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News & News In Spanish

 Jan 16

 

Hispanic Market Weekly Lanza Nueva Prestación de Clasificación de Programas

CORAL GABLES, Florida, 16 de enero  Hispanic Market Weekly, la Fuente del Mercadeo Hispano, lanza "Ratings Watch", una nueva prestación que ofrecerá a los lectores un exclusivo análisis semanal a profundidad no sólo de los programas de televisión en español más vistos por los hispanos de los Estados Unidos, sino también qué programas en inglés los latinos están viendo.

"Al entrar el año 2007, ha llegado el momento de que una publicación analice los índices de sintonía semanales de las cuatro cadenas de televisión en español", dice el editor adjunto Adam Jacobson, que supervisará el contenido y las investigaciones de Ratings Watch. "También daremos a los lectores un vistazo a lo que está pasando a nivel local en mercados como Nueva York, Los Ángeles y Miami, un mercado donde las firmas independientes, en muchos casos, están compitiendo fuertemente contra las grandes cadenas. Hasta ahora, esta información no había aparecido en una publicación en inglés, fácil de leer. Hispanic Market Weekly se pone verdaderamente a la vanguardia al ofrecer esta valiosa información a agencias, compradores de medios y planificadores de medios".

La expansión de las ofertas de Hispanic Market Weekly con la creación de Ratings Watch da a los suscriptores una razón más para usar Hispanic Market Weekly como una fuente completa de información básica y de última hora para adelantar sus negocios. Los lectores recibirán una perspectiva única de por qué la noche del domingo es para ver televisión entre los hispanos que ven programas en inglés, por qué las telenovelas de Univisión siguen predominando y por qué el fútbol es una joya del índice de sintonía.

Acerca de Hispanic Market Weekly:

Hispanic Market Weekly es la fuente más completa de datos, noticias y la información importante necesaria para mantenerse a la cabeza en el competitivo y difícil Mercado Hispano. Con una sede establecida hace tiempo en la Internet (http://www.hispanicmarketweekly.com/) y productos que se distribuyen directamente a los buzones de correo electrónico de los ejecutivos más importantes en el universo de la publicidad y el mercadeo hispanos. Los suscriptores de Hispanic Market Weekly tienen acceso inmediato y directo al boletín semanal, a sus archivos de nueve años de creados, que contienen las instantáneas de la industria más recientes, noticias de última hora durante la semana, Informes Especiales, Conversaciones con líderes del mercadeo hispano, el Mercado de Talentos de Hispanic Market Weekly y los directorios más completos de Compañías, Agencias y Medios que hacen negocios en el mercado hispano, todo actualizado semanalmente.

 

Jan 15

Bush: Victory in Iraq Crucial to U.S. Security, Middle East Stability

 

Failure in Iraq would threaten America's
security and create entrenched instability in the Middle East, President
Bush said in an interview that aired last night on the CBS News program
"60 Minutes."

"If we do not succeed in Iraq, we will leave behind a Middle East which
will endanger America in the future," Bush said during the interview
held at the presidential retreat at Camp David, Md. The interview was his
first since his Jan. 10 announcement he plans to deploy more than
20,000 additional U.S. troops to Iraq to help improve the security situation
there.

Bush told CBS correspondent Scott Pelley that accepting the status quo
or withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq would only embolden terrorists who
are intent on harming Americans and making their vision for the world a
reality. "And they intend to use murder to enact their vision," the
president said.

Failure in Iraq also would empower Iran, which the president said poses
a major threat to world peace. He said Iran must not be allowed to
meddle in Iraqi affairs and must be prevented from attacking U.S. troops
there.

In a direct statement to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Bush
said Iranian- backed violence in Iraq would not be tolerated. "If we
catch your people inside the country (Iraq) harming U.S. citizens or Iraqi
citizens, we will deal with them," he said.

A unified and democratic Iraq will provide the bedrock for stability in
the Middle East, so Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki and his
government must be more diligent in providing security and thwarting
sectarian violence, he said. "I told him (Maliki) he's got to provide the
troops he said he would provide inside of Baghdad. And we'll help him," Bush
said.

Politics should not hinder Iraqi government officials and armed forces
from going after those responsible for killing innocent people, he
said. "A killer is a killer, and we expect them to go after both Shia and
Sunni murderers in order to provide the security for Baghdad," he said.

Bush admitted his administration has made some mistakes regarding Iraq,
but said people should not blame U.S. troops for the problems there.
"We've got a bunch of good military people out there doing what we asked
them to do. The temptation is to find scapegoats," he said. "Well if
the people want a scapegoat they've got one right here in me."

Last week Bush visited Fort Benning, Ga., to explain his new strategy
for the war in Iraq and to thank soldiers there-many who will deploy
early to Iraq under the president's new plan-- for their service. "It's an
extraordinary country to have men and women volunteer in the face of
danger," he said.

Iraqis should be thankful for the effort American troops have made in
their country, the president said. "We liberated that country from a
tyrant," he said.

Removing Saddam Hussein from power will ultimately make the world a
safer place, he said. "Envision a world in which Saddam Hussein was
rushing for a nuclear weapon to compete against Iran," he said. "My decision
to remove Saddam Hussein was the correct decision in my judgment."

Bush said he saw portions of Saddam's execution video on the Internet.
He said he was glad Saddam received the justice that was due, but
didn't like the manner in which the execution took place. "I thought it was
discouraging," he said. "Obviously they could have handled this thing a
lot better."

The hardest part of his presidency, Bush said, is meeting the families
who lost loved ones in Iraq. One mother told him about how her
6-foot-5-inch son was killed when his Humvee struck a roadside bomb. His large
size shielded four fellow troops from death, she told him. Bush said he
asked her if she met the four surviving servicemembers. "They're like
my family now," she told him.

Bush said he spent a lot of time listening to many people and laboring
over the idea of sending more troops to Iraq before he came to his
decision. "I fully understand the decisions I make could affect the life of
some kid who wears the uniform, or could affect the life of some child
growing up in America 20 years from now," he said.

He said he spends much less time worrying about his legacy. "I'm more
worried about making the right decisions to protect the United States of
America," he said.

 

Jan 12

 President Bush visited Fort Benning, Ga.,
today to share thoughts on his new strategy for the war in Iraq with the
soldiers there, but not before offering them his praise.

"Everywhere the warriors from this base serve, you leave your mark, and
I believe it will be a legacy of hope and of freedom and peace," he
said.

Fort Benning is home to the U.S. Army Infantry School.

Bush acknowledged the situation in Iraq is difficult and much different
than he'd anticipated it would be at this point. Failure, however, is
not an option, he told the crowd.

"One of the wisest comments I've heard about this battle in Iraq was
made by General John Abizaid," he said. "He told me, 'Mr. President, if
we were to fail in Iraq, the enemy would follow us here to America.'

"If we were to leave before the job is done, if we were to fail in
Iraq, Iran would be emboldened in its pursuit of nuclear weapons, (and) our
enemies would have safe havens from which to launch attacks," he said.
"That is why we must, and we will, succeed in Iraq."

To ensure success, the president said he is committing more than 20,000
additional troops to the fight, including five brigades to Baghdad and
4,000 troops to Anbar province to help provide security in those areas.
The numbers will help ensure that an area, once cleared of insurgents,
can be held, he said.

But bigger numbers alone aren't enough to succeed, he said. The troops
need a clear mission, which they will have.

The plan also calls for the Iraqi government to appoint a military
commander for Baghdad, he told the troops.

"The other thing that's going to have to happen is that the government
of Iraq must exhibit the will necessary to succeed. It's one thing to
develop a plan; it's another thing to see it through," he said. "I have
made it clear that the patience of the American people is not
unlimited, and now is the time to act, ... not only for our sake; it's time to
act for the sake of people in Iraq."

Bush said he was heartened by the Iraqi government's pledge to spend
$10 billion of its oil revenues for quality-of-life improvements it
recognizes are just as important as security. Also encouraging, he said, was
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri-al Maliki's ultimatum to illegal armies to
lay down their weapons or face justice.

That's the kind of leadership that the Iraqi people expect, Bush said.

"We expect to see them fulfill the benchmarks that they laid out for
their people," he said. "We're going to help them."

As part of the new strategy, U.S. troops will work alongside Iraqi
units to help them take the lead in securing their neighborhoods. They will
ensure the Iraqi forces left behind to secure a cleared area will be
capable of doing so, he said.

Bush cautioned the crowd that the new strategy won't yield immediate
results, however. "The American people have got to understand that
suicide bombings won't stop immediately," he said. "Yet, over time, we can
expect to see positive results. Daily life will improve, (and) the Iraqis
will gain confidence in their leaders."

Bush acknowledged his new plan calls for some units to deploy earlier
than scheduled, and some will have their deployments extended longer
than originally anticipated. He promised, however, that he and Congress
will provide all the resources the troops needed to win the war.

Victory will take patience, determination and sacrifice, the president
said, but he expressed confidence the U.S. and its military will
prevail against terrorism. "I know we're going to face difficulties as we
take on this important duty... and so do you," he told the soldiers. "We
have defied the pessimists and we will do so again in this first battle
of the 21st century."

 

Las agencias de Omnicom se llevan los honores en la clasificación de Agencia del Año de Adweek


 

- Las agencias de Omnicom se llevan los honores en la clasificación de Agencia del Año de Adweek: TBWA es nombrada Agencia del Año; Goodby, Silverstein & Partners es nombrada Agencia de EE.UU. del Año

- Advertising Age también galardona a Omnicom, TBWA y Goodby

Las agencias de Omnicom Group TBWA y Goodby, Silverstein & Partners se llevan los honores de Agencia Global del Año y Agencia de EE.UU. del Año respectivamente en la clasificación de Agencia del Año anual de Adweek.

Al elegir a TBWA, Adweek destacó que la agencia llegó junto con envidiables beneficios empresariales globales, demostrando su valor como una red mundial. Según lo describió Adweek, "el crecimiento fue impresionante, y con creatividad, como en años anteriores, apenas no obtiene algo mejor que TBWA por debajo del presidente y responsable creativo Lee Clow."

Al nombrar a Goodby, Silverstein & Partners como la Agencia de EE.UU. del Año, Adweek dijo: "El comercio se transformó a sí mismo por la era digital sin saltarse un golpe creativo. El trabajo del año demostró que la agencia ha pasado una página en la historia de su evolución; el rendimiento creativo de la agencia está ahora dividido uniformemente entre tradicional y no tradicional. La evolución del comercio con sede en San Francisco fue impulsada por su deseo inflexible de ser el mejor..."

Esta semana, TBWA y Goodby también fueron condecorados por la revista Advertising Age que posicionó a los dos en la primera posición de Agency A-List de la publicación. Advertising Age también nombró el trabajo de Goodby, Silverstein & Partners para Hewlett-Packard como la Campaña de EE.UU. del Año. La campaña "El ordenador es otra vez personal" de Goodby fue elogiado por "hacer que el PC se sitúe de nuevo como 'el ordenador personal' y no como lo que ha llegado a ser - un artículo de consumo personal."

En su primera selección de Ejecutivo del Año, Advertising Age eligió al director general y consejero delegado de Omnicom, John Wren, por demostrar "cómo la gran agencia del holding tiene que funcionar." Wren, que observó la publicación, pone el énfasis en la selección, retención y desarrollo del talento a la vez que asegura que las unidades operativas tienen los recursos adecuados para entregar servicio al cliente de clase mundial y prepararse para futuros cambios en el negocio.

Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC) (www.omnicomgroup.com) es una compañía líder global de marketing y comunicaciones corporativas. Las redes de la marca y las numerosas firmas especializadas Omnicom proporcionan publicidad, planificación de medios estratégica y compras, marketing directo y promocional, relaciones públicas y otros servicios de comunicaciones a más de 5.000 clientes en más de 100 países.

Página web: http://www.omnicomgroup.com

Source: Omnicom Group

 

Reid: The President's Iraq Plan is a Serious Mistake

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid today delivered the following speech on the Floor of the United States Senate, expressing his concern about President Bush's plan to escalate the crisis in Iraq by sending tens of thousands more American men and women into the middle of a civil war.

The text of Senator Reid's speech, as prepared, is below.

