmission consent with the provider. (d) This title does not require a provider of advanced services or local exchange telephone service to provide a television or radio station valuable consideration in exchange for carriage. (e) A provider of advanced services or local exchange telephone service shall transmit without degradation the signals a local broadcast station delivers to the provider. The transmission quality offered a broadcast station may not be lower than the quality made available to another broadcast station or video or audio programming source. (f) A provider of advanced services or local exchange telephone service that delivers audio or video programming to its subscribers may not: (1) discriminate among broadcast stations or between broadcast stations on the one hand and programming providers on the other with respect to transmission of their signals, taking into account any consideration afforded a provider of advanced services or local exchange telephone service by any such programming provider or broadcast station; or (2) delete, change, or alter a copyright identification transmitted as part of a broadcast station's signal. (g) A provider of advanced services or local exchange telephone service that delivers audio or video programming shall be subject to any applicable network nonduplication or syndicated exclusivity rules promulgated by the Federal Communications Commission to the extent applicable to cable systems as defined by the commission. (h) A provider of advanced services or local exchange telephone service that delivers audio or video programming to its subscribers shall include all programming providers in a subscriber programming guide, if any, that lists program schedules. SECTION 26. Subtitle C, Title 2, Utilities Code, is amended by adding Chapter 65 to read as follows:CHAPTER 65. DEREGULATION OF CERTAIN INCUMBENT LOCAL EXCHANGE COMPANY MARKETS

SUBCHAPTER A. GENERAL PROVISIONS

Sec. 65.001. STATEMENT OF POLICY. It is the policy of this state to provide for full rate and service competition in the telecommunications market of this state so that customers may benefit from innovations in service quality and market-based pricing. Sec. 65.002. DEFINITIONS. In this chapter: (1) "Deregulated company" means an incumbent local exchange company for which all of the company's markets have been deregulated. (2) "Market" means an exchange in which an incumbent local exchange company provides residential local exchange telephone service. (3) "Regulated company" means an incumbent local exchange company for which none of the company's markets have been deregulated. (4) "Stand-alone residential local exchange voice service" means: (A) residential tone dialing service; (B) services and functionalities supported under the lifeline program; (C) access for all residential end users to 911 service provided by a local authority and access to dual party relay service; (D) at the election of the incumbent local exchange company, mandatory residential extended area service arrangements, mandatory residential extended metropolitan service or other mandatory residential toll-free calling arrangements, mandatory expanded local calling service arrangements, or another service that a company is required under a tariff to provide to a customer who subscribes or may subscribe to basic network services; (E) flat rate residential local exchange telephone service delivered by landline, but only if the service is ordered and received independent of: (i) a service classified as a nonbasic service under Section 58.151 or residential call waiting service; (ii) a package of services that includes a service classified as a nonbasic service under Section 58.151; or (iii) another flat rate residential local exchange service delivered by landline; and (F) residential caller identification services if the customer to whom the service is billed is at least 65 years of age. (5) "Transitioning company" means an incumbent local exchange company for which at least one, but not all, of the company's markets has been deregulated. Sec. 65.003. COMMISSION AUTHORITY. (a) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this title, the commission has authority to implement and enforce this chapter. (b) The commission may adopt rules and conduct proceedings necessary to administer and enforce this chapter, including rules to determine whether a market should remain regulated, should be deregulated, or should be reregulated. Sec. 65.004. INFORMATION. (a) The commission may collect and compile information from all telecommunications providers as necessary to implement and enforce this chapter. (b) The commission shall maintain the confidentiality of information collected under this chapter that is claimed to be confidential for competitive purposes. Information that is claimed to be confidential is exempt from disclosure under Chapter 552, Government Code. Sec. 65.005. CUSTOMER PROTECTION. This chapter does not affect a customer's right to complain to the commission regarding a telecommunications provider.[Sections 65.006-65.050 reserved for expansion]

SUBCHAPTER B. DETERMINATION OF WHETHER MARKET SHOULD BE REGULATED

Sec. 65.051. MARKETS DEREGULATED. (a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), all markets of all incumbent local exchange companies are deregulated on January 1, 2006, unless the commission determines under Section 65.052(a) that a market or markets should remain regulated. (b) A market of an incumbent local exchange company in which the population in the area included in the market is less than 30,000 is deregulated on January 1, 2007, unless the commission determines under Section 65.052(f) that the market should remain regulated. Sec. 65.052. DETERMINATION OF WHETHER A MARKET SHOULD REMAIN REGULATED. (a) Except as provided by Subsection (f), the commission shall: (1) determine whether each market of an incumbent local exchange company should remain regulated on and after January 1, 2006; and (2) issue a final order classifying the company in accordance with this section effective January 1, 2006. (b) In making a determination under Subsection (a), the commission may not determine that a market should remain regulated if: (1) the population in the area included in the market is at least 100,000; or (2) the population in the area included in the market is at least 30,000 but less than 100,000 and, in addition to the incumbent local exchange company, there are at least three competitors of which: (A) at least one is a telecommunications provider that holds a certificate of operating authority or service provider certificate of operating authority and provides residential local exchange telephone service in the market; (B) at least one is an entity providing residential telephone service in the market using facilities that the entity or its affiliate owns; and (C) at least one is a provider in that market of commercial mobile service as defined by Section 332(d), Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. Section 151 et seq.), Federal Communications Commission rules, and the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 (Pub. L. No. 103-66), that is not affiliated with the incumbent local exchange company. (c) The commission shall issue an order classifying an incumbent local exchange company as a deregulated company that is subject to Subchapter C if: (1) the company does not have any markets in which the population in the area included in the market is less than 30,000; and (2) the commission does not determine that a market of the company should remain regulated on and after January 1, 2006. (d) Regardless of the population in the area included in an incumbent local exchange company's markets, the commission shall issue an order classifying the company as a transitioning company that is subject to Subchapter D if the commission determines that one or more, but not all, of the markets of the company should remain regulated on and after January 1, 2006. (e) The commission shall issue an order classifying the company as a regulated company that is subject to the provisions of this title that applied to the company on September 1, 2005, if the commission determines that all of the markets of the company in which the population in each area included in the markets is at least 30,000 should remain regulated on and after January 1, 2006. This subsection does not affect the authority of a regulated company to elect under Chapter 58 or 59 after January 1, 2005, and to be regulated under the chapter under which the company elected. (f) Not later than November 30, 2006, the commission shall determine whether a market of an incumbent local exchange company in which the population in the area included in the market is less than 30,000 should remain regulated on or after January 1, 2007. The commission by rule shall determine the market test to be applied in determining whether the market should remain regulated. If the commission does not determine that the market should remain regulated on or after January 1, 2007, and the deregulation of that market results in a transitioning or regulated company no longer meeting the definition of a transitioning or regulated company, as appropriate, the commission shall issue an order reclassifying the company appropriately. Sec. 65.053. INCUMBENT LOCAL EXCHANGE COMPANY MARKETS. (a) Notwithstanding Section 65.052, an incumbent local exchange company may elect to have all of the company's markets remain regulated on and after January 1, 2006. (b) To make an election under Subsection (a), an incumbent local exchange company must file an affidavit with the commission making that election not later than December 1, 2005. (c) If an incumbent local exchange company makes an election under this section, the commission shall issue an order classifying the company as a regulated company that is subject to the provisions of this title that applied to the company on September 1, 2005. This subsection does not affect the authority of a regulated company to elect under Chapter 58 or 59 after January 1, 2005, and to be regulated under the chapter under which the company elected. Sec. 65.054. PETITION FOR DEREGULATION. (a) After July 1, 2007, a company may petition the commission to deregulate a market that the commission previously determined should remain regulated. (b) If the commission deregulates a market under this section and the deregulation results in the transitioning or regulated company no longer meeting the definition of a transitioning or regulated company, as appropriate, the commission shall issue an order reclassifying the company appropriately. Sec. 65.055. COMMISSION AUTHORITY TO REREGULATE CERTAIN MARKETS. (a) This section applies only to a market of an incumbent local exchange company in which the population in the area included in the market is less than 100,000. (b) The commission, on its own motion or on a complaint that the commission considers to have merit, may determine that a market that was previously deregulated should again be subject to regulation. (c) The commission by rule shall prescribe the procedures and standards applicable to a determination under this section.[Sections 65.056-65.100 reserved for expansion]

SUBCHAPTER C. DEREGULATED COMPANY

Sec. 65.101. ISSUANCE OF CERTIFICATE OF OPERATING AUTHORITY. (a) A deregulated company may petition the commission to relinquish the company's certificate of convenience and necessity and receive a certificate of operating authority. (b) The commission shall issue the deregulated company a certificate of operating authority and rescind the deregulated company's certificate of convenience and necessity if the commission finds that all of the company's markets have been deregulated under Subchapter B. Sec. 65.102. REQUIREMENTS. (a) A deregulated company that holds a certificate of operating authority issued under this subchapter is a nondominant carrier governed in the same manner as a holder of a certificate of operating authority issued under Chapter 54, except that the deregulated company: (1) retains the obligations of a provider of last resort under Chapter 54; (2) is subject to the following provisions in the same manner as an incumbent local exchange company that is not deregulated: (A) Sections 54.156, 54.158, and 54.159; (B) Section 55.012; and (C) Chapter 60; and (3) may not increase the company's rates for stand-alone residential local exchange voice service before the date that the commission has the opportunity to revise the monthly per line support under the Texas High Cost Universal Service Plan pursuant to Section 56.031, regardless of whether the company is an electing company under Chapter 58. (b) In each deregulated market, a deregulated company shall make available to all residential customers uniformly throughout that market the same price, terms, and conditions for all basic and non-basic services, consistent with any pricing flexibility available to such company on or before August 31, 2005.[Sections 65.103-65.150 reserved for expansion]

SUBCHAPTER D. TRANSITIONING COMPANY

Sec. 65.151. PROVISIONS APPLICABLE TO TRANSITIONING COMPANY. A transitioning company is governed by this subchapter and the provisions of this title that applied to the company immediately before the date the company was classified as a transitioning company. If there is a conflict between this subchapter and the other applicable provisions of this title, this subchapter controls. Sec. 65.152. GENERAL REQUIREMENTS. (a) A transitioning company may: (1) exercise pricing flexibility in a market in the manner provided by Section 58.063 one day after providing an informational notice as required by that section; and (2) introduce a new service in a market in the manner provided by Section 58.153 one day after providing an informational notice as required by that section. (b) A transitioning company may not be required to comply with exchange-specific retail quality of service standards or reporting requirements in a market that is deregulated. Sec. 65.153. RATE REQUIREMENTS. (a) In a market that remains regulated, a transitioning company shall price the company's retail services in accordance with the provisions that applied to that company immediately before the date the company was classified as a transitioning company. (b) In a market that is deregulated, a transitioning company shall price the company's retail services as follows: (1) for all services, other than basic local telecommunications service, at any price higher than the service's long run incremental cost; and (2) for basic local telecommunications service, at any price higher than the lesser of the service's long run incremental cost or the tariffed price on the date that market was deregulated, provided that the company may not increase the company's rates for stand-alone residential local exchange voice service before the date that the commission has the opportunity to revise the monthly per line support under the Texas High Cost Universal Service Plan pursuant to Section 56.031, regardless of whether the company is an electing company under Chapter 58. (c) In each deregulated market, a transitioning company shall make available to all residential customers uniformly throughout that market the same price, terms, and conditions for all basic and non-basic services, consistent with any pricing flexibility available to such company on or before August 31, 2005. (d) In any market, regardless of whether regulated or deregulated, the transitioning company may not: (1) establish a retail rate, term, or condition that is anticompetitive or unreasonably preferential, prejudicial, or discriminatory; (2) establish a retail rate for a basic or non-basic service in a deregulated market that is subsidized either directly or indirectly by a basic or non-basic service provided in an exchange that is not deregulated; or (3) engage in predatory pricing or attempt to engage in predatory pricing. (e) A rate that meets the pricing requirements in Subsection (b) shall be deemed compliant with Subsection (d)(2).[Sections 65.154-65.200 reserved for expansion]

SUBCHAPTER E. REDUCTION OF SWITCHED ACCESS RATES

Sec. 65.201. REDUCTION OF SWITCHED ACCESS RATES BY DEREGULATED COMPANY. (a) On the date the last market of an incumbent local exchange company is deregulated, the company shall reduce both the company's originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in each market to parity with the company's respective federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates. (b) After reducing the rates under Subsection (a), a deregulated company shall maintain parity with the company's federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates. If the company's federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates are changed, the company shall change the company's per minute of use switched access rates in each market as necessary to re-achieve parity with the company's federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates. Sec. 65.202. REDUCTION OF SWITCHED ACCESS RATES BY TRANSITIONING COMPANY WITH MORE THAN THREE MILLION ACCESS LINES. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, a transitioning company that has more than three million access lines in service in this state on January 1, 2006, shall: (1) on July 1, 2006, reduce both the company's originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in each market by an amount equal to 33 percent of the difference in the rates in effect on June 30, 2006, and the company's respective federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates; (2) on July 1, 2007, reduce both the company's originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in each market by an amount equal to 33 percent of the difference in the rates in effect on June 30, 2006, and the company's respective federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates; and (3) on July 1, 2008, reduce both the company's originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in each market to parity with the company's respective federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates. (b) After reducing the rates under Subsection (a), a transitioning company shall maintain parity with the company's federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates. If the company's federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates are changed, the company shall change the company's per minute of use switched access rates in each market as necessary to re-achieve parity with the company's federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates. Sec. 65.203. REDUCTION OF SWITCHED ACCESS RATES BY CERTAIN TRANSITIONING COMPANIES WITH NOT MORE THAN THREE MILLION ACCESS LINES. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, a company that is classified as a transitioning company effective January 1, 2006, and that has not more than three million access lines in service in this state on that date shall reduce both the company's originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in each market in accordance with this section. (b) On July 1, 2006, the transitioning company shall reduce both the company's originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in each market by an amount equal to the lesser of: (1) 25 percent of the difference in the company's rates in effect on June 30, 2006, and the company's respective federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in effect on that date; or (2) an amount derived by multiplying that difference by a percentage derived by dividing the number of the company's markets that are not regulated on July 1, 2006, by the total number of the company's markets on December 30, 2005. (c) On July 1, 2007, the transitioning company shall reduce both the company's originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in each market by an amount equal to the lesser of: (1) 25 percent of the difference in the company's rates in effect on June 30, 2006, and the company's respective federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in effect on that date; or (2) an amount derived by multiplying that difference by a percentage derived by dividing the number of the company's markets that were deregulated in the prior 12 months by the total number of the company's markets on December 30, 2005. (d) On July 1, 2008, the transitioning company shall reduce both the company's originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in each market by an amount equal to the lesser of: (1) 25 percent of the difference in the company's rates in effect on June 30, 2006, and the company's respective federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in effect on that date; or (2) an amount derived by multiplying that difference by a percentage derived by dividing the number of the company's markets that were deregulated in the prior 12 months by the total number of the company's markets on December 30, 2005. (e) On July 1, 2009, and each succeeding year thereafter on July 1, the transitioning company shall reduce both the company's originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in each market by an amount derived by multiplying the difference in the company's rates in effect on June 30, 2006, and the company's respective federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in effect on that date by a percentage derived by dividing the number of the company's markets that were deregulated in the prior 12 months by the total number of the company's markets on December 30, 2005, except that a transitioning company shall be required to reduce both the company's originating and terminating per minute of use switched access charges to parity with the company's respective federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access charges if more than 75 percent of the transitioning company's markets are not regulated on July 1 of 2009 or any succeeding year. (f) After reducing the rates under Subsection (e), a transitioning company shall maintain parity with the company's federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates. If the company's federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates are changed, the company shall change the company's per minute of use switched access rates in each market as necessary to re-achieve parity with the company's federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates. Sec. 65.204. REDUCTION OF SWITCHED ACCESS RATES BY NEWLY DESIGNATED TRANSITIONING COMPANY. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, a company that is classified as a transitioning company after January 1, 2006, shall reduce both the company's originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in each market in accordance with this section. (b) On the date the company is classified as a transitioning company, the company shall reduce both the company's originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in each market by an amount equal to the lesser of: (1) 25 percent of the difference in the company's rates in effect on the day before the date the company was classified, and the company's respective federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in effect on that date; or (2) an amount derived by multiplying that difference by a percentage derived by dividing the number of the company's markets that are not regulated on the date the company is classified as a transitioning company by the total number of the company's markets on December 30, 2005. (c) On the first anniversary of the date the company is classified as a transitioning company, the company shall reduce both the company's originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in each market by an amount equal to the lesser of: (1) 25 percent of the difference in the company's rates in effect on the day before the date the company was classified, and the company's respective federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in effect on that date; or (2) an amount derived by multiplying that difference by a percentage derived by dividing the number of the company's markets that were deregulated in the prior 12 months by the total number of the company's markets on December 30, 2005. (d) On the second anniversary of the date the company is classified as a transitioning company, the company shall reduce both the company's originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in each market by an amount equal to the lesser of: (1) 25 percent of the difference in the company's rates in effect on the day before the date the company was classified, and the company's respective federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in effect on that date; or (2) an amount derived by multiplying that difference by a percentage derived by dividing the number of the company's markets that were deregulated in the prior 12 months by the total number of the company's markets on December 30, 2005. (e) On the third anniversary of the date the company is classified as a transitioning company and each anniversary thereafter, the company shall reduce both the company's originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in each market by an amount derived by multiplying the difference in the company's rates in effect on the day before the date the company was classified as a transitioning company, and the company's respective federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates in effect on that date by a percentage derived by dividing the number of the company's markets that were deregulated in the prior 12 months by the total number of the company's markets on December 30, 2005, except that a transitioning company shall be required to reduce both the company's originating and terminating per minute of use switched access charges to parity with the company's respective federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access charges if more than 75 percent of the transitioning company's markets are not regulated on July 1 of 2009 or any succeeding year. (f) After reducing the rates under Subsection (e), a transitioning company shall maintain parity with the company's federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates. If the company's federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates are changed, the company shall change the company's per minute of use switched access rates in each market as necessary to re-achieve parity with the company's federal originating and terminating per minute of use switched access rates. Sec. 65.205. MAINTENANCE OF REDUCTION OR PARITY. (a) After a deregulated or transitioning company reduces the company's rates under this subchapter, the company may not increase those rates above the applicable rates prescribed by this subchapter. (b) If a transitioning company's federal per minute of use switched access rates are reduced, the company shall reduce the company's per minute of use switched access rates to not more than the applicable rates prescribed by this subchapter. (c) Notwithstanding Subsections (a) and (b), a deregulated or transitioning company may decrease the company's per minute of use switched access rates to amounts that are less than the applicable rates prescribed by this subchapter.[Sections 65.206-65.250 reserved for expansion]

SUBCHAPTER F. LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE

Sec. 65.251. OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE. (a) In this subchapter, "committee" means the telecommunications competitiveness legislative oversight committee. (b) The committee is composed of nine members as follows: (1) the chair of the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce; (2) the chair of the House Committee on Regulated Industries; (3) three members of the senate appointed by the lieutenant governor; (4) three members of the house of representatives appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives; and (5) the chief executive of the Office of Public Utility Counsel. (c) An appointed member of the committee serves at the pleasure of the appointing official. Sec. 65.252. COMMITTEE DUTIES. (a) The committee shall conduct joint public hearings with the commission at least annually regarding the introduction of full competition to telecommunications services in this state. (b) The commission shall: (1) collect and compile information from all telecommunications providers as necessary to conduct a hearing under this section; and (2) maintain the confidentiality of information collected under this section that is claimed to be confidential for competitive purposes. (c) Information that is claimed to be confidential under Subsection (b) is exempt from disclosure under Chapter 552, Government Code. (d) The commission shall provide to the committee information regarding rules relating to telecommunications deregulation proposed by the commission. The committee may submit comments to the commission on those proposed rules. (e) The committee shall monitor the effectiveness of telecommunications deregulation, including the fairness of rates, the quality of service, and the effect of regulation on the normal forces of competition. (f) The committee may request reports and other information from the commission as necessary to carry out this subchapter. (g) Not later than November 15 of each even-numbered year, the committee shall report to the governor, lieutenant governor, and speaker of the house of representatives on the committee's activities under this subchapter. The report must include: (1) an analysis of any problems caused by telecommunications deregulation; and (2) recommendations for any legislative action necessary to address those problems and to further competition within the telecommunications industry. SECTION 27. Subtitle C, Title 2, Utilities Code, is amended by adding Chapter 66 to read as follows:CHAPTER 66. STATE-ISSUED CABLE AND VIDEO FRANCHISE

