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George Will: The Case For Impeachment

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Subpoenaed documents, including 422 tapes potentially containing 24,000 Lerner e-mails, were destroyed. 

george-f-will-114x80George Will writes: “Look,” wrote Lois Lerner, echoing Horace Greeley, “my view is that Lincoln was our worst president not our best. He should [have] let the [S]outh go. We really do seem to have 2 totally different mindsets.” Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, was referring to Southern secessionist states when he urged President-elect Lincoln to “let the erring sisters go in peace.”

Greeley favored separating the nation from certain mind-sets; Lerner favors suppressing certain mind-sets. At the Internal Revenue Service, she participated in delaying for up to five years — effectively denying — tax-exempt status for, and hence restricting political activity by, groups with conservative mind-sets. She retired after refusing to testify to congressional committees, invoking Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.

As the IRS coverup of its and her malfeasance continues, the Republicans’ new House leaders should exercise this constitutional power: “The House . . . shall have the sole power of impeachment.” The current IRS director, John Koskinen, has earned this attention.

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“After Koskinen complained about the high cost in time and money involved in the search, employees at a West Virginia data center told a Treasury Department official that no one asked for backup tapes of Lerner’s e-mails.”

The Constitution’s framers, knowing that executive officers might not monitor themselves, provided the impeachment recourse to bolster the separation of powers. Federal officials can be impeached for dereliction of duty (as in Koskinen’s failure to disclose the disappearance of e-mails germane to a congressional investigation); for failure to comply (as in Koskinen’s noncompliance with a preservation order pertaining to an investigation); and for breach of trust (as in Koskinen’s refusal to testify accurately and keep promises made to Congress).

[Read the full text here, at The Washington Post]

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, says the IRS has “lied to Congress ” and “destroyed documents under subpoena.” He accuses Koskinen of “lies, obfuscation and deceit”: “He assured us he would comply with a congressional subpoena seeking Lois Lerner’s emails. Not only did he fail to keep that promise, we later learned he did not look in earnest for the information.”

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After Koskinen complained about the high cost in time and money involved in the search, employees at a West Virginia data center told a Treasury Department official that no one asked for backup tapes of Lerner’s e-mails. Read the rest of this entry »

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Insiders: International Hacking Scheme Rakes in $100 Million by Stealing Press Releases

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The SEC lawsuit named 17 individuals and 15 companies in the U.S. and abroad, in such places as Russia, France, Malta and Cyprus. Danny Ocean could not be reached for comment.

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — In late October 2013, Panera Bread Co., the national chain of restaurants that specializes in healthy soups and baked goods, prepared a news release to announce it was adjusting its earnings expectations downward for the recently begun fourth quarter.

“The international hacking scheme allegedly raked in $100 million between 2010 and 2015. It is being called the biggest case of its kind ever prosecuted, and one that demonstrated yet another way in which the financial world is vulnerable to cybercrime.”

The release undoubtedly was one of many sent by publicly traded companies to business news services for publication.

“The defendants then used roughly 800 of those news releases to make trades before the information came out, exploiting a time gap ranging from hours to three days.”

This one was different, though. As an unsuspecting investing public awaited the announcement, federal authorities say a group comprising computer hackers and stock traders already had seen the release in the computer system of Marketwired, the Toronto business newswire.

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“Authorities said that beginning in 2010 and continuing as recently as May, they gained access to more than 150,000 press releases that were about to be issued by Marketwired; PR Newswire in New York; and Business Wire of San Francisco. The press releases contained earnings figures and other corporate information.”

Using the crucial information in the release, the group allegedly made $17 million worth of trades and orders betting Panera’s stock would lose value once the news went public. They were correct, and for their efforts walked away with nearly $1 million in profit, according to a criminal indictment unsealed Tuesday against nine people in the U.S. and Ukraine.

“It is being called the biggest case of its kind ever prosecuted, and one that demonstrated yet another way in which the financial world is vulnerable to cybercrime.”

The international hacking scheme allegedly raked in $100 million between 2010 and 2015. It is being called the biggest case of its kind ever prosecuted, and one that demonstrated yet another way in which the financial world is vulnerable to cybercrime.

