CNN Washington AM Note
June 10th, 2013
06:06 AM ET
10 months ago

CNN Washington AM Note

NATIONAL STORIES:

CNNMoney: Seniors in 48 states face serious income shortage

Seniors in almost every state in the country are falling short when it comes to affording their golden years, according to a study released Monday. Nationwide, seniors are living off of a median household income of $35,107, roughly 57% of the median income of their younger counterparts ages 45 to 64, according to an analysis of 2011 U.S. Census Bureau data by Interest.com, a financial information website owned by Bankrate.com. "We found that many senior citizens are significantly underfunded and risk running out of money," said Mike Sante, the site's managing editor. Only seniors in Nevada and Hawaii have median annual incomes that meet the savings benchmark commonly recommended by financial planners.

CNN: Santa Monica gunman rips apart three families, including his own

What would compel a man to take his father's and his brother's lives, and then go on a shooting spree at his former college, killing three other people in the next 13 minutes?

The Friday afternoon rampage in Santa Monica, California, ended only when police shot dead the suspect, John Zawahri. Over the weekend, bits and pieces about 23-year-old emerged. But with his death, a day shy of his 24th birthday, the central question may remain unanswered. He had suffered mental health issues and was hospitalized a few years ago after allegedly talking about harming someone, a law enforcement source said.

CNN: Self-defense or murder? George Zimmerman goes on trial

Self-defense or murder? That's the question at the heart of the trial of George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Monday marks the start of jury selection in Seminole County, Florida, where Martin was fatally shot on February 26, 2012. The shooting put a national spotlight on Zimmerman's hometown of Sanford and sparked fresh debates about race relations and gun laws in America. Zimmerman is Hispanic; Martin was African-American. An initial decision not to pursue charges against Zimmerman led to the dismissal of the town's police chief and the appointment of a special prosecutor, who accused the neighborhood watch volunteer of unjustly profiling and killing Martin.

CNN: Cleveland man indicted on 329 counts in captive women case

A man accused of kidnapping and holding captive three young women in his Cleveland house for 10 years will be arraigned this week on 329 counts. Ariel Castro, 52, was indicted Friday in a case that shocked neighbors who never suspected anything out of the ordinary was going on in the house - and prompted Castro's daughter to call him "the most evil, vile, demonic criminal." One charge accuses Castro of aggravated murder for purposely causing the unlawful termination of a pregnancy, authorities said. One of the young women was allegedly impregnated five times by Castro, and another bore a child fathered by him, police have said. The indictment charges Castro with 139 counts of rape, 177 counts of kidnapping, seven counts of gross sexual imposition, three counts of felonious assault and one count of possession of criminal tools, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said in a statement.

Reuters Exclusive: U.S. finds long-lost diary of top Nazi leader, Hitler aide

The government has recovered 400 pages from the long-lost diary of Alfred Rosenberg, a confidant of Adolf Hitler who played a central role in the extermination of millions of Jews and others during World War Two. A preliminary U.S. government assessment reviewed by Reuters asserts the diary could offer new insight into meetings Rosenberg had with Hitler and other top Nazi leaders, including Heinrich Himmler and Herman Goering. It also includes details about the German occupation of the Soviet Union, including plans for mass killings of Jews and other Eastern Europeans. …The recovery is expected to be announced this week at a news conference in Delaware held jointly by officials from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Justice and Holocaust museum.

WHITE HOUSE:

NYT: Obama Urged to Back Plan to List Owners of Shell Firms

Anticorruption activists have urged President Obama to back a plan to publicly register the owners of shell companies in the United States and around the world, a move they say is essential to thwart corrupt government officials, tax evaders and money launderers who rely on an opaque financial system. The plan, backed by Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain this year, was outlined in letters sent to Mr. Obama last week by two groups of current and former prosecutors and activists. The issue is set to be raised again at the Group of 8 summit meeting of industrialized countries this month. “Corrupt politicians, tax evaders, and organized criminals all use complex webs of shell companies to hide and launder stolen money,” said 19 prosecutors and activists in one of the letters. The group calls for “governments to require existing company registers to collect information on the ultimate owners of all companies” and for that information to be publicly available.