Mr. President, today the Senate will continue our important work on ethics reform. In the last few days, we've had a good, bipartisan debate in the Senate, and we've made significant progress towards giving America a government as good an honest as the people it serves.

This morning, I'd like to talk about another important debate in our country -- Iraq. Last night, after weeks of anticipation, President Bush announced his new war plan.

I was encouraged that President Bush used his speech to finally admit mistakes have been made in waging the war, but by calling for the escalation of this conflict, he is on the verge of making another.

As I made clear in a letter to the President last week, I oppose his new plan because it sends the wrong signal to the Iraqis. However, President Bush is the commander in chief, and his proposal deserves serious consideration by this Body.

In the days ahead, we will give his proposal and the overall situation in Iraq a thorough review. We will have hearings on the President's plan. We will ask experts about his proposal, and when the process is complete, we will have a vote in the Senate.

This morning I will not prejudge the outcome of the vote on the President's plan, but I will say this: I believe putting more U.S. combat forces in the middle of an Iraqi civil war is a serious mistake.

Last November, voters across America spoke loudly for change in Iraq. In overwhelming numbers, they delivered a vote of no confidence in the President's open-ended commitment, and demanded we begin to bring the war to a close.

Last December, the Baker-Hamilton Commission -- a respected panel of foreign policy experts who studied the war -- echoed the voters' call for change. The Commission, which included both Democrats and Republicans, determined the time has come to transition our forces out of Iraq, while launching a diplomatic and regional strategy to try to hold together this destabilized region.

But last night, the President-in choosing escalation-ignored the will of the people, the advice of the Baker-Hamilton Commission, and the guidance of his top generals.

In choosing to escalate the war, the President stands alone.

Brave soldiers from Nevada and every state in this country have sacrificed so much for Iraq. They have done their job. It is time for a policy that honors their service by putting the future of Iraq in the hands of the Iraqis.

Source: Office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

 

Address by President Bush to the Nation


 

  Oval Office    9:01 P.M. EST  

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Tonight in Iraq, the Armed Forces of the United States are engaged in a struggle that will determine the direction of the global war on terror -- and our safety here at home. The new strategy I outline tonight will change America's course in Iraq, and help us succeed in the fight against terror.

When I addressed you just over a year ago, nearly 12 million Iraqis had cast their ballots for a unified and democratic nation. The elections of 2005 were a stunning achievement. We thought that these elections would bring the Iraqis together, and that as we trained Iraqi security forces we could accomplish our mission with fewer American troops.

But in 2006, the opposite happened. The violence in Iraq-- particularly in Baghdad-- overwhelmed the political gains the Iraqis had made. Al Qaeda terrorists and Sunni insurgents recognized the mortal danger that Iraq's elections posed for their cause, and they responded with outrageous acts of murder aimed at innocent Iraqis. They blew up one of the holiest shrines in Shia Islam -- the Golden Mosque of Samarra -- in a calculated effort to provoke Iraq's Shia population to retaliate. Their strategy worked. Radical Shia elements, some supported by Iran, formed death squads. And the result was a vicious cycle of sectarian violence that continues today.

The situation in Iraqis unacceptable to the American people -- and it is unacceptable to me. Our troops in Iraq have fought bravely. They have done everything we have asked them to do. Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me.

It is clear that we need to change our strategy in Iraq. So my national security team, military commanders, and diplomats conducted a comprehensive review. We consulted members of Congress from both parties, our allies abroad, and distinguished outside experts. We benefited from the thoughtful recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan panel led by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Congressman Lee Hamilton. In our discussions, we all agreed that there is no magic formula for success in Iraq. And one message came through loud and clear: Failure in Iraq would be a disaster for the United States.

The consequences of failure are clear: Radical Islamic extremists would grow in strength and gain new recruits. They would be in a better position to topple moderate governments, create chaos in the region, and use oil revenues to fund their ambitions. Iran would be emboldened in its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Our enemies would have a safe haven from which to plan and launch attacks on the American people. On September the 11th, 2001, we saw what a refuge for extremists on the other side of the world could bring to the streets of our own cities. For the safety of our people, America must succeed in Iraq.

The most urgent priority for success in Iraqis security, especially in Baghdad. Eighty percent of Iraq's sectarian violence occurs within 30 miles of the capital. This violence is splitting Baghdad into sectarian enclaves, and shaking the confidence of all Iraqis. Only Iraqis can end the sectarian violence and secure their people. And their government has put forward an aggressive plan to do it.

Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two principal reasons: There were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and insurgents. And there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have. Our military commanders reviewed the new Iraqi plan to ensure that it addressed these mistakes. They report that it does. They also report that this plan can work.

Now let me explain the main elements of this effort: The Iraqi government will appoint a military commander and two deputy commanders for their capital. The Iraqi government will deploy Iraqi Army and National Police brigades across Baghdad's nine districts. When these forces are fully deployed, there will be 18 Iraqi Army and National Police brigades committed to this effort, along with local police. These Iraqi forces will operate from local police stations -- conducting patrols and setting up checkpoints, and going door-to- door to gain the trust of Baghdad residents.

This is a strong commitment. But for it to succeed, our commanders say the Iraqis will need our help. So America will change our strategy to help the Iraqis carry out their campaign to put down sectarian violence and bring security to the people of Baghdad. This will require increasing American force levels. So I've committed more than 20,000 additional American troops to Iraq. The vast majority of them -- five brigades -- will be deployed to Baghdad. These troops will work alongside Iraqi units and be embedded in their formations. Our troops will have a well-defined mission: to help Iraqis clear and secure neighborhoods, to help them protect the local population, and to help ensure that the Iraqi forces left behind are capable of providing the security that Baghdad needs.

Many listening tonight will ask why this effort will succeed when previous operations to secure Baghdad did not. Well, here are the differences: In earlier operations, Iraqi and American forces cleared many neighborhoods of terrorists and insurgents, but when our forces moved on to other targets, the killers returned. This time, we'll have the force levels we need to hold the areas that have been cleared. In earlier operations, political and sectarian interference prevented Iraqi and American forces from going into neighborhoods that are home to those fueling the sectarian violence. This time, Iraqi and American forces will have a green light to enter those neighborhoods -- and Prime Minister Maliki has pledged that political or sectarian interference will not be tolerated.

I've made it clear to the Prime Minister and Iraq's other leaders that America's commitment is not open-ended. If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people -- and it will lose the support of the Iraqi people. Now is the time to act. The Prime Minister understands this. Here is what he told his people just last week: "The Baghdad security plan will not provide a safe haven for any outlaws, regardless of [their] sectarian or political affiliation."

This new strategy will not yield an immediate end to suicide bombings, assassinations, or IED attacks. Our enemies in Iraq will make every effort to ensure that our television screens are filled with images of death and suffering. Yet over time, we can expect to see Iraqi troops chasing down murderers, fewer brazen acts of terror, and growing trust and cooperation from Baghdad's residents. When this happens, daily life will improve, Iraqis will gain confidence in their leaders, and the government will have the breathing space it needs to make progress in other critical areas. Most of Iraq's Sunni and Shia want to live together in peace -- and reducing the violence in Baghdad will help make reconciliation possible.

A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations. Ordinary Iraqi citizens must see that military operations are accompanied by visible improvements in their neighborhoods and communities. So America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced.

To establish its authority, the Iraqi government plans to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq's provinces by November. To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country's economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis. To show that it is committed to delivering a better life, the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs. To empower local leaders, Iraqis plan to hold provincial elections later this year. And to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation's political life, the government will reform de-Baathification laws, and establish a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq's constitution.

America will change our approach to help the Iraqi government as it works to meet these benchmarks. In keeping with the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, we will increase the embedding of American advisers in Iraqi Army units, and partner a coalition brigade with every Iraqi Army division. We will help the Iraqis build a larger and better-equipped army, and we will accelerate the training of Iraqi forces, which remains the essential U.S. security mission in Iraq. We will give our commanders and civilians greater flexibility to spend funds for economic assistance. We will double the number of provincial reconstruction teams. These teams bring together military and civilian experts to help local Iraqi communities pursue reconciliation, strengthen the moderates, and speed the transition to Iraqi self-reliance. And Secretary Rice will soon appoint a reconstruction coordinator in Baghdad to ensure better results for economic assistance being spent in Iraq.

As we make these changes, we will continue to pursue al Qaeda and foreign fighters. Al Qaeda is still active in Iraq. Its home base is Anbar Province. Al Qaeda has helped make Anbar the most violent area of Iraq outside the capital. A captured al Qaeda document describes the terrorists' plan to infiltrate and seize control of the province. This would bring al Qaeda closer to its goals of taking down Iraq's democracy, building a radical Islamic empire, and launching new attacks on the United State sat home and abroad.

Our military forces in Anbar are killing and capturing al Qaeda leaders, and they are protecting the local population. Recently, local tribal leaders have begun to show their willingness to take on al Qaeda. And as a result, our commanders believe we have an opportunity to deal a serious blow to the terrorists. So I have given orders to increase American forces in Anbar Province by 4,000 troops. These troops will work with Iraqi and tribal forces to keep up the pressure on the terrorists. America's men and women in uniform took away al Qaeda's safe haven in Afghanistan-- and we will not allow them to re-establish it in Iraq.

Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity and stabilizing the region in the face of extremist challenges. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We'll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.

We're also taking other steps to bolster the security of Iraq and protect American interests in the Middle East. I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region. We will expand intelligence-sharing and deploy Patriot air defense systems to reassure our friends and allies. We will work with the governments of Turkey and Iraq to help them resolve problems along their border. And we will work with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating the region.

We will use America's full diplomatic resources to rally support for Iraq from nations throughout the Middle East. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf States need to understand that an American defeat in Iraq would create a new sanctuary for extremists and a strategic threat to their survival. These nations have a stake in a successful Iraq that is at peace with its neighbors, and they must step up their support for Iraq's unity government. We endorse the Iraqi government's call to finalize an International Compact that will bring new economic assistance in exchange for greater economic reform. And on Friday, Secretary Rice will leave for the region, to build support for Iraq and continue the urgent diplomacy required to help bring peace to the Middle East.

The challenge playing out across the broader Middle East is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of our time. On one side are those who believe in freedom and moderation. On the other side are extremists who kill the innocent, and have declared their intention to destroy our way of life. In the long run, the most realistic way to protect the American people is to provide a hopeful alternative to the hateful ideology of the enemy, by advancing liberty across a troubled region. It is in the interests of the United States to stand with the brave men and women who are risking their lives to claim their freedom, and to help them as they work to raise up just and hopeful societies across the Middle East.

From Afghanistan to Lebanon to the Palestinian Territories, millions of ordinary people are sick of the violence, and want a future of peace and opportunity for their children. And they are looking at Iraq. They want to know: Will America withdraw and yield the future of that country to the extremists, or will we stand with the Iraqis who have made the choice for freedom?

The changes I have outlined tonight are aimed at ensuring the survival of a young democracy that is fighting for its life in a part of the world of enormous importance to American security. Let me be clear: The terrorists and insurgents in Iraq are without conscience, and they will make the year ahead bloody and violent. Even if our new strategy works exactly as planned, deadly acts of violence will continue -- and we must expect more Iraqi and American casualties. The question is whether our new strategy will bring us closer to success. I believe that it will.

Victory will not look like the ones our fathers and grandfathers achieved. There will be no surrender ceremony on the deck of a battleship. But victory in Iraq will bring something new in the Arab world -- a functioning democracy that polices its territory, upholds the rule of law, respects fundamental human liberties, and answers to its people. A democratic Iraq will not be perfect. But it will be a country that fights terrorists instead of harboring them -- and it will help bring a future of peace and security for our children and our grandchildren.

This new approach comes after consultations with Congress about the different courses we could take in Iraq. Many are concerned that the Iraqis are becoming too dependent on the United States, and therefore, our policy should focus on protecting Iraq's borders and hunting down al Qaeda. Their solution is to scale back America's efforts in Baghdad-- or announce the phased withdrawal of our combat forces. We carefully considered these proposals. And we concluded that to step back now would force a collapse of the Iraqi government, tear the country apart, and result in mass killings on an unimaginable scale. Such a scenario would result in our troops being forced to stay in Iraq even longer, and confront an enemy that is even more lethal. If we increase our support at this crucial moment, and help the Iraqis break the current cycle of violence, we can hasten the day our troops begin coming home.