Sec. 66.001. FRANCHISING AUTHORITY. The commission shall be designated as the franchising authority for a state-issued franchise for the provision of cable service or video service. Sec. 66.002. DEFINITIONS. In this chapter: (1) "Actual incremental cost" means only current out-of-pocket expenses for labor, equipment repair, equipment replacement, and tax expenses directly associated with the labor or the equipment of a service provider that is necessarily and directly used to provide what were, under a superseded franchise, in-kind services, exclusive of any profit or overhead such as depreciation, amortization, or administrative expense. (2) "Cable service" is defined as set forth in 47 U.S.C. Section 522(6). (3) "Cable service provider" means a person who provides cable service. (4) "Communications network" means a component or facility that is, wholly or partly, physically located within a public right-of-way and that is used to provide video programming, cable, voice, or data services. (5) "Franchise" means an initial authorization, or renewal of an authorization, issued by a franchising authority, regardless of whether the authorization is designated as a franchise, permit, license, resolution, contract, certificate, agreement, or otherwise, that authorizes the construction and operation of a cable or video services network in the public rights-of-way. (6)(A) "Gross revenues" means all consideration of any kind or nature including without limitation cash, credits, property, and in-kind contributions (services or goods) derived by the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority from the operation of the cable service provider's or the video service provider's network to provide cable service or video service within the municipality. Gross revenue shall include all consideration paid to the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority and its affiliates (to the extent either is acting as a provider of a cable service or video service as authorized by this chapter), which shall include but not be limited to the following: (i) all fees charged to subscribers for any and all cable service or video service provided by the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority; (ii) any fee imposed on the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority by this chapter that is passed through and paid by subscribers (including without limitation the franchise fee set forth in this chapter); and (iii) compensation received by the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority or its affiliates that is derived from the operation of the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority's network to provide cable service or video service with respect to commissions that are paid to the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority as compensation for promotion or exhibition of any products or services on the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority's network, such as a "home shopping" or a similar channel, subject to Paragraph (B)(v). Gross revenue includes a pro rata portion of all revenue derived by the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority or its affiliates pursuant to compensation arrangements for advertising derived from the operation of the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority's network to provide cable service or the video service within a municipality, subject to Paragraph (B)(iii). The allocation shall be based on the number of subscribers in the municipality divided by the total number of subscribers in relation to the relevant regional or national compensation arrangement. Advertising commissions paid to third parties shall not be netted against advertising revenue included in gross revenue. Revenue of an affiliate derived from the affiliate's provision of cable service or the video service shall be gross revenue to the extent the treatment of such revenue as revenue of the affiliate and not of the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority has the effect (whether intentional or unintentional) of evading the payment of fees which would otherwise be paid to the municipality. In no event shall revenue of an affiliate be gross revenue to the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority if such revenue is otherwise subject to fees to be paid to the municipality. (B) For purposes of this section, "gross revenues" does not include: (i) any revenue not actually received, even if billed, such as bad debt; (ii) non-cable services or non-video services revenues received by any affiliate or any other person in exchange for supplying goods or services used by the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority to provide cable service or video service; (iii) refunds, rebates, or discounts made to subscribers, leased access providers, advertisers, or a municipality; (iv) any revenues from services classified as non-cable service or non-video service under federal law including without limitation revenue received from telecommunications services; revenue received from information services (but not excluding cable services or video services); and any other revenues attributed by the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority to non-cable service or non-video service in accordance with Federal Communications Commission or commission rules, regulations, standards, or orders; (v) any revenue paid by subscribers to home shopping programmers directly from the sale of merchandise through any home shopping channel offered as part of the cable services or video services, but not excluding any commissions that are paid tothe holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority as compensation for promotion or exhibition of any products or services on the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority's network, such as a "home shopping" or a similar channel; (vi) the sale of cable services or video services for resale in which the purchaser is required to collect this chapter's fees from the purchaser's customer. Nothing under this chapter is intended to limit state's rights pursuant to 47 U.S.C. Section 542(h); (vii) the provision of cable services or video services to customers at no charge, as required or allowed by this chapter, including without limitation the provision of cable services or video services to public institutions, as required or permitted in this chapter, including without limitation public schools or governmental entities, as required or permitted in this chapter; (viii) any tax of general applicability imposed upon the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority or upon subscribers by a city, state, federal, or any other governmental entity and required to be collected by the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority and remitted to the taxing entity (including, but not limited to, sales and use tax, gross receipts tax, excise tax, utility users tax, public service tax, communication taxes, and fees not imposed by this chapter); (ix) any forgone revenue from the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority's provision of free or reduced cost cable services or video services to any person including without limitation employees of the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority, to the municipality and other public institutions or other institutions as allowed in this chapter; provided, however, that any forgone revenue which the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority chooses not to receive in exchange for trades, barters, services, or other items of value shall be included in gross revenue; (x) sales of capital assets or sales of surplus equipment that is not used by the purchaser to receive cable services or video services from the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority; (xi) directory or Internet advertising revenue including, but not limited to, yellow pages, white pages, banner advertisement, and electronic publishing; and (xii) reimbursement by programmers of marketing costs incurred by the holder of a state-issued franchise for the introduction of new programming that exceed the actual costs. (C) For purposes of this definition, a provider's network consists solely of the optical spectrum wavelengths, bandwidth, or other current or future technological capacity used for the transmission of video programming over wireline directly to subscribers within the geographic area within the municipality as designated by the provider in its franchise. (7) "Incumbent cable service provider" means the cable service provider serving the largest number of cable subscribers in a particular municipal franchise area on September 1, 2005. (8) "Public right-of-way" means the area on, below, or above a public roadway, highway, street, public sidewalk, alley, waterway, or utility easement in which a municipality has an interest. (9) "Video programming" means programming provided by, or generally considered comparable to programming provided by, a television broadcast station, as set forth in 47 U.S.C. Section 522(20). (10) "Video service" means video programming services provided through wireline facilities located at least in part in the public right-of-way without regard to delivery technology, including Internet protocol technology. This definition does not include any video service provided by a commercial mobile service provider as defined in 47 U.S.C. Section 332(d). (11) "Video service provider" means a video programming distributor that distributes video programming services through wireline facilities located at least in part in the public right-of-way without regard to delivery technology. This term does not include a cable service provider. Sec. 66.003. STATE AUTHORIZATION TO PROVIDE CABLE SERVICE OR VIDEO SERVICE. (a) An entity or person seeking to provide cable service or video service in this state after September 1, 2005, shall file an application for a state-issued certificate of franchise authority with the commission as required by this section. An entity providing cable service or video service under a franchise agreement with a municipality is not subject to this subsection with respect to such municipality until the franchise agreement expires, except as provided by Section 66.004. (a-1) The commission shall notify an applicant for a state-issued certificate of franchise authority whether the applicant's affidavit described by Subsection (b) is complete before the 15th business day after the applicant submits the affidavit. (b) The commission shall issue a certificate of franchise authority to offer cable service or video service before the 17th business day after receipt of a completed affidavit submitted by the applicant and signed by an officer or general partner of the applicant affirming: (1) that the applicant has filed or will timely file with the Federal Communications Commission all forms required by that agency in advance of offering cable service or video service in this state; (2) that the applicant agrees to comply with all applicable federal and state statutes and regulations; (3) that the applicant agrees to comply with all applicable municipal regulations regarding the use and occupation of public rights-of-way in the delivery of the cable service or video service, including the police powers of the municipalities in which the service is delivered; (4) a description of the service area footprint to be served within the municipality, if applicable, otherwise the municipality to be served by the applicant, which may include certain designations of unincorporated areas, which description shall be updated by the applicant prior to the expansion of cable service or video service to a previously undesignated service area and, upon such expansion, notice to the commission of the service area to be served by the applicant; and (5) the location of the applicant's principal place of business and the names of the applicant's principal executive officers. (c) The certificate of franchise authority issued by the commission shall contain: (1) a grant of authority to provide cable service or video service as requested in the application; (2) a grant of authority to use and occupy the public rights-of-way in the delivery of that service, subject to the laws of this state, including the police powers of the municipalities in which the service is delivered; and (3) a statement that the grant of authority is subject to lawful operation of the cable service or video service by the applicant or its successor in interest. (d) The certificate of franchise authority issued by the commission is fully transferable to any successor in interest to the applicant to which it is initially granted. A notice of transfer shall be filed with the commission and the relevant municipality within 14 business days of the completion of such transfer. (e) The certificate of franchise authority issued by the commission may be terminated by the cable service provider or video service provider by submitting notice to the commission. Sec. 66.004. ELIGIBILITY FOR COMMISSION-ISSUED FRANCHISE. (a) A cable service provider or a video service provider that currently has or had previously received a franchise to provide cable service or video service with respect to such municipalities is not eligible to seek a state-issued certificate of franchise authority under this chapter as to those municipalities until the expiration date of the existing franchise agreement, except as provided by Subsections (b) and (c). (b) Beginning September 1, 2005, a cable service provider or video service provider that is not the incumbent cable service provider and serves fewer than 40 percent of the total cable customers in a particular municipal franchise area may elect to terminate that municipal franchise and seek a state-issued certificate of franchise authority by providing written notice to the commission and the affected municipality before January 1, 2006. The municipal franchise is terminated on the date the commission issues the state-issued certificate of franchise authority. (c) A cable service provider that serves fewer than 40 percent of the total cable customers in a municipal franchise area and that elects under Subsection (b) to terminate an existing municipal franchise is responsible for remitting to the affected municipality before the 91st day after the date the municipal franchise is terminated any accrued but unpaid franchise fees due under the terminated franchise. If the cable service provider has credit remaining from prepaid franchise fees, the provider may deduct the amount of the remaining credit from any future fees or taxes it must pay to the municipality, either directly or through the comptroller. (d) For purposes of this section, a cable service provider or video service provider will be deemed to have or have had a franchise to provide cable service or video service in a specific municipality if any affiliates or successor entity of the cable or video provider has or had a franchise agreement granted by that specific municipality. (e) The terms "affiliates or successor entity" in this section shall include but not be limited to any entity receiving, obtaining, or operating under a municipal cable or video franchise through merger, sale, assignment, restructuring, or any other type of transaction. (f) Except as provided in this chapter, nothing in this chapter is intended to abrogate, nullify, or adversely affect in any way the contractual rights, duties, and obligations existing and incurred by a cable service provider or a video service provider before the enactment of this chapter, and owed or owing to any private person, firm, partnership, corporation, or other entity including without limitation those obligations measured by and related to the gross revenue hereafter received by the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority for services provided in the geographic area to which such prior franchise or permit applies. All liens, security interests, royalties, and other contracts, rights, and interests in effect on September 1, 2005, shall continue in full force and effect, without the necessity for renewal, extension, or continuance, and shall be paid and performed by the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority, and shall apply as though the revenue generated by the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority continued to be generated pursuant to the permit or franchise issued by the prior local franchising authority or municipality within the geographic area to which the prior permit or franchise applies. It shall be a condition to the issuance and continuance of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority that the private contractual rights and obligations herein described continue to be honored, paid, or performed to the same extent as though the cable service provider continued to operate under its prior franchise or permit, for the duration of such state-issued certificate of franchise authority and any renewals or extensions thereof, and that the applicant so agrees. Any person, firm, partnership, corporation, or other entity holding or claiming rights herein reserved may enforce same by an action brought in a court of competent jurisdiction. Sec. 66.005. FRANCHISE FEE. (a) The holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority shall pay each municipality in which it provides cable service or video service a franchise fee of five percent based upon the definition of gross revenues as set forth in this chapter. That same franchise fee structure shall apply to any unincorporated areas that are annexed by a municipality after the effective date of the state-issued certificate of franchise authority. (b) The franchise fee payable under this section is to be paid quarterly, within 45 days after the end of the quarter for the preceding calendar quarter. Each payment shall be accompanied by a summary explaining the basis for the calculation of the fee. A municipality may review the business records of the cable service provider or video service provider to the extent necessary to ensure compensation in accordance with Subsection (a). Each party shall bear the party's own costs of the examination. A municipality may, in the event of a dispute concerning compensation under this section, bring an action in a court of competent jurisdiction. (c) The holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority may recover from the provider's customers any fee imposed by this chapter. Sec. 66.006. IN-KIND CONTRIBUTIONS TO MUNICIPALITY. (a) Until the expiration of the incumbent cable service provider's agreement, the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority shall pay a municipality in which it is offering cable service or video service the same cash payments on a per subscriber basis as required by the incumbent cable service provider's franchise agreement. All cable service providers and all video service providers shall report quarterly to the municipality the total number of subscribers served within the municipality. The amount paid by the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority shall be calculated quarterly by the municipality by multiplying the amount of cash payment under the incumbent cable service provider's franchise agreement by a number derived by dividing the number of subscribers served by a video service provider or cable service provider by the total number of video or cable service subscribers in the municipality. Such pro rata payments are to be paid quarterly to the municipality within 45 days after the end of the quarter for the preceding calendar quarter. (b) On the expiration of the incumbent cable service provider's agreement, the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority shall pay a municipality in which it is offering cable service or video service one percent of the provider's gross revenues, as defined by this chapter, or at the municipality's election, the per subscriber fee that was paid to the municipality under the expired incumbent cable service provider's agreement, in lieu of in-kind compensation and grants. Payments under this subsection shall be paid in the same manner as outlined in Section 66.005(b). (c) All fees paid to municipalities under this section are paid in accordance with 47 U.S.C. Sections 531 and 541(a)(4)(B) and may be used by the municipality as allowed by federal law; further, these payments are not chargeable as a credit against the franchise fee payments authorized under this chapter. (d) The following services shall continue to be provided by the cable provider that was furnishing services pursuant to its municipal cable franchise until January 1, 2008, or until the term of the franchise was to expire, whichever is later, and thereafter as provided in Subdivisions (1) and (2) below: (1) institutional network capacity, however defined or referred to in the municipal cable franchise but generally referring to a private line data network capacity for use by the municipality for noncommercial purposes, shall continue to be provided at the same capacity as was provided to the municipality prior to the date of the termination, provided that the municipality will compensate the provider for the actual incremental cost of the capacity; and (2) cable services to community public buildings, such as municipal buildings and public schools, shall continue to be provided to the same extent provided immediately prior to the date of the termination. Beginning on January 1, 2008, or the expiration of the franchise agreement, whichever is later, a provider that provides the services may deduct from the franchise fee to be paid to the municipality an amount equal to the actual incremental cost of the services if the municipality requires the services after that date. Such cable service generally refers to the existing cable drop connections to such facilities and the tier of cable service provided pursuant to the franchise at the time of the termination. Sec. 66.007. BUILD-OUT. The holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority shall not be required to comply with mandatory build-out provisions. Sec. 66.008. CUSTOMER SERVICE STANDARDS. The holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority shall comply with customer service requirements consistent with 47 C.F.R. Section 76.309(c) until there are two or more providers offering service, excluding direct-to-home satellite service, in the relevant municipality. Sec. 66.009. PUBLIC, EDUCATIONAL, AND GOVERNMENTAL ACCESS CHANNELS. (a) Not later than 120 days after a request by a municipality, the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority shall provide the municipality with capacity in its communications network to allow public, educational, and governmental (PEG) access channels for noncommercial programming. (b) The holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority shall provide no fewer than the number of PEG access channels a municipality has activated under the incumbent cable service provider's franchise agreement as of September 1, 2005. (c) If a municipality did not have PEG access channels as of September 1, 2005, the cable service provider or video service provider shall furnish: (1) up to three PEG channels for a municipality with a population of at least 50,000; and (2) up to two PEG channels for a municipality with a population of less than 50,000. (d) Any PEG channel provided pursuant to this section that is not utilized by the municipality for at least eight hours a day shall no longer be made available to the municipality, but may be programmed at the cable service provider's or video service provider's discretion. At such time as the municipality can certify to the cable service provider or video service provider a schedule for at least eight hours of daily programming, the cable service provider or video service provider shall restore the previously lost channel but shall be under no obligation to carry that channel on a basic or analog tier. (e) In the event a municipality has not utilized the minimum number of access channels as permitted by Subsection (c), access to the additional channel capacity allowed in Subsection (c) shall be provided upon 90 days' written notice if the municipality meets the following standard: if a municipality has one active PEG channel and wishes to activate an additional PEG channel, the initial channel shall be considered to be substantially utilized when 12 hours are programmed on that channel each calendar day. In addition, at least 40 percent of the 12 hours of programming for each business day on average over each calendar quarter must be nonrepeat programming. Nonrepeat programming shall include the first three video-castings of a program. If a municipality is entitled to three PEG channels under Subsection (c) and has in service two active PEG channels, each of the two active channels shall be considered to be substantially utilized when 12 hours are programmed on each channel each calendar day and at least 50 percent of the 12 hours of programming for each business day on average over each calendar quarter is nonrepeat programming for three consecutive calendar quarters. (f) The operation of any PEG access channel provided pursuant to this section shall be the responsibility of the municipality receiving the benefit of such channel, and the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority bears only the responsibility for the transmission of such channel. The holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority shall be responsible for providing the connectivity to each PEG access channel distribution point up to the first 200 feet. (g) The municipality must ensure that all transmissions, content, or programming to be transmitted over a channel or facility by a holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority are provided or submitted to the cable service provider or video service provider in a manner or form that is capable of being accepted and transmitted by a provider, without requirement for additional alteration or change in the content by the provider, over the particular network of the cable service provider or video service provider, which is compatible with the technology or protocol utilized by the cable service provider or video service provider to deliver services. (h) Where technically feasible, the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority and an incumbent cable service provider shall use reasonable efforts to interconnect their cable or video systems for the purpose of providing PEG programming. Interconnection may be accomplished by direct cable, microwave link, satellite, or other reasonable method of connection. Holders of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority and incumbent cable service providers shall negotiate in good faith and incumbent cable service providers may not withhold interconnection of PEG channels. (i) A court of competent jurisdiction shall have exclusive jurisdiction to enforce any requirement under this section. Sec. 66.010. NONDISCRIMINATION BY MUNICIPALITY. (a) A municipality shall allow the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority to install, construct, and maintain a communications network within a public right-of-way and shall provide the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority with open, comparable, nondiscriminatory, and competitively neutral access to the public right-of-way. All use of a public right-of-way by the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority is nonexclusive and subject to Section 66.011. (b) A municipality may not discriminate against the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority regarding: (1) the authorization or placement of a communications network in a public right-of-way; (2) access to a building; or (3) a municipal utility pole attachment term. Sec. 66.011. MUNICIPAL POLICE POWER; OTHER AUTHORITY. (a) A municipality may enforce police power-based regulations in the management of a public right-of-way that apply to the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority within the municipality. A municipality may enforce police power-based regulations in the management of the activities of the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority to the extent that they are reasonably necessary to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public. Police power-based regulation of the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority's use of the public right-of-way must be competitively neutral and may not be unreasonable or discriminatory. A municipality may not impose on activities of the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority a requirement: (1) that particular business offices be located in the municipality; (2) regarding the filing of reports and documents with the municipality that are not required by state or federal law and that are not related to the use of the public right-of-way except that a municipality may request maps and records maintained in the ordinary course of business for purposes of locating the portions of a communications network that occupy public rights-of-way. Any maps or records of the location of a communications network received by a municipality shall be confidential and exempt from disclosure under Chapter 552, Government Code, and may be used by a municipality only for the purpose of planning and managing construction activity in the public right-of-way. A municipality may not request information concerning the capacity or technical configuration of the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority's facilities; (3) for the inspection of the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority's business records except to extent permitted under Section 66.005(b); (4) for the approval of transfers of ownership or control of the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority's business, except that a municipality may require that the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority maintain a current point of contact and provide notice of a transfer within a reasonable time; or (5) that the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority that is self-insured under the provisions of state law obtain insurance or bonding for any activities within the municipality, except that a self-insured provider shall provide substantially the same defense and claims processing as an insured provider. A bond may not be required from a provider for any work consisting of aerial construction except that a reasonable bond may be required of a provider that cannot demonstrate a record of at least four years' performance of work in any municipal public right-of-way free of currently unsatisfied claims by a municipality for damage to the right-of-way. (b) Notwithstanding any other law, a municipality may require the issuance of a construction permit, without cost, to the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority that is locating facilities in or on a public right-of-way in the municipality. The terms of the permit shall be consistent with construction permits issued to other persons excavating in a public right-of-way. (c) In the exercise of its lawful regulatory authority, a municipality shall promptly process all valid and administratively complete applications of the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority for a permit, license, or consent to excavate, set poles, locate lines, construct facilities, make repairs, affect traffic flow, or obtain zoning or subdivision regulation approvals or other similar approvals. A municipality shall make every reasonable effort not to delay or unduly burden the provider in the timely conduct of the provider's business. (d) If there is an emergency necessitating response work or repair, the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority may begin the repair or emergency response work or take any action required under the circumstances without prior approval from the affected municipality, if the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority notifies the municipality as promptly as possible after beginning the work and later obtains any approval required by a municipal ordinance applicable to emergency response work. (e) The commission shall have no jurisdiction to review such police power-based regulations and ordinances adopted by a municipality to manage the public rights-of-way. Sec. 66.012. INDEMNITY IN CONNECTION WITH RIGHT-OF-WAY; NOTICE OF LIABILITY. (a) The holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority shall indemnify and hold a municipality and its officers and employees harmless against any and all claims, lawsuits, judgments, costs, liens, losses, expenses, fees (including reasonable attorney's fees and costs of defense), proceedings, actions, demands, causes of action, liability, and suits of any kind and nature, including personal or bodily injury (including death), property damage, or other harm for which recovery of damages is sought, that is found by a court of competent jurisdiction to be caused solely by the negligent act, error, or omission of the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority or any agent, officer, director, representative, employee, affiliate, or subcontractor of the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority or their respective officers, agents, employees, directors, or representatives, while installing, repairing, or maintaining facilities in a public right-of-way. The indemnity provided by this subsection does not apply to any liability resulting from the negligence of the municipality or its officers, employees, contractors, or subcontractors. If the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority and the municipality are found jointly liable by a court of competent jurisdiction, liability shall be apportioned comparatively in accordance with the laws of this state without, however, waiving any governmental immunity available to the municipality under state law and without waiving any defenses of the parties under state law. This subsection is solely for the benefit of the municipality and the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority and does not create or grant any rights, contractual or otherwise, for or to any other person or entity. (b) The holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority and a municipality shall promptly advise the other in writing of any known claim or demand against the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority or the municipality related to or arising out of the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority's activities in a public right-of-way. (c) The commission shall have no jurisdiction to review such police power-based regulations and ordinances adopted by a municipality to manage the public rights-of-way. Sec. 66.013. MUNICIPAL AUTHORITY. In addition to a municipality's authority to exercise its nondiscriminatory police power with respect to public rights-of-way under current law, a municipality's authority to regulate the holder of state-issued certificate of franchise authority is limited to: (1) a requirement that the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority who is providing cable service or video service within the municipality register with the municipality and maintain a point of contact; (2) the establishment of reasonable guidelines regarding the use of public, educational, and governmental access channels; and (3) submitting reports within 30 days on the customer service standards referenced in Section 66.008 if the provider is subject to those standards and has continued and unresolved customer service complaints indicating a clear failure on the part of the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority to comply with the standards. Sec. 66.014. DISCRIMINATION PROHIBITED. (a) The purpose of this section is to prevent discrimination among potential residential subscribers. (b) A cable service provider or video service provider that has been granted a state-issued certificate of franchise authority may not deny access to service to any group of potential residential subscribers because of the income of the residents in the local area in which such group resides. (c) An affected person may seek enforcement of the requirements described by Subsection (b) by initiating a proceeding with the commission. A municipality within which the potential residential cable service or video service subscribers referenced in Subsection (b) may be considered an affected person for purposes of this section. (d) The holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority shall have a reasonable period of time to become capable of providing cable service or video service to all households within the designated franchise area as defined in Section 66.003(b)(4) and may satisfy the requirements of this section through the use of an alternative technology that provides comparable content, service, and functionality. (e) Notwithstanding any provision of this chapter, the commission has the authority to make the determination regarding the comparability of the technology and the service provided. Notwithstanding any provision of this chapter, the commission has the authority to monitor the deployment of cable services, video services, or alternate technology. Sec. 66.015. COMPLIANCE. (a) Should the holder of a state-issued certificate of franchise authority be found by a court of competent jurisdiction to be in noncompliance with the requirements of this chapter, the court shall order the holder a state-issued certificate of franchise authority, within a specified reasonable period of time, to cure such noncompliance. Failure to comply shall subject the holder of the state-issued franchise of franchise authority to penalties as the court shall reasonably impose, up to and including revocation of the state-issued certificate of franchise authority granted under this chapter. (b) A municipality within which the provider offers cable service or video service shall be an appropriate party in any such litigation. Sec. 66.016. APPLICABILITY OF OTHER LAWS. (a) Nothing in this chapter shall be interpreted to prevent a voice provider, cable service provider or video service provider, or municipality from seeking clarification of its rights and obligations under federal law or to exercise any right or authority under federal or state law. (b) Nothing in this chapter shall limit the ability of a municipality under existing law to receive compensation for use of the public rights-of-way from entities determined not to be subject to all or part of this chapter, including but not limited to provider of Internet protocol cable or video services, unless such payments are expressly prohibited by federal law. Sec. 66.017. STUDY. (a) The telecommunications competitiveness legislative oversight committee shall conduct a joint interim study with the commission regarding the following: (1) appropriate alternative forms of competitively neutral compensation methodology that should flow to municipalities from all sources related to the provision of information services, telecommunication services, cable services, and video services; (2) right-of-way access and fees; (3) the transition from local franchise authority to state-issued authority, including methods to maintain current municipal revenue streams, including franchise fees and in-kind contributions; continuation of public, educational, and governmental access channels; and build-out requirements; and (4) other relevant issues. (b) The committee shall report its findings to the lieutenant governor and speaker of the House of Representatives no later than December 31, 2006. (c) This section expires January 1, 2007. SECTION 28. Section 283.002, Local Government Code, is amended by amending Subdivision (2) and adding Subdivision (7) to read as follows: (2) "Certificated telecommunications provider" means a person who has been issued a certificate of convenience and necessity, certificate of operating authority, or service provider certificate of operating authority by the commission to offer local exchange telephone service or a person who provides voice service. (7) "Voice service" means voice communications services provided through wireline facilities located at least in part in the public right-of-way, without regard to the delivery technology, including Internet protocol technology. The term does not include voice service provided by a commercial mobile service provider as defined by 47 U.S.C. Section 332(d). SECTION 29. The following provisions of the Utilities Code are repealed: (1) Subchapters B through F, Chapter 62; and (2) Chapters 61 and 63. SECTION 30. The Public Utility Commission of Texas shall conduct a study to determine whether Title 2, Utilities Code, adequately preserves customer choice in the Internet-enabled applications employed in association with broadband service and shall report its conclusions and recommendations to the legislature not later than January 1, 2007. The study must include consultation with and comment from all interested parties. SECTION 31. If any provision of this Act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the invalidity does not affect other provisions or applications of this Act that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this Act are declared to be severable. SECTION 32. This Act takes effect September 1, 2005, if it receives a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, as provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution. If this Act does not receive the vote necessary for effect on that date, this Act takes effect on the 91st day after the last day of the legislative session. ______________________________ ______________________________ President of the Senate Speaker of the House

I hereby certify that S.B. No. 5 passed the Senate on August 9, 2005, by the following vote: Yeas 24, Nays 3, one present not voting.______________________________ Secretary of the Senate I hereby certify that S.B. No. 5 passed the House on August 10, 2005, by the following vote: Yeas 144, Nays 1, one present not voting.______________________________ Chief Clerk of the House Approved:______________________________ Date______________________________ Governor

Social Justice Overview - Marygrove College

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Fri, 28 Jun 2013 14:33

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Texas Abortion Law

You want to be in charge of your own reproductive rights?

20 weeks = 5 months Can a kid feel

Does that unborn child have rights?

Closing down clinics or making them safe for you

Are we still doing this is secret? At 5 months?

Maybe time ti teach your daughters about responsibility and reproductive rights

You want to campaign for your rerpoductive rights?

How about fluoride and other crap they put in your water

GM in your food

Chemtrails, spraying you like your a bunch of bugs

And when you excersize your right to have a child

COnsider exactly what vaccinations they are giving

Psychotropic drugs they administer in the slave training institutions called schools

And then, to add insult to injury, becaus eyou are so apathetic about the economy and society you have built, you allow your kids to take a job in the only place that is offering, the Armed servicees, so they can get their shit blown off while fighting some other futureless kids in the fucking sand.

WHere's all the campaigning for that:?

Spy vs Spy

NSA collected Americans' email records in bulk for two years under Obama.

Link to Article

Archived Version

Source: Dave Winer's linkblog feed

Fri, 28 Jun 2013 00:09

The Obama administration for more than two years permitted the National Security Agency to continue collecting vast amounts of records detailing the email and internet usage of Americans, according to secret documents obtained by the Guardian.

The documents indicate that under the program, launched in 2001, a federal judge sitting on the secret surveillance panel called the Fisa court would approve a bulk collection order for internet metadata "every 90 days". A senior administration official confirmed the program, stating that it ended in 2011.

The collection of these records began under the Bush administration's wide-ranging warrantless surveillance program, collectively known by the NSA codename Stellar Wind.

According to a top-secret draft report by the NSA's inspector general '' published for the first time today by the Guardian '' the agency began "collection of bulk internet metadata" involving "communications with at least one communicant outside the United States or for which no communicant was known to be a citizen of the United States".

Eventually, the NSA gained authority to "analyze communications metadata associated with United States persons and persons believed to be in the United States", according to a 2007 Justice Department memo, which is marked secret.

The Guardian revealed earlier this month that the NSA was collecting the call records of millions of US Verizon customers under a Fisa court order that, it later emerged, is renewed every 90 days. Similar orders are in place for other phone carriers.

The internet metadata of the sort NSA collected for at least a decade details the accounts to which Americans sent emails and from which they received emails. It also details the internet protocol addresses (IP) used by people inside the United States when sending emails '' information which can reflect their physical location. It did not include the content of emails.

"The internet metadata collection program authorized by the Fisa court was discontinued in 2011 for operational and resource reasons and has not been restarted," Shawn Turner, the Obama administration's director of communications for National Intelligence, said in a statement to the Guardian.

"The program was discontinued by the executive branch as the result of an interagency review," Turner continued. He would not elaborate further.

But while that specific program has ended, additional secret NSA documents seen by the Guardian show that some collection of Americans' online records continues today. In December 2012, for example, the NSA launched one new program allowing it to analyze communications with one end inside the US, leading to a doubling of the amount of data passing through its filters.

What your email metadata revealsThe Obama administration argues that its internal checks on NSA surveillance programs, as well as review by the Fisa court, protect Americans' privacy. Deputy attorney general James Cole defended the bulk collection of Americans' phone records as outside the scope of the fourth amendment's protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

"Toll records, phone records like this, that don't include any content, are not covered by the fourth amendment because people don't have a reasonable expectation of privacy in who they called and when they called," Cole testified to the House intelligence committee on June 18. "That's something you show to the phone company. That's something you show to many, many people within the phone company on a regular basis."

But email metadata is different. Customers' data bills do not itemize online activity by detailing the addresses a customer emailed or the IP addresses from which customer devices accessed the internet.

Internal government documents describe how revealing these email records are. One 2008 document, signed by the US defense secretary and attorney general, states that the collection and subsequent analysis included "the information appearing on the 'to,' 'from' or 'bcc' lines of a standard email or other electronic communication" from Americans.

In reality, it is hard to distinguish email metadata from email content. Distinctions that might make sense for telephone conversations and data about those conversations do not always hold for online communications.

"The calls you make can reveal a lot, but now that so much of our lives are mediated by the internet, your IP [internet protocol] logs are really a real-time map of your brain: what are you reading about, what are you curious about, what personal ad are you responding to (with a dedicated email linked to that specific ad), what online discussions are you participating in, and how often?" said Julian Sanchez of the Cato Institute.

"Seeing your IP logs '' and especially feeding them through sophisticated analytic tools '' is a way of getting inside your head that's in many ways on par with reading your diary," Sanchez added.

The purpose of this internet metadata collection program is detailed in the full classified March 2009 draft report prepared by the NSA's inspector general (IG).

One function of this internet record collection is what is commonly referred to as "data mining", and which the NSA calls "contact chaining". The agency "analyzed networks with two degrees of separation (two hops) from the target", the report says. In other words, the NSA studied the online records of people who communicated with people who communicated with targeted individuals.

Contact chaining was considered off-limits inside the NSA before 9/11. In the 1990s, according to the draft IG report, the idea was nixed when the Justice Department "told NSA that the proposal fell within one of the Fisa definitions of electronic surveillance and, therefore, was not permissible when applied to metadata associated with presumed US persons".

How the US government came to collect Americans' email recordsThe collection of email metadata on Americans began in late 2001, under a top-secret NSA program started shortly after 9/11, according to the documents. Known as Stellar Wind, the program initially did not rely on the authority of any court '' and initially restricted the NSA from analyzing records of emails between communicants wholly inside the US.

"NSA was authorized to acquire telephony and internet metadata for communications with at least one communicant outside the United States or for which no communicant was known to be a citizen of the United States," the draft report states.

George W Bush briefly "discontinued" that bulk internet metadata collection, involving Americans, after a dramatic rebellion in March 2004 by senior figures at the Justice Department and FBI, as the Washington Post first reported. One of the leaders of that rebellion was deputy attorney general James Comey, whom Barack Obama nominated last week to run the FBI.

But Comey's act of defiance did not end the IP metadata collection, the documents reveal. It simply brought it under a newly created legal framework.

As soon as the NSA lost the blessing under the president's directive for collecting bulk internet metadata, the NSA IG report reads, "DoJ [the Department of Justice] and NSA immediately began efforts to recreate this authority."

The DoJ quickly convinced the Fisa court to authorize ongoing bulk collection of email metadata records. On 14 July 2004, barely two months after Bush stopped the collection, Fisa court chief judge Collen Kollar-Kotelly legally blessed it under a new order '' the first time the surveillance court exercised its authority over a two-and-a-half-year-old surveillance program.

Kollar-Kotelly's order "essentially gave NSA the same authority to collect bulk internet metadata that it had under the PSP [Bush's program], except that it specified the datalinks from which NSA could collect, and it limited the number of people that could access the data".

How NSA gained more power to study Americans' online habitsThe Bush email metadata program had restrictions on the scope of the bulk email records the NSA could analyze. Those restrictions are detailed in a legal memorandum written in a 27 November 2007, by assistant attorney general Kenneth Wainstein to his new boss, attorney general Michael Mukasey, who had taken office just a few weeks earlier.

The purpose of that memorandum was to advise Mukasey of the Pentagon's view that these restrictions were excessive, and to obtain permission for the NSA to expand its "contact chains" deeper into Americans' email records. The agency, the memo noted, already had "in its databases a large amount of communications metadata associated with persons in the United States".

But, Wainstein continued, "NSA's present practice is to 'stop' when a chain hits a telephone number or [internet] address believed to be used by a United States person."

Wainstein told Mukasey that giving NSA broader leeway to study Americans' online habits would give the surveillance agency, ironically, greater visibility into the online habits of foreigners '' NSA's original mandate.

"NSA believes that it is over-identifying numbers and addresses that belong to United States persons and that modifying its practice to chain through all telephone numbers and addresses, including those reasonably believed to be used by a United States person," Wainstein wrote, "will yield valuable foreign intelligence information primarily concerning non-United States persons outside the United States."

The procedures "would clarify that the National Security Agency (NSA) may analyze communications metadata associated with United States persons and persons believed to be in the United States", Wainstein wrote.

In October 2007, Robert Gates, the secretary of defense, signed a set of "Supplemental Procedures" on internet metadata, including what it could do with Americans' data linked in its contact chains. Mukasey affixed his signature to the document in January 2008.

"NSA will continue to disseminate the results of its contact chaining and other analysis of communications metadata in accordance with current procedures governing the dissemination of information concerning US persons," the document states, without detailing the "current procedures".

It was this program that continued for more than two years into the Obama administration.

Turner, the director of national intelligence spokesman, did not respond to the Guardian's request for additional details of the metadata program or the reasons why it was stopped.

A senior administration official queried by the Washington Post denied that the Obama administration was "using this program" to "collect internet metadata in bulk", but added: "I'm not going to say we're not collecting any internet metadata."

NSA bugged Brussels US spy story hits the EU. (Euronews video)

Link to Article

Archived Version

Source: WT news feed

Sun, 30 Jun 2013 13:09

Bursting Brussels' bubble, it appears the US National Security Agency has been spying on the EU institutions.

German magazine Der Spiegel's online edition cited a top secret document which outlines how the NSA specifically targeted EU offices in Washington, Brussels and New York, listening to phone calls and accessing internal computer networks.

According to Der Spiegel the EU had discovered telephone taps in its internal network around five years ago but no source is cited.

The file is the latest in a series of documents whistleblower Edward Snowden made available to journalists, causing diplomatic embarrassment to President Obama's administration.

Snowden is still on the run from extradition to the US to answer charges of espionage. He is currently in transit in Russia awaiting a response from Ecuador on his request for asylum.

More about:Espionage, Phone hacking scandal, USACopyright (C) 2013 euronews

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Spy program gathered Americans' Internet records

Link to Article

Archived Version

Source: Phys.org - latest science and technology news stories

Thu, 27 Jun 2013 23:59

Spy program gathered Americans' Internet recordsJavascript is currently disabled in your web browser. For full site functionality, it is necessary to enable Javascript. In order to enable it, please see these instructions.1 hour ago by Kimberly Dozier(AP)'--The Obama administration gathered U.S. citizens' Internet data until 2011, continuing a spying program started under President George W. Bush that revealed whom Americans exchanged emails with and the Internet Protocol address of their computer, documents disclosed Thursday show.

The National Security Agency ended the program that collected email logs and timing, but not content, in 2011 because it decided it didn't effectively stop terrorist plots, according to the NSA's director, Gen. Keith Alexander, who also heads the U.S. Cyber Command. He said all data was purged in 2011.

Britain's Guardian newspaper on Thursday released documents detailing the collection, though the program was also described earlier this month by The Washington Post.

The latest revelation follows previous leaks from ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who is presumed hiding at a Moscow airport transit area, waiting to hear whether Ecuador, Iceland or another country might grant him asylum. He fled Hong Kong over the weekend and flew to Russia after being charged with violating American espionage laws.

The collection appears similar to the gathering of U.S. phone records, and seems to overlap with the Prism surveillance program of foreigners on U.S. Internet servers, both revealed by Snowden. U.S. officials have said the phone records can only be checked for numbers dialed by a terrorist suspect overseas. According to the documents published by The Guardian on Thursday, the Internet records show whom they exchanged emails with and the specific numeric address assigned to a computer connected to the Internet, known as the IP, or Internet Protocol, address.

The program, described in a top secret draft report from the NSA inspector general, described the efforts of then-NSA Director Gen. Mike Hayden to fill gaps in intelligence gathering after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. One NSA officer quoted in the report described "NSA standing at the U.S. border looking outward for foreign threats" and "the FBI looking within the United States for domestic threats. But no one was looking at the foreign threats coming into the United States. That was the huge gap that NSA wanted to cover."

The draft added that the sweeping phone and Internet data-gathering programs were meant to speed up the process of surveillance of a terrorist suspect overseas, because "the average wait time was between four and six weeks" to get a court order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. "Terrorists could have changed their telephone numbers or Internet addresses" before the NSA received permission to spy on them on U.S.-based phone or Internet systems.

Alexander said at a Baltimore conference on cybersecurity that the NSA decided to kill the Internet data gathering program because "it wasn't meeting what we needed and we thought we could better protect civil liberties and privacy by doing away with it."

He said the program was conducted under provisions of the Patriot Act, and that NSA leaders went to the Obama administration and Congress with the recommendation to shut it down.

Shawn Turner, a spokesman for the director of national intelligence, said the program has not resumed.

The Washington Post had described the Internet surveillance in an earlier report, without publishing the documents or releasing as many details. The Post described it as part of four secret surveillance programs'--two aimed at phone and Internet metadata, while two more target contents of phone and Internet communications.

Alexander, who has been in Congress frequently for hearings and meetings since the NSA phone and email surveillance was made public, laid out a broad defense of the programs.

He said he worries that more leaks are coming, adding that "every time a capability is revealed we lose our ability to track those targets."

While never mentioning Snowden by name, Alexander said his irresponsible releases of classified information "will have a long term detrimental impact on the intelligence community's ability to detect future attacks."

He declined to provide more details on what the NSA is doing to prevent such leaks in the future. He has said that the agency is changing passwords and improving its ability to track what system administrators are doing.

On Thursday, he said he was looking at how the leak happened and the people involved. He said the NSA can't do its job without contractors because it doesn't have all the talent or access it needs to do the job.

Explore further:US spy chief: Plot against Wall Street foiled

(C) 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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Spy program gathered Americans' Internet recordsJavascript is currently disabled in your web browser. For full site functionality, it is necessary to enable Javascript. In order to enable it, please see these instructions.1 hour ago by Kimberly Dozier(AP)'--The Obama administration gathered U.S. citizens' Internet data until 2011, continuing a spying program started under President George W. Bush that revealed whom Americans exchanged emails with and the Internet Protocol address of their computer, documents disclosed Thursday show.

The National Security Agency ended the program that collected email logs and timing, but not content, in 2011 because it decided it didn't effectively stop terrorist plots, according to the NSA's director, Gen. Keith Alexander, who also heads the U.S. Cyber Command. He said all data was purged in 2011.

Britain's Guardian newspaper on Thursday released documents detailing the collection, though the program was also described earlier this month by The Washington Post.

The latest revelation follows previous leaks from ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who is presumed hiding at a Moscow airport transit area, waiting to hear whether Ecuador, Iceland or another country might grant him asylum. He fled Hong Kong over the weekend and flew to Russia after being charged with violating American espionage laws.

The collection appears similar to the gathering of U.S. phone records, and seems to overlap with the Prism surveillance program of foreigners on U.S. Internet servers, both revealed by Snowden. U.S. officials have said the phone records can only be checked for numbers dialed by a terrorist suspect overseas. According to the documents published by The Guardian on Thursday, the Internet records show whom they exchanged emails with and the specific numeric address assigned to a computer connected to the Internet, known as the IP, or Internet Protocol, address.

The program, described in a top secret draft report from the NSA inspector general, described the efforts of then-NSA Director Gen. Mike Hayden to fill gaps in intelligence gathering after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. One NSA officer quoted in the report described "NSA standing at the U.S. border looking outward for foreign threats" and "the FBI looking within the United States for domestic threats. But no one was looking at the foreign threats coming into the United States. That was the huge gap that NSA wanted to cover."

The draft added that the sweeping phone and Internet data-gathering programs were meant to speed up the process of surveillance of a terrorist suspect overseas, because "the average wait time was between four and six weeks" to get a court order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. "Terrorists could have changed their telephone numbers or Internet addresses" before the NSA received permission to spy on them on U.S.-based phone or Internet systems.

Alexander said at a Baltimore conference on cybersecurity that the NSA decided to kill the Internet data gathering program because "it wasn't meeting what we needed and we thought we could better protect civil liberties and privacy by doing away with it."

He said the program was conducted under provisions of the Patriot Act, and that NSA leaders went to the Obama administration and Congress with the recommendation to shut it down.

Shawn Turner, a spokesman for the director of national intelligence, said the program has not resumed.

The Washington Post had described the Internet surveillance in an earlier report, without publishing the documents or releasing as many details. The Post described it as part of four secret surveillance programs'--two aimed at phone and Internet metadata, while two more target contents of phone and Internet communications.

Alexander, who has been in Congress frequently for hearings and meetings since the NSA phone and email surveillance was made public, laid out a broad defense of the programs.

He said he worries that more leaks are coming, adding that "every time a capability is revealed we lose our ability to track those targets."

While never mentioning Snowden by name, Alexander said his irresponsible releases of classified information "will have a long term detrimental impact on the intelligence community's ability to detect future attacks."

He declined to provide more details on what the NSA is doing to prevent such leaks in the future. He has said that the agency is changing passwords and improving its ability to track what system administrators are doing.

On Thursday, he said he was looking at how the leak happened and the people involved. He said the NSA can't do its job without contractors because it doesn't have all the talent or access it needs to do the job.

Explore further:US spy chief: Plot against Wall Street foiled

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Surveillance 'partnership' between NSA and telcos points to AT&T, Verizon

Link to Article

Archived Version

Source: CNET News - Politics and Law

Fri, 28 Jun 2013 00:10

Newly disclosed classified document suggests firms allowed spy agency to access e-mail and phone call data by tapping into their "fiber-optic cables, gateway switches, and data networks."