WSJ: Next Up After U.S.-China Talks: The Details

High-level talks between China and the U.S. in July will be the first real test of the mutual understanding and personal chemistry both sides said they forged during an informal summit between presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping this past weekend. Chinese and U.S. officials hailed the summit that concluded Saturday on the Sunnylands estate in Rancho Mirage, Calif., as a historic moment that would help to avert future conflict, saying the two leaders found common ground on issues including North Korea and climate change, and they pledged to talk about their differences more often, including during a similarly informal summit in China at an unspecified date. But while suggesting progress had been made, neither side gave details of any new ground broken on the most contentious issues in the relationship—Chinese cyberespionage, North Korea's nuclear program and China's maritime disputes in Asia. The summit included eight hours of talks, a private dinner, and a 50-minute walk by the two leaders, with only their translators, through the estate.

WATCH: VIDEO – A two day summit between the U.S. and China wraps up in California. CNN's Jessica Yellin reports.

CAPITOL HILL:

NYT: Senate Digs In for Long Battle on Immigrants

After seven months of steadily building momentum, the push for a comprehensive overhaul of the immigration system enters its most crucial phase this week in the Senate, where Republicans remain divided over how much to cooperate with President Obama as they try to repair their party’s standing among Hispanic voters. Republican leaders are betting that passage of an 867-page bipartisan overhaul will halt the embarrassing erosion of support among Latinos last year that helped return Mr. Obama to the Oval Office. But the party’s conservative activists are vowing opposition, dead set against anything linked to Mr. Obama and convinced that the immigration bill is nothing more than amnesty for lawbreakers. That intraparty clash will play out for the next three weeks on the Senate floor, as Republican supporters of the bill — aided behind the scenes by the Obama administration — seek modest changes that they hope will secure broad support among both parties. Senator Kelly Ayotte, Republican of New Hampshire, announced on Sunday that she would support the immigration bill, calling it a “thoughtful bipartisan solution to a tough problem.”

ALSO SEE: Roll Call: Immigration Bill Vote Counting Is a Three-Dimensional Chess Game 

Politico: Harry Reid blasts John Cornyn ‘poison pill’

A proposed Republican amendment to the Senate Gang of Eight’s immigration bill is a “poison pill” and the legislation is unlikely to go through any “big changes,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Sunday. The amendment to the bill from Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) would require significantly higher thresholds of border control before the bill’s “trigger” kicks in allowing undocumented immigrants to move toward citizenship. The effort has been praised by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a key Gang of Eight member, as a provision that “will get this bill where it needs to be.” But Reid said Cornyn’s amendment is not intended to be constructive and that he “will not accept any poison pills” as the bill comes before the full Senate this week. “We have a senator from Texas, Senator Cornyn who wants to change border security, a trigger, saying that it has to be a 100 percent border security, or [there will] be no bill. That’s a poison pill,” Reid said on Univision’s Al Punto.

ALSO SEE: CNN: Ayotte backs ‘Gang of 8’ immigration plan

CNN: Split House GOP threatens immigration reform, Boehner's future

As the Senate this week casts its first round of votes on immigration reform, a divided Republican conference on the other side of the Capitol may be a roadblock to any immigration measure passing Congress this year. And that internal split will soon pose a critical test for House Speaker John Boehner. One side of the divide was clear during a closed meeting last week among House and Senate conservatives - the first time they've sat down to talk about a comprehensive immigration reform plan that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented workers.

ALSO SEE: Politico: John Boehner begins to sketch immigration plan

POLITICAL:

CNN: Democrats say ‘conservative’ IRS employee refutes charges of White House meddling

A “conservative Republican” manager of Cincinnati-based IRS screeners told congressional investigators there was no evidence the White House was involved in the agency’s targeting of conservative groups, according to the Democratic leader of a committee probing the scandal. This refutes claims by some Republicans that the groups were targeted at the direction of political operatives working to get President Barack Obama re-elected, said Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday. “He is a conservative Republican working for the IRS. I think this interview and these statements go a long way to showing that the White House was not involved in this,” he said.