In the days ahead, my national security team will fully brief Congress on our new strategy. If members have improvements that can be made, we will make them. If circumstances change, we will adjust. Honorable people have different views, and they will voice their criticisms. It is fair to hold our views up to scrutiny. And all involved have a responsibility to explain how the path they propose would be more likely to succeed.

Acting on the good advice of Senator Joe Lieberman and other key members of Congress, we will form a new, bipartisan working group that will help us come together across party lines to win the war on terror. This group will meet regularly with me and my administration; it will help strengthen our relationship with Congress. We can begin by working together to increase the size of the active Army and Marine Corps, so that America has the Armed Forces we need for the 21st century. We also need to examine ways to mobilize talented American civilians to deploy overseas, where they can help build democratic institutions in communities and nations recovering from war and tyranny.

In these dangerous times, the United States is blessed to have extraordinary and selfless men and women willing to step forward and defend us. These young Americans understand that our cause in Iraqis noble and necessary -- and that the advance of freedom is the calling of our time. They serve far from their families, who make the quiet sacrifices of lonely holidays and empty chairs at the dinner table. They have watched their comrades give their lives to ensure our liberty. We mourn the loss of every fallen American -- and we owe it to them to build a future worthy of their sacrifice.

Fellow citizens: The year ahead will demand more patience, sacrifice, and resolve. It can be tempting to think that America can put aside the burdens of freedom. Yet times of testing reveal the character of a nation. And throughout our history, Americans have always defied the pessimists and seen our faith in freedom redeemed. Now America is engaged in a new struggle that will set the course for a new century. We can, and we will, prevail.

We go forward with trust that the Author of Liberty will guide us through these trying hours. Thank you and good night.

END 9:21 P.M. EST

Source: White House Press Office

 

A Blind President, Deaf Democrats

President Bush's call for 20,000 more troops to continue the tragic misadventure in Iraq, reveals a myopia not seen in the White House since President Hoover failed to adequately respond to the Bonus Marchers and the Great Depression. Despite the overwhelming evidence and testimony that the American military presence/occupation only exacerbates the Bush made crisis in Iraq while threatening the fragile stability in the Middle East where one civil war already rages (Iraq) and two others (in The Palestinian Authority and Afghanistan) threaten to explode, the President is either pursuing an illusory and impossible military victory or buying enough time to push the blame for the Iraqi failure onto the next administration while he contemplates military action against Iran.

And even more disappointing and disheartening is the tepid Democratic response. Senator Joe Biden, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has suggested that cutting funding for the war was "micromanaging" and "unconstitutional", while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid first supported the 20,000 troop surge and then quickly reversed himself and incredibly, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that while she is against the "surge", she also opposes cutting off funding for the war while favoring an increase in the size of the Army (30,000) and Marines (20,000). And finally, Senator Kennedy will only offer legislation that requires the President to secure new Congressional authority before being given the funds to send additional troops while remaining silent on withdrawing the 140,000 soldiers currently on the ground. Hardly a profile in courage! As for the current and prospective democratic presidential candidates, they are all taking cover behind the new Democratic Congress and its leadership. In other words, the Democrats, despite their posturing, seem to be on the verge of endorsing more of an unwinnable, unending, costly and murderous war before any serious action is taken.

The war was a terrible mistake that can have no positive outcome in the short or long run. But an immediate and orderly withdrawal of American troops can save the lives of scores of our soldiers and thousands of Iraqi citizens while putting America on the long and winding road to restoring its reputation and influence while protecting its vital interests.

 

Source: Mike Gravel for President 2008


 

 

Jan 5

 

GALA Teatro Hispano presenta LAS PAREDES

"¿Le fastidiaría mucho quedarse con nosotros?" - El Funcionario

 Gala Teatro Hispano se complace en anunciar la segunda producción de su Temporada 2006-2007 con el estreno en los Estados Unidos de la obra Las Paredes. Esta aguda e irónica obra de la argentina Griselda Gambaro, una de las figuras más destacadas de la dramaturgia de Latinoamérica, contribuye al tema de nuestra temporada La dramaturga/El director, que es una celebración de las escritoras de teatro hispanas. Dirigida por el argentino Gabriel García, la pieza se ofrecerá desde el 1 al 25 de febrero en la sala de GALA en el Tívoli Square, 3333 de la calle 14, al noroeste de Washington, DC.

Las funciones son de jueves a sábados a las 8 pm y domingos a las 4 pm. La Noche de GALA y Prensa, es el sábado 3 de febrero a las 8 pm por invitación de su Excelencia el Sr. Octavio Bordón, Embajador de la República Argentina ante los Estados Unidos. Esta producción ha sido posible en parte con el generoso apoyo de la Comisión de las Artes del Distrito de Columbia, y la Fundaciones Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz y Max and Victoria Dreyfus.

En esta estimulante obra, que por sus elementos absurdistas podría tomarse por un trabajo de Ionesco, un individuo es secuestrado por dos excéntricos empleados civiles quienes, inexplicablemente, lo culpan de un crimen, lo encierran en un cómodo cuarto y comienzan su meticuloso trabajo de terror sicológico. Al mismo tiempo, como una metáfora de lo azaroso y desamparado de la situación, el entorno físico del detenido comienza a cambiar. Con un brillante manejo del drama y el humor negro, Gambaro retrata la incapacidad del individuo en un régimen totalitario a rebelarse contra el agresor. Escrita en 1965, Las Paredes adquiere hoy un significado contemporáneo por su coincidencia con la intervención militar de los Estados Unidos en Irak y la "guerra contra el terrorismo", los agitados debates sobre la definición y límites de la torturas, prisiones secretas de la CIA, mentiras y corrupción en el gobierno y la ausencia de protesta pública ante la descarada ignorancia a los derechos humanos.

Sobre el dramaturgo

Griselda Gambaro, proveniente de una familia de segunda generación de raíces italianas y nacida en Buenos Aires en 1928, es una vigorosa dramaturga, novelista y cuentista de renombre internacional y ampliamente galardonada. Durante muchos años viene creando dramas alegóricos con temas relacionados a las circunstancias socio-políticas opresivas de la Argentina en las décadas de los años 1960, 1970 y 1980, pero su producción sobrepasa las fronteras de su país para convertirse en temas universales sobre la dinámica del poder, la naturaleza humana y el rol que juega la mujer en el orden social. Su obra es una exploración constante sobre el tema común del hombre cotidiano envuelto en una relación de poder opresivo.

Su estilo incluye el humor negro para subrayar lo absurdo de la situación política en Argentina y rompe con el drama realista de su tiempo, ya que sus obras no especifican un tiempo o lugar. Tampoco las ubica literalmente dentro de Argentina utilizando un tema nacionalista identificable o específicas referencias a su país. Cuando su novela Ganarse la vida fue prohibida en 1977, Gambaro y su familia se exilaron en Barcelona (España), donde vivieron hasta 1980. Las obras de Griselda Gambaro recién se comenzaron a producir en los Estados Unidos en 1990.

Sobre la producción:

Gabriel García (Director) es un galardonado artista teatral que ha dirigido más de seis producciones en GALA desde los años 1980, siendo la más reciente El ángel de la culpa, en el 2003. Nacido en Argentina, estudió teatro en Buenos Aires y París. En 1984 su documental The Promised Land (La tierra prometida) le valió el Premio Emmy, y Tímeless, un film escrito y dirigido por García, fue presentado en el Festival de Cine de Cannes de 2004. En la actualidad está finalizando la pre-producción y producción de un documental sobre la historia del tango y el pintor argentino Benito Quinquela Martín.

El elenco de Las Paredes cuenta con tres destacados miembros de la compañía de GALA: Cinthya Benjamín (Ujier), que actúa por segunda vez en esta temporada después de su rol en Valor, Agravio y Mujer. Ella formó parte del elenco de la exitosa obra Las mujeres de verdad tienen curvas/Real women have curves, en 2005. Carlos Castillo (Joven), nominado para el Premio Helen Hayes 2000 por su actuación en El burlador de Sevilla y quien el año pasado se destacó en la producción de GALA de El rufián Castrucho. Y Manuel Cabrera- Santos (Funcionario), cuya más reciente participación en GALA fue en la obra El ángel de la culpa, en el 2003. También co-produjo la película Se habla español.

La original escenografía de la obra pertenece a Guillermo de la Torre, un mundialmente conocido y laureado diseñador argentino de teatro y cine. El diseño de luces es de Ayun Fedorcha, cuyo trabajo para La Chunga fue nominado para el Premio Helen Hayes, y el vestuario corresponde a Alessandra D'Ovidio, doblemente nominada al Premio Helen Hayes por sus trabajos en GALA. El diseño de sonido es de David Crandall. Brendon Vierra es el director técnico, Ariadna Alvarado es la asistente de dirección, Mariana Osorio es la gerente de producción y Hugo Medrano el productor.

Información sobre boletos:

El precio regular del boleto es $30 los jueves y domingos y $34 los viernes y sábados. Boletos para estudiantes, personas mayores (65+) y personal militar es $20 (jueves y domingos) y $26 (viernes y sábados). Hay también descuento adicional para grupos de 10 o más personas. En TICKETplace tienen boletos disponibles. El precio para la Noche de GALA y recepción es $50 por persona y $90 por pareja.

Target se enorgullece en ser socio de GALA y de patrocinar la temporada 2005-2006. AmericanAirlines(R) es la aerolínea oficial de GALA. Comcast es nuestro asociado en medios de communicación.

Source: GALA Hispanic Theatre

 

President Bush today named retired Navy Vice
Adm. J. Michael McConnell as the director of national intelligence to
succeed John Negroponte.


Bush also nominated Negroponte, who has held the post for almost two
years, to become deputy secretary of the State Department.

McConnell will bring solid "experience, intellect and character" to the
DNI position, Bush said. He cited McConnell's service as director of
the National Security Agency from 1992 to 1996 and as the chief
intelligence advisor to Gen. Colin Powell, then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, during Operation Desert Storm.

"Admiral McConnell has decades of experience ensuring that our military
forces had the intelligence they need to fight and win wars," the
president said. He also noted McConnell's proven ability to work with
Congress and the White House.

Bush said this experience will be critical for the important position
he has called on McConnell to fill. As DNI, he will be responsible for
determining the national intelligence budget, overseeing the collection
and analysis of intelligence information, ensuring that intelligence
agencies share information with each other and creating common standards
for intelligence community personnel.

Negroponte, a career federal service officer returning to the State
Department, praised the state of U.S. intelligence and said he's confident
McConnell will continue building on improvements already under way. The
U.S. intelligence community "has embraced the challenge of functioning
as a single, unified enterprise, and reaffirmed the fact that it is the
best intelligence community in the world -- second to none," Negroponte
said.

McConnell said he's honored for the opportunity to lead the
intelligence community and recognizes the importance of providing "the right
information to the right decision maker in the right time and format."

"Unlike just a decade ago, the threats of today and the future are
moving at increasing speeds and across organizational and geographic
boundaries," he said. "This will require increased coordinated responsiveness
by our community of intelligence professionals."

McConnell said he hopes to continue improving processes "to provide the
needed information for tactical, operational and strategic decision
making."

The president praised Negroponte for his service as the nation's first
DNI and the first U.S. ambassador to a free Iraq and called him "a
superb choice" for the No. 2 State Department post.

"I'm confident the United States Senate will also see the value of
these two serving in crucial positions, and I would hope that they would be
confirmed as quickly as possible," Bush said.

 

 

Jan 4

 

 The Wyoming National Guard is deploying an
air crew today to airlift hay to livestock stranded by last week's
blizzard in Colorado.

One C-130H3 was scheduled to take off for Colorado today at 1 p.m.
Mountain time to assist in the recovery efforts, said Deidre Forster,
public affairs officer for the Wyoming military department. The plane will
give more capability to the Colorado National Guard, which has been
using helicopters to airlift supplies, she said.

"We can drop a lot more hay with a C-130 than they can drop with a
helicopter," Forster said.