The National Security Agency entered into "collection partnerships" with a pair of telecommunications companies that permitted tapping their fiber links. Evidence suggests it's AT&T and Verizon.

Want to play a game of "guess who?"

A newly disclosed top secret document lauds the National Security Agency's "productive" and long-standing surveillance "partnership" with a pair of telecommunications providers -- that permitted tapping into their fiber links -- but without naming names.

This is where things get interesting for clue sleuths.

Even in the top-secret document published by the Guardian today, the firms are described only as "Company A" and "Company B." But the NSA's inspector general did disclose that, at the time the program was being formed in the wake of the September 11 attacks, the agency entered into the partnerships because Company A had access to 39 percent of international phone calls, and Company B had access to 28 percent.

Those figures closely correspond with Federal Communications Commission data (PDF). The most recent figures publicly available in late 2001, when the carrier "partnerships" were being expanded, reveal that AT&T carried 38.2 percent of international minutes billed to U.S. carriers. MCI, now part of Verizon, carried 29.1 percent.

Verizon spokesman Ed McFadden would not confirm or deny his employer's identity as company B, and told CNET today that the company "always requires appropriate legal process" when responding to requests from any government agency. AT&T did not respond to questions.

"Collection partnerships" with these two firms have allowed the spy agency to vacuum up e-mail and phone call content by tapping into their "fiber-optic cables, gateway switches, and data networks," says the 2009 report. That's consistent with previous reports that AT&T permitted the NSA to tap into its telecommunications facilities.

The disclosures, part of a 2009 report prepared by the NSA's Office of the Inspector General, emphasize how crucial -- and sensitive -- the agency's relationships with U.S. telecommunications companies have become.

These relationships also allowed the NSA to take advantage of the United States' role as an international Internet hub, which meant that an outsize share of worldwide traffic flows through the networks of AT&T, Verizon, and other U.S. providers. Even e-mail messages between Latin American and African countries, for instance, are typically routed through U.S. switches because of the lower cost.

NSA Director Keith Alexander believed, according to the inspector general's report, "if the relationships with these companies were ever terminated," the agency's eavesdropping ability would be "irrevocably damaged, because NSA would have sacrificed America's home field advantage as the primary hub for worldwide telecommunications."

Many of these relationships predated the September 11 attacks that dramatically increased the NSA's authority in a warrantless surveillance program secretly authorized by President Bush. A 1981 presidential executive order, for instance, authorized the collection of "signals intelligence information" for foreign intelligence purposes, which the NSA views as authorizing the interception of phone calls "transiting" the United States.

Soon after the 2001 attacks, according to the report, representatives of both Company A and Company B "contacted NSA and asked 'What can we do to help?'" Both had previously been "providing telephony content to NSA before 2001" under the 1981 executive order and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Initially, under the Bush-era program, the NSA was temporarily authorized to intercept "communications with at least one communicant outside the United States or for which no communicant was known to be a citizen of the United States." Then, in 2007, the Justice Department secretly authorized the agency to "analyze communications metadata associated with United States persons and persons believed to be in the United States."

Metadata is defined, according to the inspector general's report, as encompassing phone call records and "Internet Protocol" communications, which would include a person's IP address and what company or service they're communicating with. (Verizon turns over metadata of all customer calls to the NSA, meaning the logs of who called whom, every day.)

The Guardian's report today also cited a December 2012 document prepared by the NSA's Special Source Operations (SSO) directorate discussing classified programs codenamed EvilOlive and ShellTrumpet, which had "processed its one-trillionth metadata record" at the time. The newspaper, which did not make the SSO document public, summarized it as:

With this new system, the NSA is able to direct more than half of the internet traffic it intercepts from its collection points into its own repositories. One end of the communications collected are inside the United States. The NSA called it the "One-End Foreign (1EF) solution". It intended the program, codenamed EvilOlive, for "broadening the scope" of what it is able to collect....This new system, SSO stated in December, enables vastly increased collection by the NSA of Internet traffic. "The 1EF solution is allowing more than 75% of the traffic to pass through the filter," the SSO December document reads. "This milestone not only opened the aperture of the access but allowed the possibility for more traffic to be identified, selected and forwarded to NSA repositories."

One interpretation of EvilOlive is that the NSA is acquiring the majority of Americans' confidential Internet and phone communications -- or at least the majority flowing through the networks of its partner telecommunications companies -- and archiving them for years. Any subsequent restrictions on access by intelligence analysts would be policy-based, not technology-based, and could be modified in the future to be more permissive.

The Obama administration has declined to discuss the NSA's vast collection apparatus in any detail. A statement last week from James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, said an analyst cannot "can eavesdrop on domestic communications without proper legal authorization" -- but, pointedly, did not say what "proper legal authorization" meant.

In an online chat earlier this month, Snowden said there were few practical restrictions on analysts' ability to target American citizens:

NSA likes to use "domestic" as a weasel word here for a number of reasons....The reality is that due to [a 2008 federal law known as FAA 702], Americans' communications are collected and viewed on a daily basis on the certification of an analyst rather than a warrant. They excuse this as "incidental" collection, but at the end of the day, someone at NSA still has the content of your communications....If I target for example an email address, for example under FAA 702, and that email address sent something to you, Joe America, the analyst gets it. All of it. IPs, raw data, content, headers, attachments, everything. And it gets saved for a very long time -- and can be extended further with waivers rather than warrants."

A document previously leaked by Snowden, the former NSA contractor believed to be staying in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport, described "upstream" data collection from "fiber cables and infrastructure as data flows past."

Documents that came to light in 2006 in a lawsuit brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation offer insight into the spy agency's relationship with AT&T and other Tier 1 providers. Mark Klein, who worked as an AT&T technician for over 22 years, disclosed (PDF) that he witnessed domestic voice and Internet traffic being surreptitiously "diverted" through a "splitter cabinet" to secure room 641A in one of the company's San Francisco facilities. The room was accessible only to NSA-cleared technicians.

"This is a complete vindication," Klein, now retired and living in the San Francisco bay area, told Wired today. "They are collecting everything on everybody."

During a hearing earlier this month, Alexander, the NSA director, said his agency's surveillance programs were valuable intelligence gathering techniques that have helped to keep Americans safe:

Virtually all countries have lawful intercept programs under which they compel communications providers to share data about individuals they believe represent a threat to their societies. Communications providers are required to comply with those programs in the countries in which they operate. The United States is not unique in this capability. The U.S., however, operates its program under the strict oversight and compliance regime that was noted above, with careful oversights by the courts, Congress and the administration....We have created and implemented and continued to monitor a comprehensive mission compliance program inside NSA.

Alexander said that an analyst who wants to "target the content of a U.S. person anywhere in the world" must get a specific court warrant."

Today's disclosures about the NSA's so-called EvilOlive and other programs highlight the lack of strong encryption that would armor the communications of Internet users against warrantless surveillance.

A CNET article last week reported that, with the exception of Google, few large e-mail providers use encryption to protect their customers' privacy. And few, another article yesterday reported, use strong encryption that would shield their customers' Web browsing from government snoops.

License Plate Readers Collecting a Massive Amount of Data on Drivers

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Source: Dprogram.net

Fri, 28 Jun 2013 16:46

June 28th, 2013

(EyesOpenReport) '' Across California police are using license plate readers to collect millions of records on drivers and are supplying those records to intelligence fusion centers.

When Michael Katz-Lacabe asked the city of San Leandro for the all records taken of his car by the readers he found that there had been 112 different occasions he had been photographed. In the records he found a picture of him and his daughters getting out of his Toyota Prius in their driveway, reports CIR.

San Leandro only has one patrol car equipped with a reader. Despite this fact Katz-Lacabe's car was being logged once a week on average.

With the NSA surveillance revelations, this is just more insight on the over-the-top surveillance state America is becoming.

Government is proving to be committed to surveillance.

Just a year ago Northern California Regional Intelligence Center had signed a $340,000 agreement with the Silicon Valley firm Palantir, a firm with extensive ties to the Pentagon and intelligence agencies, to construct a database for license plate readers for 14 counties.

Jurisdictions stretching over some 450 miles, from Monterey County to the Oregon border, are collecting data with license plate readers.

The database will be capable of handling at least 100 million records and be accessible to local and state law enforcement across the region.

Katz-Lacabe expressed his concerns about the capabilities of the readers, saying that with this technology, ''you can tell who your friends are, who you hang out with, where you go to church, whether you've been to a political meeting.''

With the shocking amount of data just one patrol car equipped with a reader was able to collect on just one individual, it is certainly enough to raise privacy concerns.

American has fallen into the hands of Big Brother. The commitment of the State to break into the lives of innocent people has reached dangerous levels.

Is it safe to say there will soon be zero privacy in the United States?

Paul Lawrance writes for Eyes Open Report, where this article first appeared.

Tags: collecting data, license plate readers, on driversThis entry was posted on Friday, June 28th, 2013 at 9:52 am and is filed under Dictatorship, Education/Mind Control, Fascism, Martial Law/Police State, NWO. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

SnowJob

WikiLeaks Volunteer Was a Paid Informant for the FBI | Threat Level | Wired.com

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Fri, 28 Jun 2013 01:13

Thordarson with Julian Assange. Photo: Courtesy Sigurdur Thordarson

On an August workday in 2011, a cherubic 18-year-old Icelandic man named Sigurdur ''Siggi'' Thordarson walked through the stately doors of the U.S. embassy in Reykjav­k, his jacket pocket concealing his calling card: a crumpled photocopy of an Australian passport. The passport photo showed a man with a unruly shock of platinum blonde hair and the name Julian Paul Assange.

Thordarson was long time volunteer for WikiLeaks with direct access to Assange and a key position as an organizer in the group. With his cold war-style embassy walk-in, he became something else: the first known FBI informant inside WikiLeaks. For the next three months, Thordarson served two masters, working for the secret-spilling website and simultaneously spilling its secrets to the U.S. government in exchange, he says, for a total of about $5,000. The FBI flew him internationally four times for debriefings, including one trip to Washington D.C., and on the last meeting obtained from Thordarson eight hard drives packed with chat logs, video and other data from WikiLeaks.

The relationship provides a rare window into the U.S. law enforcement investigation into WikiLeaks, the transparency group newly thrust back into international prominence with its assistance to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Thordarson's double-life illustrates the lengths to which the government was willing to go in its pursuit of Julian Assange, approaching WikiLeaks with the tactics honed during the FBI's work against organized crime and computer hacking '-- or, more darkly, the bureau's Hoover-era infiltration of civil rights groups.

''It's a sign that the FBI views WikiLeaks as a suspected criminal organization rather than a news organization,'' says Stephen Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy. ''WikiLeaks was something new, so I think the FBI had to make a choice at some point as to how to evaluate it: Is this The New York Times, or is this something else? And they clearly decided it was something else.''

The FBI declined comment.

Thordarson was 17 years old and still in high school when he joined WikiLeaks in February 2010. He was one of a large contingent of Icelandic volunteers that flocked to Assange's cause after WikiLeaks published internal bank documents pertaining to that country's financial crisis.

When a staff revolt in September 2010 left the organization short-handed, Assange put Thordarson in charge of the WikiLeaks chat room, making Thordarson the first point of contact for new volunteers, journalists, potential sources, and outside groups clamoring to get in with WikiLeaks at the peak of its notoriety.

In that role, Thordarson was a middle man in the negotiations with the Bradley Manning Defense Fund that led to WikiLeaks donating $15,000 to the defense of its prime source. He greeted and handled a new volunteer who had begun downloading and organizing a vast trove of 1970s-era diplomatic cables from the National Archives and Record Administration, for what became WikiLeaks' ''Kissinger cables'' collection last April. And he wrangled scores of volunteers and supporters who did everything from redesign WikiLeaks' websites to shooting video homages to Assange.

He accumulated thousands of pages of chat logs from his time in WikiLeaks, which, he says, are now in the hands of the FBI.

Thordarson's betrayal of WikiLeaks also was a personal betrayal of its founder, Julian Assange, who, former colleagues say, took Thordarson under his wing, and kept him around in the face of criticism and legal controversy.

''When Julian met him for the first or second time, I was there,'' says Birgitta Jonsdottir, a member of Icelandic Parliament who worked with WikiLeaks on Collateral Murder, the Wikileaks release of footage of a US helicopter attack in Iraq. ''And I warned Julian from day one, there's something not right about this guy'... I asked not to have him as part of the Collateral Murder team.''

In January 2011, Thordarson was implicated in a bizarre political scandal in which a mysterious ''spy computer'' laptop was found running unattended in an empty office in the parliament building. ''If you did [it], don't tell me,'' Assange told Thordarson, according to unauthenticated chat logs provided by Thordarson.

''I will defend you against all accusations, ring [sic] and wrong, and stick by you, as I have done,'' Assange told him in another chat the next month. ''But I expect total loyalty in return.''

Instead, Thordarson used his proximity to Assange for his own purposes. The most consequential act came in June 2011, on his third visit to Ellingham Hall '-- the English mansion where Assange was then under house arrest while fighting extradition to Sweden.

For reasons that remain murky, Thordarson decided to approach members of the Lulzsec hacking gang and solicit them to hack Islandic government systems as a service to WikiLeaks. To establish his bona fides as a WikiLeaks representative, he shot and uploaded a 40-second cell phone video that opens on the IRC screen with the chat in progress, and then floats across the room to capture Asssange at work with an associate. (This exchange was first reported by Parmy Olson in her book on Anonymous).

Unfortunately for Thordarson, the FBI had busted Lulzsec's leader, Hector Xavier Monsegur, AKA Sabu, a week earlier, and secured his cooperation as an informant. On June 20, the FBI warned the Icelandic government. ''A huge team of FBI came to Iceland and asked the Icelandic authorities to help them,'' says Jonsdottir. ''They thought there was an imminent Lulzsec attack on Iceland.''

The FBI may not have known at this point who Thordarson was beyond his screen names. The bureau and law enforcement agencies in the UK and Australia went on to round up alleged Lulzsec members on unrelated charges.

Having dodged that bullet, it's not clear what prompted Thordarson to approach the FBI two months later. When I asked him directly last week, he answered, ''I guess I cooperated because I didn't want to participate in having Anonymous and Lulzsec hack for Wikileaks, since then you're definitely breaking quite a lot of laws.''

That answer doesn't make a lot of sense, since it was Thordarson, not Assange, who asked Lulzsec to hack Iceland. There's no evidence of any other WikiLeaks staffer being involved. He offered a second reason that he admits is more truthful: ''The second reason was the adventure.''

Thordarson's equivocation highlights a hurdle in reporting on him: He is prone to lying. Jonsdottir calls him ''pathological.'' He admits he has lied to me in the past. For this story, Thordarson backed his account by providing emails that appear to be between him and his FBI handlers, flight records for some of his travels, and an FBI receipt indicating that he gave them eight hard drives. The Icelandic Ministry of the Interior has previously confirmed that the FBI flew to Iceland to interview Thordarson. Thordarson also testified to much of this account in a session of the Icelandic Parliament, with Jonsdottir in attendance.

Finally, he has given me a substantial subset of the chat logs he says he passed to the FBI, amounting to about 2,000 pages, which, at the very least, proves that he kept logs and is willing to turn them over to a reporter disliked by Julian Assange.

Thordarson's ''adventure'' began on August 23, 2011, when he sent an email to the general delivery box for the U.S. embassy in Reykjav­k ''Regarding an Ongoing Criminal investigation in the United States.''

''The nature of the intel that can be brought to light in that investigation will not be spoken over email conversation,'' he wrote cryptically.

An embassy security officer called him the same day. ''He said, 'What investigation?' I said the Wikileaks,'' says Thordarson. ''He denied there was such an investigation, so I just said we both know there is.''

Thordarson was invited to the embassy, where he presented a copy of Assange's passport, the passport for Assange's number two, Kristinn Hrafnsson, and a snippet of a private chat between Thordarson and Assange. The embassy official was noncommittal. He told Thordarson they might be in touch, but it would take at least a week.

It happened much faster.

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You'll Never Know if the NSA Is Breaking the Law '-- or Keeping You Safe - Philip Bump - The Atlantic Wire

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Fri, 28 Jun 2013 14:37

What if the NSA's surveillance isn't legal? What if its collection of phone records and its electronic surveillance of foreigners and Americans violates the letter of the laws that the agency cite as its newfound authority, the Patriot Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act? We'd be where we are now, with the government relying on unprovable arguments for efficacy instead of demonstrable legal rationalization.

We know that in at least two moments the NSA programs likely violated federal law. In a secret ruling, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the body tasked with approving the government's surveillance requests, determined that the NSA's data collection violated the Fourth Amendment. Then, of course, there was the period before the passage of the amendments to FISA in 2008. As documents released by the Guardian Thursday make clear, the NSA's surveillance at least in some ways pre-dates its explicit legal authority to do so.

In an opinion piece in The New York Times today, two legal experts argue that even that expansion may not have been enough. The two, Jennifer Stisa Granick of Stanford and Christopher Sprigman from the University of Virginia, first argue that the bulk collection of phone records under the Patriot Act exceeds the legal boundaries. "[A]ny data might be 'relevant' to an investigation eventually," they write, "if by 'eventually' you mean 'sometime before the end of time.'" But their stronger critique is of the PRISM / electronic data surveillance under FISA. The 2008 amendments state that the NSA can't "intentionally acquire any communication as to which the sender and all intended recipients are known at the time of the acquisition to be located in the United States."

How could vacuuming up Americans' communications conform with this legal limitation? Well, as James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, told Andrea Mitchell of NBC, the N.S.A. uses the word ''acquire'' only when it pulls information out of its gigantic database of communications and not when it first intercepts and stores the information.

If there's a law against torturing the English language, James Clapper is in real trouble.

Prior to the passage of the amendments, the government relied on its own legal interpretations of existing mandates to justify its actions. As Thursday's leaks made clear, the push for more data collection in the wake of September 11th preceded the legal rationales used to justify them. Once the NSA began partnering with domestic law enforcement in 2004, even the NSA balked at the government's shaky legal analysis. Granick and Sprigman note that the primary justification came then and comes now from "select Supreme Court cases, decided before the era of the public Internet and cellphones."

The FISA court seems to be taking steps to drop the wall of privacy behind which it acts, however minimally. Earlier this month, it ruled that that it wouldn't block release to advocacy groups of that secret ruling on the Fourth Amendment violations. On Wednesday, CNet reported that it was also willing to allow tech companies to provide more information about government requests for user data.

[Reggie] Walton, the FISC's presiding judge, gave the Justice Department until July 9 to respond to the requests from Google and Microsoft to disclose summary statistics about orders received under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, which became [law] in 2008. The pair of companies have until July 16 to submit their replies.

Allowing these companies to reveal the extent of request form the government would provide a very limited amount of information about the government's activity '-- but it would at least offer some.

The NSA either can't or won't crack the door in that way. Its response to critique has instead been to argue that its surveillance systems are essential to keeping Americans safe, an argument that relies heavily on secret data concerning disrupted terror activity. And, worse, that revealing information about its activity strengthens terrorists.

As documented in an exceptional piece by Jack Shafer at Reuters, the agency did a brief tour of major media outlets earlier this week, arguing that the leaks by Edward Snowden and the reporting by the Guardian prompted terrorists to change their behavior.

The media tour included Reuters, which had a similar conversation with ''two U.S. national security sources.'' Its piece, time-stamped two hours after CNN's, reported that ''militants have begun responding by altering methods of communication.'' Like CNN, Reuters learned from the intel officials that both Sunni and Shi'ite groups had changed communications methods and that those changes might leave the U.S. blind to future attacks.

We've noted before that this cannot be proven, one way or the other. It's possible that the inability to prove those shifts plays to the NSA's detriment, making it hard for the agency to make its case that its tools are necessary to protect us, legal or not. But a skeptic is warranted in assuming that the inability to share information on the tools' efficacy plays to the NSA's advantage. That argument was made very eloquently and directly by Chris Hayes on his MSNBC program last night.

"There is a vast and growing web of secret government in this country," Hayes concluded. "And it simply cannot be the case '-- it is not acceptable '-- that the only things we know about it are the things the members of that secret government want us to know."

So much happens in government on an hourly basis that we tend to give it the benefit of the doubt. Even those who are skeptical of the federal government '-- or who are openly hostile to it '-- don't spend extended time worrying about all of the various behaviors of the government on our collective behalf. We ask our legislators and elected officials to represent our will and protect our needs. In this case, those legislators are largely complicit in the authorization of the NSA's activity '-- and are also dependent on the secret government agencies for information on what's happening.

So, what if the NSA's surveillance isn't legal? For now, the only answer seems to be: Trust us. And, sorry, but you can't verify.

Photo: NSA head Keith Alexander meets the press. (AP)

Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments or send an email to the author at pbump at theatlantic dot com. You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.

Article Three of the United States Constitution - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Fri, 28 Jun 2013 16:44

Article Three of the United States Constitution establishes the judicial branch of the federal government. The judicial branch comprises the Supreme Court of the United States and lower courts as created by Congress.

Section 1: Federal courts[edit]Section 1 vests the judicial power in federal courts, requires a supreme court, allows inferior courts, requires good behavior tenure for judges, and prohibits decreasing the salaries of judges.

The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

Number of courts[edit]Section 1 explicitly requires one Supreme Court, but does not fix the number of justices that must be appointed to it. Article I, Section 3, Clause 6 refers to a "Chief Justice" when it states "When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside." The number of justices has been fixed by statute, and at present the number is nine: one chief justice and eight associate justices.

Proposals to divide the Supreme Court into the separate panels have been made, but all have failed. Since all such proposals have failed, the Supreme Court has never ruled on the constitutionality of such a division. However, Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes wrote, "the Constitution does not appear to authorize two or more Supreme Courts functioning in effect as separate courts."

The Supreme Court is the only federal court that is required explicitly by the Constitution. During the Constitutional Convention, a proposal was made for the Supreme Court to be the only federal court, having both original jurisdiction and appellate jurisdiction. This proposal was rejected in favor of the provision that exists today. Under this provision, the Congress may create inferior courts under both Article III, Section 1, and Article I, Section 8. The Article III courts, which are also known as "constitutional courts", were first created by the Judiciary Act of 1789. Article I courts, which are also known as "legislative courts", consist of regulatory agencies, such as the United States Tax Court. Article III courts are the only ones with judicial power, and so decisions of regulatory agencies remain subject to review by Article III courts. However, cases not requiring "judicial determination" may come before Article I courts. In the case of Murray's Lessee v. Hoboken Land & Improvement Co. 59 U.S.272 (1855), the Supreme Court ruled that cases involving "a suit at the common law, or in equity, or admiralty" inherently involve judicial determination and must come before Article III courts. Other cases, such as bankruptcy cases, have been held not to involve judicial determination, and may therefore go before Article I courts. Similarly, several courts in the District of Columbia, which is under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Congress, are Article I courts rather than Article III courts. This article was expressly extended to the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico by the U.S. Congress through Federal Law 89-571, 80 Stat. 764, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966. This transformed the article IV United States territorial court in Puerto Rico, created in the year 1900, to an Article III federal judicial district court.

The Judiciary Reorganization Bill of 1937, frequently called the court-packing plan,[1] was a legislative initiative to add more justices to the Supreme Court proposed by U.S. PresidentFranklin Roosevelt shortly after his victory in the 1936 presidential election. Although the bill aimed generally to overhaul and modernize all of the federalcourt system, its central and most controversial provision would have granted the President power to appoint an additional Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court for every sitting member over the age of 70½, up to a maximum of six.

Tenure[edit]The Constitution provides that judges "shall hold their Offices during good Behavior." The term "good behavior" is interpreted to mean that judges may serve for the remainder of their lives, although they may resign or retire voluntarily. A judge may also be removed by impeachment and conviction by congressional vote (hence the term good behavior); this has occurred fourteen times. Three other judges, Mark W. Delahay,[2]George W. English,[3] and Samuel B. Kent,[4] chose to resign rather than go through the impeachment process.

Salaries[edit]The compensation of judges may not be decreased, but may be increased, during their continuance in office. The Constitution is silent when it comes to judges of courts which have been abolished. The Judiciary Act of 1801 increased the number of courts to permit the Federalist President John Adams to appoint a number of Federalist judges before Thomas Jefferson took office. When Jefferson became President, the Congress abolished several of these courts and made no provision for the judges of those courts. The power to abolish a court was next used in 1913, when the Congress abolished the Commerce Court. In that case, however, Congress transferred the judges of the Commerce Court to the Circuit Courts.

Section 2: Judicial power, jurisdiction, and trial by jury[edit]Section 2 delineates federal judicial power, and brings that power into execution by conferring original jurisdiction and also appellate jurisdiction upon the Supreme Court. Additionally, this section requires trial by jury in all criminal cases, except impeachment cases.

The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;'--to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;'--to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;'--to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;'--to Controversies between two or more States;'--between a State and Citizens of another State;'--between Citizens of different States;'--between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.

Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.Eleventh Amendment and state sovereign immunity[edit]In Chisholm v. Georgia, 2 U.S. (Dallas 2) 419 (1793), the Supreme Court held that states were not immune from lawsuits by individuals due to the Supreme Court's Article III jurisdiction over them. The Eleventh Amendment reversed this decision, and prevents a state from being sued in a federal court by a citizen of another state.

Cases and controversies[edit]Only actual cases and controversies may be heard by the federal courts; the judicial power does not extend to cases which are hypothetical, or which are precluded because of problems with standing, mootness, or ripeness. Generally, a case or controversy requires the presence of adverse parties who have some interest genuinely at stake in the case. In Muskrat v. United States, 219 U.S.346 (1911), the Supreme Court denied jurisdiction to cases brought under a statute permitting certain Native Americans to bring suit against the United States to determine the constitutionality of a law allocating tribal lands. Counsel for both sides were to be paid from the federal Treasury. The Supreme Court held that, though the United States was a defendant, the case in question was not an actual controversy; rather, the statute was merely devised to test the constitutionality of a certain type of legislation. Thus the Court's ruling would be nothing more than an advisory opinion; therefore, the court dismissed the suit for failing to present a "case or controversy."

Original and appellate jurisdiction[edit]Section 2 provides that the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction in cases affecting ambassadors, ministers and consuls, and also in those controversies which are subject to federal judicial power because at least one state is a party; the Court has held that the latter requirement is met if the United States has a controversy with a state.[5][6] In other cases, the Supreme Court has only appellate jurisdiction, which may be regulated by the Congress. The Congress may not, however, amend the Court's original jurisdiction, as was found in Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (Cranch 1) 137 (1803) (the same decision which established the principle of judicial review). Marbury held that Congress can neither expand nor restrict the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. However, the appellate jurisdiction of the Court is different. The Court's appellate jurisdiction is given "with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make."

Often a court will assert a modest degree of power over a case for purposes of determining whether it has jurisdiction, and so the word "power" is not necessarily synonymous with the word "jurisdiction".[7][8]

Judicial review[edit]No part of the Constitution expressly authorizes judicial review, but the Framers did contemplate the idea. In Federalist No. 78, Alexander Hamilton wrote,

The interpretation of the laws is the proper and peculiar province of the courts. A constitution, is, in fact, and must be regarded by the judges, as a fundamental law. It therefore belongs to them to ascertain its meaning, as well as the meaning of any particular act proceeding from the legislative body. If there should happen to be an irreconcilable variance between two, that which has the superior obligation and validity ought, of course, to be preferred; or, in other words, the constitution ought to be preferred to the statute, the intention of the people to the intention of their agents.[9]

Others, however, disagreed, claiming that each branch could determine for itself the constitutionality of its actions.

A continuation of the text of Federalist No. 78 by Hamilton [below] counterbalances the tone of "judicial supremacists" who demand that both Congress and the Executive are compelled by the Constitution to enforce all court decisions, including those that, in their eyes, or those of the People, violate fundamental American principles.

Nor does this conclusion by any means suppose a superiority of the judicial to the legislative power. It only supposes that the power of the people is superior to both; and that where the will of the legislature, declared in its statutes, stands in opposition to that of the people, declared in the Constitution, the judges ought to be governed by the latter rather than the former. They ought to regulate their decisions by the fundamental laws, rather than by those which are not fundamental.[9]

Hamilton continues. . .

It can be of no weight to say that the courts, on the pretense of a repugnancy, may substitute their own pleasure to the constitutional intentions of the legislature. This might as well happen in the case of two contradictory statutes; or it might as well happen in every adjudication upon any single statute. The courts must declare the sense of the law; and if they should be disposed to exercise WILL instead of JUDGMENT, the consequence would equally be the substitution of their pleasure to that of the legislative body. The observation, if it prove any thing, would prove that there ought to be no judges distinct from that body.[9]

Marbury v. Madison involved a highly partisan set of circumstances. Though Congressional elections were held in November 1800, the newly elected officers did not take power until March. The Federalist Party had lost the elections. In the words of President Thomas Jefferson, the Federalists "retired into the judiciary as a stronghold". In the four months following the elections, the outgoing Congress created several new judgeships, which were filled by President John Adams. In the last-minute rush, however, Federalist Secretary of State John Marshall had neglected to deliver commissions to the appointees. When James Madison took office as Secretary of State, several commissions remained undelivered. Bringing their claims under the Judiciary Act of 1789, the appointees, including William Marbury, petitioned the Supreme Court for the issue of a writ of mandamus, which in English law had been used to force public officials to fulfill their ministerial duties. Here, Madison would be required to deliver the commissions.

Marbury posed a difficult problem for the court, which was led by now-Chief Justice John Marshall, the same person who had neglected to deliver the commissions when he was Secretary of State. If Marshall's court commanded James Madison to deliver the commissions, Madison might ignore the order, thereby indicating the weakness of the court. Similarly, if the court denied William Marbury's request, the court would be seen as weak. Marshall held that appointee Marbury was indeed entitled to his commission. However, Marshall contended that the Judiciary Act of 1789 was unconstitutional, as it purported to grant original jurisdiction to the Supreme Court in cases not involving states or ambassadors. The ruling thereby established that the federal courts could exercise judicial review over the actions of Congress or the executive branch.

However, Hamilton, in Federalist No. 78, expresses the view that the Courts hold only the power of words, and not the power of compulsion upon those other two branches of government, upon which the Supreme Court is itself dependent. But in 1820, Thomas Jefferson expressed his deep reservations about the doctrine of judicial review:

''You seem ... to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions; a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men, and not more so. They have, with others, the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps.... Their power [is] the more dangerous as they are in office for life, and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots. It has more wisely made all the departments co-equal and co-sovereign within themselves.[10]''Trial by jury[edit]Article III, Section 2, provides that crimes, except impeachment cases, must be tried before a jury, unless the defendant waives his right. The trial must be held in the state where the crime was committed. If the crime was not committed in any particular state, then the trial is held in such a place as set forth by the Congress.

The Sixth Amendment has related provisions. The trial must be held in the "State and district" where the crime was committed and the district is set by Congress. The Sixth Amendment also contains other guarantees not related to the place of the trial.

The Senate has the sole power to try all impeachments.[11]

Section 3: Treason[edit]Section 3 defines treason and its punishment.

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court. The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.The Constitution defines treason as specific acts, namely "levying War against [the United States], or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort." A contrast is therefore maintained with the English law, whereby a variety of crimes, including conspiring to kill the King or "violating" the Queen, were punishable as treason. In Ex Parte Bollman, 8 U.S.75 (1807), the Supreme Court ruled that "there must be an actual assembling of men, for the treasonable purpose, to constitute a levying of war."[12]

Under English law effective during the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, there were essentially five species of treason.[citation needed] Of the five, the Constitution adopted only two: levying war and adhering to enemies. Omitted were species of treason involving encompassing (or imagining) the death of the king, certain types of counterfeiting, and finally fornication with women in the royal family of the sort which could call into question the parentage of successors. James Wilson wrote the original draft of this section, and he was involved as a defense attorney for some accused of treason against the Patriot cause.

Section 3 also requires the testimony of two different witnesses on the same overt act, or a confession by the accused in open court, to convict for treason. This rule was derived from an older English statute, the Treason Act 1695.[13] In Cramer v. United States, 325 U.S.1 (1945), the Supreme Court ruled that "[e]very act, movement, deed, and word of the defendant charged to constitute treason must be supported by the testimony of two witnesses."[14] In Haupt v. United States, 330 U.S.631 (1947), however, the Supreme Court found that two witnesses are not required to prove intent; nor are two witnesses required to prove that an overt act is treasonable. The two witnesses, according to the decision, are required to prove only that the overt act occurred (eyewitnesses and federal agents investigating the crime, for example).

Punishment for treason may not "work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person" so convicted. The descendants of someone convicted for treason could not, as they were under English law, be considered "tainted" by the treason of their ancestor. Furthermore, Congress may confiscate the property of traitors, but that property must be inheritable at the death of the person convicted.