Politico: Ex-lawmakers can’t resist lure of Congress

Congress is about as popular these days as Lindsay Lohan or the IRS. So it comes as something of a surprise that among the first to lunge at the chance to run for the House in 2014 are people who’ve already experienced sweltering Washington summers, mind-numbing committee hearings and endless hours begging people for money. The midterm election season is just ramping up, but already four former House members are running for congressional seats, with more almost certainly on the way. And this follows a 2012 election in which the largest number of former members returned to the House in almost a half-century.

National Journal: Why the Republicans Aren’t Giving Up on White Folks

It seemed that Republicans had a singular message for themselves after Election Day 2012: Befriend minorities. The Grand Old Party’s popularity with Latino and black voters had dwindled to modern-day lows, and leading GOP lights publicly vowed that the work to remake the party would begin immediately. If they failed, the argument went, last year’s debacle would metastasize into political irrelevance. But fresh hope among party strategists of retaking the Senate has bumped that existential crisis to the background in favor of a campaign plan aimed, yet again, at winning white voters. Indeed, an early examination of the party’s 2014 efforts shows that Republicans have yet to begin writing new pages for their old playbook. Efforts to expand the map by fielding candidates in diverse states have so far been stymied. And, in any case, those races have been relegated to the second tier in favor of more-lucrative opportunities. The GOP’s midterm strategy will rely heavily on whites, especially those without a college education, and particularly in rural states where its presidential candidates win easily.

Politico: Mitch McConnell-Harry Reid: 2 sides of same coin

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has carved out a role as the chief antagonist to Barack Obama and Harry Reid, lampooning the president’s unpopularity in Kentucky and regularly attacking the majority leader’s stewardship of the Senate. But McConnell’s 2014 campaign is a far different story: It’s a spitting image of the tactics both Obama and Reid used to pull off difficult reelection victories in the face of sagging approval ratings. It’s no accident. Obama is widely credited with running the most sophisticated campaign in political history, identifying and turning out voters to the polls with pinpoint precision. And Reid — another not-so-telegenic septuagenarian Senate leader who was deeply unpopular back home — used the same weapon he’s relied on to survive over the decades: methodical evisceration of the opposition.

NATIONAL SECURITY:

CNN: NSA leaker holed up in Hong Kong hotel, running low on cash

The man behind of one of the biggest leaks in the history of U.S. intelligence is a former technical assistant for the CIA who is now holed up in a Hong Kong hotel, in danger of running out of money and hoping to find asylum somewhere in the world. Edward Snowden, 29, was identified over the weekend by American and British newspapers as the person who exposed details of a top-secret American program that collects vast streams of phone and Internet data. The revelations have set off a furious debate in the United States about whether the surveillance program is a disturbing form of government overreach or an important tool for intelligence agencies trying to prevent attacks against the nation. They have also dealt a fresh blow to the Obama administration, which has found itself on the defensive early in the president's second term amid other complaints of intrusions of privacy.

ALSO SEE: The Guardian: Edward Snowden: former CIA man behind the NSA intelligence leak

WATCH: The Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald will be a guest on Starting Point at 7:00am ET

CNN: Senators should have known about snooping, says McCain

Lawmakers who are now expressing outrage over the government’s surveillance of phone records and Internet activity should have paid closer attention when they were voting to reauthorize provisions in the Patriot Act, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said Sunday. Reacting particularly to fellow Republican Sen. Rand Paul’s assertion this week the programs amount to an “assault on the Constitution,” McCain told CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley that members of Congress had not been left in the dark on what powers to government has in monitoring Americans. “The Republican and Democrat chairs, and ... members of the Intelligence Committee have been very well briefed on these programs,” McCain said. “We passed the Patriot Act. We passed specific provisions of the act that allowed for this program to take place, to be enacted in operation. Now, if members of Congress did not know what they were voting on, then I think that that's their responsibility a lot more than it is the government's.”