The latest storm, which hit Dec. 28, dumped up to 28 inches of snow in
some parts of Colorado. It was preceded by a storm Dec. 20 that
blanketed the state with more than two feet of snow and closed Denver
International Airport for two and a half days.

Eight National Guard helicopters were deployed to deliver food to
livestock stranded by the deep snow. The helicopters also dropped military
rations outside remote houses, where residents are stranded, and used
Humvees and snowmobiles to deliver food, water and medicine to people in
need.

The Oklahoma National Guard is also providing an air crew and a CH-47
Chinook helicopter to transport supplies to people and livestock
stranded in Colorado.

 

 Jan 2

 

Remarks by President Bush in Eulogy to President Gerald R. Ford

Jan. 2 -- The following is a transcript of remarks by President Bush in a eulogy to President Gerald R. Ford:

  The Washington National Cathedral   Washington, D.C.    11:20 A.M. EST  

THE PRESIDENT: Mrs. Ford, the Ford family; distinguished guests, including our Presidents and First Ladies; and our fellow citizens:

We are here today to say goodbye to a great man. Gerald Ford was born and reared in the American heartland. He belonged to a generation that measured men by their honesty and their courage. He grew to manhood under the roof of a loving mother and father -- and when times were tough, he took part-time jobs to help them out. In President Ford, the world saw the best of America-- and America found a man whose character and leadership would bring calm and healing to one of the most divisive moments in our nation's history.

Long before he was known in Washington, Gerald Ford showed his character and his leadership. As a star football player for the University of Michigan, he came face to face with racial prejudice when Georgia Tech came to Ann Arbor for a football game. One of Michigan's best players was an African American student named Willis Ward. Georgia Tech said they would not take the field if a black man were allowed to play. Gerald Ford was furious at Georgia Tech for making the demand, and for the University of Michigan for caving in. He agreed to play only after Willis Ward personally asked him to. The stand Gerald Ford took that day was never forgotten by his friend. And Gerald Ford never forgot that day either -- and three decades later, he proudly supported the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act in the United States Congress.

Gerald Ford showed his character in the devotion to his family. On the day he became President, he told the nation, "I am indebted to no man, and only to one woman -- to my dear wife." By then Betty Ford had a pretty good idea of what marriage to Gerald Ford involved. After all, their wedding had taken place less than three weeks before his first election to the United States Congress, and his idea of a "honeymoon" was driving to Ann Arbor with his bride so they could attend a brunch before the Michigan-Northwestern game the next day. (Laughter.) And that was the beginning of a great marriage. The Fords would have four fine children. And Steve, Jack, Mike, and Susan know that, as proud as their Dad was of being President, Gerald Ford was even prouder of the other titles he held: father, and grandfather, and great- grandfather.

Gerald Ford showed his character in the uniform of our country. When Pearl Harbor was attacked in December 1941, Gerald Ford was an attorney fresh out of Yale Law School, but when his nation called he did not hesitate. In early 1942 he volunteered for the Navy and, after receiving his commission, worked hard to get assigned to a ship headed into combat. Eventually his wish was granted, and Lieutenant Ford was assigned to the aircraft carrier, USS Monterey, which saw action in some of the biggest battles of the Pacific.

Gerald Ford showed his character in public office. As a young congressman, he earned a reputation for an ability to get along with others without compromising his principles. He was greatly admired by his colleagues and they trusted him a lot. And so when President Nixon needed to replace a vice president who had resigned in scandal, he naturally turned to a man whose name was a synonym for integrity: Gerald R. Ford. And eight months later, when he was elevated to the presidency, it was because America needed him, not because he needed the office.

President Ford assumed office at a terrible time in our nation's history. At home, America was divided by political turmoil and wracked by inflation. In Southeast Asia, Saigon fell just nine months into his presidency. Amid all the turmoil, Gerald Ford was a rock of stability. And when he put his hand on his family Bible to take the presidential oath of office, he brought grace to a moment of great doubt.

In a short time, the gentleman from Grand Rapids proved that behind the affability was firm resolve. When a U.S. ship called the Mayaguez was seized by Cambodia, President Ford made the tough decision to send in the Marines -- and all the crew members were rescued. He was criticized for signing the Helsinki Accords, yet history has shown that document helped bring down the Soviet Union, as courageous men and women behind the Iron Curtain used it to demand their God-given liberties. Twice assassins attempted to take the life of this good and decent man, yet he refused to curtail his public appearances. And when he thought that the nation needed to put Watergate behind us, he made the tough and decent decision to pardon President Nixon, even though that decision probably cost him the presidential election.

Gerald Ford assumed the presidency when the nation needed a leader of character and humility -- and we found it in the man from Grand Rapids. President Ford's time in office was brief, but history will long remember the courage and common sense that helped restore trust in the workings of our democracy.

Laura and I had the honor of hosting the Ford family for Gerald Ford's 90th birthday. It's one of the highlights of our time in the White House. I will always cherish the memory of the last time I saw him, this past year in California. He was still smiling, still counting himself lucky to have Betty at his side, and still displaying the optimism and generosity that made him one of America's most beloved leaders.

And so, on behalf of a grateful nation, we bid farewell to our 38th President. We thank the Almighty for Gerald Ford's life, and we ask for God's blessings on Gerald Ford and his family.

END 11:27 A.M. EST

 Naval Criminal Investigation Command has
launched an investigation into a Dec. 30 incident in which an Iraqi
soldier was killed during an altercation with a Marine at a post at the
Fallujah Government Center, Multinational Force Iraq officials announced
.

The Marine, assigned to 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, Regimental
Combat Team 5, has been assigned to administrative duties. The Iraqi
soldier was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army
Division.

The Marines and Iraqi soldiers from both units have manned combined
security posts since arrival of the Marine unit several months ago.

"Marines and Iraqis from the two units continue to live, eat and fight
alongside each other," said Marine Lt. Col. Bryan Salas, a coalition
spokesman. "This will not impact our mission to continue the transition
of the security responsibility to the Iraqi Army."

Seven hundred Iraqi police, 3,000 Iraqi soldiers, and about 300 Marines
are operating in Fallujah, officials said. This compares to March 2005,
when 3,000 Marines and only 300 members of the Iraqi security forces
were serving there.

 

DEC 30

Ford's casket en route to D.C. services 

The body of former President Gerald R. Ford was taken from a church where thousands of mourners had paid their final respects to a nearby airport Saturday for the flight to Washington and ceremonies at the nation's Capitol.

Following 13 hours of public viewing that ended just as the sun rose in this desert community where Ford and his wife, Betty, settled nearly 30 years ago, the casket was removed from St. Margaret's Episcopal Church during an elegant departure ceremony.

After a military band played "Hail to the Chief," the casket was loaded into a hearse and 88-year-old Betty Ford, wearing black, and the couple's four children left in a motorcade for Palm Springs International Airport. A Boeing 747 from the presidential fleet was to take them to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., and then the Capitol.

Two services were planned in Washington, and Ford was to be buried in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Jan. 3.

During the night, thousands of people had filed solemnly past the casket, paying silent tribute to the leader whose understated manner was a salve for a nation racked by the Vietnam War and Watergate scandal.

In his weekly radio address Saturday, President Bush eulogized Ford as a "courageous leader, a true gentleman and a loving father and husband."

"Gerald Ford never lost the spirit that Americans grew to admire so much," Bush said, recalling his last visit with Ford last April in Rancho Mirage.

"At age 92, and battling health problems, he was still telling jokes and displaying the optimism that helped guide our nation through some of its darkest hours," Bush said.

 

 

 

DEC 28

Reid Statement on the Passing of Gerald Ford

-- Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid released the following statement on the passing of former President Gerald Ford.

"I am deeply saddened by the passing of former President Gerald Ford. He was a devoted public servant who led our nation out of one of its darkest hours with grace and bipartisanship. His spirit and his contributions to our country will be missed, but they will never be forgotten. Landra and I send our thoughts and prayers to the Ford family, and we join a sorrowful nation in saying goodbye and thank you."

Source: Office of Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid  

 

Boy Scouts of America Gerald R. Ford Council Mourns Loss of the Nation's First Eagle Scout President

Boy Scouts and leaders across West Michigan to remember Eagle Scout and the United States' 38th President with an Honor Guard of Local Scouts

 

 More than 30,000 Scouts and volunteers with the Gerald R. Ford Council of the Boy Scouts of America join the nation in mourning the loss of the nation's first Eagle Scout Vice President and President with the news that President Gerald R. Ford has died at age 93. For three generations he inspired scouts with his leadership and legacy not only in southwest Michigan but across the nation.

To honor the former President, the Gerald R. Ford Council will be presenting a cordon of Eagle Scouts and an Eagle Scout Honor Guard as the family returns "home" to downtown Grand Rapids, Mich. In addition, over 5,000 Scouts and leaders of all ages will be lining the processional route on Fulton Street in front of Davenport University the day of the service.

Board member and former National Board Member of Boy Scouts of America, Dick DeVos said, on hearing of the death of the President, "President Ford lived by the Boy Scout Oath that calls on a Scout to do his best to do his duty to God and country. He was among this nation's most upstanding citizens, leading our democracy through one of its most trying times while helping to heal America. As a former Boy Scout and friend of President Ford's, I saw him live the values of Scouting, always doing his best, always keeping his moral compass pointed north. It made him a strong leader, a positive role model for young people all across this country, and while we celebrate his life we are saddened to have lost his company here on earth."

Young Gerald R. Ford began his Scouting career on December 17, 1924, when he became a member of Troop 15, sponsored by the Trinity M.E. Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., and earned the Eagle Scout rank in 1927 with 26 merit badges. In 1970, he received the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award "for his service to the Nation and community." He received the Scouter of the Year Award on December 2, 1974, from the National Capitol Area Council, Washington, D.C.

While President of the United States, Ford drafted a letter that acknowledged the importance of Scouting in his early life; in it, he wrote, "My early years as a Boy Scout were invaluable in helping to shape the course of my later life ... The three great principles which Scouting encourages -- self-discipline, teamwork and moral and patriotic values -- are the building blocks of character. By working for these principles, those who belong to and support the Boy Scouts of America add greatly to the vitality of our society and to the future well-being of its people."

Michael D. Sulgrove, Scout Executive of the Gerald R. Ford Council, Boy Scouts of America, remarked, "President Gerald R. Ford never forgot his Boy Scout Oath and Law! I believe, in fact, that it was this Oath and Law that guided his daily actions and thinking as our nation's leader. President Ford was often "blamed" for being too much of a Boy Scout -- a fact to which he quickly retorted by saying "more people need to act like Boy Scouts." Our Council will forever be named in honor of this great leader. In our nation's darkest hour of doubt and fear in the office of our President -- it was an Eagle Scout who renewed our faith!"

The Gerald R. Ford Council of the Boy Scouts of America has been serving area youths, families and the community since 1912 and is comprised of 480 units and more than 30,000 boys and girls involved in Scouting and Venturing programs from a 12-county area including Allegan, Berry, Ionia, Kent, Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Montcalm, Muskegon, Oceana, Ottawa and Newaygo. Annually, more than 7,000 volunteer leaders administer more than 125 specialized programs and activities. Scouting builds character and strong communities; visit www.bsagrfc.org for more information.

The Boy Scouts of America is composed of 1.2 million volunteers working together for the sole purpose of helping its more than 5 million kids succeed in life. The Boy Scouts of America's 95-year history is a testament to the enduring values of the Scouting program. For more information about Scouting, as well as opportunities to volunteer in area communities, visit www.scouting.org.

Source: Boy Scouts of America

 

Statement by Evangelist Billy Graham On the Death of President Gerald R. Ford

-- "President Ford was one of the closest friends I have had in the political world, and I have the greatest admiration for him and his wife Betty.

"I remember in his Inaugural speech he said, 'You have not elected me as your president by your ballots, and so I ask you to confirm me as your president with your prayers . . .' God certainly answered those prayers. President Ford was the great healer, and brought us together. We owe a great debt to him for how he put principle over politics at a crucial time in the life of our nation."