In Federalist No. 43James Madison wrote regarding the Treason Clause:

As treason may be committed against the United States, the authority of the United States ought to be enabled to punish it. But as new-fangled and artificial treasons have been the great engines by which violent factions, the natural offspring of free government, have usually wreaked their alternate malignity on each other, the convention have, with great judgment, opposed a barrier to this peculiar danger, by inserting a constitutional definition of the crime, fixing the proof necessary for conviction of it, and restraining the Congress, even in punishing it, from extending the consequences of guilt beyond the person of its author.Based on the above quoted excerpt it was noted by lawyer William J. Olson in an Amicus curiae in the case Hedges v. Obama that the Treason Clause was one of the enumerated powers of the federal government.[15] He also stated that by defining treason in the U.S. Constitution and placing it in Article III "the founders intended the power to be checked by the judiciary, ruling out trial by military commission. As Madison noted, the Treason Clause also was designed to limit the power of the federal government to punish its citizens for ''adhering to [the United States's] enemies, giving them aid and comfort.''"[15]

References[edit]^Epstein, Lee; Walker, Thomas G. (2007). Constitutional Law for a Changing America: Institutional Powers and Constraints (6th ed.). Washington, D.C.: CQ Press. ISBN 978-1-933116-81-5., at 451.^"Judges of the United States Courts - Delahay, Mark W.". Federal Judicial Center. n.d. Retrieved 2009-07-02. ^staff (n.d.). "Judges of the United States Courts - English, George Washington". Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved 2009-07-02. ^"Judges of the United States Courts - Kent, Samuel B.". Federal Judicial Center. n.d. Retrieved 2009-07-02. ^United States v. Texas, 143 U.S. 621 (1892). A factor in United States v. Texas was that there had been an "act of congress requiring the institution of this suit". With a few narrow exceptions, courts have held that Congress controls access to the courts by the United States and its agencies and officials. See, e.g., Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., 514 U.S. 122 ("Agencies do not automatically have standing to sue for actions that frustrate the purposes of their statutes"). Also see United States v. Mattson, 600 F. 2d 1295 (9th Cir. 1979).^Cohens v. Virginia, 19 U.S. 264 (1821): "[T]he original jurisdiction of the Supreme court, in cases where a state is a party, refers to those cases in which, according to the grant of power made in the preceding clause, jurisdiction might be exercised, in consequence of the character of the party."^Cover, Robert. Narrative, Violence and the Law (U. Mich. 1995): "Every denial of jurisdiction on the part of a court is an assertion of the power to determine jurisdiction...."^Di Trolio, Stefania. "Undermining and Unintwining: The Right to a Jury Trial and Rule 12(b)(1)", Seton Hall Law Review, Volume 33, page 1247, text accompanying note 82 (2003).^ abc"The Federalist Papers : No. 78". Archived from the original on 29 October 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-28. ^Jefferson, Thomas. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Letter to William Jarvis (September 28, 1820).^U.S. Constitution, Art. I, sec. 3^Bollman, at 126^The rule was abolished in the United Kingdom in 1945.^Cramer, at 34^ abOlson, William J. (16 April 2012). "Case 1:12-cv-00331-KBF Document 29-2 Filed 04/16/12 AMICUS CURIAE BRIEF OF VIRGINIA STATE DELEGATE BOB MARSHALL, VIRGINIA STATE SENATOR DICK BLACK, DOWNSIZE DC FOUNDATION, DOWNSIZEDC.ORG, INC., U.S. JUSTICE FOUNDATION, INSTITUTE ON THE CONSTITUTION, GUN OWNERS FOUNDATION, GUN OWNERS OF AMERICA, INC., THE LINCOLN INSTITUTE FOR RESEARCH AND EDUCATION, THE WESTERN CENTER FOR JOURNALISM, CONSERVATIVE LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATION FUND, U.S. BORDER CONTROL, RESTORING LIBERTY ACTIONCOMMITTEE, TENTH AMENDMENT CENTER, CENTER FOR MEDIA AND DEMOCRACY, BILL OF RIGHTS DEFENSE COMMITTEE, PASTOR CHUCK BALDWIN, PROFESSOR JEROME AUMENTE, AND THE CONSTITUTION PARTY NATIONAL COMMITTEE IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS". Friedman, Harfenist, Kraut & Perlstein , PPC. lawandfreedom.com. pp. 15''16. Bibliography[edit]Irons, Peter. (1999). A People's History of the Supreme Court. New York: Penguin.External links[edit]

NYTimes op-ed on NSA

Passport Information for Criminal Law Enforcement Officers

AFRICOM boot da Chiners

Obama to unveil broad African electrical power initiative.

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Archived Version

Source: WT news feed

Sun, 30 Jun 2013 13:12

Sun Jun 30, 2013 12:00am EDT

* Two-thirds of Africans lack access to electricity

* Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya among first countries in program

* Will include financial support for U.S. exporters

By Mark Felsenthal

JOHANNESBURG, June 30 (Reuters) - Pointing to Africa's crippling lack of electrical power, President Barack Obama is due to announce on Sunday a $7 billion initiative over five years to double access to power in sub-Saharan Africa.

"We see this as the next phase in our development strategy and a real focal point in the president's agenda going forward," deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters traveling with the president.

Obama is midway through a three-country tour of Africa and is due to give what aides bill as his fullest description of his vision for the U.S. relationship with the continent on Sunday.

The president has chosen historically resonant locations for the address, and is due to speak at the University of Cape Town after touring the prison on Robben Island. Robert F. Kennedy's 1966 speech at the university linked the struggles against apartheid and the U.S. civil rights movement and was seen as giving encouragement to the movement, while Robben Island is where anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 of his 27 years in jail.

The president will cite South Africa's long struggle to defeat apartheid and the U.S. civil rights movement's success in overcoming racial inequality as models of movements that brought about change in the face of daunting obstacles, aides said. He will call on young Africans to summon similar energy to complete the work of those movements and to firmly establish economic growth, democratic government, and stable societies across the continent.

SIGNATURE PROGRAM

Obama has been faulted for lacking a grand program to benefit Africa like the HIV/AIDS initiative launched by President George W. Bush or the broad reductions of trade barriers achieved by President Bill Clinton.

Many Africans have been disappointed at what they see as Obama's hands-off approach to the continent, noting that his first extended trip the continent has not come until his second term in office despite his African ancestry. Obama's father was a native of Kenya.

The president's aides say he has been held back by the need to wind down two wars and to right the U.S. economy after the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

Despite severe U.S. budget constraints, the power initiative could provide Obama with just such a signature program.

DARKNESS BY NIGHT

Experts agree that the lack of electricity is a tremendous hindrance to Africa's advancement.

"Africa is largely a continent of darkness by night," said an official at a multilateral agency who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Every which way you look at this, Africa is behind the curve and pays more."

Roughly two-thirds of sub-Saharan Africa lacks power, a level that rises as high as 85 percent in rural areas, White House aide Gayle Smith said.

Lack of power inhibits business investment, prevents children from studying after dark, and makes it harder to keep vaccines from spoiling in rural areas, she said.

The United States will initially work with Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania to develop electric power generation, officials said. It will also cooperate with Uganda and Mozambique on oil and gas management.

The program will draw on a range of U.S. government agencies to achieve its goals. For example, the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corp will commit as much as $1.5 billion in finance and insurance to help U.S. companies manage the risks associated with the projects.

Similarly, the U.S. Export-Import Bank will make up to $5 billion available to support U.S. exports to develop power projects, the officials said.

The private sector will also be involved. Officials said General Electric Co has committed to power generation projects in Tanzania and Ghana, officials added.

The president's trip has taken him to Senegal and South Africa and will wind up in Tanzania on Monday and Tuesday. Although concerns over the ailing health of anti-apartheid hero Mandela have overshadowed much of the trip, the president has sounded the theme of Africa's economic potential at every stop.

In keeping with that emphasis, Obama will also announce that he plans to hold a summit of sub-Saharan African leaders in Washington next year.

"It's something other countries have done," Rhodes said. "What we want to do is continue the kind of high-level engagement we've had on this trip."

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Undersea cable cut near Egypt slows down Internet in Africa, Middle East, South Asia '-- Tech News and Analysis

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Archived Version

Sun, 30 Jun 2013 04:39

Mar. 27, 2013 - 1:16 PM PDT Mar. 27, 2013 - 1:16 PM PDT

It is like Groundhog Day! Once again an undersea cable has been cut '-- the South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 4 (aka SEA-ME-WE 4) cable and that is causing an internet (and communications) slowdown in and around Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia. The cut was said to be near Alexandria in Egypt. Tata Communications '' previously Videsh Sanchar Nigam LimitedIndia '' administers the network.

While the cut was on a single cable, it came at an unfortunate time as a few other major cables were in ''maintenance mode'' and that has resulted in problems for service providers across the region. Our sources in the telecom community confirmed that two other cables '-- Europe India Gateway (EIG) and India-Middle East-Western Europe (IMEWE) '-- were in 'maintenance' mode when the SWM4 got cut. The result is downstream congestion on networks that are going to India and around the Indian Ocean. UAE's Etisalat reported that the internet speeds were down by as much as 60 percent in some locations.

Sunil Tagare, who runs the BuySellBandwidth.com, on his blog wrote

It's not good enough to say since you have 10 cables even if going through Egypt, you have route diversity. And as today's 4 cable cuts have demonstrated, any time the cables are along similar paths, there is a high likelihood that all of them might be cut at the same time.

He was arguing that four major cable '-- I-Me-We, Sea-Me-We-4, EIG and TE North '' were impacted at the same time and thus causing problems in the Middle East and Asia. It is not a smart way to think about the networks, especially since we depend so heavily on many of these optical cables. Tagare's argument makes sense to me, for we have seen this pattern repeat itself a few times. As I wrote earlier, there are three major cables that connect Europe and Middle East '' SeaMeWe-3, SeaMeWe-4 and FLAG Euro-Asia '-- and they follow the same path underneath the Mediterranean Sea, making them vulnerable to cuts.

In 2010, the SEA-ME-WE-4 experienced a cut causing large scale disruptions, two years after the cable experienced an outage. Things have become more acute now considering that SEA-ME-WE4 is a lifeline for the African internet.

SEACOM, an African consortium which owns the big African Internet cable, later confirmed the outage on its website and said that it was working towards restoration. SEACOM had already been experiencing problems since March 24 and was in the middle of fixing those before it was hit by the cable cut.

Mark Simpson, CEO of SEACOM, said in a press note:

The cause of the outage is a physical cable cut some kilometres north of the coast of Egypt in the Mediterranean Sea. This is not likely to be known until the cable is repaired in the coming week or two and the damaged section is recovered from the seabed and inspected. However we suspect, based on our experience with sub-sea systems and the nature of the sea area where the cut has occurred, that the most likely cause is external aggression to the cable most probably caused by a larger vessel dragging its anchor across the sea bed. Unfortunately this remains a common cause of damage to cable systems globally, despite our continued efforts to protect the cable with armour, burying, notifications to ships of cable location and exclusion zones.

By the way, SEAMEWE-3 experienced a cut about two months ago (between Singapore and Perth, Australia) and it hasn't been fixed just yet mostly because the network operator was waiting for Indonesian government permission to fix the cable which is in Indonesian waters.

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Board of Directors | OPIC : Overseas Private Investment Corporation

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Archived Version

Sun, 30 Jun 2013 13:15

OPIC's Board of Directors consists of fifteen members - eight from the private sector and seven from the federal government. At least two of the private sector directors must be experienced in small business, one must represent organized labor, and another must have experience in cooperatives. Government members include the Administrator of the Agency for International Development, the United States Trade Representative or Deputy U.S. Trade Representative, the President of OPIC, and four additional members who are senior officials of other government agencies, including the Department of Labor. All members must be appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

The Board of Directors, which meets four times per year, provides policy guidance to the Corporation and approves all major insurance, project finance and investment funds projects.

Elizabeth L. Littlefield, ChairPresident and Chief Executive OfficerOverseas Private Investment Corporation

Dr. Rajiv ShahAdministratorU.S. Agency for International Development

Ambassador Miriam SapiroActing United States Trade RepresentativeOffice of the U.S. Trade Representative Francisco J. SnchezUnder Secretary for International AffairsU.S. Department of Commerce Seth D. HarrisDeputy SecretaryU.S. Department of Labor Lael BrainardUnder Secretary for International AffairsU.S. Department of the Treasury

Robert D. HormatsUnder Secretary of State for Economic, Energy & Agricultural AffairsU.S. Department of State

Matthew Maxwell Taylor KennedySmall BusinessDirector, Kennedy Enterprises Katherine M. GehlSmall BusinessPresident and CEO, Gehl Foods, Inc. Terry LewisCooperativesPrincipal, LIA Advisors, LLC Michael J. WarrenMemberPrincipal, Albright Stonebridge Group James M. DemersSmall BusinessPresident, Demers & Blaisdell Inc. James A. TorreyDirectorThe Torrey Family Office Roberto R. HerenciaMemberPresident & CEO,BXM Holdings, Inc. Naomi WalkerOrganized LaborAssistant to the PresidentAmerican Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees

28Tbps undersea fiber backed by Google, China Telecom, NEC goes live - Computerworld

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Fri, 28 Jun 2013 14:06

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Shut Up Slaves and Spies!

Four Star General Close To Obama Under Investigation For Leaking Info About Cyber Attack On Iran

Ex-Pentagon general target of leak investigation, sources say - Investigations

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Archived Version

Fri, 28 Jun 2013 02:49

Retired Marine Gen. James "Hoss" Cartwright was the second-highest ranking member of the U.S. military, and a key Obama adviser who served as the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Legal sources tell NBC News Cartwright has been notified he's the target of a Justice Department criminal investigation into a leak about a covert U.S. cyberattack on Iran's nuclear program. NBC's Michael Isikoff reports.

By Michael IsikoffNational Investigative Correspondent, NBC News

Legal sources tell NBC News that the former second ranking officer in the U.S. military is now the target of a Justice Department investigation into a politically sensitive leak of classified information about a covert U.S. cyber attack on Iran's nuclear program.

According to legal sources, Retired Marine Gen. James ''Hoss'' Cartwright, the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has received a target letter informing him that he's under investigation for allegedly leaking information about a massive attack using a computer virus named Stuxnet on Iran's nuclear facilities. Gen. Cartwright, 63, becomes the latest individual targeted over alleged leaks by the Obama administration, which has already prosecuted or charged eight individuals under the Espionage Act.

Last year, the New York Times reported that Cartwright, a four-star general who was vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs from 2007 to 2011, conceived and ran the cyber operation, called Olympic Games, under Presidents Bush and Obama. According to the front-page story by chief Washington correspondent David Sanger, President Obama ordered the cyber attacks sped up, and in 2010 an attack using the Stuxnet worm temporarily disabled 1,000 centrifuges that the Iranians were using to enrich uranium.

The Times story included details of the Olympic Games operation, including the cooperation of Israeli intelligence and the way the virus was introduced to an Iranian nuclear facility. It described meetings in the White House Situation Room and was based on interviews with ''current and former American, European and Israeli officials involved in the program.''

As soon as the Times report appeared, Congressional leaders demanded a criminal probe, and president Obama said he had ''zero tolerance'' for ''these kinds of leaks.'' Republicans charged that senior administration officials had leaked the details to bolster the president's national security credentials during the 2012 campaign.

But, said legal sources, while the probe that Attorney General Eric Holder ordered initially focused on whether the information came from inside the White House, by late last year FBI agents were zeroing in on Cartwright, who had served as one of the president's ''inner circle'' of national security advisors. Two sources said prosecutors were able to identify Cartwright as a suspected leaker without resorting to a secret subpoena of the phone records of New York Times reporters.

Related story

The worm that turned: How Stuxnet helped heat up cyberarms race

One source familiar with the probe said the Justice Department has not made a final decision on whether to charge Cartwright.

Cartwright, who retired from the military in August 2011, did not respond to repeated requests for comment. His attorney, former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig, said Thursday, ''I have no comment.''

But at Craig's urging, others called NBC News to defend Cartwright's reputation, while acknowledging they had no direct knowledge of the investigation. ''He's a great American,'' said former Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D.-Calif., who served as undersecretary of state for arms control in the Obama administration. ''All I know is he's always been one who acted in a way to defend the country and do so in a way that is beyond reproach.''

The White House declined to comment, as did Justice Department officials.

A member of the administration's Defense Policy Board, however, described the Stuxnet leak as ''very damaging.''

''Clearly what was going on here was a method and it should have been protected,'' said former California congresswoman Jane Harman. ''I think it's had devastating consequences.''

More from NBC News Investigations:

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IDTags-Credentialling

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Archived Version

Fri, 28 Jun 2013 14:14

Erie County Emergency Services is announcing a new service to the first responder community:

Credentialing of Emergency Response Personnel

Purpose of Credentialing

The purpose of credentialing is to ensure and easily validate the identity, affiliation, skill set, and/or privileges of an individual. Credentialing is critical to the incident management community so it can plan for, request, and trust resources needed for emergency assistance, plus receive personnel resources that match requests, and appropriately manage officially dispatched responders.

Erie County Emergency Services is pleased to implement a standardized credentialing program that is NIMS compliant.

NIMS credentialing provides confidence that both the requester and supplier are using the same criteria to identify personnel and alleviate this one concern when communities are struggling with the effects of a disaster. Incidents can range from large-scale terrorist attacks to catastrophic natural disasters that require interstate and intrastate deployments of mutual aid.

How it Works

These photo IDs are color coded (see below) to provide readily visible qualifications and provide enhanced card security using the addition of our unique holographic laminate. Additional features include a front and back barcode embedded with personal and medical data. This becomes a great tool to track personnel to verify on scene accountability and training.

Emergency Services with the collaboration of various Erie County Fire Companies spent many months designing a standardized ID Tag. The colors and designations have been pre-set. These cards are optional for the fire service. However, they go a long way in authenticating a responder's identity and qualifications, plus it is ideal for accountability purposes.

The ID Tag fire service colors are set as follows:

Credential Characteristics

The following items will be included on the credential:

Name of Fire CompanyFire company logoPhotoNameTitleOrganization identifier numberUnique personal identifier numberHazmat levelEMS level-will indicate the member's EMS level as defined by NYSEmbedded security laminate to prevent counterfeitingLaw Enforcement and Emergency Management colors can be modified and discussed with agencies upon request.

Steps to get started:

Designate a company/department POC to manage credentialing.Complete an ID Tags service request online or email idtags@erie.gov with the following information:NameCompany/Department NameEmail addressCell Phone NumberPlease send a JPEG Graphic of your Logo to idtags@erie.govUpon receipt, your company/department will be assigned a user name and password to access the website to input your applications.Upon receipt of applications by Emergency Services Staff, cards will be printed and POC will be contacted for delivery/pick up.Questions/clarifications can be directed to idtags@erie.gov and ESU Staff will be more than happy to assist.

Bloomberg Warns of Sparkler-Wielding Terrorists -- Daily Intelligencer

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Archived Version

Fri, 28 Jun 2013 13:15

A recently passed bill to allow the sale of sparklers in New York wouldn't even apply in the five boroughs, but Mayor Bloomberg is still urging Governor Cuomo to veto it, arguing that terrorists could use the fireworks to make a bomb. The mayor's office pointed to failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad, though he used fireworks containing gunpowder, which isn't found in sparklers. You can ponder whether the risks are worth it while making your annual pre-Fourth of July trek to Connecticut.

Agenda 21

The Gas Scam - Bloom Energy - The Insider

Adam, I saw another energy related contract yesterday and, at

first, assumed it was another solar contract but, instead, it was for a

fuel cell technology that turns natural gas into electricity using a

"electrochemical reaction rather than combustion." Having never heard

of this before, I looked up the company, Bloom Energy, and the results

triggered all kinds of No Agenda-related flags:

Web Page - various global warming memes flashed on the home page.

Origins - "roots in NASA's Mars program" - http://www.bloomenergy.com/about/ (I actually laughed out loud knowing your thoughts on that.)

Investors - "In 2002, John Doerr, and Kleiner Perkins became the first investors in the company." (same about page)

Board of Directors - includes General Colin Powell

First Customer - Google " the first commercial (100kW) products were shipped to Google in July 2008." (same about page).

Then I looked closer at the contact again and noticed that it requires

confidentiality about the actual performance of the device. Now why

would they not want everyone to know how great this thing is?

According to the Book of Knowledge the company was pretty secretive in the past.

Given that the company has raised over 1B in venture capital and is looking to go public this year or next (http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Fuel-Cells-2013-Bloom-Energys-Reality-Distortion-Field) it was interesting to hear the clip of the President talking-up natural gas on the last show.

A quick look at the President's FACT sheet shows support for both natural gas and "clean distributed generation."

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/03/15/fact-sheet-president-obama-s-blueprint-clean-and-secure-energy-future

It seems like Kleiner needs to make some money on its clean energy investments so this might be their only chance.

http://spectator.org/archives/2013/05/13/is-kleiner-perkins-sorry-it-ev

This might be a company to keep an

eye on. I would not be surprised to see a big government contract going

to Bloom really soon.

Koekjes bakken in de auto: VS zucht onder hittegolf - Opmerkelijk - VK

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Archived Version

Sun, 30 Jun 2013 13:05

Door: Annelies De Becker '' 30/06/13, 13:22 '' bron: Twitter

(C) ap.

Het zuidwesten van de Verenigde Staten gaat gebukt onder een hittegolf. In Death Valley wordt dit weekend 53 graden voorspeld. Amper vier graden lager dan het hitterecord dat op 10 juli 1913 werd opgetekend: 56,66 graden. Inwoners van Arizona zeggen dat de lucht te warm is om in te ademen.

Een inwoner van Phoenix, Arizona, profiteert van de warmte door koekjes te bakken op het dashboard van zijn auto. In een oven bak je koekjes meestal op 180 graden en in de wagen was het op een gegeven moment 94 graden Celsius. Het zal dus wat langer dan normaal duren voordat de koekjes klaar zijn, maar de elektriciteit voor de oven wordt in elk geval uitgespaard.

Elite$

Marc Rich, Pardoned Financier, Dies at 78 - NYTimes.com

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Archived Version

Wed, 26 Jun 2013 14:51

Marc Rich, the former fugitive oil trader and founder of the commodities trading giant Glencore International, died on Wednesday in Lucerne, Switzerland. He was 78.

The cause was a brain stroke at a hospital, according to a statement from his spokesman.

Mr. Rich courted controversy throughout his colorful career, and was indicted by the United States in the early 1980s on charges of tax evasion and illegally trading with Iran.

After being one of the country's most famous fugitives for the next two decades, Mr. Rich eventually received a pardon from President Bill Clinton on his last day in office in early 2001.

The pardon brought the oil trader back into the headlines after it was revealed that Mr. Rich's former wife, Denise Eisenberg, had given donations to the Democratic Party in 2000, according to official records.

Despite his notoriety, Mr. Rich, whose net worth was estimated at $2.5 billion, continued to work in the commodities industry, and founded Marc Rich & Company, the precursor of Glencore International, the commodities trader, which he later sold to the company's management team in 1993.

Mr. Rich was born in Antwerp, Belgium, but moved to New York with his family to escape the rise of the Nazis in Germany.

He began his career as a metals trader in the early 1970s, and gained prominence during the 1973-4 oil crisis when he circumvented the Arab oil embargo to sell oil to American companies in desperate need of supplies at increasingly high prices.

He continued to buy oil from Iran after the country's 1979 Islamic revolution despite American sanctions against the country, and remained unapologetic about his activities.

''They respected the contracts,'' Mr. Rich told Daniel Ammann, a Swiss journalist, in 2009, in reference to Iran's national oil company. ''We performed a service for them. We bought the oil, we handled the transport and we sold it. They couldn't do it themselves, so we were able to do it.''

His clients also included the apartheid regime of South Africa and the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

From 1973, Mr. Rich was similarly one of Israel's most important oil suppliers for more than 20 years, and he held Israeli, Spanish and Belgian citizenship by the end of his life.

In 1983, he fled from the United States to Switzerland after he was indicted on charges of fraud, trading with Iran and evading almost $50 million in taxes. All told, the offenses would have led to more than 300 years in prison.

Over the years, Mr. Rich claimed that American authorities had attempted several times to bring him to justice, including a plan, which was never carried out, to use a helicopter in Switzerland to capture him, according to a booked published by Mr. Ammann in 2009.

After leaving the United States and renouncing his citizenship, Mr. Rich sold many of his domestic business interests, including 20th Century Fox to Rupert Murdoch for $250 million in 1984.

Glencore, the commodities company he founded, recently acquired the mining company Xstrata for around $30 billion, and has become a global giant in a number of commodities, including oil, iron ore and coal.

''We are saddened to hear of the death of Marc. He was a friend and one of the great pioneers of the commodities trading industry,'' Glencore-Xstrata's current chief executive, Ivan Glasenberg, said in a statement. ''Our deepest sympathies and condolences are with his family at this time.''

He is expected to be buried in Israel on Thursday. He is survived by two daughters, Ilona Schacter-Rich and Danielle Kilstock Rich.

Poppie$tan

Afghan opium production levels top world

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Archived Version

Source: WT news feed

Wed, 26 Jun 2013 22:53

VIENNA, June 26 (UPI) -- More than 70 percent of the world's illicit production of opium last year came from cultivators in Afghanistan, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime said.

"Afghanistan's large-scale drugs economy is another source, driver and symptom of instability," U.N. special envoy to Afghanistan Jan Kubis said in a statement Wednesday. "This illicit production and trade simultaneously funds insurgent activity and if not curtailed, threatens to undermine Afghanistan's institutions, security and economic self-sufficiency."

UNODC said 74 percent of the world's illicit opium production came from Afghanistan, making it the world leader for 2012.

Nearly 1 million Afghans are affected in some way by drug use. The UNODC's 2013 World Drug Report said more than 700,000 Afghans have no access to drug treatment, suggesting opium production has more than just an impact on national security.

The report said plant disease in Afghanistan hurt opium production last year. Globally, the amount of land used for opium poppy cultivation increased, though yields in 2012 were 40 percent less than the peak year of 2007.

Poppie$tan email

Dear Adam & John

I just want to start by saying thank you so much for what you do.

I

had almost given up. I was going to buy some seeds, put on my tin foil

hat and move to the mountains. I was sure I was a conspiracy nut.

But you have shown me I'm still sane.

I

have been a listener since episode 500 and have made a donation for the

first time today. You deserve more but I have two very expensive

hobbies, my wife and daughter.

The reason I'm writing is I have an idea which will help me out and also hopefully make you some extra money.

I

am moving jobs and can not listen to my MP3 player at my new job. I

will struggle to find the time to listen to 6 hours of podcasts every

week and I don't want to miss any.

I know its more work for you

but could you possibly do a highlight show either weekly or monthly,

maybe cut out the donations section, only put in the major news threads

etc. You could put this on iTunes and charge a couple of $. I am sure I

am not the only one who would purchase this.

Well thats my idea hopefully its a good one.

So

having listened to your show I know you always like to have multiple

sources so here is a bit of info I have which my be of use.

I'm sure you have heard it before.

I

was in the British Army for 6 years and served in Afghanistan in 2006. I

was responsible for the repair and servicing of some highly classified

equipment which means I sometimes heard things a bit above my pay grade

All

patrols were told to ignore any poppy crops they saw and were told to

not even mark them on any maps. Someone I spoke to said on his patrol a

member of Black Ops joined them and was actively seeking out and

supplying farmers with money to grow poppy crops for themselves / us

rather than the Taliban.

Also when coming into land at Kandahar

airfield we were told to not take photos of anything round the air

strip. So everyone got their cameras out and there was a big shiny

drone. I wish I still had the photo for you but I lost a lot of my Army

photos a few years ago.

I hope something in this email is helpful.

Thanks for everything and keep up the excellent work.

Nigel

NA Consumer Tip

More on Call Center Vox Processing

Adam,

Two

additional NA tips for dealing with call centres: #1 use your mute key

when on hold so they don't get to listen to your private side

conversation and #2 if you are scamming them, continue the scam acting while on hold, as they are probably still listening...

Let

me explain, there is a much more "old school" trick they use in call

centres: I used to administer IVR systems in call centres (before this

fangled voice analysis stuff was around) and when they say "Your call

can be monitored…etc" they also mean they are also recording the call while you are on hold. Many people don't realise this...

The

call centre I used to work when you were "holding" for a supervisor,

the supervisor would regularly listen to the customer "on hold" to spy

on the customer to see if they were lying to get free support etc.

While on hold, if the caller started a side conversation with someone

next to them, a scamming customer would often talk openly about the fact

they were trying to scam the system to the person next to them. The

"supervisors" would use that info against the caller without them

knowing.

as always, keep up guarding reality.

snrkl [AEP NA516]

MIC

Press Release: Gen. David Petraeus Joins Team Rubicon's Board of Advisors

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Archived Version

Tue, 25 Jun 2013 11:21

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS JOINS TEAM RUBICON'S BOARD OF ADVISORS

LOS ANGELES (6/18/13) '' Team Rubicon (TR) is pleased to announce the addition of General David Petraeus USA (U.S. Army, Retired) to its board of advisors.

General Petraeus served our Nation for some 38-1/2 years, over 37 in uniform and then 14 months as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency between 2011 and 2012. He held three four-star assignments: Commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, Commander of U.S. Central Command, and Commanding General of Multi-National Force''Iraq. He spent over 6-1/2 of his final 10 years in uniform deployed, in the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan, or elsewhere in the Mideast.

''I am delighted to be invited to serve on the Team Rubicon Board of Advisors. 'TR' is an extraordinary organization, one that both serves our nation when its communities are most in need and serves our veterans by reuniting them to once again perform missions that are larger than self. In so doing, TR provides an opportunity to contribute for those who have done so admirably in the past and seek to do so again after having taken off the uniform. It will be an honor to be involved with such a wonderful organization and to work together again with some of the best of what deservedly has come to be known as the New Greatest Generation '-- those who have served our Nation in uniform since 9/11. Beyond that, it will be a particular honor to help an outfit founded by two great former noncommissioned officers!'' said General Petraeus.

''We're honored to have General Petraeus join the team. My cofounder, William McNulty, and I personally served under his command in Iraq as part of his bold surge strategy. We look forward to him bringing the same creativity to help us solve our major strategic questions moving forward.'' said Jake Wood, Team Rubicon's President and Cofounder.

About Team Rubicon

Team Rubicon unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams. TR offers veterans a chance to continue their service by helping and empowering those afflicted by disasters, and also themselves. For more about Team Rubicon, visit teamrubiconusa.org.

MEDIA CONTACT

William McNulty

(310) 338-1149

mcnulty@teamrubiconusa.org

Filed under: Announcements, Current Operations, Press Release by Mike Lee on June 18, 2013No Comments >>

Bank$ters

Financier pleads guilty to $13M Facebook IPO stock scam

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Archived Version

Source: CNET News

Wed, 26 Jun 2013 03:12

Former Oregon gubernatorial candidate admits bilking more than 120 investors out of $13.2 million with promises of an early shot at the highly coveted pre-IPO shares.

A former Oregon gubernatorial candidate has pleaded guilty in a $13 million securities scam to sell pre-IPO shares of Facebook before the social network went public.

Craig Berkman, a Florida financier who ran for governor in 1994, pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan to one count each of securities fraud and wire fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors said Berkman, 71, bilked more than 120 investors out of $13.2 million with promises of an early shot at the highly coveted shares. He also admitted falsely telling investors that he had access to shares of other tech companies, including LinkedIn, Groupon, and Zynga.

Berkman, who was arrested in March after a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation, used the proceeds from Ponzi-like scheme to pay off debts and fund personal expenses, including $6 million in a personal bankruptcy case, prosecutors said.

"Through various misrepresentations, Craig Berkman enticed investors with highly coveted investment opportunities, and then swindled them out of millions of dollars, using much of it for his personal benefit," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement after the plea was announced.

Berkman agreed to forfeit the $13.2 million the scheme produced as part of the plea agreement with prosecutors.

"I deeply regret my actions," a weeping Berkman told U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin Nathaniel Fox, according to Reuters. "I devastated my family. I apologize to them and to the investors, some of whom were dear friends. I'm very, very sorry."

Berkman is scheduled to be sentenced October 1 by Fox.

Ireland Bank$ters

BBC News - Queen on first state visit to Republic of Ireland

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Archived Version

Wed, 26 Jun 2013 12:09

17 May 2011Last updated at05:51 ETThe Queen is set to begin the first visit to the Republic of Ireland by a British monarch.

One of the biggest security operations ever mounted in the Republic is under way for the four-day trip, amid a rise in dissident republican violence.

The Irish army has made safe a pipe bomb found on a passenger bus bound for Dublin. A bomb threat to London made on Sunday was earlier investigated.

President Mary McAleese will formally welcome the Queen at her Dublin home.

King George V was the last reigning monarch to visit the country, in 1911, when what is now the Republic was then part of the UK.