United States Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, center, speaks during a news conference in Newark, N.J., Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015. An international group of hackers and stock traders made $30 million by breaking into the computers of newswire services that put out corporate press releases and trading on the information before it was made public, federal prosecutors said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

United States Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, center, speaks during a news conference in Newark, N.J., Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

“Perhaps even more alarming was the assertion by prosecutors that much of the group’s ability to illegally tap into the news services’ computer systems came via ‘phishing,’ a well-known practice in which hackers send an email with a seemingly innocuous link that, if clicked on, can eventually lead to the divulging of the user’s login and password information.”

The Securities and Exchange Commission also brought civil charges against the nine plus 23 other people and companies in the U.S. and Europe.

“Every employee of every company has to be vigilant about the emails they get from people who look like their friends or acquaintances, urging them to click on a link. They should say to themselves every time that happens,`That seems like a really bad idea.'”

— Paul Fishman, U.S. attorney for New Jersey

The case “illustrates the risks posed for our global markets by today’s sophisticated hackers,” SEC chief Mary Jo White said. “Today’s international case is unprecedented in terms of the scope of the hacking at issue, the number of traders involved, the number of securities unlawfully traded and the amount of profits generated.”

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“The nine people indicted include two people described as Ukrainian computer hackers and six stock traders. Prosecutors said the defendants made $30 million from their part of the scheme.”

Authorities said that beginning in 2010 and continuing as recently as May, they gained access to more than 150,000 press releases that were about to be issued by Marketwired; PR Newswire in New York; and Business Wire of San Francisco. The press releases contained earnings figures and other corporate information.

“Today’s international case is unprecedented in terms of the scope of the hacking at issue, the number of traders involved, the number of securities unlawfully traded and the amount of profits generated.”

The defendants then used roughly 800 of those news releases to make trades before the information came out, exploiting a time gap ranging from hours to three days, prosecutors said. Read the rest of this entry »


The Left’s Crusade Against Free Speech

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Peter Berkowitz writes: In October 2009, the Obama White House launched a concerted attack against critical press coverage, one unparalleled since the days of the Nixon White House. In one respect, Barack Obama and Richard Nixon were in agreement: both perceived a distinctly liberal bias in the media. Nixon denounced the press for its leftism, Obama objected to the press’s deviation from it. So Obama and his senior staff singled out for condemnation Fox News, the lone television network that did not serve up the fawning coverage the president and his team had come to expect.

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In “The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech,” Kirsten Powers recounts that in the space of a few days, White House communications director Anita Dunn, her deputy Dan Pfeiffer, White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod, and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel openly asserted that the administration properly excluded Fox reporters from press briefings because Fox was not a legitimate news organization. When asked for comment by NBC News, President Obama stood behind his team.

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Grousing about criticism is only human, and presidential displeasure with the press is nothing new. But wielding the presidential bully pulpit to decree what counts as legitimate news coverage represented an ominous turn in American politics.

“The smearing of opponents of the progressive party line as purveyors of hatred; the denigration of critics of left-liberal public policy as racists, sexists, and homophobes; and the ostracism of advocates of faith, tradition, and the virtues of America’s experiment in self-government as minions of sinister forces—these have become routine features of intellectual life at our leading universities.”

Separation of press and state is as essential to the American constitutional order as separation of church and state. In one respect, religious freedom depends on press freedom: a press that is answerable to, or in the pocket of, the government will be unwilling to report, or incapable of reporting accurately, when government exceeds its lawfully prescribed boundaries.

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What could the president and his advisers have been thinking in orchestrating an assault on Fox News? Where could our president, a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School and a former lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, silencinghave gotten the idea that it was government’s prerogative to determine who properly reports the news and to supervise the flow of opinion in the country?

[Order Kirsten Powers book The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech” from Amazon.com]

Sad to say, they could have been thinking they were faithfully implementing the ideas about the need to regulate speech that they had learned in college. The smearing of opponents of the progressive party line as purveyors of hatred; the denigration of critics of left-liberal public policy as racists, sexists, and homophobes; and the ostracism of advocates of faith, tradition, and the virtues of America’s experiment in self-government as minions of sinister forces—these have become routine features of intellectual life at our leading universities. The development of doctrines designed to curtail nonconforming speech was already well under way by the time Obama attended college in the early1980s and law school in the early 1990s. Read the rest of this entry »


China: Hollywood Movie Studios Still Face Headaches

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With more and more foreign films now being allowed into China, and potential revenues that can be earned having risen to 25% (from as little as 13%), one might think that doing business in China is getting easier for Hollywood.

But that’s simply not the case. Read the rest of this entry »