Source: Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

PBS Honors President Gerald R. Ford With Broadcast of Award-Winning Documentary on His Life

Produced by WGVU Grand Rapids, First National Release of Film Available Beginning December 28 on PBS Stations

Dec. 28  To honor the life of President Gerald R. Ford, PBS announced today that it is making available to public television stations nationwide an award-winning documentary tracing President Ford's formative years through his presidency. Produced by WGVU, the public television station in Grand Rapids, Michigan, President Ford's hometown, the 60-minute documentary will be available beginning December 28 to PBS stations (check local listings).

TIME AND CHANCE: GERALD FORD'S APPOINTMENT WITH HISTORY, adapted in part from James M. Cannon's book of the same title, is a documentary about the man who was never elected to higher office but who served in the presidency for nearly 1,000 days in 1974-77, when the nation was challenged by war, inflation and political turmoil. The film traces Ford's formative years in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and chronicles his political career as a 13-term congressman, vice president and president. It is the first full-scale documentary about the nation's 38th president.

Ford is prominently profiled in the program during the dark days of Watergate and the politically turbulent 1970s. The film also profiles Betty Ford and the role she played as one of the most influential first ladies since Eleanor Roosevelt.

TIME AND CHANCE includes detailed interviews with and speech excerpts from President Ford; former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger; former President George H.W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney (who served as Ford's White House chief of staff); L. William Seidman, CNBC and former Ford economic advisor; James M. Cannon, Ford biographer, journalist, author, political advisor; former President Jimmy Carter; Marty Allen, president of the Ford Presidential Foundation; Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm; Senator Edward Kennedy; and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

In the film, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger says of Ford, "I think he saved the country. In fact, he saved it in such a matter-of-fact way that he isn't given any credit for it."

The film has received a 2004 Crystal Award of Excellence from the Communicator Awards; a 2005 MAB Merit Award for Best News Special; a 2005 Associated Press Award for Best News Documentary; a 2005 Award of Excellence from the Videographer Awards; a 2005 CINE Golden Eagle Award; a 2005 Best in Show for writing and a Gold Award in the documentary/biography category from the Aurora Awards; and a 2005 Silver Davey Award. The film was also nominated for an EMMY Award in Michigan and has been included in the Museum of Broadcast Communications Documentary Archives.

TIME AND CHANCE has been made available to PBS stations nationwide. Consult PBS listings in local areas for airdates and times. Copies of TIME AND CHANCE, as well as of WGVU Productions' 30-minute film "Gerald R. Ford: Turning 90" are available for purchase by calling 800/442-2771 or by visiting WGVU's online store at wgvu.org/store.

Underwriters: Public Television Viewers and PBS. Producer: WGVU Grand Rapids. Producer/writer: Mike Grass. Director: Rob Byrd. Narrator: Will Lyman. Videographers: Rob Byrd, Phillip A. Lane and Phil Blauw. Executive producers: Matthew E. McLogan and Ken Kolbe. General Manager, WGVU: Michael T. Walenta. Format: CC Stereo

PBS is a media enterprise that serves 354 public noncommercial television stations and reaches almost 90 million people each week through on-air and online content. Bringing diverse viewpoints to television and the Internet, PBS provides high-quality documentary and dramatic entertainment, and consistently dominates the most prestigious award competitions. PBS is a leading provider of educational materials for K-12 teachers, and offers a broad array of other educational services. PBS' premier kids' TV programming and Web site, PBS KIDS Online (pbskids.org), continue to be parents' and teachers' most trusted learning environments for children. More information about PBS is available at pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org Web sites on the Internet.

WGVU's continued mission is to provide educational, informative and entertaining programs and events to the West Michigan community as a service of Grand Valley State University.

 

 Military tradition will be evident
throughout the events associated with the Dec. 26 death of former President
Gerald R. Ford, as the services join the nation in bidding farewell to
their former commander in chief.


Ford's three-stage state funeral will begin tomorrow with the former
president's remains lying in repose at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in
Palm Desert, Calif. He will then be honored in the nation's capital,
and finally in his home state of Michigan, where he will be buried.
Ford's casket will arrive Dec. 30 at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. A
motorcade will travel through Alexandria, Va., where Ford resided while
serving as a congressman and vice president. After a pause at the World
War II Memorial -- Ford served in the Navy during the war -- the
motorcade will proceed to the U.S. Capitol, where the former president will lie
in state.
Ford's coffin will be draped in a U.S. flag, with the blue field over
his left shoulder. The custom began in the Napoleonic Wars of the late
18th and early 19th centuries, when a flag was used to cover the dead as
they were taken from the battlefield on a caisson.
Graveside military honors in Michigan will include the firing of three
volleys each by seven servicemembers. This commonly is confused with an
entirely separate honor, the 21-gun salute. But the number of
individual gun firings in both honors evolved the same way.
The three volleys came from an old battlefield custom. The two warring
sides would cease hostilities to clear their dead from the battlefield,
and the firing of three volleys meant that the dead had been properly
cared for and the side was ready to resume the battle.
The 21-gun salute traces its roots to the Anglo-Saxon empire, when
seven guns constituted a recognized naval salute, as most naval vessels had
seven guns. Because gunpowder in those days could be more easily stored
on land than at sea, guns on land could fire three rounds for every one
that could be fired by a ship at sea.
Later, as gunpowder and storage methods improved, salutes at sea also
began using 21 guns. The United States at first used one round for each
state, attaining the 21-gun salute by 1818. The nation reduced its
salute to 21 guns in 1841, and formally adopted the 21-gun salute at the
suggestion of the British in 1875.
An "order of arms" protocol determines the number of guns to be used in
a salute. A president, ex-president or foreign head of state is saluted
with 21 guns. A vice president, prime minister, secretary of defense or
secretary of the Army receives a 19-gun salute. Flag officers receive
salutes of 11 to 17 guns, depending on their rank. The rounds are fired
one at a time.
A U.S. presidential death also involves other ceremonial gun salutes
and military traditions. On the day after the death of the president, a
former president or president-elect -- unless this day falls on a Sunday
or holiday, in which case the honor will rendered the following day --
the commanders of Army installations with the necessary personnel and
material traditionally order that one gun be fired every half hour,
beginning at reveille and ending at retreat.
On the day of burial, a 21-minute gun salute traditionally is fired
starting at noon at all military installations with the necessary
personnel and material. Guns will be fired at one-minute intervals. Also on the
day of burial, those installations will fire a 50-gun salute -- one
round for each state -- at five- second intervals immediately following
lowering of the flag.
The playing of "Ruffles and Flourishes" announces the arrival of a flag
officer or other dignitary of honor. Drums play the ruffles, and bugles
play the flourishes - one flourish for each star of the flag officer's
rank or as appropriate for the honoree's position or title. Four
flourishes is the highest honor.
When played for a president, "Ruffles and Flourishes" is followed by
"Hail to the Chief," which is believed to have been written in England in
1810 or 1811 by James Sanderson for a play by Sir Walter Scott called
"The Lady of the Lake." The play began to be performed in the United
States in 1812, the song became popular, and it became a favorite of bands
at festive events. It evolved to be used as a greeting for important
visitors, and eventually for the president, though no record exists of
when it was first put to that use.
The bugle call "Taps" originated in the Civil War with the Army of the
Potomac. Union Army Brig. Gen. Daniel Butterfield didn't like the bugle
call that signaled soldiers in the camp to put out the lights and go to
sleep, and worked out the melody of "Taps" with his brigade bugler,
Pvt. Oliver Wilcox Norton. The call later came into another use as a
figurative call to the sleep of death for soldiers.
Ford will be buried with full military honors at his presidential
museum in Grand Rapids, Mich., Jan. 3.
 

 

BIO Statement: FDA Announces Safety of Food Products From Cloned Animals and Their Offspring

Jim Greenwood, president and CEO of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), issued the following statement in response to a draft risk assessment provided today by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regarding the safety of milk and meat products from cloned animals and their offspring:

"BIO supports the FDA scientific draft risk assessment which concludes that meat and milk products from cloned animals and their offspring are safe for human consumption, and are no different from foods produced through other breeding methods. As a new assisted reproductive technology, cloning can consistently produce healthier animals and a healthier meat and milk supply. FDA's draft risk assessment is consistent with numerous studies that have found the food from animal clones and their offspring to be safe."

"While there are currently no products from cloned animals and their offspring in the market, the publication of the FDA's draft risk assessment will begin an essential public discussion on the technology and how it can be successfully used by farmers and ranchers. BIO supports the continued responsible use of this technology, and encourages the continued observance of the voluntary moratorium on the introduction of food products from cloned animals and their offspring into the marketplace. We look forward to the future publication of the final risk assessment from FDA."

"Animal cloning is the latest step in a long history of reproductive tools for farmers and ranchers, and can effectively help livestock producers deliver what consumers want: high-quality, safe, abundant and nutritious foods in a conscientious and consistent manner. Globally, this technology may provide people in developing countries with greater access to protein-rich animal food products which will increase community health and well-being."

"FDA's extensive review of numerous scientific research studies, conducted over the past 30 years, has determined that foods from animal clones and their offspring are equivalent to foods from conventional livestock. These findings are consistent with two reports by the National Academy of Sciences."

"Using the tools of biotechnology to produce more desirable and healthier farm animals is not a new practice. For decades, livestock producers have used genomics to improve the health and efficiency of animals that provide healthy and nutritious meat and milk."

BIO represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and 31 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health-care, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. http://www.bio.org/.

Source: Biotechnology Industry Organization

 

DEC 27

Americans will remember former President
Gerald R. Ford as a man with the courage to heal a nation.


Ford, who died at his California home last night at age 93, assumed the
presidency at a grim time in American history.

In the midst of a distinguished career in the House of Representatives,
the Michigan Republican was President Richard M. Nixon's choice to
succeed Spiro T. Agnew as vice president. Agnew resigned in disgrace on
Oct. 10, 1973, after pleading no contest to corruption charges, and Nixon
himself was facing impeachment.

Nixon's difficulty started with a break-in at the Democratic National
Headquarters in the Watergate building here during the 1972 presidential
campaign and evolved into a cover-up that involved many figures in the
administration up to the president.

By August 1974, the prevailing mood in the country had turned against
Nixon. Nixon had been re-elected in a landslide in November 1972, but
revelations about the Watergate cover-up kept surfacing. A Senate select
committee led by Sens. Sam Ervin and Howard Baker investigated, and
Americans began realizing how far the corruption had crept into the
administration. In July 1974, Congress voted to begin impeachment proceedings
against the president. Nixon weighed what lay ahead for him, and on
Aug. 9, 1974, became the first president of the United States to resign
from office.

The resignation was effective at noon. At 12:05 p.m., Gerald Ford began
the healing process in a speech to America and the world. "My fellow
Americans, our long national nightmare is over," Ford said. "Our
Constitution works; our great republic is a government of laws, and not of men.
Here, the people rule."

A year before becoming president, Ford was not even in line for the
job. He was the House minority leader, and his fondest wish was for the
Republicans to gain control of the legislative body so he could become
speaker of the House. After Agnew's resignation, Nixon nominated Ford for
the vice presidency. The Senate confirmed Ford, and he took that office
on Dec. 6, 1973.

Ford was born Leslie Lynch King Jr. on July 14, 1913, in Omaha, Neb.
His parents divorced, and his mother took him to Grand Rapids, Mich., to
live with her parents. In 1916, she married Gerald R. Ford, and Leslie
King became Gerald R. Ford Jr.

Ford excelled in school and in sports. He became an Eagle Scout in 1927
and was an all-state football player. He attended the University of
Michigan, where he studied political science and economics and starred on
the football team. When he finished college, the Green Bay Packers and
the Detroit Lions approached Ford to play for them, but he opted to
become a boxing coach at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., where he
received his law degree in 1941.

During World War II, Ford joined the Naval Reserve and was commissioned
as an ensign. At first, he was a physical fitness instructor at a
pre-flight school at Chapel Hill, N.C., but in 1943, he reported to the
aircraft carrier USS Monterrey and participated in operations in the
Pacific Theater. He ended the war as a lieutenant commander and returned to
Grand Rapids.

The future president joined a local law firm, and in 1948, challenged
the isolationist Republican legislator. He won by a wide margin and took
office on Jan. 3, 1949. At the height of the election campaign, Ford
married Elizabeth Ann Bloomer Warren, known as "Betty."