The Queen was invited to visit by President McAleese, who will formally welcome the monarch at Aras an Uachtarain, her home in Dublin's Phoenix Park.

The president told state broadcaster RTE it was "an extraordinary moment in Irish history - a phenomenal sign and signal of the success of the peace process and absolutely the right moment for us to welcome onto Irish soil Her Majesty the Queen".

Mrs McAleese said the two countries were "forging a new future - a future very, very different from the past, on very different terms from the past - and I think the visit will send the message that we are, both jurisdictions, determined to make the future a much, much better place."

Continue reading the main story''Start QuoteThe relationship between the Crown and Ireland has been one of the longest and most difficult in the history of Britain's monarchy''

End QuoteNicholas WitchellRoyal correspondent, BBC NewsUK Prime Minister David Cameron said: "One hundred years on from the last time a British monarch visited Ireland, I think there is a great sense of history and occasion."

He added: "I think the real effect... will be a marker that just as we are solving some of the problems there have been between us in the past, just as we are helping each other through these difficult economic times, now is a great moment for people in Britain and people in Ireland to remember what it is we share."

Mr Cameron will join the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh for part of their trip on Wednesday, while Foreign Secretary William Hague will follow the usual practice of accompanying the royals throughout their visit.

The Queen will attend events at Trinity College Dublin, the National War Memorial Gardens in Islandbridge and Croke Park stadium.

Croke Park is the home of Gaelic games where in 1920, during the Irish War of Independence, British forces fired into the crowd at a football match, killing 14 spectators and players.

The Queen is also to make a speech at a state dinner at Dublin Castle.

Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.

What do the people of Dublin think about the royal visit?

There are plans for the Queen and Prince Philip to visit the Irish National Stud in County Kildare, as well as the Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary and a technology park in Cork.

Former prime minister Sir John Major, who helped to establish the Northern Ireland peace process in the early 1990s, said the Queen's visit would "put a seal" on the relationship between the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

"One thing you discover if you travel round the world is that the Queen has become iconic," Sir John told the BBC's Newsnight.

"If you're abroad and people talk about the Queen, they mean our Queen and I think the symbolism of her visiting Ireland - given the history of the past - will be seen as a very big event and an absolutely pivotal event in building an even better relationship in the future."

Controlled explosionContinue reading the main story''Start QuoteThe discovery of the Maynooth bomb just hours before Queen's visit is a reminder of the threat dissident republican terrorists still pose''

End QuotePeter HuntRoyal correspondent, BBC NewsThe bomb on the bus was found in a holdall in the luggage compartment on Monday night during a check in Maynooth, County Kildare, to the west of Dublin.

About 30 people who were on board the bus were taken off and transported to Dublin in another vehicle.

The device was later made safe in a controlled explosion carried out by an Irish army bomb disposal team.

The coded bomb threat relating to London, which was received on Sunday, was the first issued by Irish dissidents outside Northern Ireland in 10 years, officials said.

However, the threat level for Northern Ireland-related terrorism in Britain remains unchanged at substantial. In Northern Ireland it is severe.

Sir John said he was not worried about possible trouble during the visit.

"I think you can find people who will demonstrate against anything or anyone on any occasion, so I think there may well be a handful of people who will demonstrate, but that plainly - from what we've seen in the nine months of preparation - is not the view of the overwhelming majority of the Irish people.

"I am absolutely certain that the Queen and the [Duke of Edinburgh] will get a fantastic reception."

The cost of the unprecedented security operation is estimated at 30 million euros (£26m), with measures including:

Deployment of more than 6,000 Irish police and Defence Forces personnel onto the streets of DublinIncreased surveillance of known republican dissidentsA ring of steel, comprising 25 miles of crowd-control barriers, installed around the Irish capitalChecking of thousands of manhole covers and lamp-posts, and parking bans imposed on 30 city centre streetsFormer Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern said the four-day visit was hugely significant, and showed the "maturity" of the relationship between the country and the Queen and British government.

"Except for a tiny minority, people welcome this," he said.

why is 12 july special for northern ireland? - Y! Answers

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Wed, 26 Jun 2013 12:07

July 12, 1691 was when the Battle of Aughrim was fought. The events and motivations leading up to the battle were complicated, but the net effect was a huge and final battle between Catholic and Protestant forces.The battle was an overwhelming victory (often labeled a massacre) for the Protestant forces, and meant that England would rule Ireland for more than 200 years. During that time the Irish language and culture, along with Catholicism in general, was brutally and violently suppressed.

Most of Ireland finally attained freedom from the now United Kingdom in the early 20th century, but six counties with protestant majorities in the northeast, now known as Northern Ireland, is still part of the UK.

And every year, on July 12, the most hateful and racist of the Protestants stage a huge celebratory parade through the heart of the various Catholic neighborhoods in Northern Ireland. This is equivalent to the Ku Klux Klan having a parade through Harlem on the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, and is a direct cause of the violence that has racked Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom for more than 40 years.

The Twelfth - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Archived Version

Wed, 26 Jun 2013 12:05

Lead-up to the TwelfthNorthern Ireland's "marching season" begins at Easter. From then until the Twelfth the Orange Order and Protestant marching bands hold numerous parades. The most common of these are lodge parades, in which one Orange lodge marches with one band. Others, such as the "mini-Twelfth" at the start of July, involve several lodges.

From June to August, Protestant, unionist and loyalist areas of Northern Ireland are decorated in a 'loyal' style. Streets and houses are bedecked with bunting and flags (mainly the Union Flag and Ulster Banner). The bunting and flags are usually flown from lamp-posts. Kerbstones may be painted red, white and blue and murals may be made. Wooden arches, bedecked with flags and Orange symbolism, are raised over certain streets.[5]

The raising of flags and arches near Irish Catholic and nationalist areas, or in "neutral" areas, had led to many violent clashes. Flying the flags of illegal loyalist paramilitaries, such as the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and Ulster Defence Association (UDA), is especially contentious when deliberately erected outside Catholic churches and schools.[6]

Eleventh NightMain article: Eleventh NightOn the night before The Twelfth'--the "Eleventh Night"'--huge bonfires are lit in many Protestant, Unionist and Loyalist areas of Northern Ireland. In many Protestant communities the bonfires are seen as family-friendly community celebrations. However, not all Protestants attend the bonfires and people from the Irish Catholic community avoid them. Some Eleventh Night bonfires involve sectarian and loyalist paramilitary displays. Symbols of Irish nationalism/republicanism (such as the Irish tricolour) and symbols of Catholicism are sometimes burnt on the fires.[7] Loyalist paramilitaries have also used the event to hold "shows of strength" '' which often involve masked gunmen firing volleys of shots into the air.[7] Another issue that has been raised is drunkenness and violence amongst those attending.[7] More recently, there has been criticism that most of what is burnt causes serious environmental pollution.[7] However, in recent years, there have been attempts to make the bonfires more family-friendly and environmentally-friendly.[8]

In 2012 some bonfires in Belfast burned Polish flags as well as the Irish Tricolour. The Polish Association of Northern Ireland described it as "racist intimidation".[9]

Main eventsThe main way in which the Twelfth is celebrated is through large parades involving Orangemen and supporting bands. Most of the parades are in Northern Ireland, though Orange lodges elsewhere often hold parades too. The parade usually begins at an Orange Hall, proceeds through the town and out to a large field where the marchers, their friends and family, and the general public gather to eat, drink and listen to speeches by clergymen, politicians and senior members of the Order. In the past the Twelfth has been a major venue for discussion of the political issues of the day. A church service will also be held and sometimes band prizes will be awarded.[10] Within Northern Ireland, each District Lodge usually organises its own parade. In rural districts the parade will rotate around various towns, sometimes favouring those in which there is less likely to be trouble, but in other years choosing those in which it is felt the 'right to march' needs to be defended.

Orangemen in full regalia on 12 July 2011 in Belfast

In Northern Ireland, there is a long tradition of Protestant and loyalist marching bands, which can be found in most towns. The Orangemen hire these bands to march with them on the Twelfth. The bands have a reputation as being less respectable than the Orangemen, although they are seen by many as serving the useful purpose of keeping young men from working class areas out of trouble. An instrument almost unique to these marches is the Lambeg drum. Popular songs include "The Sash" and "Derry's Walls". Explicitly violent songs such as "Billy Boys" may also be played.

The vast majority of marchers are men, but there are some all-women bands and a few mixed bands. Some all-male bands have female flag or banner carriers. There are also some Women's Orange Lodges who take part in the parades. Orangewomen have paraded on the Twelfth in some rural areas since at least the mid-20th century, but were banned from the Belfast parades until the 1990s.

Orangemen returning from the field less formally

Orangemen on parade typically wear a dark suit, an Orange sash, white gloves and a bowler hat.[8] Certain Orangemen carry a ceremonial sword. In hot weather, many lodges will parade in short-sleeved shirts. Orangewomen have not developed a standard dress code, but usually dress formally. The supporting bands each have their own uniforms and colours. Both the Orangemen and bands carry elaborate banners depicting Orange heroes, historic or Biblical scenes, and/or political symbols and slogans. The most popular image is that of King William of Orange crossing the River Boyne during the famous battle.[11]

At the field, some lodges and bands don humorous outfits or accessories and make the return journey in them, and the mood is generally more mellow, although in times of tension it can also be more aggressive.

The Northern Ireland parades are given extensive local TV and press coverage and the BBC program 'The Twelfth' is the longest running outside broadcast program in Northern Ireland.

‰riu - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Wed, 26 Jun 2013 13:50

In Irish mythology, ‰riu (Irish pronunciation: [Ëeːrʲu]; modern Irish ‰ire), also called Eri,[1] daughter of Ernmas of the Tuatha D(C) Danann, was the eponymous matron goddess of Ireland.

The English name for Ireland comes from the name ‰riu and the Germanic (Old Norse or Old English) word land.

The fact that ‰riu is represented as goddess of Ireland, she is often interpreted as a modern day personification of Ireland, although since the name "‰riu" is the older Irish form of the word Ireland, her modern name is often modified to "‰ire" or "Erin" to suit a modern form.

Role and mythic portrayal[edit]With her sisters, Banba and F"dla, she was part of an important triumvirate of goddesses. When the Milesians arrived from Galicia each of the three sisters asked that her name be given to the country. This was granted to them, although ‰riu (‰ire) became the chief name in use (Banba and F"dla are still sometimes used as poetic names for Ireland, much as Albion is for Great Britain).

‰riu, Banba and F"dla are interpreted as goddesses of sovereignty.[2]

According to Seathrºn C(C)itinn the three goddesses of ‰ire, Banbha and F"dla were Badhbh, Macha and M"irr­oghan (respectively?).[3] Like ‰riu, Badhbh is also sometimes named as a daughter of Ernmas; the two goddesses may possibly therefore be seen as equivalent.[citation needed]

Different texts have attributed different personal relationships to ‰riu. Her husband has been named as Mac Gr(C)ine ('Son of the Sun').[4][5] She has also been portrayed as the lover of Elatha, a prince of the Fomorians, with whom she had a son Bres,[5][1] and as the mistress of the hero Lugh.[5]

Name and etymology[edit]The University of Wales' reconstructed Proto-Celtic lexicon gives *Î...Äwerjon- (nominative singular Î...Äwerjō) as the Proto-Celtic etymology of this name.[6] This Celtic form implies Proto-Indo-European*piHwerjon-, likely related to the adjectival stem *piHwer- "fat" (cf. SanskritpÄvan, f. pÄvarÄ and by-form pÄvara, "fat, full, abounding") hence meaning "fat land" or "land of abundance", applied at an early date to the island of Ireland. The Proto-Celtic form became *ÄweriÅ[7] in Q-Celtic (Proto-Goidelic). From a similar or somewhat later form were also borrowed Greek ἸέρνηI[w]ernÄ' and ἸÎυερνίαIouernia; the latter form was converted into LatinHibernia.

References[edit]Notes^ abLady Gregory (2004) [1905]. "The Reign of Bres". Gods and Fighting Men. Project Gutenberg. ^Astro-Theology and Sidereal Mythology^Seathrºn C(C)itinn, Foras Feasa ar ‰rinn. CELT online translation.^Lebor Gabla ‰renn. Online translation at www.ancienttexts.org^ abcMonaghan 2009, p. 160^Proto-Celtic'--English lexicon (archive)^Mallory, J.P. and D.Q. Adams, ed. Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture. London: Fitzroy Dearborn Pub., 1997, p. 194Works citedBibliography[edit]Boydell, Barra. "The female harp: The Irish harp in 18th- and early''19th-century Romantic nationalism", RIdIM/RCMI newsletter XX/1 (spring 1995), 10''17.

Student-Loan Rates Set to Double Unless Congress Acts - Bloomberg

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Fri, 28 Jun 2013 14:05

By James Rowley and Janet LorinJune 27, 2013 12:48 PM EDTUnless Congress acts, the interest rate for the most popular government student loans, subsidize Stafford loans, will increase to 6.8 percent from 3.4 percent. Photographer: Seth McConnell/The Denver Post via Getty Images

With just two working days left before the U.S. government doubles a student-loan interest rate, lawmakers are haggling over what to do about it.

The argument isn't over whether to allow the rate on the most popular type of federal loan to rise above 3.4 percent, the level set by law until July 1. It's about how much borrowing costs will increase.

''The likelihood of students keeping the interest rate they had for the last two years is diminishing by the hour,'' said Terry Hartle, senior vice president at the American Council of Education, the largest lobbying group for colleges and universities. ''The outcome will be students will pay more than 3.4 percent in the short term,'' he said in a telephone interview.

Unless Congress acts, the interest rate for subsidized Stafford loans, available to undergraduates from low-income families, will increase to 6.8 percent from 3.4 percent. More than 7 million students use that direct-from-Washington loan program.

Instead of passing legislation to extend that rate or set a new flat rate, lawmakers have been negotiating ways to let the rate float by linking it to the yield on the 10-year Treasury note.

Getting an informal agreement on the concept of flexible rates was the easy part. The more challenging part of the negotiations, according to those involved, has been figuring out how much flexibility to build in, and how much profit the government should extract.

Government ProfitSenate Majority Leader Harry Reid contends that there should be no profit at all.

''The issue is this: Republicans want deficit reduction,'' the Nevada Democrat said June 25. ''We don't think there should be deficit reduction based on the backs of these young men and women who are trying to go to college.''

Complicating the talks is the more than 50 percent increase in the yield of 10-year Treasury notes, to 2.5 percent, since May 1.

Under a House-passed plan, that would have meant a student loan rate of 4.3 percent, rising to as much as 8.5 percent.

''It's very clear students would be worse off under that proposal than simply allowing interest rates to double'' because rates ''would be lower initially but rise as interest rates rise,'' said Pauline Abernathy, vice president of the Institute for College Access & Success, a nonprofit research and advocacy group in Oakland, California.

Exploding DebtOver the past decade, there has been an explosion of student loan debt. It now totals almost $1.2 trillion, with 85 percent consisting of government-backed loans taken out by students and their parents. The rest are made by private lenders like banks or Sallie Mae (SLM), the largest U.S. education-finance company.

The share of 25-year-old Americans with student debt increased to 43 percent last year from 25 percent in 2003, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. During that nine-year period, the average education-loan balance of people in that age group increased 91 percent, to $20,326 from $10,649, according to the New York Fed.

With so much outstanding student debt, borrowers are having trouble contributing to the U.S. economy in other ways.

It has become harder for young people, especially those between 25 and 30, to secure other types of credit, including home mortgages, according to a February report on household debt and credit by the New York Fed.

Economic DragEconomists warn that what is owed in student loans may rival home-mortgage indebtedness as a drag on U.S. growth.

''The difficulties borrowers face when trying to manage cash flow may have a broader impact on the economy and society,'' Rohit Chopra, student-loan ombudsman at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, told the Senate Banking Committee on June 25. ''When young workers are putting large portions of their income toward student-loan-payment payments, they're less able to stash away cash for that first down payment.''

Private borrowing for student loans grew after Congress overhauled bankruptcy laws and made such debts non-dischargable in personal bankruptcy.

That change meant that ''there were very few reasons for banks not to make educational loans to anybody who wants them,'' Hartle said. ''Most students who get in trouble by borrowing huge amounts of money get there because they have borrowed from private lenders'' without the knowledge of their college or institution, he said.

It's common for students to have more than one kind of loan, taking out the maximum government loan and then supplementing with private loans.

Loan TypesThe most popular government loan is the Stafford. Subsidized Stafford loans are limited to students with lower incomes, and the interest rate is 3.4 percent, set by Congress. The government pays the interest during school. The interest rate will increase to 6.8 percent on new originations if Congress doesn't act by July 1.

Any undergraduate, regardless of income, can get an unsubsidized Stafford loan at a rate of 6.8 percent.

The federal loan limits for undergraduates are $5,500 the first year, $6,500 the second year and $7,500 in the last years. Graduate students no longer dependent on their parents also can take out Stafford loans.

Another type of direct federal loan, called PLUS, carries a rate of 7.9 percent for graduate students and parents of undergraduates.

One-Year ExtensionWhile running for re-election, President Barack Obama pressured lawmakers to extend the fixed rates for a year. Republican challenger Mitt Romney joined the call, and Congress obliged both candidates, acting two days before the rate on subsidized Staffords would have doubled.

Since then, the president has continued public pressure on Congress to address a pressing problem for students.

''It's a different year,'' said John Kline, the Minnesota Republican who heads the House Education and the Workforce Committee. House Republicans aren't open to a temporary change, Kline said -- ''We've already been there.''

The talk about student loans this week hasn't been limited to federal loans.

Private loans make up about 15 percent of outstanding educational debt. They are considered riskier because their interest rates are usually not fixed, and they don't offer the same type of protections as federal loans, such as income-based repayment when borrowers get into trouble.

Alternatives NeededA Federal Reserve official told the Senate Banking Committee on June 25 that lenders of private student loans should reduce the risk of default by helping struggling borrowers come up with alternative payment plans.

One of the major lenders, Discover Financial Services (DFS), announced yesterday that its fixed interest rate on student loans was dropping to as low as 5.49 percent.

A doubling of the government's interest rate ''would be good news for Discover as its private loans will be more attractive when compared with subsidized federal loans,'' analyst James Friedman of Susquehanna Financial Group LLC in New York said in an e-mail. Borrowers could bypass both subsidized and unsubsidized Staffords ''and choose Discover's student loans instead.''

On May 23, the Republican-run House passed Kline's legislation, which would tie student loan interest rates to the 10-year Treasury note plus 2.5 percent. In the Senate, Reid tried to round up votes for a two-year extension of the current 3.4 percent rate and fell short of a required 60-vote supermajority.

Senate ProposalSome Senate Democrats say they will try again for an extension -- this time going for just one year instead of two, as was sought in the unsuccessful bill, S. 953. Independent Senator Angus King of Maine questioned that approach. ''What will we know in a year that we don't know now?'' he said today.

Obama has his own proposal to subject the Stafford loans to interest-rate fluctuations and save the government $3 billion over 10 years.

As July 1 draws closer, with Congress planning a break next week for the July 4 holiday, a bipartisan group of senators say they have come up with a possible breakthrough -- a floating rate for Staffords, the 10-year Treasury borrowing rate plus 1.85 percent.

Deficit ReductionThat proposal still has the deficit-reduction element that Reid opposes; it would pare the government's red ink by $1 billion over 10 years, according to a statement from King, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Senators Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Richard Burr of North Carolina and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.

Both Senator Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and the panel's top Republican, Alexander, predicted that the Senate would go home for the week-long July 4 break without acting.

Alexander, a former U.S. education secretary, said that if lawmakers can reach a consensus this week, Congress can return July 8 and approve the change retroactively.

Neither party has been able to gain a political advantage over the other for inaction by Congress.

Unlike a year ago, ''this issue has much less traction,'' said political scientist Bruce Altschuler at the State University of New York at Oswego. ''People don't know who to blame. They know somebody is at fault. They are not sure who.''

To contact the reporters on this story: James Rowley in Washington at jarowley@bloomberg.net; Janet Lorin in New York at jlorin@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Katherine Rizzo at krizzo5@bloomberg.net

Jon Corzine charged over MF Global collapse.

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Thu, 27 Jun 2013 23:58

Jon Corzine spent 20 years on Wall Street and was one of President Obama's top fundraisers. Photograph: Chip East /Reuters

US regulators have charged Jon Corzine, former MF Global boss and New Jersey governor, over the alleged misuse of over $1bn in customers' funds.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) suit charges Corzine, the company and former assistant treasurer Edith O'Brien in the collapse of the commodities broker, the eighth largest bankruptcy in US history.

The hard-hitting CFTC suit produced emails and transcripts of phone calls it said show Corzine's culpability. In a separate action MF Global agreed to repay all $1bn missing from customer accounts plus a $100m penalty, and pay all the funds still owed to commodity customers.

The news is the latest blow to the reputation of Corzine, a Wall Street veteran and one of president Barack Obama's top fundraisers. Corzine spent 20 years on Wall Street and was co-chairman and chief executive of Goldman Sachs before going on to represent New Jersey as a senator and then governor.

Andy Levander, counsel for Corzine, said: "This is an unprecedented lawsuit based on meritless allegations that Mr Corzine failed to supervise an experienced back-office professional who was located in a different city and who did not report to Mr Corzine or even to anyone who reported to Mr Corzine.

"After 20 months of thorough investigations by the Department of Justice, two bankruptcy trustees, and the CFTC, no evidence has been found that contradicts Mr Corzine's sworn testimony before Congress.

"Mr Corzine did nothing wrong, and we look forward to vindicating him in court."

The suit is highly unusual, as US regulators tend to prefer a settlement to a lawsuit, and the case could potentially drag on for years.

"Turning a profit is not the only job of the person at the top of a CFTC-regulated firm. Particularly in times of crisis, the person in control, like the CEO here, must do what's necessary to prevent unlawful uses of customer money, so that customers' money is still there if and when the music stops," said CFTC enforcement director David Meister in a statement.

MF Global collapsed in October 2011 as its bets on some of Europe's most troubled economies turned sour. According to the complaint, Corzine, who joined MF Global as CEO in March 2010, planned to transform the firm from a futures broker into a major investment bank. "Corzine's strategy called for making increasingly risky and larger investments of the firm's money," said the CFTC. In late 2011 the regulator alleges "MF Global's need for cash was rising and its sources of cash were diminishing."

As the cash crunch approached Corzine failed in his duty to ensure that clients money was ring-fenced from the broker's funds, said the regulator. "Ultimately, these failures contributed to the massive customer losses," said the CFTC.

In one of many recorded phone calls obtained by the CFTC, an executive at the firm said MF Global was "skating on the edge," without "much ice left." The CFTC said Corzine was warned of impending disaster. In another call obtained by the CFTC an executive said: "We have to tell Jon that enough is enough. We need to take the keys away from him."

Corzine and O'Brien could face fines and possibly a ban from trading commodities if they are found liable. Corzine has indicated that he will fight the charges. When news of the suit was first reported by The New York Times this week a spokesman for Corzine called the suit an "unprecedented and meritless civil enforcement action." The spokesman said the anticipated lawsuit "is not surprising considering the political pressure to hold someone liable for the failure of MF Global."

Anglo Irish bankers 'tricked' government into bailout - Telegraph

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Mon, 24 Jun 2013 16:44

Mr Bowe apparently goes on to suggest that Anglo's management knew '‚¬7bn would never be enough. ''Yeah, and that number is seven, but the reality is that actually we need more than that,'' he is recorded saying. ''But you know the strategy here is you pull them in, you get them to write a big cheque and they have to keep, they have to support their money, you know.''

Explaining the alleged entrapment strategy further, he adds: ''If they saw the enormity of it up front, they might decide... they have a choice. You know what I mean? They might say the cost to the taxpayer is too high. But... em... if it doesn't look big at the outset... if it looks big, big enough to be important, but not too big that it kind of spoils everything, then I think you have a chance.''

Mr Fitzgerald is heard replying: ''Yeah. They've got skin in game and that is the key.''

On the same tapes, Mr Bowe is heard apparently mimicking officials at Ireland's Central Bank reacting to an initial request for a loan, saying: ''There was a bit of, 'Jesus that's a lot of dosh... Jesus f---ing hell.''

He also claims officials reacted by saying: '''Jesus, you're kind of asking us to play ducks and drakes with the regulations' and we said: 'Yeah'.''

Mr Bowe also relates how officials demanded that ''whatever you get from the regulator sorts out the issue'', to which Mr Fitzgerald is heard replying: ''Oh yeah, yeah... just makes it f---in' happen.''

The talks are thought to have taken place within days of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, when Anglo was itself in meltdown with depositors pulling out money at the rate of '‚¬1bn a day, spooked by the bank's exposure to Ireland's crashing property market.

As the tapes provoked fury in Ireland yesterday, Michael McGrath, finance spokesman of Fianna Fail '' which led the government at the time of the Irish bank bail-outs '' said: ''We need to get to the full truth about the way that bank was run and the level of knowledge the bank's executives had about its true financial position in September 2008.''

Mr Kenny said: ''I understand the rage and the anger of so many people who have been affected by all of this.'' He added that the government would make a decision on a public inquiry into the collapse of Ireland's banking system in ''due course''.

Both the former Anglo executives denied any wrongdoing or any attempt to mislead the government, with Mr Bowe referring to ''off-the-cuff comments'' and ''probably gallows humour''.

In a statement via his lawyer, Mr Fitzgerald said: ''I am not nor have I ever been aware of a strategy or intention on the part of Anglo Irish Bank to mislead the authorities in relation to the forecasted funding position.''

Mr Bowe said the talks, during a ''period of severe and unprecedented market dislocation'', came at a time when Anglo was seeking interim funding. ''We envisaged the relevant period of time to be a number of months before the bank would be able to access sufficient alternative funding.''

The furore over the transcripts comes ahead of a high-profile court case into the collapse of the bank. Anglo's former chief executive, Sean FitzPatrick, and two ex-directors, Pat Whelan and Willie McAteer, are awaiting trial on fraud charges.

The collapse of Ireland's banking system forced the country into a eurozone bail-out. Anglo has since been renamed the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation and is in the process of being liquidated.

EUROLand

New EU Plan Will Make Every Bank Account In Europe Vulnerable To Cyprus-Style Wealth Confiscation

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Fri, 28 Jun 2013 02:34

Michael SnyderActivist PostDid you actually believe that they were not going to use the precedent that they set in Cyprus? On Thursday, EU finance ministers agreed to a shocking new plan that will make every bank account in Europe vulnerable to Cyprus-style bail-ins. In other words, the wealth confiscation that we just witnessed in Cyprus will now be used as a template for future bank failures all over Europe. That means that if you have a bank account in Europe, you could wake up some morning and every penny in that account over 100,000 euros could be gone.

That is exactly what happened in Cyprus, and now EU officials plan to do the same thing all over Europe. For quite a while EU officials insisted that Cyprus was a "special case", but now we see that was a lie. International outrage over what happened in Cyprus has died down, and now they are pushing forward with what they probably had planned all along. But why have they chosen this specific moment to implement such a plan? Are they anticipating that we will see a wave of bank failures soon? Do they know something that they aren't telling us?

Amazingly, this announcement received very little notice in the international media. The fact that bank account confiscation will now be a permanent part of the plan to bail out troubled banks in Europe should have made headline news all over the globe. The following is how CNN described the plan...

European Union finance ministers approved a plan Thursday for dealing with future bank bailouts, forcing bondholders and shareholders to take the hit for bank rescues ahead of taxpayers.

The new framework requires bondholders, shareholders and large depositors with over 100,000 euros to be first to suffer losses when banks fail. Depositors with less than 100,000 euros will be protected. Taxpayer funds would be used only as a last resort.

According to this new plan, bondholders will be the first to be required to "contribute" when a bank bailout is necessary.Do you want to guess what that is going to do to the price of European bank bonds?

Shareholders of the bank will be the next in line to get hit when a bank bailout happens.

After that, they will go after those that have more than 100,000 euros in their bank accounts.

EU officials say that such a plan is needed because bailing out banks with taxpayer money was creating too many problems...

The European Union spent the equivalent of a third of its economic output on saving its banks between 2008 and 2011, using taxpayer cash but struggling to contain the crisis and - in the case of Ireland - almost bankrupting the country.

But a bailout of Cyprus in March that forced losses on depositors marked a harsher approach that can now, following Thursday's agreement, be replicated elsewhere.

Oh wonderful - the "Cyprus solution" can now be "replicated" everywhere in Europe.This plan will now be submitted to the European Parliament for final approval. The goal is to have this plan finalized by the end of this year.

If you have a bank account in Europe with over 100,000 euros in it, get your money out now. I am not sure how else to say it.

In Cyprus, there were retirees and small businesses that lost hundreds of thousands of euros overnight.

Do not let that happen to you.

And without a doubt, we are going to see a lot of banks fail in Europe over the next few years. This will especially be true once the next great financial crisis strikes.

But even though we haven't even gotten to the next great financial crisis yet, the economic depression in Europe just continues to get even worse. Just consider these facts...

-Car sales in Europe have hit a 20-year low.

-Overall, the unemployment rate in the eurozone is sitting at 12.2 percent. That is a brand new all-time record high.

-An average of 134 retail outlets are shutting down in Italy every single day. Overall, 224,000 retail establishments have closed down in Italy since 2008.

-It is being projected that Italy will need to ask for an EU bailout within 6 months.

-Consumer confidence in France has dropped to an all-time low.

-The unemployment rate in France is up to 10.4 percent. That is the highest that it has been in 15 years.

-Government is now responsible for 57 percent of all economic output in France.

-In May, household lending in Europe declined at the fastest pace in 11 months.

-During the first quarter, disposable income in the UK declined at the fastest pace in 25 years.

-It is being projected that the unemployment rate in Spain will hit 28.5 percent next year.

-Just a few years ago, the percentage of bad loans in Spain was under 2 percent. Now it is sitting at 10.87 percent.

-The national debt in Spain has grown by 19.1 percent over the past 12 months alone.

-The Greek government says that the Greek economy will shrink by 4.5 percent this year.

-It is being projected that the unemployment rate in Greece will rise to 30 percent in 2014.

And it certainly does not help that China has essentially declared a trade war on Europe. That is not going to help struggling European industries at all.

I hope that more Americans will start paying attention to what is happening in Europe. The crippling economic problems that are sweeping across that continent will come here too.

And at some point there is a very good chance that we will also see Cyprus-style bank account confiscation in this country.

So don't put all of your eggs in one basket. It is good to have your assets spread around a bunch of different places. That makes it much harder for them to be wiped out all at once.

What we are watching in Europe right now is really unprecedented in modern times. They are declaring open season on large bank deposits. In the end, a lot of people in Europe are going to lose a lot of money.

Make sure that you are not one of them.

This article first appeared here at the Economic Collapse Blog. Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. Follow him on Twitter here.

BE THE CHANGE! PLEASE SHARE THIS USING THE TOOLS BELOW

8billion for EU youth unemployment

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Fri, 28 Jun 2013 13:20

BRUSSELS--European Union leaders have agreed to increase the money set aside to fight youth unemployment to at least 8 billion euros from an earlier target of EUR6 billion, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said Friday.

"There will be substantially more, at least EUR8 billion in total," Mr. Van Rompuy told journalists after a regular summit meeting in the EU capital.

The 27 EU governments had earlier proposed setting aside EUR6 billion in the bloc's next seven-year budget that will be used in part to fund a "youth guarantee," ensuring that young people have access to a job, apprenticeship or further education within four months of leaving school.

However, some leaders had argued that EUR6 billion--less than 1% of the bloc's budget--to be disbursed over the next two years wouldn't be nearly enough to make a dent in the problem.

Speaking to reporters after the summit, Italy's Prime Minister Enrico Letta said an extra EUR3 billion would likely be made available to reduce sky-high youth unemployment rates in countries hardest hit by the crisis.

Write to Tom Fairless at tom.fairless@dowjones.com

(Matthew Dalton and Giada Zampano in Brussels contributed to this article.)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

06-27-13 2010ET

Copyright (c) 2013 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.News Provided by

...

Cyber War$

Pentagon Is Updating Conflict Rules in Cyberspace

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Fri, 28 Jun 2013 01:34

WASHINGTON '-- The Pentagon is updating its classified rules for warfare in cyberspace for the first time in seven years, an acknowledgment of the growing threat posed by computer-network attacks '-- and the need for the United States to improve its defenses and increase the nimbleness of its response, the nation's top military officer said Thursday.

The officer, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also said that, globally, new regulations were needed to govern actions by the world community in cyberspace. He said that the Chinese did not believe that hacking American systems violated any rules, since no rules existed.

Discussing efforts to improve the Pentagon's tools for digital defense and offense, General Dempsey said the military must be ''able to operate at network speed, rather than what I call swivel-chair speed.''

