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02
President Obama Establishes the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center

Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz, Silverman & Klestadt LLP / www.gdlsk.com

Washington, D.C. – United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk and U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson issued the following statements in response to the Executive Order signed by President Obama today establishing the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC):

“Today, President Obama took a significant step forward in ensuring America’s continued economic growth and security by establishing the first-ever Interagency Trade Enforcement Center within the Office of the United States Trade Representative,” said Ambassador Kirk. “This new trade enforcement unit will better enable USTR and the Department of Commerce to join forces - with the support and collaboration of partner agencies like Agriculture, Homeland Security, Justice, State, Treasury and the Intelligence Community - to ensure that America’s trading partners play by the rules. It will help American workers and businesses compete and win on a fair global playing field.”

President Obama - To strengthen our capacity to monitor and enforce U.S. trade rights and domestic trade laws, and thereby enhance market access for U.S. exporters, executive departments and agencies (agencies) must coordinate and augment their efforts to identify and reduce or eliminate foreign trade barriers and unfair foreign trade practices to ensure that U.S. workers, businesses, ranchers, and farmers receive the maximum benefit from our international trade agreements and under domestic trade laws.

To view the Executive Order

To view the USTR press release

 


 

FDA Announces Safety Changes in Labeling for Some Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs

Food & Drug Administration / www.fda.gov

Important safety changes to the labeling for some widely used cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins are being announced today by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

These products, when used with diet and exercise, help to lower a person’s “bad” cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol). The products include: Lipitor (atorvastatin), Lescol (fluvastatin), Mevacor (lovastatin), Altoprev (lovastatin extended-release), Livalo (pitavastatin), Pravachol (pravastatin), Crestor (rosuvastatin), and Zocor (simvastatin). Combination products include: Advicor (lovastatin/niacin extended-release), Simcor (simvastatin/niacin extended-release), and Vytorin (simvastatin/ezetimibe).

“We want health care professionals and patients to have the most current information on the risks of statins, but also to assure them that these medications continue to provide an important health benefit of lowering cholesterol,” said Mary Parks, M.D., director for the Division of Metabolism and Endocrinology Products in the Office of Drug Evaluation II in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

The changes to the statin labels are:

  • The drug labels have been revised to remove the need for routine periodic monitoring of liver enzymes in patients taking statins. FDA now recommends that liver enzyme tests should be performed before starting statin therapy, and as clinically indicated thereafter. FDA has concluded that serious liver injury with statins is rare and unpredictable in individual patients, and that routine periodic monitoring of liver enzymes does not appear to be effective in detecting or preventing this rare side effect. Patients should notify their health care professional immediately if they have the following symptoms of liver problems: unusual fatigue or weakness; loss of appetite; upper belly pain; dark-colored urine; yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes.
  • Certain cognitive (brain-related) effects have been reported with statin use. Statin labels will now include information about some patients experiencing memory loss and confusion. These reports generally have not been serious and the patients’ symptoms were reversed by stopping the statin. However, patients should still alert their health care professional if these symptoms occur.
  • Increases in blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) have been reported with statin use. The FDA is also aware of studies showing that patients being treated with statins may have a small increased risk of increased blood sugar levels and of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes mellitus. The labels will now warn healthcare professionals and patients of this potential risk.
  • Health care professionals should take note of the new recommendations in the lovastatin label. Some medicines may interact with lovastatin, increasing the risk for muscle injury (myopathy/ rhabdomyolysis). For example, certain medicines should never be taken (are contraindicated) with Mevacor (lovastatin) including drugs used to treat HIV (protease inhibitors) and drugs used to treat certain bacterial and fungal infections.

Reporting side effects to the FDA is important. Health care professionals and patients should report any side effects associated with statin use to FDA MedWatch program.

 


 

U.S. Border Patrol Agents Foil 4 Narcotics Smuggling Attempts at San Diego Area Checkpoints

U.S. Customs & Border Protection / www.cbp.gov

San Diego — U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to San Diego Sector checkpoints along Interstate 8 near Pine Valley and Interstate 5 near San Clemente have seized a total of $1,713,050 of cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin since Wednesday.

At approximately 7 p.m. yesterday, agents assigned to the I-8 checkpoint encountered a 56-year-old male U.S. resident driver of a white 1996 Nissan Maxima as he arrived to the checkpoint. During inspection, agents became suspicious of the man’s nervous demeanor and referred him for a secondary inspection. A Border Patrol K-9 team performed a cursory inspection of the vehicle resulting in a positive alert. Agents searched the vehicle and discovered 14 bundles of cocaine in the gas tank and eight bundles of cocaine in the doors. The cocaine weighed a total of 36.24 pounds and had an estimated street value of $362,400.