Ford built a reputation in the House of Representatives as an effective
legislator. He rose in the ranks and served as the ranking member on
the House Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee. In 1964,
President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Ford as one of the members of the
Warren Commission looking into the assassination of President John F.
Kennedy in 1963.

In 1965, Ford ran for and was elected as minority leader in the House.
He held that position until he became vice president.

During his term as president, Ford faced many challenges. The Soviet
Union was still a power, and Ford continued Nixon's policy of working to
thaw relations with the Soviet Union. The Ford administration began
negotiations of strategic arms limits and negotiated the Helsinki
agreements on human rights.

In the Middle East, the Ford administration launched "shuttle
diplomacy" in an effort to carve out a peace.

In Asia, the war in Vietnam continued as Ford took office. North
Vietnamese regulars took the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon in April
1975, and the war was effectively over. But on May 12, Khmer Rouge forces
seized the U.S. merchant ship Mayaguez miles off the Cambodian coast.
Ford ordered U.S. forces to retake the ship and free the 39 crewmembers.
U.S. forces freed the vessel and the crewmen, but 41 Americans died in
the operation.

Ford's most controversial position was one taken a month after taking
office. He believed that prosecuting Nixon would keep the United States
mired in the Watergate scandal. He granted Nixon a pardon before the
filing of any criminal charges against him. Many said the decision was
the result of a deal, but Ford always maintained it simply was the right
thing to do.

In 1976, Ford faced down a challenge from Ronald Reagan and received
the Republican nomination for president. At the beginning of the
campaign, he was far behind the Democratic candidate, former Georgia Gov. Jimmy
Carter. Ford campaigned well and closed the gap, but lost one of the
closest presidential elections in history.

Ford retired to California and was much in demand as a speaker and
lecturer. In August 1999, then-President Bill Clinton awarded Ford the
Medal of Freedom - the country's highest civilian award. Clinton, a
Democrat, did it in recognition of Ford's role in guiding the United States
through the turbulent post-Watergate era.

Upon learning of Ford's death last night, President Bush issued a
written statement praising the former chief executive. "With his quiet
integrity, common sense, and kind instincts, President Ford helped heal our
land and restore public confidence in the presidency," Bush's statement
said. In a televised statement this morning, Bush called Ford "a true
gentleman who reflected the best of America's character."

In 1979, Ford published his autobiography, titled "A Time to Heal."

U.S. flags will fly at half-staff for 30 days in Ford's honor. The
former president is survived by his wife and four children. An announcement
on funeral arrangements is expected later today.

 

 DEC 26

 

Auto Club: New Motorist Laws for 2007 Address Traffic Safety Concerns

December 26, 2006 -- Several new laws affecting motorist and traffic safety will take effect beginning Jan. 1, 2007, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.

"Many of these laws focus on safety for vehicle passengers, mature drivers, pedestrians and young drivers," said Alice Bisno, the Auto Club's vice president for legislative and regulatory affairs.

Laws taking effect Jan. 1, 2007 include:

No "Trunking"

AB 1850 makes it unlawful for a person to knowingly drive a motor vehicle while another person is riding in the trunk; riding in the trunk is also illegal. The driver receives a fine and one point on his or her driving record; the person riding in the trunk receives a fine. The law is a response to some teen drivers' attempts to evade the passenger restriction in California's graduated driver licensing law by hiding teens in the trunk. Since 2000, there have been 153 collisions involving trunking, resulting in nine deaths and 140 injuries.

Mature-Driver Courses

Mature-driver courses, available for drivers at least 55 years of age, are designed to help older motorists drive safely longer by educating them on proper driving techniques and changes in technology and the law. AB 2407, an Auto Club-sponsored bill, permits renewal courses to be completed in four hours. (The initial course lasts for eight hours.) Drivers who successfully complete the course are eligible for a small discount on their auto insurance.

Emergency Vehicles

SB 1610 is intended to enhance safety for emergency vehicle and tow-truck personnel working on the side of the road. Drivers approaching a stationary authorized emergency vehicle or tow truck with its siren or emergency lights activated must proceed carefully and move into an available lane at least two lanes away from the emergency vehicle or tow truck. If such a move is not safe, practical, or legal, the driver should slow to a reasonable and prudent speed. The law expires on January 1, 2010.

Right-of-Way Violations

SB 1021 requires the DMV driver handbook and traffic-violator school curriculums to include information about respecting the right-of-way of others, particularly pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists. It also increases the fine for right-of-way violations that result in bodily injury or great bodily injury. Violators will pay a fine of at least $245 if bodily injury is involved and at least $345 if great bodily injury is involved. For purposes of this law, great bodily injury means "any significant or substantial physical injury."

Reckless Driving and Street Racing

AB 2190 makes reckless driving and street racing that results in great bodily injury a felony offense for first-time violators. Previously, only those with a prior conviction for this offense could be charged with a felony. Great bodily injury includes loss of consciousness, concussions, bone fractures, wounds requiring extensive suturing, serious disfigurement, and paralysis.

Driving Under the Influence

AB 2752 increases the penalties for underage drinking and driving. The new law makes it a criminal offense instead of a civil penalty for a driver under 21 years of age to have a measurable blood-alcohol concentration of 0.01 percent. First-offense infractions will carry a minimum fine of $350.

Vehicle Impoundment

Under AB 2253, a court can impound a vehicle used in the illegal dumping of waste matter for up to six months if the person driving the vehicle has a prior conviction for the offense. Waste matter does not include beverage containers or food wrappers, but it does include oil and other petroleum products, paints, garbage, furniture, dirt, gravel, and body parts.

Other motorist-related laws that were approved by the California Legislature in 2006, but which do not take effect until 2008 or later, include:

Wireless Telephones

SB 1613 prohibits the use of handheld cellular telephones while driving. Starting July 1, 2008, a driver may use a cell phone only if it has a hands-free listening and speaking system. Drivers ticketed for a violation will be subject to a minimum total fine of $70 for a first offense and $175 for subsequent offenses. "Push-to-talk" systems (such as Nextel) are exempt from the hands-free requirement until July 1, 2011.

Car-Key Replacement

SB 1542, sponsored by the Auto Club, will make it easier for vehicle owners whose keys are lost, stolen, or broken to obtain replacement keys. This law takes effect January 1, 2008 and it requires an automaker to provide the codes necessary for a locksmith to make a replacement key for vehicles sold or leased in California. Some auto manufacturers, such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW, will have until 2013 to comply with the new law if they currently allow no one but themselves to duplicate a key.

Smog Check

Under AB 1870, beginning January 1, 2008, vehicles that emit visible smoke from the tailpipe or crankcase during a smog inspection will fail the test. A vehicle owner can appeal a failing result to a state-designated referee; low-income vehicle owners may be eligible for repair assistance.

Driver Assessment

AB 2542 requires the DMV to implement its evaluation system for identifying drivers with medical problems and functional limitations. A report to the legislature on the results is due by December 31, 2011; the law expires January 1, 2012.

 

 

Dec 22

Four Marines have been charged in
connection with the deaths of Iraqi civilians in Haditha Nov. 19, 2005,

 and
another four Marines have been charged with failure to properly report
and/or investigate the deaths of the Iraqi civilians.

Col. Stewart Navarre, chief of staff of Marine Corps Installations
West, announced the charges and specifications during a news conference on
Camp Pendleton, Calif., today. All of those charged were members of 3rd
Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment.

"The Marine Corps takes allegations of wrong-doing by Marines very
seriously and is committed to thoroughly investigating such allegations,"
Navarre said. "The Marine Corps also prides itself on holding its
members accountable for their actions.

"We are absolutely committed to holding fair and impartial proceedings
in full compliance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice," he said.
Navarre said the charges stem from an incident that occurred after an
attack on a four-vehicle Marine convoy from the battalion's Kilo
Company. The convoy was moving through Haditha when it was ambushed by
insurgents employing an improvised explosive device and small arms fire,
Navarre said.

"One Marine was killed and two were wounded by the explosion," the
colonel said. "Over the next several hours, 24 Iraqi men, women and
children died in the vicinity of the IED explosion."

The next day, 2nd Marine Division issued a press release stating that
15 Iraqi civilians were killed in an IED explosion, and Marines and
Iraqi Army soldiers killed eight insurgents in a follow-on firefight. "We
now know with certainty the press release was incorrect, and that none
of the civilians were killed by the IED explosion," Navarre said.

In February, Army Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, commander of Multinational
Corps Iraq, initiated an investigation. "This investigation focused on
the circumstances of the attack and whether the Marines involved
followed the Rules of Engagement and Law of Armed Conflict," Navarre said.

In March, Marine Maj. Gen. Richard Zilmer, commander of coalition
forces in Al Anbar province, initiated a Naval Criminal Investigative
Service investigation, to determine if there was any criminal responsibility
for the deaths of the Iraqi civilians.

Later that month Chiarelli ordered Army Maj. Gen. Eldon Bargewell to
conduct another investigation to look at three aspects of the incident:
official reporting of the events and follow-on actions by the chain of
command; training of Marines in the Rules of Engagement and the Law of
Armed Conflict; and whether the command climate in 3rd Battalion, 1st
Marine Regiment, encouraged the disciplined application of the Rules of
Engagement and the Law of Armed Conflict.

"In May 2006, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service also began a
criminal investigation into the follow-on actions of the chain of
command," Navarre said.

Bargewell ended his inquiry June 15, 2006. He concluded that the
Marines were adequately trained on the Rules of Engagement and Law of Armed
Conflict but that reporting of the incident up the chain of command was
inaccurate and untimely. The report went to Chiarelli, Army Gen. George
Casey, the commander of Multinational Forces Iraq, and finally to U.S.
Marine Corps Forces, Central Command for appropriate action, Navarre
said.

Those charged are:

Marine Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich is charged with unpremeditated
murder, soliciting another to commit an offense and making a false official
statement.

Marine Sgt. Sanick P. Dela Cruz was charged with five counts of murder
and one charge of a false official statement.

Marine Lance Cpl. Stephen B. Tatum is charged with murder, negligent
homicide and assault.

Marine Lance Cpl. Justin L. Sharratt is charged with three counts of
murder.

Marine Lt. Col. Jeffrey R. Chessani, the commander of the 3rd
Battalion, 1st Marines, was charged with three counts of violation of a lawful
order and dereliction of duty.

Marine Capt. Lucas M. McConnell has been charged with dereliction of
duty.

Marine Capt. Randy W. Stone was charged with failure to follow a lawful
order and dereliction of duty.

Marine 1st Lt. Andrew A. Grayson is charged with dereliction of duty,
making a false official statement and obstructing justice.

 

 

Dec 21

Genovese Family Soldier and 7 Genovese and Gambino Family Associates Charged With Racketeering Conspiracy, Loansharking, Extortion, Attempted Obstruction of Justice, Arson, and Murder

NEW YORK, Dec. 21 -- An indictment was unsealed this morning in federal court in Brooklyn charging Genovese family soldier JOHN GIGLIO, Genovese family associates VINCENT CASALE GARCIA, RICHARD DACUNTO, JOHN LAFORTE, and ANTHONY STOCCO, and Gambino family associates EDWARD FISHER, RAYMOND SPITALE, and SALVATORE PALMIERI with racketeering conspiracy, including charges of loansharking, extortion, attempted obstruction of justice, arson, and murder(1). GIGLIO, FISHER, DACUNTO, GARCIA, LAFORTE, and STOCCO will be arraigned later today before United States Magistrate Judge James Orenstein, at the U.S. Courthouse, 225 Cadman Plaza West, Brooklyn, New York. PALMIERI and SPITALE will be arraigned on the charges at a later date. The case has been assigned to United States District Judge David G. Trager.

The charges were announced by Roslynn R. Mauskopf, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Mark J. Mershon, Assistant Director-in- Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office, William G. McMahon, Special Agent-in-Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, New York Field Division, and Raymond W. Kelly, Commissioner, New York City Police Department.

As alleged in the indictment and the government's detention memorandum, FISHER and PALMIERI participated in the arson of My Deli & Grocery, located on Rhine Avenue in Staten Island, in the early morning of December 22, 2001. Prior to the arson, the owner of My Deli & Grocery was approached and threatened by members and associates of organized crime because he planned to open another deli that would rival a deli whose owner was allegedly protected by members and associates of La Cosa Nostra. FISHER provided PALMIERI with the destructive device to be used in the arson, and PALMIERI threw the device into My Deli & Grocery, while store employees were present, destroying the store.