''Cyber has escalated from an issue of moderate concern to one of the most serious threats to our national security,'' he said. ''We now live in a world of weaponized bits and bytes, where an entire country can be disrupted by the click of mouse.''

Under a presidential directive, the Pentagon developed ''emergency procedures to guide our response to imminent, significant cyberthreats,'' and is ''updating our rules of engagement '-- the first update for cyber in seven years,'' he said. This effort has resulted in the creation of what General Dempsey called an interagency ''playbook for cyber.''

During a speech at the Brookings Institution, a policy research center, General Dempsey said these new ''standing rules of engagement'' for military actions remained in draft form, and had not yet been approved.

In his first major address on the new, virtual domain of computer warfare, General Dempsey gave an outline of what a significant attack might look like, and how the United States might respond.

If the nation's critical infrastructure came under attack from poisonous code over a computer network from overseas, the first effort would be gathering information on the malware and the systems under attack. Network defenses would be in place, as ''our first instinct will be to pull up the drawbridge and prevent the attack, that is to say, block or defend,'' he said.

If the attack could not be repulsed, the new playbook calls for ''active defense,'' which General Dempsey defined as a ''proportional'' effort ''to go out and disable the particular botnet that was attacking us.'' It is notable that, in this situation, the line between active defense and offense might be blurry.

''If it became something more widespread and we needed to do something beyond that, it would require interagency consultation and authorities at a higher level in order to do it,'' he said. Although these plans are classified, his statement indicated that the rules for responding in an escalated manner in cyberspace, or with a conventional retaliation, would require decisions by the civilian leadership.

General Dempsey's speech drew a clear distinction between the nation's two major efforts in cyberspace. The military's role is in defending computer networks and, if so ordered by the president, carrying out offensive attacks. That is related to, but separate from, the intelligence community's efforts to gather intelligence in cyberspace. Several of those highly classified intelligence-gathering programs were exposed via leaks from a former contract worker for the National Security Agency.

Assessing adversaries in cyberspace, General Dempsey said that China, in particular, had chosen a niche in stealing intellectual property. ''Their view is that there are no rules of the road in cyber,'' General Dempsey noted. He said American and Chinese officials would meet over coming days to discuss ways to ''to establish some rules of the road, so that we don't have these friction points in our relationship.''

The military headquarters responsible for computer-network warfare, the United States Cyber Command, will grow by 4,000 personnel with an additional investment of $23 billion, General Dempsey said. (Cyber Command and the National Security Agency are led by the same officer, Gen. Keith B. Alexander.)

''We are doing all of this not to address run-of-the mill cyberintrusions, but to stop attacks of significant consequence '-- those that threaten life, limb and the country's core economic functioning,'' General Dempsey said.

HAMS

Rules Change Sought to Permit Encryption of Sensitive Emergency Communications

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Tue, 25 Jun 2013 12:51

06/24/2013The FCC is inviting public comments on a proposal from a Massachusetts ham to amend the Part 97 Amateur Service rules to permit the encryption of certain amateur communications during emergency operations or related training exercises. On June 7 the FCC accepted for filing a Petition for Rulemaking (RM-11699) from Don Rolph, AB1PH, and put it on public notice. It will remain open for comment until July 8. Rolph, of E Walpole, petitioned the Commission in March to suggest an additional exception to §97.113, which currently prohibits ''messages encoded for the purpose of obscuring their meaning.''

''As such, encryption cannot be effectively supported by the Amateur Service,'' Rolph told the FCC in his PRM, ''and this restriction has impacted the relationship of Amateur Radio volunteers and served agencies and significantly limited the effectiveness of amateurs in supporting emergency communications.'' He pointed out that Part 97 already relaxes its encryption prohibitions with respect to satellite control link communications and model craft radio control.

Rolph cited rules already in place in Australia as a possible model for amending the rules in the US. The Australian Amateur Radio rules provide an exception for ''intercommunications when participating in emergency services operations or related training exercises.'' He suggested modifying Part 97 ''to capture the intent of the Australian regulations'' to relieve what he called ''this impediment of Amateur Radio support of emergency communications.''

In his petition Rolph suggested excepting ''intercommunications when participating in emergency services operations or related training exercises which may involve information covered by HIPAA [medical privacy requirements '-- Ed] or other sensitive data, such as logistical information concerning medical supplies, personnel movement, other relief supplies or any other data designated by Federal authorities managing relief or training efforts.''

Commenters may use the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) to comment on RM-11699 online.

Yokels

'Criminal flash mob' accused of stealing $45 million in hours with coordinated ATM attacks

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Tue, 25 Jun 2013 10:32

Eight people have been arrested in New York in connection to an ATM hacking scheme that resulted in the theft of $45 million over the course of a few hours. According to the US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement division of the Department of Homeland Security, the suspects hacked into the computer systems of banking institutions to steal the money in two coordinated attacks.

Though the arrests were made in Yonkers, NY, officials say the suspects are part of an international crime ring that utilizes hacking techniques to steal money electronically. The attacks, committed in December 2012 and February of this year, involved ATM withdrawals in 20 different countries. One of the attacks performed more than 36,000 transactions over the course of 10 hours. The thieves then laundered the money through purchases of luxury goods, such as jewelry and sports cars.

More than 36,000 transactions were performed over the course of 10 hours

Prosecutors have dubbed the attacks "Unlimited Operation," and U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch, Eastern District of New York says that "the organization worked its way from the computer systems of international corporations to the streets of New York City, with the defendants fanning out across Manhattan to steal millions of dollars from hundreds of ATMs in a matter of hours." She added, "this was indeed the largest theft of this type that we have yet seen." Prosecutors have also described the attack as a "criminal flash mob," thanks to its coordinated fashion.

No individual accounts were hacked into

Despite the large amount of money stolen, individual accounts were not targeted in the scheme. Instead, the hackers accessed the systems of debit card processors and greatly increased the value of specific prepaid debit cards, before withdrawing the funds from ATMs. The thieves would then coordinate their worldwide team to perform the ATM transactions in as little time as possible. Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, Lynch said that prosecutors were investigating specific individuals in Europe and Asia to find out the ringleaders of the crime ring.

Authorities did not say how they became aware of the operation or what tipped them off to arrest these specific suspects, but they did have surveillance camera footage of some of the ATM withdrawals taking place. The defendants face maximum sentences of 120 months in federal prison for each of the four counts of money laundering, as well as up to 90 months on the conspiracy to commit access device fraud charge, if they are convicted.

Syria

US Looks to Send Training Teams to Lebanon, Iraq

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Thu, 27 Jun 2013 16:07

WASHINGTON - U.S. military commanders have been told to explore ways to increase security assistance to Lebanon and Iraq, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs said Wednesday, as the violence in Syria spills across the borders and the Iraqis face growing threats from the local al-Qaida offshoot.

Gen. Martin Dempsey said the assistance is aimed at improving the two nations' military capabilities and could include sending in U.S. training teams and accelerating foreign military sales of weapons and equipment to Iraq and Lebanon.

Dempsey made the recommendation to U.S. Central Command in recent weeks, according to Air Force Col. Ed Thomas, a spokesman for the Army general. There have been no U.S. military trainers in Iraq since troops left at the end of 2011, as the war there ended. But the U.S. has provided military training and assistance to Lebanon for a number of years.

"Militarily, what we're doing is assisting our partners in the region, the neighbors of Syria, to ensure that they're prepared to account for the potential spillover effects," Dempsey said during a Pentagon briefing Wednesday. "As you know, we've just taken a decision to leave some Patriot missile batteries and some F-16s in Jordan as part of the defense of Jordan. We're working with our Iraqi counterparts, the Lebanese Armed Forces and Turkey through NATO."

He said that as he looked at the challenges being faced by Syria's neighbors, including the re-emergence of al-Qaida in Iraq, he determined that the U.S. should help them build up their military abilities. He said the assistance would not involve sending U.S. combat troops into Lebanon or Iraq.

The U.S. last week left about a dozen F-16 fighter jets in Jordan, where they will be flying and conducting training operations. The Pentagon also left a Patriot missile battery there, bringing the total number of American forces in Jordan to about 1,000.

U.S. officials said the increased show of military might in Jordan was a signal to Syria that it must confine its civil war within its borders. The officials said it is meant to show that the U.S. was committed to its defense relationship with Jordan and that America intended to maintain a strong presence in the region. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the planning publicly.

Dempsey and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel declined to provide any additional information about U.S. plans to provide weapons to Syrian rebels, other than to say that the U.S. military has no role so far in that program.

According to officials, the CIA was coordinating the effort to arm the rebel groups.

(C) Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

COUP IN QATAR?

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Source: aangirfan

Thu, 27 Jun 2013 14:11

Hamad (left), who has kidney problems.Tamim (right)Qatar hosts the largest U.S. air base in the Middle East.Expatriates, including Americans and Philippinos, form 85 per cent of the population of Qatar.The Qatar Investment Authority owns Harrods, the US embassy site in London and Miramax Films.Qatar is one of the few Arab states to have ties with Israel.Qatar has provided a base for exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, and is home to a newly opened office of Afghanistan's Taliban.Taliban in Qatar, with US approval.

On 25 June 2013, the ruler of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, was apparently toppled.Sheikh Hamad overthrew his own father in a bloodless coup in 1995.

"You are next". James Dobbins, US special envoy, meets Sheikh Hamad in Qatar on 23 June 2013. AFP photo.

Sheikh Hamad has played a key role in supporting the rebels in Syria.

Sheikh Hamad helped NATO to wreck Libya.Sheikh Hamad has helped to prop up President Morsi of Egypt.Qatar.Sheikh Hamad has been replaced by his son, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

On 26 June 2013, Sheikh Tamim said that "As Arabs we reject splitting countries on a sectarian basis ... and because this split allows for foreign powers to interfere in the internal affairs of Arabs and influence them."Sheikh Tamim steered clear of any mention of Syria.

He instead focused on the Palestinian issue, saying Qatar was committed to its struggle with Israel.

23 June 2013, Kerry meets Hamad in Qatar. Sheikh Tamim attended the expensive English private schools Sherborne and Harrow.In 1998, he graduated from Sandhurst.

In April 2012, it was reported that the military in Qatar had attempted to topple Sheikh Hamad.

Henry Kissinger says US media lying about Syria

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Wed, 26 Jun 2013 23:03

Former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger says the American media are not telling the truth about the current situation in Syria.

''In the American press it's described as a conflict between democracy and a dictator- and the dictator is killing his own people, and we've got to punish him. But that's not what's going on,'' he said during a speech at the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan.

''It is now a civil war between sectarian groups,'' Kissinger added.

Kissinger's remarks come as the United States has been criticized for fomenting sectarian discord in Syria and the broader Middle East by interfering in the nations' internal affairs and backing up insurgencies.

Elsewhere in his remarks Kissinger said ''the outcome I would prefer to see'' in Syria was a broken-up and balkanized country with ''more or less autonomous regions.''

U.S. President Barack Obama has authorized sending weapons to foreign-backed militants in Syria, further escalating the conflict in the Arab country.

The White House earlier accused the Syrian government of using chemical weapons against the militants, an allegation denied by Damascus.

Obama's policies regarding Syria have been attacked by some American politicians.

Former Congressman Ron Paul said the Obama administration was ''escalating'' the war in Syria by sending weapons to the militants.

''Today we heard from President Obama that the war in Syria will be escalated. He now has agreed to send weaponry in to assist the rebels. It's escalation, that's a proper word, because we've already been involved for quite a few months. We've been supporting the rebels for probably the past two years, supposedly for humanitarian reasons,'' he said in a statement posted on YouTube.

''But now there is going to be a much more aggressive approach and we're going to send weapons. There is a few problems with this, first off it's war. Second thing is presidents are not supposed to start war without permission from the people through a congressional declaration of war,'' Paul argued.

The unrest in Syria erupted over two years ago and many people, including large numbers of Syrian soldiers and security personnel, have been killed in the conflict.

Damascus says the conflict is being engineered from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants fighting in Syria are foreign nationals.

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Russia deploys intel ship off coast of Syria

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Wed, 26 Jun 2013 23:08

Russia has reported the deployment of an advanced intelligence naval ship in the eastern Mediterranean. The Russian Navy has deployed its CCB-201 for intelligence operations off the coast of Syria. CCB-201 was deemed one of the largest intelligence-collection ships in the Russian fleet.

''The ship arrived in June 2013 and would stay in the region for a while,'' a Russian Navy source said. CCB-201 was designed to collect signals, including telephones, e-mail and faxes from countries along the Mediterranean coast.

The source said the vessel was capable of intercepting messages from NATO and Arab allies to Sunni rebels in Cyprus, Syria and Turkey. The Russian Navy has deployed similar vessels during Middle East crises. They included Russian Navy deployment of CCB-201, constructed in 1980, in the Gulf.

The sources said CCB-201, manned by 150 crew members, would also decryptsignals from NATO. They said the information would be transmitted to Russian Navy facilities, including its sole foreign base in the Syrian port of Tartous.

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Bengahzi

Former US Commander in Libya Disputes Diplomat

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Thu, 27 Jun 2013 16:20

WASHINGTON - The former commander of a four-member Army special forces unit in Tripoli, Libya, denied on Wednesday that he was told to stand down during last year's deadly assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi.

In a closed-door session with the House Armed Services Committee, Lt. Col. S.E. Gibson said his commanders told him to remain in the Libyan capital of Tripoli to defend Americans in the event of additional attacks and to help survivors being evacuated from Benghazi.

"Contrary to news reports, Gibson was not ordered to `stand down' by higher command authorities in response to his understandable desire to lead a group of three other special forces soldiers to Benghazi," the Republican-led committee said in a summary of its classified briefing with military officials, including Gibson.

Four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed in two separate attacks several hours apart on the night of Sept. 11, 2012.

Republicans insist that the Obama administration is guilty of a cover-up of the events despite a scathing independent report that faulted the State Department for inadequate security at the diplomatic mission. They have accused the administration of misleading the American people about the cause of the terrorist incident during the heat of a presidential campaign, blaming a spontaneous protest over an anti-Islam video.

In nearly nine months since the attack, GOP lawmakers have repeatedly asked why the military couldn't get aircraft or forces to Benghazi in time to thwart the second attack after the first incident that killed Stevens.

The committee summary said Gibson acknowledged that if he had left Tripoli, Americans in the Libyan capital would have been without protection.

"He also stated that in hindsight, he would not have been able to get to Benghazi in time to make a difference, and as it turned out his medic was needed to provide urgent assistance to survivors once they arrived in Tripoli," said the summary from the Armed Services Committee's oversight and investigations subcommittee.

Gregory Hicks, a former diplomat in Tripoli at the time of the attack, told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in May that the unit was told to stand down.

After the first word of the attack in Benghazi, a seven-member security team, including two military personnel, flew from Tripoli to Benghazi. Upon their arrival, they learned that Stevens was missing and the situation had calmed after the first attack, according to a Pentagon timeline released last year.

Meanwhile, a second team was preparing to leave on a Libyan C-130 cargo plane from Tripoli to Benghazi when Hicks said he learned from the Libyan prime minister that Stevens was dead. The Libyan military agreed to transport additional personnel as reinforcements to Benghazi on its cargo plane, but Hicks complained the special forces were told not to make the trip.

"They were told not to board the flight, so they missed it," Hicks said. Pressed on why, he said, "I guess they just didn't have the right authority from the right level."

Earlier this month, Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress there was never a stand down order.

"They weren't told to stand down. A `stand down' means don't do anything," he said. "They were told that the mission they were asked to perform was not in Benghazi, but was at Tripoli airport."

Rep. Niki Tsongas, D-Mass., the top Democrat on the House panel, said based on congressional testimony and the independent Accountability Review Board report, the military provided "every asset at its disposal ... and responded as appropriately as it could in a fast-moving crisis."

"In particular, this briefing unquestionably reaffirmed that there was absolutely no military order to stand down any of our forces as has been claimed," she said in a statement.

The House panel received testimony from retired Gen. Carter Ham, the former commander for the Africa region; Rear Adm. Brian Losey, the former commander for Special Operations Command Africa, and Gibson.

The summary said John Brennan, then counterterrorism adviser, headed a review of security measures worldwide in advance of the Sept. 11 anniversary. However, Ham told the panel that he was not consulted regarding this review.

"When questioned about this process today, Gen. Ham, the combatant commander responsible for one of the most volatile threat environments in the world, stated that neither he nor anyone working for him was consulted as part of the Brennan 9/11 planning process," the summary said.

(C) Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

GOLD

The Fed's Assault On Gold: ''Short Selling'' and the Rigging of the Gold Market

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Source: Global Research

Thu, 27 Jun 2013 23:50

I was the first to point out that the Federal Reserve was rigging all markets, not merely bond prices and interest rates, and that the Fed is rigging the bullion market in order to protect the US dollar's exchange value, which is threatened by the Fed's quantitative easing. With the Fed adding to the supply of dollars faster than the demand for dollars is increasing, the price or exchange value of the dollar is set up to fall.

A fall in the dollar's exchange rate would push up import prices and, thereby, domestic inflation, and the Fed would lose control over interest rates. The bond market would collapse and with it the values of debt-related derivatives on the ''banks too big too fail'' balance sheets. The financial system would be in turmoil, and panic would reign.

Rapidly rising bullion prices were an indication of loss of confidence in the dollar and were signaling a drop in the dollar's exchange rate. The Fed used naked shorts in the paper gold market to offset the price effect of a rising demand for bullion possession. Short sales that drive down the price trigger stop-loss orders that automatically lead to individual sales of bullion holdings once their loss limits are reached.

According to Andrew Maguire, on Friday, April 12, the Fed's agents hit the market with 500 tons of naked shorts. Normally, a short is when an investor thinks the price of a stock or commodity is going to fall. He wants to sell the item in advance of the fall, pocket the money, and then buy the item back after it falls in price, thus making money on the short sale. If he doesn't have the item, he borrows it from someone who does, putting up cash collateral equal to the current market price. Then he sells the item, waits for it to fall in price, buys it back at the lower price and returns it to the owner who returns his collateral. If enough shorts are sold, the result can be to drive down the market price.

A naked short is when the short seller does not have or borrow the item that he shorts, but sells shorts regardless. In the paper gold market, the participants are betting on gold prices and are content with the monetary payment. Therefore, generally, as participants are not interested in taking delivery of the gold, naked shorts do not need to be covered with the physical metal.

In other words, with naked shorts, no physical metal is actually sold.

People ask me how I know that the Fed is rigging the bullion price and seem surprised that anyone would think the Fed and its bullion bank agents would do such a thing, despite the public knowledge that the Fed is rigging the bond market and the banks with the Fed's knowledge rigged the Libor rate. The answer is that the circumstantial evidence is powerful.

Consider the 500 tons of paper gold sold on Friday. Begin with the question, how many ounces is 500 tons? There are 2,000 pounds to one ton. 500 tons equal 1,000,000 pounds. There are 16 ounces to one pound, which comes to 16 million ounces of short sales on Friday.

Who has 16 million ounces of gold? At the beginning gold price that day of about $1,550, that comes to $24,800,000,000. Who has that kind of money?

What happens when 500 tons of gold sales are dumped on the market at one time or on one day? Correct, it drives the price down. Investors who want to get out of large positions would spread sales out over time so as not to lower their sales proceeds. The sale took gold down by about $73 per ounce. That means the seller or sellers lost up to $73 dollars 16 million times, or $1,168,000,000.

Who can afford to lose that kind of money? Only a central bank that can print it.

I believe that the authorities would like to drive the gold price down further and will, if they can, hit the gold market twice more next week and put gold at $1,400 per ounce or lower. The successive declines could perhaps spook individual holders of physical gold and result in actual net sales of physical gold as people reduced their holdings of the metal.

However, bullion dealer Bill Haynes told kingworldnews.com that last Friday bullion purchasers among the public outpaced sellers by 50 to 1, and that the premiums over the spot price on gold and silver coins are the highest in decades. I myself checked

with Gainesville Coins and was told that far more buyers than sellers had responded to the price drop.

Unless the authorities have the actual metal with which to back up the short selling, they could be met with demands for deliveries. Unable to cover the shorts with real metal, the scheme would be exposed.

Do the authorities have the metal with which to cover shorts? I do not know. However, knowledgeable dealers are suspicious. Some think that US physical stocks of gold were used up in sales in efforts to disrupt the rise in the gold price from $272 in December 2000 to $1,900 in 2011. They point to Germany's recent request that the US return the German gold stored in the US, and to the US government's reply that it would return the gold piecemeal over seven years. If the US has the gold, why not return it to Germany?

The clear implication is that the US cannot deliver the gold.

Andrew Maguire also reports that foreign central banks, especially China, are loading up on physical gold at the low prices made possible by the short selling. If central banks are using their dollar holdings to purchase bullion at bargain prices, the likely results will be pressure on the dollar's exchange value and a declining market supply of physical bullion. In other words, by trying to protect the dollar from its quantitative easing policy, the Fed might be hastening the dollar's demise.

Possibly the Fed fears a dollar crisis or derivative blowup is nearing and is trying to reset the gold/dollar price prior to the outbreak of trouble. If ill winds are forecast, the Fed might feel it is better positioned to deal with crisis if the price of bullion is lower and

confidence in bullion as a refuge has been shaken.

In addition to short selling that is clearly intended to drive down the gold price, orchestration is also indicated by the advance announcements this month first from brokerage houses and then from Goldman Sachs that hedge funds and institutional investors would be selling their gold positions. The purpose of these announcements was to encourage individual investors to get out of gold before the big boys did. Does anyone believe that hedge funds and Wall Street would announce their sales in advance so the small fry can get out of gold at a higher price than they do?

If these advanced announcements are not orchestration, what are they?

I see the orchestrated effort to suppress the price of gold and silver as a sign that the authorities are frightened that trouble is brewing that they cannot control unless there is strong confidence in the dollar. Otherwise, what is the point of the heavy short selling and orchestrated announcements of gold sales in advance of the sales?

NOTE: Gold weights are based on metric tons and Troy ounces. 500 metric tons of gold would be 16,075,000 troy ounces.

Gold falls below $1,200 an ounce

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Source: BBC News - Home

Fri, 28 Jun 2013 03:09

27 June 2013Last updated at22:40 ETGold has continued its drop, falling to its lowest level in almost three years, after the US Federal Reserve said it would wind down its stimulus programme.

Gold fell to $1,191.21 an ounce in Asia trade, after breaching the $1,200 mark in New York on Thursday for the first time since August 2010.

The US Fed said last week that its bond purchases would start to "taper off" in coming months as the economy recovers.

Analysts said investors had been anticipating further price falls.

As a result there was a sell-off, resulting in a big drop in prices in recent days.

"You don't want to catch a falling knife, so people who might be buyers are stepping aside and don't want to show gold at their quarter-end statement," said Axel Merk, chief investment officer at Merk Funds.

Losing its lustre?Gold prices have had a remarkable run over the past few years, driven by two key factors.

Continue reading the main storyGold's major attribute as a potential hedge against a major global crisis has been diluted''

End QuoteMark MatthewsJulius BaerThe first has been the uncertainty surrounding the global economic situation after the global financial crisis and the sovereign debt problems in the eurozone.

That saw many investors turn to gold - seen as a traditional safe haven asset in times of uncertainty.

At the same time, the slowdown in the global economy, prompted central banks across the world to lower interest rates - to historic lows in many cases - in an attempt to try to boost growth.

Analysts said that with interest rates so low, investors have been favouring gold.

However, things have started to change in the past few months.

The US economy has been recovering; as a result, the Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has said that the US central bank will scale back its $85bn a month bond buying programme.

Analysts said that such a move may see interest rates rise again - making gold a less attractive option.

At the same time, the risks surrounding the eurozone crisis seem to have abated as well, which has also hurt gold prices.

"Gold's major attribute as a potential hedge against a major global crisis has been diluted," Mark Matthews of Julius Baer told the BBC.

Mr Matthews said that given these factors the gold price may fall further.

2TTH

Prince Jackson: Paris Was 'Hit the Hardest' by Michael's Death | omg! - Yahoo! omg!

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Thu, 27 Jun 2013 14:08

Prince Jackson is pictured in courtroom sketches. (Reuters)

Michael Jackson was worried that he would die while preparing for the comeback tour that he didn't live long enough to take.

The late pop singer's oldest son, 16-year-old Prince Jackson, testified on Wednesday in L.A. that his dad often confided in him, although he was only 12, at the time he died in 2009, according to CNN.

"After he got off the phone, he would cry," Prince said on the first day of his testimony in his family's lawsuit accusing concert promoter AEG Live of wrongful death. "He would say 'They're going to kill me, they're going to kill me.'"

Prince explained that his father was referring to AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips and his ex-manager, Dr. Tohme Tohme.

He also testified that Phillips and Dr. Conrad Murray, Michael's former physician who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Michaels' death, had what appeared to be a tense confrontation the night before he died on June 25 of an overdose of the anesthetic propofol.

[Related: Michael Jackson's Ghost Makes Surprise Cameo at Trial]

(Reuters)

Although Prince noted he couldn't hear what was being said, he could see Phillips grabbing Murray's elbow.

"It looked aggressive to me," Prince said under oath. "He was grabbing by the back of his elbow and they were really close and he was making hand motions."

The teen said under cross-examination from AEG Live's lead lawyer Marvin Putnam that the incident may have taken place a night earlier than he first stated, but reaffirmed what took place.

The Associated Press reports Prince testified that, at times, Michael gave him and his 15-year-old sister Paris stacks of $100 bills to give to Murray, which Prince understood to be payment that AEG Live had not yet given the doctor. Murray wouldn't accept the funds from Michael, Prince said.

Again, speaking about his father's final hours, Prince revealed that his last words to his dad were exchanged over the phone: Prince called Michael, who was at his final rehearsal for the tour, from the security guard shack outside to notify him that Phillips was at their home, and Michael instructed him to offer Phillips refreshments.

Although Prince revealed Michael always received his treatments from Dr. Murray behind his closed bedroom door, he did see Murray perform CPR on Michael while he was hanging off his bed while his eyes appeared to roll back into his head on the day he died.

[Related: Paris Jackson Timeline: From Disguised Kid to Twitter Star to Near Suicide Tragedy]

(Reuters)

Prince also spoke about his younger siblings, Paris and 11-year-old Blanket, and their life with the "Beat It" singer. He showed photos and video of the family together and insisted that the children didn't comprehend their father's fame until they watched a video of one of his concerts and saw fans taken away on stretchers after they got too excited.

"We always listened to his music, but we never knew how famous he was," Prince said.

Four years after Michael's death, Prince said Jackson's children '-- especially Paris '-- are still suffering. Michael's daughter was hospitalized for a suicide attempt earlier this month, and is currently receiving psychiatric treatment at UCLA Medical Center, although she had been expected to be called to testify in the trial as well.

"I think out of all of my siblings she was probably hit the hardest because she was my dad's princess," he said, adding that Paris struggled to cope when she was questioned by AEG Live lawyers in March in preparation for the trial.

Prince explained that he also has been affected.

"I can't sleep at night," Prince confessed. "I have a hard time sleeping."

And because of Michael's death, Prince noted that he was "emotionally distant from a lot of people" for some time, and he missed sharing milestones with his father, such as "the first day of going to school, having the first girlfriend, being able to drive."

Of the three Jackson kids, only Blanket still celebrates his birthday, Prince explained, adding, "Right now, I don't know if Blanket realizes what he lost. He was so young. He is still growing up just like I am and he doesn't have a father to guide him."

Sad.

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UPDATE: James Gandolfini's Body Back In U.S. With Help From Clintons, State Dept - Deadline.com

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Mon, 24 Jun 2013 17:55

UPDATE, 10:15 AM: HBO just confirmed that James Gandolfini's remains have been returned to the U.S. from Rome.

PREVIOUS, SUNDAY AM:James Gandolfini's body may be repatriated back to the U.S. as early as Monday. ''On behalf of the Gandolfini family, I would like to thank the Italian authorities for all the assistance they have rendered in expediting the formalities necessary to repatriate James Gandolfini's remains to the United States,'' Gandolfini spokesman Michael Kobold said in a statement Sunday. ''We would like to thank the United States government, especially Secretary Kerry and our friends at the State Department for helping us in this time of need. Our expressed thanks to the people at the Italy desk at the State Department for working day and night on our behalf. We thank President Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for their kind support. And we would like to applaud Vice Consul Patricia Hill and her colleagues at the consular section at the U.S. Embassy here in Rome for being so courteous and helpful throughout this difficult process.'' Gandolfini died Wednesday of a heart attack while in Italy to attend the Taormina Film Festival.

Related: R.I.P. James GandolfiniJames Gandolfini's Cause Of Death Confirmed, Funeral Plans Underway

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Coroner IDs body of journalist Michael Hastings

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Tue, 25 Jun 2013 16:20

LOS ANGELES '-- The Los Angeles County coroner's office confirmed Thursday that a body removed from the burned wreckage of a crashed car was that of Michael Mahon Hastings, the journalist whose reporting on U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal ultimately led to the resignation of the U.S. commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Coroner's Lt. Fred Corral said an autopsy was performed Wednesday but findings on the cause of death were deferred pending the results of toxicology tests expected in eight to 10 weeks.

Hastings, 33, was identified by matching fingerprints to prints the FBI had on file, Corral said.

Hastings' death in an unspecified Los Angeles car accident was announced Tuesday by his employer, the website BuzzFeed, but no details were released.

The car hit a tree around 4:20 a.m. Tuesday and caught fire.

Police Cmdr. Andrew Smith said there did not appear to be any foul play, but investigators were waiting for the coroner's findings.

Diamond Whistle Blower

Kimberley Process lets Zimbabwe off the hook (again) | Global Witness

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Mon, 24 Jun 2013 20:54

2nd November 2011

The Kimberley Process (KP) has thrown away its main point of leverage over the Zimbabwean government by allowing it to export diamonds from the controversial Marange region without first fulfilling previous commitments to reform its diamond trade, said the Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition of NGOs today.

"The Kimberley Process has effectively given up on Zimbabwe," said Alfred Brownell, President of Green Advocates, Liberia. "KP member governments and the diamond industry seem ready to turn their back on the interests of Zimbabwe's citizens, the public good and the principles on which the Kimberley Process was founded."

The Marange diamond fields were seized in 2008 by government security forces, who killed at least 200 small scale miners. At the end of 2009 the Zimbabwean government agreed to undertake a series of reforms as a basis for Kimberley Process authorisation of further exports. This 'Joint Work Plan' required among other things, demilitarisation, action on smuggling, and the legalisation of small scale mining.

Yesterday's deal at the Kimberley Process annual plenary meeting in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, dispenses with any meaningful link between Zimbabwe's compliance with the Joint Work Plan and the KP's authorisation of diamond exports. This comes in spite of the Zimbabwean military remaining deeply involved in diamond mining in Marange, persistent and widespread smuggling and no progress in enabling small scale miners to work legally. Regular reports of human rights abuses against miners by security forces continue.

A previous agreement between the Kimberley Process and Zimbabwe gave local civil society representatives the official status of Local Focal Point, allowing them to access Marange and formally report back to the Kimberley Process. This status promised protection for activists who have previously been arrested and harassed over their work on Zimbabwe's opaque diamond industry.

The new agreement, while maintaining that civil society organisations retain access to the Marange fields, strips the Local Focal Point of its official status.

''It's a pure business deal that leaves out key concerns of Zimbabwe's civil society: that is protection of the locals from human rights abuses in and around Marange and ensuring that Marange diamonds are properly accounted for, for the benefit of the suffering Zimbabwean people,'' Farai Maguwu said from New York where he is being honoured with Human Rights Watch's Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism for his work in the Marange diamond fields.

This deal does nothing to boost the confidence of members of the Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition, who had boycotted the Kinshasa meeting over fears that substantive and ongoing concerns about Zimbabwe's compliance would be ignored.

''This deal only reinforces the perception that there is no limit to how far the KP is prepared to go in lowering the ethical bar on Marange,'' said Shamiso Mtisi, Coordinator of the Local Focal Point and Environmental Lawyer at the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association. ''Given the chance to keep Zimbabwe to its previous commitments, the KP has shown itself incapable of doing the right thing.''

The deal in Kinshasa also poses a very difficult question for the diamond industry and KP member countries: What of the hundreds of millions of dollars worth of stockpiled diamonds linked to the worst bouts of violence in late 2008 and 2009?

''The integrity of the entire clean diamond supply chain is on the line,'' said Alan Martin, Research Director of Partnership Africa Canada. ''How can consumers buy a diamond this Christmas with any confidence that they are not buying a Marange diamond mined in unquestionable violence? How can industry give any assurances that they will be able to separate these diamonds from the legitimate diamond supply chain?''

In the approach to elections next year in Zimbabwe, the new agreement completely fails to address the risk of the diamond industry financing political violence in Zimbabwe. Each election in Zimbabwe over the last decade has been accompanied by widespread violence and intimidation. Coordinating the violence requires significant sums of money to pay security agents and youth militias.