ALSO SEE: CNN: Rand Paul says he might sue government

CNN: Will U.S. arm Syrian rebels? White House to discuss it this week

Obama administration officials confirm there will be White House meetings this week on Syria, where discussion of possibly sending lethal weapons to Syrian rebels will be on the agenda. The officials stressed no final decisions have been made, although they said President Barack Obama was inching closer to signing off on arming moderate rebel units that had been vetted. The White House meetings will also discuss a possible no-fly zone, although officials said that was less likely. The interagency discussions come as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has made gains against the opposition in the past few weeks, including capturing Qusayr, the embattled town near the border with Lebanon. Also, Hezbollah has become more active in the fighting on behalf of the Syrian regime. The opposition has warned the Obama administration that without immediate support, they could face crippling losses.

LA Times: U.S. considers taking in Syrian refugees

Two years into a civil war that shows no signs of ending, the Obama administration is considering resettling refugees who have fled Syria, part of an international effort that could bring thousands of Syrians to American cities and towns. A resettlement plan under discussion in Washington and other capitals is aimed at relieving pressure on Middle Eastern countries straining to support 1.6 million refugees, as well as assisting hard-hit Syrian families. The State Department is "ready to consider the idea," an official from the department said, if the administration receives a formal request from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, which is the usual procedure. The United States usually accepts about half the refugees that the U.N. agency proposes for resettlement. California has historically taken the largest share, but Illinois, Florida, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia are also popular destinations.

AVIATION, REGULATION and JUSTICE:

WaPo: Hundreds in government had advance word of Medicare action at heart of trading-spike probe

Hundreds of federal employees were given advance word of a Medicare decision worth billions of dollars to private insurers in the weeks before the official announcement, a period when trading in the shares of those firms spiked. The surge of trading in Humana’s and other private health insurers’ stock before the April 1 announcement already has prompted the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate whether Wall Street investors had advance access to inside information about the then-confidential Medicare funding plan. Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) told The Washington Post late last week that his office reviewed the e-mail records of employees at the Department of Health and Human Services and found that 436 of them had early access to the Medicare decision as much as two weeks before it was made public.

WSJ: Likely FBI Nominee to Face NSA Debate

James Comey, President Barack Obama's planned nominee to lead the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is intimately familiar with debates over government surveillance. That could complicate his confirmation hearings, as lawmakers and interest groups try to extract information and assurances about how the programs work. Mr. Comey, a former prosecutor and once the second-highest official in President George W. Bush's Justice Department, has a unique history in dealing with government surveillance. A Republican, Mr. Comey is best remembered in Washington for a 2004 clash with senior Bush aides in then-Attorney General John Ashcroft's hospital room. White House officials wanted Mr. Ashcroft to reauthorize a secret surveillance program, but Mr. Comey resisted and threatened to resign. At that point, Mr. Bush agreed to make changes that addressed Mr. Comey's concerns. The changes haven't been disclosed. Mr. Comey has testified to Congress about the confrontation, but he never spelled out the specifics of the surveillance program in question, or his objections.

REGIONAL HEADLINES:

Boston Globe: State may fill gap in federal health care coverage

A congressional mistake that could cause nearly 4 million people to be ineligible for federal subsidies in President Obama’s health care law has prompted Massachusetts officials to launch a new effort to try to close the gap. Under what has become known as a “glitch” in Obama’s health plan, eligibility for insurance subsidies will be based on how much it costs workers who buy an individual plan, not the far more expensive family plan. The glitch would affect uninsured spouses and an estimated 460,000 children of workers who cannot afford the family coverage offered through employers. Although that was not what lawmakers say they intended, partisan congressional gridlock has closed off efforts to fix the glitch before the ambitious overhaul aimed at universal coverage kicks in fully next year. So officials in Massachusetts, where the framework for the national law was first enacted, are stepping in, saying they want to fix the glitch to help those affected in the Bay State. Advocates say they hope Massachusetts’ efforts will focus new national attention on the problem.