PALMIERI is also charged with murdering Ronald Peteroy on September 27, 1990. Peteroy's body, which had two gunshot wounds, was found near Emily's Bar, located on Forest Avenue on Staten Island.

The defendants GIGLIO, FISHER, SPITALE, DACUNTO, GARCIA, PALMIERI, LAFORTE, and STOCCO are charged with a loansharking conspiracy, marked by violence and threats. GARCIA, for example, bragged to GIGLIO about threatening a debtor: "I went there ... I smacked him right in front of all his f----n' friends, 40 guys in the club ... I smacked him and I dragged him out by the hair and put the thing to his face ... "

If convicted of the racketeering conspiracy, GIGLIO, GARCIA, DACUNTO, SPITALE, LAFORTE, and STOCCO face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. If convicted of arson, arson conspiracy, and possession and use of a dangerous device, FISHER faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 35 years in prison. PALMIERI, who is already serving a sentence on his prior conviction for conspiring to commit the My Deli & Grocery arson, faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

"We remain steadfast in our commitment to uproot the members and associates of organized crime who endanger our community by spreading violence and fear," stated United States Attorney Mauskopf. "Today's arrests are the result of outstanding cooperation among our federal and local law enforcement partners."

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Mershon stated, "In the popular imagination, the mob is often thought to have evolved from crimes of violence to more sophisticated white collar schemes. That belief is mistaken, or at least grossly over-simplistic. The litany of charges against these defendants reads like the ABCs of traditional organized crime. The FBI will continue to police mobsters, whether their crimes are sophisticated or brutally unsophisticated."

ATF Special Agent-in-Charge McMahon stated, "Five years ago today, cowards threw a fire bomb into an occupied grocery store and then ran away. For over three years, ATF Agents and NYPD Detectives doggedly pursued numerous investigative leads, which ultimately led to the apprehension of three subjects. These initial arrests and the investigation that followed led to the arrests made today and shows that acts of violence, threats and intimidation of law 3 abiding citizens will not be tolerated. ATF, along with our partners, remain committed to protecting the public and reducing violent crime."

New York City Police Commissioner Kelly stated, "I want to commend our detectives and federal partners for stopping the mob from returning to the old days of routinely bombing their competitors out of business. They tried here and were arrested."

The government's case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Amy Busa.

  The Defendants:    Name: JOHN GIGLIO   Alias: "Little John," "Johnny Bull," "Fat John"   DOB: 4/11/1958    Name: EDWARD FISHER   Alias: "the Irishman"   DOB: 11/3/1952    Name: RAYMOND SPITALE   DOB: 7/6/1944    Name: VINCENT CASALE GARCIA   Alias: "Vinny Basille"   DOB: 9/7/1972    Name: RICHARD DACUNTO   DOB: 10/28/1962    Name: SALVATORE PALMIERI   DOB: 4/17/1955    Name: JOHN LAFORTE   Alias: "Hammer"   DOB: 2/13/1968    Name: ANTHONY STOCCO   Alias: "The Retard"   DOB: 10/18/1982    (1) The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and       the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty

 President Bush said today he's counting on
new Defense Secretary Robert Gates to bring a fresh perspective to the
Pentagon, and he vowed to continue ensuring U.S. troops have what they
need to accomplish their mission.

Speaking to reporters at a White House news conference, the president
said Gates will be "an important voice in the Iraq strategy review
that's under way."

Gates arrived in Iraq today to meet with deployed U.S. military leaders
and troops and Iraqi leaders and to assess the situation on the ground.

Bush said he considers the views of commanders on the ground there
"very important" and wants their feedback. "They are bright, capable, smart
people whose opinion matters a lot to me," he said.

In forging the path ahead, Bush said his top priority will be "to
ensure that our men and women wearing the uniform have everything they need
to do their jobs."

"We have an obligation to ensure our military is capable of sustaining
this war over the long haul, and performing the many tasks that we ask
of them," he said.

Bush acknowledged the challenges the troops face but said the country
stands with them and believes in what they are doing.

"I ...want our troops to understand that we support them," he said. "I
believe that the tough mission I've asked them to do is going to be
accomplished, and that they're doing good and necessary work."

Although some Americans may have wearied of the war on terror, it's
critical that the country remain committed for its long-term security, the
president said.

"It's been a tough period for the American people," he acknowledged.
"They want to see success. And our objective is to put a plan in place
that achieves that success."

Regardless of how that plan ultimately emerges, it won't include a
rapid retreat from Iraq, the president said.

"I...know it's the right decision for America to stay engaged, and to
take the lead, and to deal with these radicals and extremists and to
help support young democracies," he said. "It's the calling of our time,
and I firmly believe it is necessary."

Retreat from Iraq would dash the hopes of millions to want freedom. But
even worse, the president said, it would embolden terrorists and help
them establish a new safe haven for plotting future attacks.

"Success is essential for securing a future of peace for our children
and grandchildren," he said. "And securing this peaceful future is going
to require a sustained commitment from the American people and our
military."

 

Bristol-Myers Squibb Announces Agreement In Principle to Settle Federal Investigation Into Pricing, Sales And Marketing Practices

Company Lowers GAAP 2006 Earnings Guidance and Reaffirms non-GAAP 2006 Earnings Guidance

NEW YORK, Dec. 21 Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (NYSE:BMY) ("the Company"), the United States Department of Justice, and the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts have reached an agreement in principle, subject to approval by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), to settle several investigations involving the Company's drug pricing, and sales and marketing activities. The investigations began several years ago.

The agreement in principle provides for a civil resolution and an expected payment of $499 million. There would be no criminal charges against the Company. The agreement in principle also provides for the Company to enter into a corporate integrity agreement with the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The settlement is contingent upon the parties' agreement to the terms of a final settlement agreement, including on the terms of the corporate integrity agreement, and approval by the DOJ. There can be no assurance that the settlement will be finalized.

As a result of the agreement in principle, the Company has increased its reserves related to these investigations by $353 million, bringing the aggregate reserves for these matters to $499 million. The increased reserve will be recorded in the fourth quarter of 2006. The aggregate reserves reflect the Company's estimate of the expected probable loss with respect to these matters, assuming the settlement is finalized. If the settlement is not finalized, the amount reserved may not reflect eventual losses.

In addition, the Company will record an estimated pre-tax charge of $220 million for the previously disclosed debt restructuring completed in the fourth quarter. This charge is unrelated to the agreement in principle.

The two charges discussed above were not reflected in the Company's previously issued 2006 earnings guidance. Accordingly, the Company is lowering its 2006 full-year earnings guidance for fully diluted earnings per share from continuing operations on a GAAP basis to between $0.72 and $0.77, from $0.97 and $1.02 as previously provided at the end of the third quarter of 2006. The Company's revised GAAP guidance is based on the assumption that none of the expected payment under the settlement agreement will be tax deductible. The Company's previous accrual of $146 million in connection with the matter also was recorded on the assumption that there would not be any tax benefit associated with the charge. The Company expects that a portion but not all of the expected $499 million settlement payment will be tax deductible, although the amount of the tax benefit cannot be reasonably estimated at this time.

The Company reaffirms its 2006 full-year earnings guidance of between $1.02 and $1.07 on a non-GAAP basis, with the expectation that its full-year non-GAAP earnings will be in the upper end of that range. The Company's non- GAAP earnings guidance excludes "specified items" as discussed under "Use of Non-GAAP Financial Information," below. Details reconciling adjusted non-GAAP amounts with the amounts reflecting specified items are also provided below. The non-GAAP guidance provided above does not include other specified items, which may occur during the remainder of the year, such as milestone payments in connection with previously announced external development, copromotion or alliance charges and payments for in-process research and development, gains or losses from asset disposals, charges related to new transactions, charges and recoveries relating to significant legal proceedings, and restructuring activities.

For additional discussion of the investigations referenced above, see "Item 1. Financial Statements Note 18. Legal Proceedings and Contingencies," in the company's Form 10-Q Quarterly Report for the period ending September 30, 2006.

Bristol-Myers Squibb is a global pharmaceutical and related health care products Company whose mission is to extend and enhance human life.

Use of Non-GAAP Financial Information

This press release contains non-GAAP earnings per share information adjusted to exclude certain costs, expenses, gains and losses and other specified items. Among the items in GAAP earnings but excluded for purposes of determining adjusted earnings are: gains or losses from sale of businesses and product lines; from sale or write-down of equity investments and from discontinuations of operations; restructuring items that meet the requirements of SFAS 112 for severance and SFAS 146 for other exit costs; accelerated depreciation charges under SFAS 144 related to restructuring items described above; asset impairments; charges and recoveries relating to significant legal proceedings; upfront and milestone payments for in-licensing of products that have not achieved regulatory approval that are immediately expensed; copromotion or alliance charges and payments for in-process research and development which under GAAP are immediately expensed rather than amortized over the life of the agreement; income from upfront and milestone payments that is immediately recognized for out-licensing of products, including deferred income recognized upon termination; costs of early debt retirement; and significant tax events, including the repatriation of special dividends pursuant to the AJCA. This information is intended to enhance an investor's overall understanding of the company's past financial performance and prospects for the future. For example, non-GAAP earnings per share information is an indication of the company's baseline performance before items that are considered by the Company to be not reflective of the company's operational results. In addition, this information is among the primary indicators the Company uses as a basis for evaluating company performance, allocating resources, setting incentive compensation targets, and planning and forecasting of future periods. This information is not intended to be considered in isolation or as a substitute for diluted earnings per share prepared in accordance with GAAP.

                       BRISTOL-MYERS SQUIBB COMPANY      2006 FULL YEAR PROJECTED DILUTED EPS FROM CONTINUING OPERATIONS                    IMPACT OF PROJECTED SPECIFIED ITEMS                                              Full Year 2006   Projected Diluted Earnings per Common    Share from Continuing Operations         $0.72 to $0.77   Projected Specified Items:   Litigation matters                                  0.18   Downsizing and streamlining of    worldwide operations                               0.08   Debt restructuring                                  0.07   Licensing and milestone payments                    0.02   Gain on sale of product asset                      (0.06)   Insurance recoveries                               (0.01)   Change in estimates for taxes on prior year items   0.02   Total                                               0.30   Projected Diluted Earnings per Common Share    from Continuing Operations Excluding    Specified Items                          $1.02 to $1.07    Bristol-Myers Squibb Forward-Looking Statement 

This press release contains "forward-looking statements" as that term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, regarding the prospective settlement of a litigation matter. Such forward-looking statements are based on current expectations and involve inherent risks and uncertainties, including factors that could delay, divert or change any of them, and could cause actual outcomes and results to differ materially from current expectations. No forward-looking statement can be guaranteed. Among other risks, there can be no guarantee that the settlement will be finalized and receive required approval from the U.S. Department of Justice. If the settlement is not finalized, there is no guarantee that claims would not be made against the company, and that there would not be a material financial impact. Forward-looking statements in the press release should be evaluated together with the many uncertainties that affect Bristol-Myers Squibb's business, particularly those identified in the cautionary factors discussion in Bristol-Myers Squibb's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2005, its Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, and Current Reports on Form 8-K. Bristol-Myers Squibb undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.

Source: Bristol-Myers Squibb Company

 

 

Dec 20

 

Victory in Iraq is achievable, and retreat
from Iraq is not an option, President Bush said today during a White
House news conference.


"We're going to succeed," he said. "We're not succeeding near as fast
as I wanted, and conditions are tough in Iraq, and particularly in
Baghdad."

But Bush called the war on terror "the calling of our generation," and
said success is essential for securing peace for future generations.

Achieving this success, however, will require a sustained commitment by
the American people and the military, Bush said, including a possible
increase in the size of the Army and Marine Corps.

"We have an obligation to ensure the military is capable of sustaining
this war over the long haul, and performing the many tasks that we ask
of them," he said. "I'm inclined to believe that we need to increase
the permanent size of the United States Army and the United States
Marines."

New Defense Secretary Robert Gates will study how to accomplish this
growth, the president said.