/ Ends

Contact:

In London: Global Witness '' Mike Davis, +44 7872 600 860; Oliver Courtney, +44 7739 324 962In Monrovia: Green Advocates '' Alfred Brownell, +231 644 4472In New York: Centre for Research and Development '' Farai Maguwu, +1 646 920 6746 In Ottawa: Partnership Africa Canada '' Alan Martin, +1 613 237 6768 (ext. 6)

Notes

1. The Kimberley Process is a rough diamond certification scheme, established in 2003. It brings together governments, industry and civil society, and aims to eradicate the trade in conflict diamonds. Member states are required to pass national legislation and set up an import/export control system. Over 75 of the world's diamond producing, trading and manufacturing countries participate in the scheme.

2. The Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition includes Green Advocates (Liberia), CECIDE (Guinea), COOPERGADI and COOPERGAC (Brazil), CLONG (Republic of Congo), CENADEP, GAERN (Democratic Republic of Congo), Fatal Transactions, GRPIE (C´te d'Ivoire), the Network Movement for Justice and Development (Sierra Leone), Centre for Research and Development (Zimbabwe), Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) and Global Witness (GW).

3. The Kimberley Process (KP) Civil Society Coalition formally walked out of the biannual KP meeting in June 2010 and boycotted the Kinshasa KP meeting in October-November 2011 in protest at the weak stance the KP has taken towards the problems of diamonds associated with human rights abuses in Zimbabwe and C´te d'Ivoire and rule breaking by Venezuela.

Politicsweb - The convenient death of Zanu-PF`s Edward Chindori-Chininga - DOCUMENTS

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Mon, 24 Jun 2013 20:53

Violet Gona - Alan Marting

23 June 2013

SW Radio Africa transcript of interview between Violet Gonda and Alan Martin on the late 'diamond whistleblower'

Hot Seat transcript: Zanu-PF 'diamond whistleblower' Chindori-Chininga dies in car crash

The discussion on SW Radio Africa's Hot Seat this week is about the death of Zanu-PF legislator Edward Chindori-Chininga, who last week released a damning report about the involvement of ZANU PF officials and allies in the diamond industry. He died in a car crash on Wednesday. Alan Martin the director of research at Partnership Africa Canada, a civil society organization that is part of the Kimberley Process, communicated extensively with Chindori- Chininga in recent weeks.

He says Chindori- Chininga told him earlier this month that he knew he was a "marked man" and that his work as chairman of the parliamentary committee on mines had ended his political career in ZANU PF. He is said to have told delegates at a workshop in South Africa two weeks ago that some of the individuals in government who complained about the targeted western economic sanctions were the same people who were benefitting the most from the restrictions, because it allowed them to operate in the grey zone.

BROADCAST: 20 JUNE 2013

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VIOLET GONDA: The Zanu PF MP for Guruve South, Edward Chindori-Chininga, died in a car crash while driving in his constituency on Wednesday. This has set Zimbabwe talking because last Wednesday he released a damning report about the involvement of Zanu PF officials and allies in the diamond industry. Only two weeks ago the lawmaker was at a workshop prior to the Kimberley Process meeting in South Africa and delegates told SW Radio Africa he was openly critical of the diamond situation in Zimbabwe. Last week as chairman of the parliamentary portfolio committee on Mines and Energy, Chindori-Chininga presented this highly critical report to parliament on Zimbabwe's diamond industry.

Alan Martin is the director of research at Partnership Africa Canada, a civil society organization that is part of the Kimberley Process, and he's someone who communicated extensively in the last few weeks with the late former Mines minister and I asked him to tell me more about the work that Chindori-Chininga was involved in. Mr Martin welcome to the programme Hot Seat.

ALAN MARTIN: Thank you very much Violet.

GONDA: First of all can you start by giving us your reaction to the sad news?

MARTIN: Well I think it is a great tragedy, obviously for his family and we express our condolences to his wife and his family on his passing. I think he was certainly a maverick politician and I think that the work that he did in his role as the chair of the portfolio committee on Energy and Mines I think was absolutely stellar. I think he was a great example of probably perhaps the best parliamentary tradition of using his role to use the parliamentary structures to try and find out and get to the truth of the matter or the issues that were surrounding Marange and I think that for that we will always be indebted to him for his work.

GONDA: Did it surprise you that there was a senior member of Zanu PF who was forthcoming with information on diamond dealings in the country?

MARTIN: Yes. I should clarify that my personal relationship with him is actually quite new; in the time that I was doing research on Marange, a lot of it was by using information that he had gleaned from his inquisitory style in the committee where he revealed a lot of information. He got company officials and government officials, members of the ZMDC for example and even the minister (Obert Mpofu) himself to admit things in front of the committee which I felt very useful for my work.

But I personally only met him for the first time at the beginning of this month and I think I was very much struck by the fact that he had this sort of independent sense of style, this belief that he had a role and parliament had a role in finding out and having some kind of oversight of what happened in Marange. So I was a bit surprised, perhaps to one degree, to the extent that someone in a senior seat in government would be this cooperative but I think the lesson I also take from him is that despite the fact that we might have had our disagreements, it's always important to remember that even in regimes such as that in Mugabe's faction that I think there are people who are always willing to listen and to be able to talk despite the fact that we might have our disagreements.

GONDA: Several parliamentarians have described him as a man who really knew his mining issues and was a no-nonsense kind of guy especially during sessions where he chaired the parliamentary portfolio committee on mining. I hear he even tried hard to get corrupt guys to answer the right questions during hearings and he repeatedly interrupted people reminding them that they were under oath and that perjury is a crime. I also received an email that he sent out last week to the outside world, and I think you were also on that mailing list, and basically he was forwarding the contents of the report that he presented in parliament. The report had quite some astounding issues - what can you tell us about the report?

MARTIN: As you say it was very surprising; it was one that took about four years to write so it was quite a well thought out piece and I think one of the things that I thought was the most striking about it was that it essentially, from a government perspective, for somebody in his position to essentially be agreeing with the Minister of Finance that there was a huge discrepancy between what companies were remitting to government and what the Treasury was receiving. And one of the things he did was to actually go to the companies themselves and ask them to reveal how much they had paid to the government in terms of royalties, depletion fees, marketing fees, dividends, corporate tax - things like that - and just in the case of Mbada for example - Mbada told the committee that they had given something like a US$117 million and yet the government could only account for 41 million of those. So I think this was a pretty astounding thing. And he was very clear in directing responsibility for this directly at the executive, particularly the Minister of Mines.

And I think this is one of the things that made him so effective in that position as committee chair. As a former Minister of Mines he knew exactly how that ministry was supposed to work which I think made it very difficult for people to try and whitewash him. Just in terms of the lead up to your question, I think one of the things that he was very good at, even in the case of Minister Mpofu, he even mentioned about how he had issued four subpoenas to Mpofu to, recently to appear before the committee and Mpofu had been denying those and dismissing them and I think finally he had to actually get the Speaker to issue, or get the police to actually go and present the Minister with that final subpoena which if he'd not agreed to would have resulted in the Minster's arrest. This man was very tenacious; I think he really believed that parliament and Zimbabwe deserved to have answers as to how this precious resource was being managed.

Moderate Zanu-PF Lawmaker Dies in Car Accident

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Mon, 24 Jun 2013 20:53

'-- Moderate Zanu-PF lawmaker for Guruve South, Edward Chindori-Chininga, has died in a car accident while driving in his constituency.The former mines minister was the chairman of the parliamentary portfolio committee on mines and energy that last week produced a damning report on missing diamond funds.

He survived a fatal crash last year when his vehicle collided with a 4X4 pick-up truck while driving on the Guruve Road, just 5 kilometers from the Harare-Bindura Road.

Social media construct Baba Jukwa, who writes controversial Zimbabwean political issues and has over 157,000 followers on Facebook, warned recently that Mr. Chindori-Chininga is being targeted by state security agents suspecting that he is leaking Zanu-PF and state secrets.

There was no immediate comment from the police and Zanu-PF officials. But according to the state-controlled Herald newspaper, the former cabinet minister died on the spot when his vehicle failed to stop and hit a tree at the intersection of Raffingora and Mvurwi roads.

The newspaper quoted Mashonaland Central Police Traffic Superintendent Ephraim Nyakata as saying the accident occurred Wednesday night. There were no further details.

The late Chindori-Chininga (58) served as Minister of Mines and Mining Development between 2000 and 2004. He once served as the Zimbabwe Tourist Development Director (Southern Africa) and also worked as the director for the Zimbabwe tourism offices in New York.

Wes Clark 7

Oh look, Lebanon needs "rescued" too!

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Source: BadChad's ThoughtPile

Mon, 24 Jun 2013 21:02

Lebanon's army has seized control of the headquarters of an Islamic cleric and arrested dozens of his supporters, following a second day of clashes fuelled by Syria's civil war.

The army said 12 soldiers had been killed in the fighting in Abra, near Sidon, while security sources gave a higher army death toll of 18 and said 20 of Sheikh Ahmed al-Assir's supporters were killed.

The clashes subsided on Monday evening but Assir, who has accused the army of backing the interests of the Shia group Hezbollah, remains at large. Local media reported that he and some supporters had gone into hiding in Ain el Helweh, one of the Palestinian refugee camps nearby, following the battle.

The army is trying to kill or capture him, after accusing him of killing soldiers "in cold blood" on Sunday.

Offices destroyed

Reports from Abra described at least four tanks and several army vehicles ablaze, while abandoned weapons and military clothing were found inside the cleric's headquarters. Many buildings in the complex had been damaged by fire, with Assir's main office said to have been totally destroyed.

Al Jazeera's Nour Samaha, reporting from outside Sidon, earlier said fighting had raged around Abra and the Ain el Helweh camp. Members of the Jund al-Sham and Fatah al-Islam armed groups have joined the battle, she added.

However, roadblocks were lifted and gunfire subsided after the army gained control of Assir's headquarters.

Tensions had been rising in Sidon since the Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah sent fighters into Syria to help recapture a strategic border town controlled by Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's forces.

The army said clashes broke out on Sunday after security forces detained one of Assir's followers. His supporters retaliated by opening fire on an army checkpoint. Army commanders pledged to crush Assir's forces.

Restoring security

"We affirm to all Lebanese that the army is determined to eradicate strife, and will not halt its military operations until security is completely restored to the city," the army said in a statement on Monday.

At least 62 Assir supporters were arrested as soldiers combed the area they had seized, a security source said. One of the men captured had disguised himself as a woman.

Lebanon's commissioner to the military court, Judge Sakr Sakr, said that Assir had been summoned "to be put on trial, along with 123 of his followers, including his brother and Fadl Shaker," a prominent Lebanese singer who abandoned his career to join Assir's ultraconservative group.

"Come and save your people who are being massacred," said an appeal on Assir's Twitter account on Monday.

Assir, whose supporters accuse the army of giving cover to Hezbollah gunmen, called for people across the country to join him and demanded that "honourable" soldiers defect.

Assir has a small group of staunch supporters, believed to be in the hundreds. But many Lebanese Sunnis see him as a militant and troublemaker.

Lebanon's grand mufti, Mohammad Rashid Qabbani, condemned the fighting, saying that there was never a justified reason to attack the armed forces.

But in the northern coastal city of Tripoli, a Sunni stronghold, masked gunmen roamed the streets on motorbikes and fired guns and sound grenades in a show of support for Assir. Other supporters blocked main roads with cement blocks and burning tires.

518

NA TECH

API - AOL Reader.

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Words Matter

'If Zimmerman Get Off, Ima Go Kill a White Boy': Trayvon Martin Supporters Make Shocking Threats Ahead of Verdict.

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Fri, 28 Jun 2013 17:02

As the murder trial of George Zimmerman marches on, supporters of slain teen Trayvon Martin are vowing to carry out disturbing and deadly acts of violence if Zimmerman is not found guilty.

George Zimmerman listens during his murder trial in Sanford, Florida, today. Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder for the February 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. (Credit: Getty Images)

Twitter has been buzzing with death threats against Zimmerman (and random white people'...and for the truly ambitious, an ''hispanic/white'' person) if the verdict isn't guilty as charged in the murder trial in which Zimmerman is pleading self-defense in his fatal shooting of Martin.

Here's a sampling via Twitchy (and be advised of rough language ahead):

(Credit: Twitter via Twitchy)

(Credit: Twitter via Twitchy)

(Credit: Twitter via Twitchy)

(Credit: Twitter via Twitchy)

(Credit: Twitter via Twitchy)

(Credit: Twitter via Twitchy)

(Credit: Twitter via Twitchy)

(Credit: Twitter via Twitchy)

(Credit: Twitter via Twitchy)

(H/T: Weasel Zippers)

''

Bulgaria/Pipes

Anti-government protests in Bulgaria in 13th day.

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Wed, 26 Jun 2013 22:59

Protests against Bulgarian Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski's government continue in its 13th day in the capital Sofia.

The protests were organized through social networking sites with the name 'coffee break' in front of the parliament.

Slogans as 'Resignation', 'Red communist rubbishes' and 'Mafia' were shouted during the protests, with protestors throwing tomatoes and eggs to the main entrance of the parliament.

Meanwhile, Oresharski placed himself in the parliament with all government members to announce the personnel changes in the parliament and waited, however the 240 chaired parliament could not be opened due to the fewness of parliamentarians. He had offered Daniela Bobeva, one of the directors of Central Bank to be appointed as the Economy Minister and deputy prime minister.

"Yet, the government is not in an intention to resist," Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Tsvetlin Yovchev stated in a press release after disentering the parliament.

One of the symbolic names of democratization process, former ambassador to India and Mongolia Edvin Sugarev announced he has started a hunger strike, saying, "If it's necessary I'll die to cause the government's fall. None of those, who rule, show respect or attention to the protestors."

The protests are expected to continue until late Wednesday in front of the prime ministry. The protestors want the political system to be reorganized, shouting slogans to the detriment of Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), centrist HOH party, ultranationalist Attack Party and centre-right GERB Party.

AA

Stalled Nabucco Project Close to Official Death

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Wed, 26 Jun 2013 22:58

Austrian oil and gas company OMV CEO Gerhard Roiss has issued a statement saying that his company views the Nabucco pipeline project as failed, after the Shah Deniz II consortium suggested it intends to ship gas to Europe via another route.

"The Nabucco project is over for us," stated Roiss at a special press briefing Wednesday soon after news of the Shah Deniz consortium's decision broke out.

OMV was the leading company managing the Nabucco project, which also includes the Bulgarian Energy Holding, Turkey's BOTAS, Hungarian FGSZ and Romania's Transgaz.

Roiss's statement comes as a further development strongly suggested that Nabucco will probably never be built.

Bulgaria was strongly committed to the project, hoping to diversify its natural gas supply, which now comes almost exclusively from Russia, with gas from Azerbaijan.

The rich Shah Deniz gas field was the main source of supply for the Nabucco project.

The consortium announced Wednesday that it will chose the projected Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), set to pass through Greece, Albania and Italy, citing higher gas prices in southern Europe.

Wednesday OMV CEO Roiss questioned whether that was the real reason behind the decision, suggesting that the move might have been politically motivated.

Vaccine$

Asthma research in gene test hope

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Fri, 28 Jun 2013 02:31

27 June 2013Last updated at21:45 ETResearch into the genetic risks for asthma could lead to a test which predicts which children will never grow out of it, says a study in The Lancet.

Scientists found that those at higher genetic risk of asthma were 36% more likely to develop serious, life-long asthma than those with lower risk.

But they said it was too soon to be used as a reliable clinical test.

Asthma UK says the findings could help identify people whose asthma could become severe.

Earlier studies had linked several genes to small increases in asthma risk.

This study, led by researchers from Duke University in North Carolina, identified 15 separate locations in the human genome which are associated with asthma.

Using this knowledge combined with data from a major New Zealand health study of more than 1,000 people since birth, the researchers were able to calculate the genetic risk score for 880 individuals.

They then tracked the development and progression of their asthma from early childhood through to their late 30s.

Continue reading the main story''Start QuoteGenetic risk prediction for asthma is still in its infancy.''

End QuoteDr Daniel BelskyDuke UniversityThose with higher genetic risk scores were more likely to have severe asthma which continued into adulthood, and they more often developed problems with lung function.

They were also more likely to miss school or work and to be admitted to hospital because of their asthma.

At present, there are no tests that can predict which children will recover as they grow older.

'Long way'Continue reading the main storyWhat is asthma?Asthma affects the airways in the lungs and can cause a cough, wheezing and breathlessness.

It is one of the most common long-term medical conditions in the UK.

Dr Daniel Belsky, a post-doctoral fellow at the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy, said it was too early to talk about a predictive test for severe asthma.

"Although our study revealed that genetic risks can help to predict which childhood-onset asthma cases remit and which become life-course-persistent, genetic risk prediction for asthma is still in its infancy.

"As additional risk genes are discovered, the value of genetic assessments is likely to improve."

He said there was still a long way to go before genetic risk scores could be used routinely in medical practice.

But the study could lead to a better understanding of asthma and how to treat it, he said.

Leanne Reynolds, from the charity Asthma UK, said it was misleading to assume that some children 'grow out' of the condition.

"We know that some children with asthma no longer experience symptoms when they reach adulthood, however... the underlying tendency still remains and so symptoms can still return in later life."

However, she said further research in this area would be welcomed.

"This could mean that in the future we're able to identify those people whose asthma will put them at greatest risk so we can ensure they get the support they need."

Federal Register | Authorization of Emergency Use of an In Vitro Diagnostic for Detection of the Novel Avian Influenza A(H7N9) Virus; Availability

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Tue, 25 Jun 2013 15:50

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is announcing the issuance of an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) (the Authorization) for an in vitro diagnostic device for detection of the novel avian influenza A(H7N9) virus. FDA is issuing this Authorization under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act, as requested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Authorization contains, among other things, conditions on the emergency use of the authorized in vitro diagnostic device. The Authorization follows the determination by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) that there is a significant potential for a public health emergency that has a significant potential to affect national security or the health and security of U.S. citizens living abroad that involves the novel avian influenza A(H7N9) virus. On the basis of such determination, the Secretary also declared that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of emergency use of in vitro diagnostics for detection of the novel avian influenza A(H7N9) virus subject to the terms of any authorization issued under the FD&C Act. The Authorization, which includes an explanation of the reasons for issuance, is reprinted in this document.

The Authorization is effective as of April 22, 2013.

Submit written requests for single copies of the EUA to the Office of Counterterrorism and Emerging Threats, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 32, Rm. 4121, Silver Spring, MD 20993- 0002. Send one self-addressed adhesive label to assist that office in processing your request or include a fax number to which the Authorization may be sent. See the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for electronic access to the Authorization.

Luciana Borio, Assistant Commissioner for Counterterrorism Policy, Office of Counterterrorism and Emerging Threats, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 32, Rm. 4118, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, 301-796-8510 (this is not a toll free number).

Section 564 of the FD Act (21 U.S.C. 360bbb-3), as amended by the Project BioShield Act of 2004 (Pub. L. 108-276) and the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013 (Pub. L. 113-5), allows FDA to strengthen the public health protections against biological, chemical, nuclear, and radiological agents. Among other things, section 564 of the FD Act allows FDA to authorize the use of an unapproved medical product or an unapproved use of an approved medical product in certain situations. With this EUA authority, FDA can help assure that medical countermeasures may be used in emergencies to diagnose, treat, or prevent serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions caused by biological, chemical, nuclear, or radiological agents when there are no adequate, approved, and available alternatives.

Section 564(b)(1) of the FD&C Act provides that, before an EUA may be issued, the Secretary of HHS must declare that circumstances exist justifying the authorization based on one of the following grounds: (1) A determination by the Secretary of Homeland Security that there is a domestic emergency, or a significant potential for a domestic emergency, involving a heightened risk of attack with a biological, chemical, radiological, or nuclear agent or agents; (2) a determination by the Secretary of Defense that there is a military emergency, or a significant potential for a military emergency, involving a heightened risk to U.S. military forces of attack with a biological, chemical, radiological, or nuclear agent or agents; (3) a determination by the Secretary of HHS that there is a public health emergency, or a significant potential for a public health emergency, that affects, or has a significant potential to affect, national security or the health and security of U.S. citizens living abroad, and that involves a biological, chemical, radiological, or nuclear agent or agents, or a disease or condition that may be attributable to such agent or agents; [1] or (4) the identification of a material threat by the Secretary of Homeland Security pursuant to section 319F-2 of the Public Health Service (PHS) Act (42 U.S.C. 247d-6b) sufficient to affect national security or the health and security of U.S. citizens living abroad.

Once the Secretary has declared that circumstances exist justifying an authorization under section 564 of the FD&C Act, FDA may authorize the emergency use of a drug, device, or biological product if the Agency concludes that the statutory criteria are satisfied. Under section 564(h)(1) of the FD&C Act, FDA is required to publish, in the Federal Register, a notice of each authorization, and each termination or revocation of an authorization, and an explanation of the reasons for the action. Section 564 of the FD Act permits FDA to authorize the introduction into interstate commerce of a drug, device, or biological product intended for use when the Secretary of HHS has declared that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of emergency use. Products appropriate for emergency use may include products and uses that are not approved, cleared, or licensed under sections 505, 510(k), or 515 of the FD Act (21 U.S.C. 355, 360(k), and 360e) or section 351 of the PHS Act (42 U.S.C. 262). FDA may issue an EUA only if, after consultation with the HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, the Director of the National Institutes of Health, and the Director of CDC (to the extent feasible and appropriate given the applicable circumstances), FDA [2] concludes: (1) That an agent referred to in a declaration of emergency or threat can cause a serious or life-threatening disease or condition; (2) that, based on the totality of scientific evidence available to FDA, including data from adequate and well-controlled clinical trials, if available, it is reasonable to believe that: (A) The product may be effective in diagnosing, treating, or preventing'--(i) such disease or condition; or (ii) a serious or life-threatening disease or condition caused by a product authorized under section 564, approved or cleared under the FD&C Act, or licensed under section 351 of the PHS Act, for diagnosing, treating, or preventing such a disease or condition caused by such an agent; and (B) the known and potential benefits of the product, when used to diagnose, prevent, or treat such disease or condition, outweigh the known and potential risks of the product, taking into consideration the material threat posed by the agent or agents identified in a declaration under section 564(b)(1)(D) of the FD&C Act, if applicable; (3) that there is no adequate, approved, and available alternative to the product for diagnosing, preventing, or treating such disease or condition; and (4) that such other criteria as the Secretary of HHS may by regulation prescribe are satisfied.

No other criteria of issuance have been prescribed by regulation under section 564(c)(4) of the FD&C Act. Because the statute is self-executing, regulations or guidance are not required for FDA to implement the EUA authority.

On April 19, 2013, under section 564(b)(1)(C) of the FD Act (21 U.S.C. 360bbb-3(b)(1)(C)), the Secretary of HHS determined that there is a significant potential for a public health emergency that has a significant potential to affect national security or the health and security of U.S. citizens living abroad that involves the novel avian influenza A(H7N9) virus. Also on April 19, 2013, under section 564(b)(1) of the FD Act, and on the basis of such determination, the Secretary of HHS declared that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of emergency use of in vitro diagnostics for detection of the novel avian influenza A(H7N9) virus, subject to the terms of any authorization issued under section 564 of the FD Act. The Secretary also specified that this declaration is a declaration of an emergency with respect to in vitro diagnostics as defined under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act Declaration for Pandemic Influenza Diagnostics, Personal Respiratory Protection Devices, and Respiratory Support Devices signed by then Secretary Michael Leavitt on December 17, 2008 (73 FR 78362). Notice of the determination and the declaration of the Secretary were published in the Federal Register on April 30, 2013 (78 FR 25273). On April 19, 2013, CDC requested, and on April 22, 2013, FDA issued an EUA for the CDC Human Influenza Virus Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel-Influenza A/H7 (Eurasian Lineage) Assay subject to the terms of this authorization.

An electronic version of this document and the full text of the Authorization are available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov.

Having concluded that the criteria for issuance of the Authorization under section 564(c) of the FD&C Act are met, FDA has authorized the emergency use of an in vitro diagnostic device for detection of the novel avian influenza A(H7N9) virus subject to the terms of the Authorization. The Authorization in its entirety (not including the authorized versions of the fact sheets and other written materials) follows and provides an explanation of the reasons for its issuance, as required by section 564(h)(1) of the FD&C Act:

BILLING CODE 4160-01-P

Dated: June 19, 2013.

Leslie Kux,

Assistant Commissioner for Policy.

[FR Doc. 2013-15096 Filed 6-24-13; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4160-01-C

Plan For More Than 209-Top 10 Influenza Pandemic Response Planning Tips for H7N9 Virus | CDC

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Wed, 26 Jun 2013 12:33

CDC is closely monitoring the avian influenza A (H7N9) situation in China and is taking several preparedness measures. While no H7N9 cases have been detected in the United States or anywhere outside of China at this time and there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission, CDC encourages state and local public health agencies to use this time to review and reinforce their pandemic preparedness plans in case the situation escalates. CDC has developed these Top 10 Influenza Pandemic Response Planning Tips to help senior public health officials at the state, local, tribal, and territorial levels identify the most critical capabilities and activities needed to assure jurisdictional readiness for an influenza pandemic response.

These suggestions are designed to help jurisdictions identify remaining influenza pandemic preparedness operational gaps and improve readiness for potential response. This is not an exhaustive list of all the steps necessary for a sustained influenza pandemic response, but it is intended to give senior public health officials a quick guide for accelerated planning. CDC recommends jurisdictions review their respective H1N1 after-action reports and other relevant data to better assess operational requirements.

Regularly visit the CDC avian influenza (H7N9) information page for the latest information on the rapidly evolving H7N9 outbreak in China. H7N9 content includes CDC guidance documents such as interim guidance for infection control and antiviral treatment recommendations.Review existing jurisdictional influenza pandemic plans including vaccine administration/mass vaccination plans, community mitigation plans, plans for requesting, receiving, distributing, and dispensing Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) assets, worker safety plans, and risk communication plans, among others. Identify and address any operational gaps.Verify state and local supplies and caches of antiviral drugs, respiratory protective devices, and personal protective equipment.Ensure that H7N9 virus can be rapidly detected and characterized. CDC has completed work on new laboratory diagnostic test materials that can be used specifically to identify cases of human infection with the new avian influenza A (H7N9) virus.Develop and utilize redundant methods for communicating with and contacting providers/clinicians including but not limited to Health Alert Network (HAN) messaging. Prepare to disseminate messages on testing guidance, treatment guidelines, case definition, and worker safety guidance.Identify the relevant subject matter experts within your jurisdiction's public health emergency preparedness and immunization programs, as well as other influenza subject matter experts, such as those in agricultural agencies to develop strategies to ensure animal health is part of public health preparedness planning.Assure that key staff members within your jurisdiction know how to contact CDC's domestic H7N9 epidemiology/lab team and reinforce the need to call CDC with any questions or to consult on cases. Contact CDC 24/7 at 770-488-7100.Test communication systems and platforms to assure operability. Update as needed.Plan how your vaccination program would operationalize a pandemic vaccine prioritization scheme.Identify and vaccinate potential priority populations such as healthcare workers, critical infrastructure personnel, young children, and other pediatric and adult groups (e.g., pregnant women and other high-risk groups).Strategize how to engage, enroll, and communicate with providers not currently enrolled in the Vaccines for Children program. Nontraditional providers may include adult medical providers, occupational health providers that care for critical infrastructure personnel, pharmacies, and community health centers.Plan for potentially administering significantly more vaccine than was available during the 2009 H1N1 response.Assure administrative readiness for a large-scale influenza pandemic event. This includes the ability to rapidly procure, execute contracts, and hire staff/contractors. Identify and address any legal barriers.

Chantix may be effective against alcohol addiction.

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Wed, 26 Jun 2013 03:13

Chantix is marketed in the U.S. as a drug to help you stop smoking. Researchers at the National Institutes of Health say it may also help alcoholics stop drinking.

Researchers say the drug, which goes by the generic name varenicline, treats alcoholism in much the same way as it does nicotine addiction. It stimulates an area of the brain that provides the pleasure derived from both drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco. No pleasure, no urge to drink.

"Drinking and smoking often co-occur, and given their genetic and neurochemical similarities, it is perhaps unsurprising that a smoking cessation treatment might serve to treat alcohol problems," said Dr. Raye Litten of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) . "Our study is the first multi-site clinical trial to test the effectiveness and safety of varenicline in a population of smokers and nonsmokers with alcohol dependence."

Ziller and colleagues conducted a clinical trial with 200 adults with drinking problems. They say they found the drug reduced the urge to drink.

18 million potential patientsNIH estimates about 18 million people in the U.S. have problems controlling their alcohol consumption. The researchers, writing in the Journal of Addiction Medicines, suggest Chantix should be considered as a tool to combat alcoholism.

Chantix, however, is known to have some side effects which can be severe. Problems reported with the drug have given some consumers pause.

Chantix already carries a ''black box'' warning on its label. But researchers at Harvard, Johns Hopkins and other institutions, say it might not be enough.

Writing about their study in the journal PloS One in 2011, they said the drug's poor safety profile makes it unsuitable for first-line use among those who want to quit smoking. According to the researchers, Chantix showed a substantially increased risk of reported depression or suicidal behavior compared to other smoking-cessation treatments.

Physical side effectsJustice, of Charlotte, N.C., reports physical side effects from Chantix.

''I would much rather die a slow death from cigs than to die due to side effects of Chantix,'' Justice wrote in a ConsumerAffairs post. ''I have developed an agoraphobic reaction to all new and many older drugs that I may need for my health. I have an increased heart rate permanently now, too!''

Another patient, Keith, of Boise, Idaho, blames his legal problems on Chantix.

''After chewing for 26 years, I was recommended Chantix by my healthcare provider,'' Keith writes. ''I was taking Chantix for roughly three weeks when I experienced a blackout and severe memory loss. I woke in jail and was charged with two felonies. Here it is 180 days later, $20,000 plus in attorney fees and medical fees, and I still have no recollection of that night and events prior. Sadly because I didn't kill anyone, my case is not worth a suit against Pfizer according to the class action attorneys.''

Before Chantix can be prescribed for alcohol addiction, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must give its approval. It may well consider side effects before expanding the drug's use.

Adverse effectsA 2008 study by the group Institute for Safe Medication Practices reviewed adverse event reports filed with the FDA. It found that Chantix generated 988 serious incidents in the fourth quarter of 2007, the most of any drug during that period.

''Some people have had changes in behavior, hostility, agitation, depressed mood, and suicidal thoughts or actions while using Chantix to help them quit smoking,'' Pfizer, the maker of the drug, said in printed material about Chantix. ''Some people had these symptoms when they began taking Chantix, and others developed them after several weeks of treatment, or after stopping Chantix.''

The pharmaceutical company also points out that when you try to quit smoking, with or without Chantix, you may have symptoms attributed to Chantix side effects that may actually be due to nicotine withdrawal.

Ministry of Truth

Media keeps lid on Mandela's death.

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Source: the tap

Fri, 28 Jun 2013 05:38

Rumor has it; Plug Pulled and Mandela Is DEAD at age of 94?A reliable source has revealed that Nelson Mandela's life support machine was shut down and he has died in hospital aged 94. According to the source, the iconic Mandela died last night while he was still in hospital for the recurring lung infection that left him in critical condition for several days.Rumors have flooded the newspapers and the internet with several sources reporting his death days earlier in a cruel attempt to fool the public and to upset the many people who have respect for this great humanitarian. The loss of the great man will be felt across the world.Earlier today one of our writers, Laura Oneale, wrote an article questioning whether or not Nelson Mandela was still alive. He had been in the hospital 19 days for a recurring lung infection. As speculation surrounding his health continued to grow with many asking whether he was still alive or if, in fact, he had died. Until recently authorities would only confirm that he was on a life support system and remained in a critical condition.Authorities have confirmed that Nelson Mandela has been taken off his life support machine, adding fuel to the speculation that he had died. Because of this, the rumor has been spreading that Nelson Mandela died last night and that the government and his family have ''kept a lid'' on the news because of American Present Obama's upcoming trip to South Africa. Obviously, the president's visit will be overshadowed by the announcement of the Noble Prize wining Mandela.The Noble Prize winning humanitarian Nelson Mandela had his life support shut down after he died last night aged 94 at the end of a long battle with illness that ended with his hospitalization and finally his death.http://beautifulnightmare- killumbus.blogspot.co.uk/

Mandela was a myth

Out There

A Filthy History: When New Yorkers Lived Knee-Deep in Trash | Collectors Weekly

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Wed, 26 Jun 2013 12:30

It's tempting to think of sacred tombs and ancient monuments as our best window into other cultures. But archaeologists have long known that if you really want to understand a civilization, to know its people's passions, weaknesses, and daily rituals, look no further than their garbage.