The Tennessean: Politics complicates TennCare discussion

Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration is nearing a decision on whether to push for an expansion of TennCare, the state’s Medicaid program, but questions remain about how the plan would be structured and whether it could win approval from state and federal officials. After more than two months of discussions with federal officials over a proposal to buy private insurance for the poor, Haslam expects to know by the end of the summer whether to recommend that Tennessee join the 29 states that already have committed to expanding their Medicaid programs. Expansion could add as many as 160,000 people to the 1.2 million Tennesseans already enrolled in the program. The cost initially would be borne in full by the federal government, with the state gradually assuming 10 percent of the cost by 2020. Haslam is one of six governors nationwide, all Republicans, who still are weighing their states’ options less than seven months before the Affordable Care Act’s insurance mandate and Medicaid expansion go into effect.

New Jersey Star Ledger: Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver tells Dems she's running for U.S. Senate

Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex) tonight became the fourth major Democrat to throw herself into the race for U.S. Senate. Oliver, who has been collecting signatures to run for the seat left vacant by the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), has told Democratic leaders she intends to run in the Aug. 13 special primary race." She had made it clear to me right now that she has about 1,500 signatures and right now she plans on running," said Assemblyman Jerry Green (D-Union).

WaPo: Virginia delegate will be witness before grand jury in probe related to McDonnell

A Virginia state delegate has confirmed that he’s been called to appear next month as a witness before a federal grand jury as part of an investigation related to Gov. Robert F. McDonnell. Del. David Ramadan (R-Loudoun) declined to comment further, saying that the federal subpoena prohibits him from disclosing its details, which might reveal what authorities are seeking from the first-term legislator. The Washington Post has previously reported that the FBI has been conducting interviews about the relationship between McDonnell (R) and his wife and the chief executive of a dietary supplement company who paid for the catering at the 2011 wedding of the governor’s daughter. The agents are exploring whether McDonnell assisted the company in exchange for gifts. Ramadan’s subpoena, however, is the first public indication of the impaneling of a grand jury to review evidence in the McDonnells’ case — a significant escalation in the investigation.

INTERNATIONAL:

CNN: Taliban fighters attack building near Kabul airport

Taliban fighters armed with guns and explosives clashed with security forces after taking over a building near the airport in the Afghan capital on Monday. The fighting ended with all seven attackers dead, Afghan officials said. The Taliban said the attack was intended to target Americans in Kabul International Airport, one part of which is used by military forces and another by civilians. The assault on the five-story building, which is under construction, began with two suicide bombers blowing themselves up, said Kabul police official Hashtmat Stanikzai.

BBC: North and South Korea agree to government-level meeting

Officials from North and South Korea have agreed to hold their first high-level meeting since 2007. The agreement came after hours of preliminary talks in the truce village of Panmunjom aimed at rebuilding trust between the two sides. The talks will take place in Seoul on Wednesday and Thursday. The announcement follows months of tension between the two nations, following the North's third nuclear test in February.

CNN: Turkey's Erdogan to protesters: 'Even patience has an end'

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed protesters Sunday, the tenth day of demonstrations against his government, warning that "even patience has an end." He gave a series of speeches to supporters in the nation's capital, Ankara, as well as in the southern city of Adana. "We have been patient. We will be patient, but even patience has an end! And look, the people who are hiding behind the demonstrators, and seeking to do politics from it, must first learn what politics is! We are not the ones who fall for the provocations on the streets. But they are," he said.

Reuters: Iran's electoral watchdog to consider banning candidate: report

Iran's electoral watchdog will consider on Monday whether to disqualify a centrist cleric from running for president, just days before Friday's election, Iranian media reported. The semi-official Mehr news agency, citing an unnamed source, said the Guardian Council would consider barring Hassan Rohani for revealing what it said was classified information on Iran's nuclear program in a televised presidential debate and for some slogans chanted by his supporters during rallies. Rohani is the most prominent moderate approved to run by the Guardian Council, a vetting body made up of clerics and jurists.

ALSO SEE: CNN: Report: Iran takes key step in nuclear reactor construction

NYT: Violence Against Libyan Protesters Threatens to Undercut Power of Militias

Gathering here to bury nearly 30 civilian protesters killed the night before by a powerful militia, mourners said Sunday that they hoped a backlash after the massacre would finally cow Libya’s freewheeling brigades into submitting to the central government. “It is sad that whenever we reach our goals we have to lose souls in the process,” said Naja Abdel Wanis, 28, an engineer. The militia, known as Libya Shield, had already fled, he said, adding, “There is no longer a Libya Shield.” Militia leaders argue that Libya’s weak transitional government still badly needs their superior firepower. But after this weekend’s clashes, there were signs on Sunday that Libyans’ shock at the violence against civilians might undercut the influence of the biggest militia leaders just as they appeared poised to consolidate their political power.