At approximately 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, agents assigned to the I-8 checkpoint arrested a 34-year-old male United States citizen for attempting to smuggle 20 bundles of methamphetamine worth an estimated $415,400. A Border Patrol K-9 team alerted to a gold 2006 Ford Focus and agents subsequently discovered 20.77 pounds of methamphetamine hidden inside a non-factory compartment in the vehicle’s dashboard.

Earlier Wednesday afternoon, agents assigned to the Interstate 5 checkpoint arrested a 36-year-old male Mexican national for attempting to smuggle 18.62 pounds of methamphetamine. Agents encountered the driver of a white 1994 Ford Explorer and became suspicious of the man’s nervous demeanor. A Border Patrol K-9 team alerted to the vehicle’s dashboard, and a search revealed four bundles of metham-phetamine. Agents also discovered six bundles of methamphetamine in a speaker box. The narcotics are worth an estimated $372,400.

On Wednesday morning around 6 a.m., agents assigned to the I-8 checkpoint encountered a 55-year-old male United States citizen driving a white 2002 Dodge Ram 1500. A Border Patrol K-9 team produced a positive alert to the truck, and a search by agents revealed 12 bundles of methamphetamine and one bundle of heroin inside of the doors. The methamphetamine weighed a total of 26.68 pounds and was worth an estimated $533,600. The heroin weighed 2.25 pounds and had an estimated street value of $29,250.

All of the suspected smugglers and illicit narcotics involved in the smuggling events were taken into custody and turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration or a multi-agency drug taskforce for further investigation. All four vehicles involved in the smuggling events were seized by the U.S. Border Patrol.

To prevent illicit smuggling of humans, drugs, and other contraband, the U.S. Border Patrol maintains a high level of vigilance on major corridors of egress away from our nation’s borders. To report suspicious activity to the U.S. Border Patrol, contact San Diego Sector at (619) 498-9900.

 


 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agriculture Specialists Intercept Nine Pests in Nine Hours at Laredo Port of Entry

U.S. Customs & Border Protection / www.cbp.gov

Laredo, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists at the Laredo port of entry uncovered a deluge of quarantine significant pests, intercepting nine wood-boring pests within a nine hour period at the port’s two cargo lots on February 22.

“Our frontline CBP agriculture specialists did some amazing work this week, detecting nine actionable pests in a nine-hour period,” said Sidney Aki, Port Director, Laredo. “Our agricultural mission is vitally important to protecting American agriculture from wood boring pests not known to reside within the U.S. An infestation by these pests would be costly to contain and could result in severe economic losses for the American timber industry as well as our forests.”

During a nine-hour period on February 22, CBP agriculture specialists conducted examinations of wooden pallets from commercial shipments that ranged from auto parts to hexagonal netting to telephone cable at the World Trade Bridge and Colombia-Solidarity Bridge import lots.

During their examinations, CBP agriculture specialists probed the pallets and discovered a total of nine quarantine significant pests, including five Cerambycidae spp., two Arhopalus spp., one Scolytidae sp. and one Pityopththorus sp. Four of the pests were intercepted at Colombia-Solidarity Bridge and five at World Trade Bridge import lot. Some of these pests have been known to cause extensive damage to trees and at times carry diseases that have adverse impact on the trees. In each case, CBP refused entry to the shipments which were returned to Mexico.

Solid wood packing material such as pallets bear an International Plant Protection Convention stamp indicating that they have either been treated with heat or with chemicals to prevent infestation by wood-boring pests. If CBP finds quarantine significant pests within these pallets, action must be taken; the wood packing material must be re-exported to the country of origin.

 


 

FTC Will Host Public Workshop to Explore Advertising Disclosures in Online and Mobile Media on May 30, 2012

Federal Trade Commission / www.ftc.gov

The Federal Trade Commission will host a day-long public workshop to consider the need for new guidance for online advertisers about making disclosures required under FTC law. The guidance will address technological advancements and marketing developments that have emerged since the FTC first issued its online advertising disclosure guidelines known as “Dot Com Disclosures” 12 years ago.

The workshop, to be held on May 30, will cover revising the Dot Com Disclosures so they illustrate how to provide clear and conspicuous disclosures in the current online and mobile advertising environment. Any revisions will be consistent with the goals of the original guidelines and will continue to emphasize that consumer protection laws apply equally to online and mobile marketers, and to other media. The FTC began seeking input for revising the Dot Com Disclosures guidelines last year.