Robin Nagle has spent much of her life fascinated by trash, and its oft-unseen impacts on our society, our environment, and our health. Nagle's recent book, ''Picking Up,'' chronicles a decade working with the New York City Department of Sanitation, years spent in their offices, transfer stations, locker rooms, and of course, their garbage trucks. Interspersed with Nagle's personal experiences are enlightening tidbits from the city's long and difficult history of trash collection. As Nagle points out, we live in cities literally built on trash, yet the management of household waste remains one of the most invisible aspects of modern existence.

In the U.S., the most wasteful country per capita, each citizen throws away an average of 7.1 pounds per day, according to garbage guru Edward Humes. So what place could be better to study the impact of this onslaught than New York City, which generates nearly 22 million pounds of household waste every day?

''New York persisted in being infamously, disgustingly dirty.''

In 2002, Nagle was first granted access to the department's archives, and in 2003, she initiated the process of actually becoming a sanitation worker. After working closely with the department for years'--riding routes, visiting garages, attending social events, and interviewing employees'--Nagle was named the department's only Anthropologist in Residence in 2006. ''It's the perfect title,'' says Nagle, ''the perfect framing of my relationship with them. It lets me propose weird things, and they just shake their heads and say, 'It must be because she's an anthropologist.'''

Nagle's research covers all the complexities of our sanitation situation, from landfill archaeology to the integration of women in a male-dominated profession. One of Nagle's most disturbing revelations is that a career in sanitation is more dangerous than working for the fire or police department, despite a clear absence of public appreciation for our garbage men and women.

Top: An early image of the sanitation department collecting trash, circa late 1890s. Photo courtesy DSNY. Above: A street sweeper, or ''San Man,'' in Midtown Manhattan in 1964. Via National Geographic.

Now that the book is finished, Nagle is working to document the field's oral history and develop a Museum of Sanitation. Part of Nagle's motivation is to restore the dignity of the profession and remind urban dwellers that they couldn't function without a sanitation department.

We recently spoke with Nagle about the hidden life of trash and the complicated business of managing it.

Collectors Weekly: What initially drew you to the world of trash?Robin Nagle: My dad and I were camping in the Adirondacks, and for people who are not familiar with the East Coast, the Adirondacks are 6.2 million acres of the last untrammeled wilderness on the East Coast, outside of some parts of Maine. It's the last place east of the Mississippi where you can be five miles from a paved road. Isn't that an amazing statistic?

So we were hiking in the mountains, and it was gorgeous and utopian. I really did have a sense that, except for the path at our feet, surely no human being had ever been in this place. And we got to our campsite, which was a lean-to, or a three-sided cabin with a roof, looking over the lake. It was gorgeous, except that right behind the lean-to was this dump for hikers who had been too lazy to pack out what they had packed in. At the time, I was even more goofily idealistic than I am now. As a kid, I was just flabbergasted. Who did they think was going to pick up after them? That question stayed with me, and I started to ask it in many other contexts.

In New York at the end of the 19th century, it was not uncommon for dead animals to lie on the streets for weeks.

When I moved to New York, I could see who was picking up after me'--the people who drive these big, white trucks. But then the questions became who are they, what is their life like, and what is it like to do that job? So that was the genesis of my book, ''Picking Up.''

Collectors Weekly: When was the sanitation department established in New York?Nagle: It was created as the Department of Street Cleaning in 1881, and renamed the Department of Sanitation in 1929. But it was actually made effective for the first time in 1895, in that the people who worked for the department actually collected garbage and swept the streets.

In its early days, the department didn't really function at all. There are some photographs taken for Harper's Weekly, before and after photos of street corners in New York in 1893 and then in 1895. And the before pictures are pretty astonishing, people were literally shin-high or knee-high in this muck that was a combination of street gunk, horse urine and manure, dead animals, food waste, and furniture crap.

The June 22, 1895, edition of Harper's Weekly compared photos of the same street corners two years earlier to show what an incredible transformation street cleaning had effected. Via the New York Public Library.

Put yourself back in the late 19th century and think about the material world that would have surrounded you in your home. When you threw something out, it wouldn't go anywhere. It would be thrown in the street.

This was mostly because of corruption in the city government. It was a very easy source of plunder. The people in charge of street cleaning were in the pockets of people like Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall [a corrupt political group that controlled New York City's Democratic party]. Other cities all over the world had figured out how to solve this waste problem decades earlier, but New York persisted in being infamously, disgustingly dirty.

Collectors Weekly: When did the situation change?Nagle: There was a police corruption scandal in the early 1890s that was so spectacular the Tammany political machine could not control the reaction. So they were kicked out of office in the mayoral elections of 1894. A guy named William Strong took over as mayor, and he swore to appoint people of integrity as his commissioners. For street cleaning, he first reached out to Teddy Roosevelt, who basically said, 'What, are you nuts? Nobody should do that. That's an impossible job. I'm not going to do that.' So Roosevelt took over the police department, which was also in dire need of reform.

''Our own history is with us all the time, right under foot, but we don't know it because it's literally buried.''

Mayor Strong reached out to a Civil War officer, a veteran and a self-titled ''sanitary engineer'' and a bit of a showman, named George Waring. He asked Waring to take over street cleaning, and they had a conversation that Waring later recounted to the press in which he said, ''I'll do it under one condition '' you leave me alone. If you want to fire me, of course, that's your right. But I will appoint and hire the people I feel are best for the job, not because they're people you want to do favors for.''

The dapper Civil War veteran George Waring described himself as a ''sanitation engineer.'' Photo courtesy DSNY.

The mayor agreed and Waring immediately gave the department a hierarchical, military-type structure that is still in place today. This made people immediately responsible for very clearly defined tasks, like someone was assigned to sweep from this corner to that corner 10 blocks down, and they were going to do it inside these eight hours, and this cart was going to follow and the driver of the cart had these set hours. If there were any problems, the officer immediately in charge of that crew would have to answer for them, and then the officer above had to answer for the larger regional work.

So Waring set that in place, and then he went after the filthiest corners of the whole city, which were the poorest neighborhoods, because wealthier districts had been hiring their own private cleaning companies for years. In the really poor corners of the city, like Five Points, to see anyone from the local government come into the neighborhood was not good news for local residents. They threw bricks at the street cleaners and came out to fight them with sticks. Waring said to his men, ''You keep going back. You show them what we're going to do and you see if you don't change their hearts.'' By the end of two weeks, he had tenements full of ardent fans because he cleaned their neighborhoods.

Then he spread out from there, and he wasn't afraid to fire people if they didn't do their work. He said to everyone in the department, ''You start with a clean slate with me. You work to keep your job.'' He did truly creative things, like founding the Juvenile Leagues, so that children in public schools were taught to be eyes on the street for sanitation and law enforcement. Often these were kids whose parents spoke no English, so they were helping to inculturate an older generation with these new practices, teaching them that you don't litter or throw your garbage on the street. There were more than a thousand of those groups over time.

Waring also dressed the workers in white, and even his wife said, 'What, are you crazy?' But he wanted them to be associated with notions of hygiene. Of course, those in the medical profession wore white, and he understood, quite rightly, that it was an issue of public health and hygiene to keep the street clean. He also put them in the helmets that the police wore to signify authority, and they quickly were nicknamed the White Wings.

When Waring's ''White Wings'' first began cleaning up New York streets in the 1890s, they needed police protection from disgruntled residents. Photo courtesy DSNY.

These men became heroes because, for the first time in anyone's memory, they actually cleaned the city. It was a very bright day in the history of the department. Waring was only in office for three years, but after he left, nobody could use the old excuses that Tammany had used to dodge the issue of waste management. They had always said it was too crowded, with too many diverse kinds of people, and never mind that London and Paris and Philadelphia and Boston cleaned their streets. New York was different and it just couldn't be done. Waring proved them wrong. Rates of preventable disease went down. Mortality rates went down. It also had a ripple effect across all different areas of the city.

Collectors Weekly: It's interesting that sanitation was so publicly recognized, whereas today, the visibility of waste removal has greatly diminished.Nagle: The department of sanitation started out in the public eye because it was such a remarkable difference: The before and after was stark. We're now very used to a certain presence and level of competence and waste management being very well done. One of the privileges of modern life is that we get to ignore it. Therefore, it's almost like the department is a victim of its own success.

The entire project is made invisible, and you only notice it in the gap, in the absence. For example, if there's a missed pickup or, like in 1968, when there was a strike. Then you see it. But when they're out there every day, maintaining the illusion that there's an ''away'' to which we can throw things, then it's all sort of magic. It just goes ''away.''

New York City sidewalks filled with trash during the 1968 strike, one of the few moments in the last century that garbage was front and center.

Collectors Weekly: What was the role of women in New York's early sanitation program?Nagle: Women were pivotal in the informal sector. There were two ways in which women were involved: Many privileged women made public hygiene, street cleanliness, and waste management their cause. Then at the other end of the spectrum, very poor women were on the street every day, scavenging and gleaning and surviving based on what they could pull off the streets. There were countless families who depended on women scavenging, and either selling what they found or bringing it home to eat.

In Chicago, the reformer Jane Addams was the first commissioner of street cleaning, so she was part of its effort to formalize street cleaning work. But we had no female counterpart in the New York public eye. Waring was appointed in part because the Ladies' Health Protective Association lobbied for his appointment. The Ladies, as I call them in the book, formed in the early 1880s to address issues of street cleanliness and public health. They worked as what we might call either an activist group or a lobbyist group, pressuring local politicians to address the problems.

New Yorkers once took pride in sanitation, as evidenced by the department's participation in many public parades and ceremonies. Above, a float from the 1940s. Photo courtesy DSNY.

And they were smart. They picked very specific issues, like the gigantic dung heap somewhere in the '40s on the East River. It created a horrific stench for anybody down wind of it. The pile was illegal, but it had been there for years and years. They owner sold it as fertilizer. It took them six years, but they managed to get it moved and the owner indicted.

But generally, until 1986, women were only part of the formal work of solid waste management in small ways. Sanitation was the last of New York's uniformed forces to integrate women, partly because they were under a hiring freeze from 1974 until 1986. Two women were hired off that very first wave of women applicants, and they both worked for 20 years.

Collectors Weekly: How have the department's goals shifted over the last century?New York's Sanitation Department even produced its own quarterly magazine in the 1960s, called simply ''Sweep.'' Image courtesy DSNY.

Nagle: The mission today, in a sense, is exactly the same as it's always been'--sweep the streets, collect the garbage, figure out how to pick it up and where to put it down. In a nutshell, that's the job, plus plowing the snow, which has always been part of the department's mandate. But it's changed from a hundred years ago, in that now we have nowhere within the boundaries of New York to put down our trash. It has to go outside the city, which means we pay hundreds of millions of dollars to private companies to take our trash to other places.

These other places include most of the states on the Eastern Seaboard and several in the Midwest. And that's just New York City trash; that's not the rest of the state. Every day, we generate 11,000 tons of garbage and 2,000 tons of recyclables, and that's just household waste, which is roughly a third of the total trash output of the city on any given day. The other two categories are commercial, which is businesses and restaurants and whatnot, and then what's called ''C & D,'' or construction and demolition debris. The New York City Department of Sanitation is responsible only for the household component of that.

Sanitation is also supposed to be responsible for waste reduction overall, which is a little puzzling to me. To me, that's a little bit like telling an undertaker he's supposed to help lower disease and death rates. We're responsible for the end product; we have nothing to do with the manufacturers and distributors and marketers nor are we holding the hands of the consumers who buy this stuff. But still, part of sanitation's mandate is waste reduction. The entire effort of recycling is also an increasingly important part of what sanitation does.

The politics of sanitation have become far more complex, partly because of important movements like environmental justice, which argues that communities of color or communities that are economically disadvantaged should not have to bear an unfair burden when waste management facilities are sited. Whether it's a recycling materials drop-off or a waste transfer station or a sanitation garage or a compost facility, they shouldn't be concentrated in any one neighborhood.

Staten Island, which is the only reliably Republican borough of New York's five boroughs, was host to the city's only dump for many years. It's largely white, and it's largely middle class, but the residents claimed to be victims of environmental injustice. And they were right. It's bigger than just class and race. The NIMBY, or ''Not In My Back Yard'' concept is huge now, all over the world.

A view of Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, circa 1950. The dump ground closed in 2001.

Collectors Weekly: Fresh Kills is the Staten Island dump you're referring to?Nagle: Yes, but it's now a remarkable park. Fresh Kills was one of many New York City landfills when it opened on April 19, 1948. There was also a network of incinerators in the city, but every landfill and incinerator was closed over time, so that by the early 1990s, Fresh Kills was the only option left.

All of Manhattan's trash was going out of the city by the time Fresh Kills closed in March of 2001. It was briefly reopened for September 11th material, and that effort was finished in August of 2002. And from that point forward, they've been turning it into a park, very thoughtfully, I might add. You can take your little kid there and not worry that he's going to be eating garbage.

It's not open to the public yet, but they do tours. It's breathtaking. You're standing on some of the highest points within the city, and you're surrounded by green. You see the city like a penciled sketch on the horizon, the oil refinery tanks across the water in New Jersey, and the suburbia of Staten Island. But while you're actually in the park, you also see deer and hawks and all kinds of fascinating water creatures. It's bucolic. And there's no smell, unless you count wildflowers and sometimes that lovely, mucky smell at low tide that's normal on any estuary.

A rendering of the Fresh Kills Park project, currently underway on the site of New York City's former Staten Island landfill.

Collectors Weekly: How did garbage physically shape the development of New York?Nagle: Much of the city's geography, in fact 20 percent of the larger metropolitan region, is built on landfill and much of that fill is varied forms of waste and garbage. Not all of it, but a lot of it, including incinerator ash and things like that.

New York's most prominent mid-century planner, Robert Moses, loved landfills and incinerators, partly because after 1934, we could no longer dump at sea. So he launched a very ambitious and very unsettling program to build incinerators and landfills. At one point, there were something like 89 incinerators and landfills all over the city. Once you get into the mid-20th century, it was no longer all organic, and you do find early plastics. The technology of landfills back then was pretty crude compared to what we do today.

The stuff in the bottom layers, there's so much weight and pressure that there's no space for any form of decomposition. So if you do a core sample, for instance, of Fresh Kills, which has been done and you pull up these early layers, you can still read the newspapers from that era. I've seen slide shows from archaeologists who've done this work and the hotdogs look like you could throw them on the grill. But they're from the 1953 layer of Fresh Kills. So even the organics in there are not necessarily decomposing. And yes, in the upper layers, there's stuff that will outlast us as a species, probably, by hundreds of thousands of years.

A mid-1950s campaign to prevent littering in New York included a gigantic waste basket in Times Square.

Collectors Weekly: What would your Museum of Sanitation look like, and what do you hope the impact might be?Nagle: The museum will be a place where you walk in the door, and it's bright. It might have truck components arranged in a way that looks like abstract art. I can see the backup lights doing a Morse code kind of rhythm, and trucks where kids can climb in, honk the horn, make the backup beeping noise, and run the cycle hopper.

It would have temporary exhibitions that would tell the many stories about sanitation, about the workers themselves, about the politics of the job, about the corruption in the past, about the environmental impacts. The stories about how the Dutch built out from the shoreline, starting in the 1620s, with trash that is still excavated today. When they were building the World Trade Center, they found stuff from that era. There are ways in which our own history is with us all the time, right under foot, but we don't know it because it's literally buried.

I also want it to be a community space so that groups can meet there for various causes, or maybe we can have a film festival of garbage-themed films. I want it to be a place where the department would use it freely. For example, the Pipe and Drum band members, maybe they'll come there for their weekly practices. The other thing I want to have in the museum is what I call the Wall of Honor, which lists everyone who's died on the job.

Street traffic has long been a serious danger to sanitation workers, like in this early 20th century photo. Photo courtesy DSNY.

Collectors Weekly: What makes sanitation work so unsafe?Nagle: There are two primary sources of danger. One is that the stuff you toss in the back of the truck has a tendency to come shooting back out at you. If you get hit by that, you could be in trouble, because as you know, people throw out everything, even stuff that is supposed to be discarded in a more controlled context. So the trash itself is dangerous.

Then there's traffic. When you're working in and out of traffic all day, and you're working with a piece of equipment that people only acknowledge because they want to get around it. They don't say to themselves, ''Oh, there are human beings connected to that vehicle, therefore I will be more careful now.'' A garbage truck inspires something more like, ''Oh, it's a garbage truck. I got to get away from it as fast as possible.''

For instance, a school bus has its blinking lights and stop sign, and if you go around a school bus that has its lights going, you will get slapped with a very fat ticket. But there are no hardwired protections built into our traffic system for garbage trucks.

Collectors Weekly: Why don't people know where their trash goes?Nagle: Well, are they aware of where their water comes from? Or where their electricity starts? Or where their computer components were made? We are profoundly connected across the globe to people we will never know, and we're profoundly connected regionally by the path of our discards and the material flow of bringing those things into our life. But I think we've been taught to ignore those kinds of things. I don't mean that we learned it in school, but as a cultural assumption that underlies contemporary life, those are not our concerns.

Since the late 19th century, snow removal has always been part of the sanitation department's mission and is one of the job's most visible duties. Photo courtesy DSNY.

Collectors Weekly: Do you think this invisibility has an impact on how wasteful we are?Nagle: Sure. When I throw an object out, it still has a life, and it now activates this complex network of protocols and systems and controversies. But because we don't have an awareness of this, it's much easier to just let it go.

In the case of, say, water bottles, what if a company that markets water in these plastic bottles was responsible for the end use of those bottles, after the water is gone. People are throwing them out their car windows, or letting them fall on the street, or putting them in our rivers and lakes. But the company would have to go and get all that stuff, and it would be a strong incentive to come up with an alternative, something that maybe isn't a plastic water bottle.

As long as we don't look at the larger system, and let different industries foist off the long-term consequences of their manufacturing processes, as long as we let all of that be externalized, we are screwed, not to put too fine a spin on it. But we are also unaware, we meaning just the general public, the people at large. This is quite a heartbreak: People want to do the right thing. So do you tell them, recycle your water bottle and you will save the planet? No. If you recycle your water bottle, you have taken a very important first step, but that's all it is. Then the question is, what are the next steps? How do we prevent this bottle from coming into being in the first place?

Nagle believes a better connection to our garbage's afterlife might help curb our monstrous waste. Above, barges transport waste to Fresh Kills in 1973.

Collectors Weekly: How could people be made more aware of their own waste?Nagle: You know how there are nutrition labels on food? It would be fascinating if there were labels on every product we buy that told you exactly where each component in that product came from, what the energy cost to transport it was, what other wastes were created. It would be an interesting challenge to put that kind of infographic on the back of a shampoo bottle or something. At least that would let people make different kinds of choices, and begin to understand the life-cycle analysis of the consumer choices they make.

Although, our individual consumer choices are still a tiny, tiny piece of the big picture. Municipal household waste accounts for three percent of the nation's waste drain. We need to increase awareness of that statistic, and then shine a bright light on all of these other categories and the alternatives that could be proposed to prevent those streams.

Collectors Weekly: What else can we do to bring positive attention to the importance of this job?Nagle: Just say, ''Thank you.'' When I started doing that on my own as my little private campaign several years ago, I was amazed at the reaction. The guys were astonished that anybody was bothering to say thank you. It's one small gesture that an individual can make that honors them in a small, but real way.

In terms of the bigger public issue, when cities talk about larger themes of city life like education and policing and environmental well-being, they need make sure whoever is in charge of the garbage is mentioned, and standing next to the mayor along with the police commissioner and in the headshot of the officials and woven into casual conversation from elected officials about important city infrastructure issues. Those are small things, but they make a big difference. Write letters to the editor, ''Hey, I saw my sanitation guys today doing a fantastic job, just wanted to give them a shout-out.'' They certainly get the letters when they aren't doing a good job.

Sweeping in Times Square during the 1960s. Photo courtesy DSNY.

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Obama: not 'scrambling jets' to get NSA leaker Snowden - World News

Wesley Clark Says American People Like NSA Stasi State Spying On Them

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Fri, 28 Jun 2013 16:47

June 28th, 2013

(KurtNimmo) '' On Thursday, CNN's Erin Burnett continued the establishment's propaganda onslaught against the ''leaker'' Edward Snowden. After fatuously mischaracterizing Snowden as a ''hacker,'' Brown introduced former General Wesley Clark and Peter Brookes of the Heritage Foundation, the lobbying outfit that takes money from the neocon Scaife Foundations run by the CIA operative and Operation Mockingbird asset Richard Mellon Scaife.

Clark, a notorious war criminal who used cluster bombs and depleted uranium on civilians during his rein as the Supreme Commander of NATO forces, said the American people love the idea of the government illegally and unconstitutionally spying on them. Clark told Burnett the ''American people are solidly behind the prism program and all that's going on,'' never mind numerous polls indicating the American people are steadfastly opposed to the government's surveillance programs.

Brookes underscored the establishment's claim that Snowden is a spy guilty of espionage despite the fact he is not accused of working for a foreign government. ''He's a 30-year-old spy. He's been charged with espionage,'' Brookes insisted.

Clark and Brookes are part of the establishment media echo chamber declaring Edward Snowden is a traitor for revealing the unconstitutional behavior of government and its Stasi state apparatus. From The New Yorker to MSNBC and Politico and beyond, the corporate media is focusing on Snowden '' his idiosyncrasies, his girlfriend, even the fact he did not finish high school '' while ignoring the serial criminality of the NSA, the Obama administration and Congress.

''Only because of Snowden do we know that our government is storing records of our phone data that can be mined for God only knows how long,'' writes Kirsten Powers for The Daily Beast.

In fact, we have known for a long time about the government '' more specifically, the national security state '' spying on the American people, commencing soon after its inception in 1947 and mushrooming under quaintly named programs such as Project SHAMROCK and sister program Project MINARET. Enough evidence was revealed by the Senate's Select Committee to StudyGovernmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities back in 1976 to implicate the government in this sort of elicit behavior, but thanks to the establishment media and the public miseducation system millions of Americans are blissfully unaware of the crimes of the national security state.

As a side note, the above linked Senate report is flagged as a ''badware'' website by Google. ''Many kinds of badware aren't visible or obvious, and they can install silently as soon as you visit an infected page. Google's detection systems are VERY accurate. We suggest you don't visit the site again until the owner resolves the problem!''

In other words, Google thinks it is very accurate at steering folks away from the truth, in this instance documentary evidence that the government has long spied on the American people.

Google, as a trusted appendage of the nationalsecurity state, has a vested interest in diverting the unsuspecting away from the truth the same as CNN, the consistently featherbrained Erin Burnett and government apologists Wesley Clark and Peter Brookes.

Source: Infowars

Tags: NSA stasi, spying, wesley clarkThis entry was posted on Friday, June 28th, 2013 at 9:59 am and is filed under Dictatorship, Education/Mind Control, Fascism, Film/Video, Martial Law/Police State, NWO. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

VIDEO-RCMP break into High River homes, steal homeowners' guns - YouTube

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VIDEO-SSG Joe Biggs, friend of Michael Hastings, says he was told 'we will hunt you down and kill you' for McChystal scandal reporting - The Global Dispatch

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Fri, 28 Jun 2013 16:48

U.S. Army brass told Rolling Stone journalist Michael Hastings that he would be hunted down and killed over his story that lead to General McChrystal's downfall, according to Hasting's closest friend.

Speaking on the Alex Jones Show, Staff Sgt Joe Biggs followed an appearance on Fox News confirmed Hastings was ''working on his biggest story yet.''

''You get to learn a lot about a person in one day of combat, let alone three months of being around them,'' Biggs said. The pair stayed in touch, becoming friends.

''I remember when the story broke with General McChrystal and he [Hastings] gave me a call and he's like 'man, I'm pretty scared,''' Biggs said. ''I told him, 'You have a reason to be, brother. You basically just got a general of a war fired. I'm pretty sure that doesn't sit too well with him right now.'''

Hastings' fear was very well-founded as he received severe death threats over the McChrystal story.

''He had been told, if we don't like what you write, we will hunt you down and kill you,'' Biggs stated.

Hastings warned that the FBI would be investigating his colleagues and his friends. He also said that he was on a big story and would need to go ''off the radar.''

''It just didn't seem like something that he normally started his e-mail off with,'' Biggs said. ''When I read it, I just got this horrible feeling, like something's not right.All these alarms were going off and my gut feeling from day one, from before it happened, I knew that something wasn't right,'' Biggs said.

Hastings' death in a fiery car accident has spurred many conspiracy theories.

Full story and more coverage, here

The Global Dispatch Facebook page- click hereMovie News Facebook page - click hereTelevision News Facebook page - click hereWeird News Facebook page - click here Subscribe to The Global DispatchAbout the AuthorBrandon Jones - Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news for Examiner, starting and writing for several different websites including the diverse blognews site Desk of Brian. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

Suicide by Pills Is Cited in Death of Guantánamo Detainee

VIDEO-Texas teen charged with making terroristic threat after online joke | khou.com Houston

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NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas '' An Austin man wants to warn other parents and teenagers that statements made on social media websites can land them in jail.

Justin Carter was 18 back in February when an online video game "League of Legends" took an ugly turn on Facebook.

Jack Carter says his son Justin and a friend got into an argument with someone on Facebook about the game and the teenager wrote a comment he now regrets.

''Someone had said something to the effect of 'Oh you're insane, you're crazy, you're messed up in the head,' to which he replied 'Oh yeah, I'm real messed up in the head, I'm going to go shoot up a school full of kids and eat their still, beating hearts,' and the next two lines were lol and jk.," said Carter.

''LOL'' stands for ''laughing out loud," and ''jk'' means ''just kidding," but police didn't think it was funny. Neither did a woman from Canada who saw the posting.

Justin's dad says the woman did a Google search and found his son's old address was near an elementary school and she called police.

Justin Carter was arrested the next month and has been jailed since March 27. He's charged with making a terroristic threat and is facing eight years in prison, according to his dad.

''These people are serious. They really want my son to go away to jail for a sarcastic comment that he made," added Carter.

Unfortunately for Justin his comments came only two months after dozens of youngsters were killed in a massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut back in December of 2012.

''Justin was the kind of kid who didn't read the newspaper. He didn't watch television. He wasn't aware of current events. These kids, they don't realize what they're doing. They don't understand the implications. They don't understand public space,'' said Jack Carter.

Friends and family have started an online petition they're hoping will garnish more attention for Justin's plight. You can find it by clicking here.

''If I can just help one person to understand that social media is not a playground, that when you go out there into social media, when you use Facebook, when you use Twitter, when you go out there and make comments on news articles, and the things you are saying can and will be used against you," added Jack Carter.

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VIDEO-Editors Of 'The Guardian' Explain The Process Of Publishing The Edward Snowden NSA Spying Story - YouTube

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VIDEO-Being One Of The World's TOP War Criminals Has Its Perks! - YouTube

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VIDEO-Irish PM Enda Kenny attacks bankers - YouTube

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IRELAND-Twelfth and the Orange Order

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Sun, 30 Jun 2013 14:39

The Orange Order is Northern Ireland's largest Protestant organisation, and has around 40,000 members locally. Its origins lie in the 1690 Battle of the Boyne when the Dutch Protestant King William of Orange defeated his father-in-law, Catholic King James ll of England and Vll of Scotland.The site of the Battle of the Boyne, just outside Drogheda, Co. Meath, has become a major tourist attraction, and also features in a Williamite Trail - an all-Ireland map detailing locations associated with the Williamite and Jacobite armies, from Carrickfergus in the north to Kinsale in the south.

In 1795 Protestants and Catholics clashed again at the Battle of the Diamond near Portadown, Co. Armagh. Following their victory, Protestants met at Dan Winter's House and, soon after, pledged a new oath to 'Crown and country and the Reformed religion'. The Orange Order was born. The Order sees itself as a champion of Protestantism and defender of a British Protestant monarch. It is organised into 'lodges', some of which are in former British colonies as far afield as Canada, New Zealand and Ghana.

July 12th is the most important date in the Orange calendar and marks the anniversary of King William's Battle of the Boyne victory. Orangemen and women commemorate 'The Twelfth' with 18 colourful band and lodge parades - or demonstrations - across NI. A further one takes place in Rossnowlagh, Co. Donegal on the Saturday before the Twelfth.

Each year certain locations are designated Flagship Twelfths with trained Welcome Hosts on hand to explain the event for tourists. The 2012 Flagship demonstrations will be in Enniskillen, Ballynahinchand Carrickfergus.

On July 11, 'Eleventh Night' bonfires are lit in staunchly Protestant areas. Many are massive constructions of wooden pallettes, old sofas and rubber tyres topped with Irish flags or effigies of pro-Nationalist figures. Bonfire architects battle it out to see who can build the biggest, and shifts of young guardians ensure rival builders don't steal their burnable booty. At midnight the bonfires are set alight, and these raging infernos can be seen blazing across the city - the Shankill Road and Milltown Road (South Belfast) bonfires are two of Belfast's biggest.

If you want to watch the Belfast parades, head to the city centre or Lisburn Road to see small boys in Orange sashes march proudly in front of huge banners, marchers hurl batons as high as lampposts and bandsmen beat the living daylights out of gargantuan Lambeg drums.

The main Belfast demonstration leaves Carlisle Circus, North Belfast, at 10:00 and wends its way through the city centre and along the Lisburn Road, with a wreath laying ceremony at the City Hall at 10:30. The parade takes about two hours to pass and culminates at the 'Field' at Barnett's Demesne, South Belfast where crowds, bands and marchers gather to eat, drink and listen to speeches.

Many Catholics vehemently oppose parades which pass near or through their areas, particularly the interface at Belfast's Ardoyne estate. It is, therefore, best to avoid this area.Orangeism and Unionism have long been bedfellows in NI's political history. Former Ulster Unionist Party leaders David Trimble and Sir Reg Empey are both in the Orange Order. However, in March 2005, the Order decided to cut its links with the UUP, ending 100 years of historical links. Former First Minister and Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley left the Orange Order in protest in 1962 but addresses the Independent Orange Order (established in 1903 to segregate Orangeism from politics) every July 12.

As a more secular society grows throughout NI, recent years have seen the Orange Order experience a decline in numbers. However, no matter your affiliations, if you're in Belfast on July 12 you cannot fail to witness a spectacle like no other on this island.

July 12 is a NI public holiday. Many locals of all backgrounds take the 'Twelfth Fortnight' as their annual summer holiday, and banks and offices close on the day. In recent years, however, the Twelfth has passed off with little trouble and, as a result, many city centre retailers will remain open on the day to benefit from increased visitor numbers. However, if you're visiting NI on or around any July 12, always check opening times of shops, restaurants, entertainment venues etc before making big plans.The Soul of a Nation

Ulster Covenant Centenary Exhibition

In summer 2012 the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland in Belfast stages its most ambitious exhibition to date as it commemorates the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant. On and before 28 September 1912 just under half a million men and women signed in opposition to the Third Home Rule Bill calling for devolved government from Dublin.The exhibition's title takes its name from a speech by Unionist leader and lead signatory Sir Edward Carson who regarded opposition to Home Rule as 'the cry from the soul of a nation.' Archive on Unionist and Nationalist political leaders of the era, Covenant events and details of those who signed the Covenant overseas, including on a Royal Navy vessel in China, feature in the exhibition.

Newspaper cuttings, sketches, photos, and historic objects, including Carson's inkwell donated by Lord Bannside aka Ian Paisley, are included. Replica telegrams sent to Edward Carson in September 1912, Orange banners relating to the Ulster Covenant and unique film footage of the Covenant being signed and Belfast scenes on that historic day also form part of the exhibition. Admission is £2 during office hours and £3pp for organised groups, with a tour guide available.

A duplicate exhibition can be seen at Newtownards' Somme Heritage Centre and several venues in NI and the Republic of Ireland will also host a travelling version. To visit the exhibition, head to the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland's Schomberg House HQ on East Belfast's Cregagh Rd (Metro Bus No. 6). To find out more about the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, click here or tel. (+44) (0)28 9070 1122.

'Jail the bankers' protests today | Irish Examiner

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Sun, 30 Jun 2013 14:38

'Jail the bankers' protests todaySaturday, June 29, 2013 - 08:47 AM

'Jail the bankers' protests will take place in Dublin and Galway today.The People Before Profit Alliance have organised a demonstration in Galway city outside the former Anglo Irish Bank building.

They say that the Anglo Tapes, released this week, were the final straw and are calling for the Government to do more to hold those responsible for the banking scandal to account.

Dette McLoughlin of the People Before Profit alliance in Galway explained what route the protest would be taking.

"A lot of people are very, very angry over what they've heard, the revelations in the Anglo tapes" she said.

"What we've done is called a public demonstration. It will be a march from the former Anglo Irish building in Galway, that's on Foster Street, and we'll be marching though to town to the AIB bank on Shop Street.

"And basically what we're saying is: 'We want action - immediate action'."

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