CNN: With Mandela's condition 'unchanged,' friend says 'it's time to let him go.'

Former South African leader Nelson Mandela remained in "serious but stable condition" Monday, two days after he was hospitalized with a recurring lung infection. The increasingly frail Mandela was rushed to a hospital in Pretoria on Saturday. Later in the day, the South African president's office said the 94-year-old former leader was in a "serious but stable condition." He was breathing on his own own and his wife was by his side, the office said at the time. After offering no updates for 48 hours, the government - through the South African Press Agency - said Monday that Mandela's condition was "unchanged."

BUSINESS:

Financial Times: US jobs report lifts Asia markets but China data limit gains

Asian shares rebounded as investors were encouraged by a better-than-expected US jobs report, but gains were limited by poor economic data from China. The MSCI Asia Pacific index advanced 1.1% after suffering its biggest weekly drop in a year last week. Sentiment improved after the US reported jobs growth in May, reassuring investors that the US recovery is on course. Friday's US jobs report attracted even more interest than usual, given recent uncertainty over whether the Federal Reserve might soon begin scaling back its $85bn-a-month asset purchase program - a decision in which the health of the US labor market will be a key determinant.

WSJ: E-Cigarettes Fire Up Investors, Regulators

A group including Silicon Valley entrepreneur Sean Parker is investing $75 million in a leading maker of electronic cigarettes, part of a wave of money firing up a market that is under increasing regulatory scrutiny. The market for e-cigarettes—battery-powered devices that turn heated, nicotine-laced liquid into vapor—is small but growing rapidly, in part because they are increasingly seen as less harmful than conventional cigarettes. Mr. Parker, who co-founded the music-sharing site Napster and was the first president of Facebook Inc., is part of an investment group acquiring a minority stake in Scottsdale, Ariz.-based NJOY Inc., one of dozens of e-cigarette companies that have surfaced since 2006. "There's a huge opportunity to transition the entire world away from dangerous, carcinogenic, combusting cigarettes," said Mr. Parker, who has been a big donor to cancer research, in an interview. Big tobacco companies also are piling in.

NYT: Data-Driven Tech Industry Is Shaken by Online Privacy Fears

The dreamers, brains and cranks who built the Internet hoped it would be a tool of liberation and knowledge. Last week, an altogether bleaker vision emerged with new revelations of how the United States government is using it as a monitoring and tracking device. In Silicon Valley, a place not used to second-guessing the bright future it is eternally building, there was a palpable sense of dismay. “Most of the people who developed the network are bothered by the way it is being misused,” said Les Earnest, a retired Stanford computer scientist who built something that resembled Facebook nine years before the inventor of Facebook was born. “From the beginning we worried about governments getting control. Well, our government has finally found a way to tap in.”

 

 

 


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soundoff (One Response)
  1. Marie NMD

    It was murder.
    Zimmerman is a wannabe cop. Turns out even Prince William County in VA told him to get lost.
    He profiled Trayvon as a black kid with a hoodie (holding not a gun but some Arizona tea and Skittles) and decided to act himself to become a hero. He was told not to follow him but he continued the pursuit until he murdered an unarmed child.
    I don't know about the rest of you but if somebody starts to follow me I would react exactly like Trayvon did. As a woman, and men are just at much risk, you don't know why this person is following you but if he/she are going to do me harm I will go down fighting. Too bad that Zimmerman's head didn't open up to show us that there's nothing in there. A few cuts and bruises against a gun and murdering, Trayvon wins hands down.
    The murdered didn't know anything about Traybon's past which is coming up NOW. He disobeyed order and ended up killing somebody. No wonder no police department wanted him.

    June 10, 2013 06:31 am at 6:31 am |