Topics may include:

  • How can effective disclosures be made on social media platforms and mobile devices – including when they are used in commercial texting – that limit the space available for disclosure? For example, when consumers are paid or receive other benefits for providing an endorsement, how can they effectively disclose on platforms that allow only short messages or a simple sign of approval?
  • When can disclosures provided separately from an initial advertisement be considered adequate? For example, if a consumer receives a location-based ad for a discounted cup of coffee on her mobile device because she is near a particular coffee shop, what terms must be disclosed in the mobile ad and what terms, if any, do not have to be disclosed until the consumer enters the coffee shop to make her purchase?
  • What are the options when using devices that do not allow downloading or printing the terms of an agreement? For example, is providing consumers a means to send a copy of the agreement to themselves to read later an effective way to provide this information?
  • How can disclosures that are made in the original advertisement be retained when the advertisement is aggregated (for example, on dashboards) or re-transmitted (through, for example, re-tweeting)?
  • What are the disclosure opportunities and limitations of hyperlinks, jump links, hashtags, click-throughs, layered disclosures, icons, and other similar options? How should these options be evaluated in terms of placement and proximity?
  • How can short, effective, and accessible privacy disclosures be made on mobile devices?
  • What does the research show about how consumers’ use of mobile and other devices can affect the effectiveness of disclosures on particular devices or platforms? And what does it show about the relationship between how consumers use mobile devices and their understanding of disclosures and advertising displayed on mobile devices? What does the research show about how consumers make decisions based on that information? Is there specific research on the effectiveness of disclosures on mobile devices, including layered disclosures and icons, and, if so, what are the implications of that research for disclosures such as offer terms and privacy practices?

The Commission also invites parties to submit suggestions for topics of discussion or original research. In particular, the Commission invites the submission of realistic examples and mock-ups that can be used for illustration and discussion at the workshop. Individuals and organizations may submit requests to participate as panelists and may recommend topics for inclusion on the agenda. The requests and recommendations should be submitted electronically to dotcomdisclosuresworkshop@ftc.gov. Prospective panelists should submit a statement detailing their expertise on the issues to be addressed and contact information no later than March 30, 2012. Panelists will be selected based on expertise and the need to include a broad range of views.

Paper submissions should reference the Dot Com Disclosures Workshop both in the text and on the envelope, and should be mailed or delivered to: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Room H-135 (Annex P), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. The FTC requests that any paper submissions be sent by courier or overnight service, if possible, because postal mail in the Washington area and at the Commission is subject to delay due to heightened security precautions. The workshop is free and open to the public. It will be held on Wednesday, May 30, 2012, at the FTC Conference Center at 601 New Jersey Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC. Pre-registration is not required. Members of the public and press who wish to participate but who cannot attend can view a live Webcast at FTC.gov.

Reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities are available upon request. Requests should be submitted via e-mail to cmcglothlin@ftc.gov or by calling Carrie McGlothlin at 202-326-3388. Requests should be made in advance. Please include a detailed description of the accommodation needed, and provide contact information.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC's online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC=s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 


 

Agents Confiscate Thousands of Counterfeit Goods at NBA All-Star Weekend

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement / www.ice.gov

ORLANDO, Fla. – More than 2,500 counterfeit items were confiscated as the result of a joint operation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Orlando Police Department and the Orange County Sheriff's Office during the 2012 NBA All-Star Weekend in Orlando.

"Counterfeiters prey on sports fans at events like the NBA All-Star Game," said Susan McCormick, special agent in charge of HSI in Tampa, Fla. "I urge buyers to beware. Counterfeiting is not a harmless crime. Counterfeiting costs U.S. businesses more than $200 billion each year and accounts for the loss of more than 750,000 American jobs."

During the days leading up to the NBA All-Star Game, HSI agents operated in teams throughout the Orlando-area, targeting suspicious activity that might lead them to counterfeiters. HSI agents seized counterfeit items including t-shirts, caps and jerseys. The items are valued at more than $69,000. Ten individuals were arrested for possessing or offering to sell counterfeit NBA merchandise in violation of Florida state law.

"The NBA is committed year-round to protecting both our fans and legitimate, tax-paying retailers from being victimized by counterfeiters seeking to profit illegally from the public's enthusiasm for the NBA," said Ayala Deutsch, senior vice president and chief intellectual property counsel for the NBA. "We greatly appreciate the tireless efforts of HSI, the Orlando Police Department and the Orange County Sheriff's Office throughout All-Star Weekend and are pleased to have their support in working to address this important issue."

As the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, HSI plays a leading role in targeting criminal organizations responsible for producing, smuggling, and distributing counterfeit products. HSI investigations focus not only on keeping counterfeit products off U.S. streets, but also on dismantling the criminal organizations behind this activity.

To report or learn more about intellectual property theft, visit www.IPRcenter.gov.
 
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