Bush said he will work with Congress to determine the best way to grow
the force. "I will listen to views from all corners," he said. "We will
work with them to ensure this becomes a reality."

The president said 2006 started out on a positive note but proved to be
a difficult year for the U.S. military and the Iraqi people.

"We began the year with optimism after watching 12 million Iraqis go to
the polls to vote for a unity government and a free people," he said.

But terrorists and insurgents attacked the process, blowing up the
Golden Mosque in Samarra and doing their best to bring on sectarian
violence between Sunni and Shiia.
"Throughout the year, they had success," Bush said. "Their success hurt
our efforts to help the Iraqis rebuild their country. It set back
reconciliation, it kept Iraq's unity government and out coalition from
establishing security and stability throughout the country."

Bush said the United States enters 2007 "clear-eyed" about the
challenges in Iraq, and steady in its purpose.

"Our goal remains a free and democratic Iraq that can govern itself,
sustain itself and defend itself and is an ally in the war on terror,"
Bush said.

The president said he would not make predictions about the mission in
Iraq in the next year, but he said anything done will require additional
choices and sacrifices, because the enemy is merciless and violent.

"I will make you this promise: My administration will work with
Republicans and Democrats to fashion a new way forward that will succeed in
Iraq," Bush said.

He said the coalition will change its strategy and tactics whenever
needed in response to the activities on the ground. He said he will never
forget "that on the receiving end of the decisions I make is a private,
a sergeant, a young lieutenant or a diplomat who risks his or her life
to help the Iraqis realize a dream of a stable country that can defend
govern and sustain itself."

Bush said he is looking at a number of options and is listening to the
opinions of many people as he fashions a new way forward in Iraq. He
said one option is increasing the number of American troops in the
country, but emphasized that the troops must have a clear attainable mission
before he chooses that option.

Bush said the most painful aspect of his presidency "is that good men
and women have died in combat" following his orders.

 

 

December 19 2006

 

Celebrities Auction Dreams To Benefit Martin Luther King III's Realizing the Dream nonprofit organization Bidding closes December 21 at 7PM through Authentic Memorabilia on http://www.authmem.com

Two of the sexiest men alive, George Clooney and David Wright have teamed up for Martin Luther King III's Realizing The Dream Celebrity Auction. In this unprecedented on-line auction celebrities offer unique experiences such as accompanying George Clooney to the premiere and after party of his film Ocean's 13 or a meet and greet with New York Met star David Wright at Shea Stadium. All proceeds will directly benefit Realizing the Dream, Inc., the charity overseen by Martin Luther King III, eldest son of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, and co-founded by former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young. Auction Highlights include Walter Cronkite, Yogi Berra, Paul and Mira Sorvino, Jonathan Vilma, The New York Knicks, The New York Rangers, Martin Luther King III and former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young. These incredible celebrity dreams will be auctioned through Spencer Lader and Dr. Nitin Doshi's Authentic Memorabilia LLC, headquartered in Bethpage, Long Island, N.Y. Bidders can log on to http://www.authmem.com to view and bid on these dreams or participate through http://www.ebayliveauctions.com. For more information call 888.283.5645. Spencer Lader, Co-owner of Authentic Memorabilia said, "Interest for David Wright and George Clooney has been overwhelming. It should be interesting to see how it finalizes on Thursday since Clooney is Hollywood's sexiest man and Wright is the most exciting player in New York since Mickey Mantle." On Tuesday, Stephen A. Smith announced on his show Quite Frankly that he will be donating two tickets to The NBA playoffs. Last week Geraldo donated a tour around Manhattan Harbor on his luxury boat. Since the auction kicked off on December 6, 2006 there has been a groundswell of celebrities getting involved. For the person who has everything, this could be one of the best Christmas gifts ever. Realizing the Dream, Inc., with headquarters in Atlanta, Ga., is a nonprofit organization dedicated to making Dr. King's vision a reality for all. Realizing the Dream seeks to continue the legacy and work of Dr. and Mrs. King in wiping out poverty and injustice through programs that foster peace and nonviolent social change, empowering poverty-stricken communities and developing strong leaders among the nation's youth. Profits raised from the auction will be used directly to carry out these programs.

 

Only one in five Americans believe that the "next Bill Gates" will come from the United States, according to a new poll released today by Zogby International and 463 Communications.

 

The Zogby/463 Internet Attitudes poll found that practically half of all Americans (49 percent) believe that the next great technology leader will come from either China or Japan. Twenty-one percent believe that "next Bill Gates" will come from the United States while 13 percent believe he or she will come from India. "The next Bill Gates has already been born, and time will tell what country is providing the environment of innovation, entrepreneurism and opportunity to enable him or her to flourish with the next great idea," said 463 partner Tom Galvin. The Internet Attitudes poll tested Americans views on their perceptions of Internet. Among the findings: * Kids are more Internet-savvy than Congressmen. An overwhelming majority -- 83 percent -- believes that a typical 12-year-old knows more about the Internet than their member of Congress. Republicans (85 percent) and Democrats (86 percent) agreed with each other. * Internet vs. the printing press. While the Web is roughly 550 years younger than the printing press, one-third (32 percent) of all Americans believe that the Internet is a greater invention. Sixty-five percent said Johannes Gutenberg's printing press that merely nabbed him the title "Man of the Millenium" by Time Magazine is a greater invention. Interestingly, while whites favored the printing press over the Internet by 69 to 27 percent, only 57 percent of African Americans favored the printing press and 41 percent chose the Internet. Moreover, Hispanic Americans actually favored the Internet 51 to 47 percent and Asian Americans surveyed also chose the Internet by 85 to 12 percent. * Car more important than email. While many may think the Internet is a historic invention, it still trails badly behind in what they depend upon for their work. When asked "What would make it harder for you to work - your car not starting, or losing Internet and email access?" 78 percent gave the nod to the car while only 10 percent said the Internet. Of those surveyed making more than $100,00 a year, 31 percent chose the loss of Internet access, while only 6 percent of those making less than $35,000 did. * Internet everywhere. Two-thirds of Americans believe that soon there will be no place in the world where we won't be able to access the Internet. Sixty-six percent said that in 10 years they will be able to access the Internet anywhere they are in the world. * We are voyeurs. Two in three Americans believe what Paris Hilton and Britney Spears already know. Sixty-seven percent agreed that new camera and Internet technologies are turning us into a nation of voyeurs and paparazzis. * Katie Bests YouTube, for now. But at the same time, while "You" is this year's Time Magazine "Man of the Year", most Americans aren't quite ready to rely on "citizen videos" for our news just yet. Seventy percent said they would rather watch the evening news coverage instead of a citizen video report on an event. Though, only one year after YouTube burst onto the scene, fully 25 percent of those 18-49 years old would chose citizen video. Self-described progressives picked citizen video 30 percent of the time, while only 19 percent of those calling themselves conservatives did. The nationwide telephone survey of 1,203 adults was conducted 12/5/06 through 12/8/2006 and has a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percentage points. Complete polling and cross-tab results can be viewed at: http://www.463.com/463zogby_poll.html . About Zogby International Zogby International has been tracking public opinion since 1984 in North America, Latin America, the Middle East, Asia and Europe. About 463 Communications 463 Communications is a strategic communications consultancy that specializes in helping technology companies, associations and coalitions with their policy, regulatory and public sector goals. For more information, visit http://www.463.com .

 

Carlos Alvarez today pleaded guilty to conspiring to act as a covert agent of the Republic of Cuba operating within the United States

before Judge K. Michael Moore in U.S. District Court in Miami, Assistant Attorney General Kenneth L. Wainstein of the National Security Division, U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta of the Southern District of Florida, and FBI Special Agent in Charge Jonathan I. Solomon of the Miami Field Office announced. Mr. Alvarez faces a statutory maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Carlos Alvarez's wife, Elsa Alvarez, also pleaded guilty today to concealing her husband's criminal participation in that conspiracy. Mrs. Alvarez faces a statutory maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing for both defendants is scheduled for Feb. 27, 2007. "This investigation unmasked a Cuban intelligence agent who served for many years as an educator at a prominent university, all the while spying on South Florida's Cuban exile community for his Cuban handlers," stated Assistant Attorney General Wainstein. "Today's plea demonstrates our firm commitment to protect our country and our citizens against the agents of foreign powers." "The United States Oath of Citizenship requires individuals seeking citizenship to absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which [he or she] ha[s] heretofore been a subject," stated U.S. Attorney Acosta. "Today's guilty pleas serve as a stark reminder that there are among us some who, while enjoying the freedom and liberty our great nation offers, continue to serve the interests of another master." According to the facts admitted by Carlos Alvarez during the hearing, Alvarez worked for nearly 30 years as a covert intelligence agent on behalf of the Cuban government. Beginning in 1977 and continuing through 2005, Carlos Alvarez met with individuals who worked for the Cuban Intelligence Service and, at their instruction, gathered and transmitted information concerning, among other things, prominent individuals and groups within the Cuban exile community in the United States. Alvarez received his instructions from the Cuban Intelligence Service through personal meetings, messages written on water-soluble paper, coded pager messages, and encrypted electronic communications. The electronic communications involved shortwave radio messages from the Cuban Intelligence Service, which Alvarez decrypted using a computer disk. Alvarez then gathered the requested information and compiled written reports, which he encrypted using another computer disk. Alvarez signed these reports with his codename, "David." Alvarez mailed these reports to various post office boxes in New York and then burned in his backyard, and attempted to erase on his computer, evidence that the reports had been written. On occasion, Carlos Alvarez received new decryption and encryption computer disks from the Cuban Intelligence Service to ensure that the communications would remain secret. When Alvarez picked up the new computer disks, he sometimes transported them hidden in a portfolio or briefcase with a false compartment. Alvarez and his co-conspirators ceased to communicate in this manner in or about 1998, after the arrest of the Wasp Spy Network in South Florida. Alvarez then communicated with his co-conspirators through personal meetings in Cuba and elsewhere. To this end, Alvarez's position as an educator at Florida International University enabled him to meet individuals on whom the Cuban Intelligence Service wanted information and to travel to Cuba to communicate his information. Alvarez's criminal conduct continued through on or about June 22, 2005, the date that Alvarez spoke to the FBI regarding his illegal involvement with the Cuban Intelligence Service. Prior to this date, Alvarez never notified the Attorney General that he would be acting as an agent of the Republic of Cuba, and never withdrew from the criminal conspiracy. According to facts admitted by Elsa Alvarez at the plea hearing, Elsa Alvarez worked to conceal her husband's spying activities from United States law enforcement authorities for over 20 years. Beginning as early as in or around 1982, Elsa Alvarez became aware that her husband, Carlos Alvarez, was involved in a conspiracy to serve as a covert intelligence agent for the Republic of Cuba. Despite this knowledge, Elsa Alvarez harbored Carlos Alvarez, allowed the use of their home for the exchange of electronic communications with the Republic of Cuba, and on certain occasions, accompanied him when he traveled to meet with agents of the Cuban Intelligence Service, all of which helped conceal the true nature of his activities. Moreover, Elsa Alvarez failed to make Carlos Alvarez' illegal involvement with the Republic of Cuba known to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States. Elsa Alvarez's conduct continued through on or about July 5, 2005, the date that Elsa Alvarez spoke to the FBI regarding Carlos Alvarez' illegal involvement with the Cuban Intelligence Service. Elsa Alvarez, like her husband Carlos Alvarez, was employed as a professor at Florida International University. U.S. Attorney Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the FBI for their work in this investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian Frazier and Matthew Axelrod and by Senior Trial Attorney Clifford Rones of the Counterespionage Section of the Department of Justice. A copy of this press release may be found on the Web site of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov/ or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov/.

 

A federal grand jury in Miami has indicted a former Alcatel CIT executive on charges related to making corrupt payments to Costa Rican officials in order to obtain a mobile telephone contract from the state-owned telecommunications authority

, in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the Department of Justice announced today. The 10-count indictment returned today charges Christian Sapsizian, 60, a French citizen, with conspiring to make over $2.5 million in bribe payments to Costa Rican officials in order to obtain a telecommunications contract on behalf of Alcatel, making corrupt payments, and laundering the bribes through a consultant. Sapsizian was previously charged and arrested in Miami on a criminal complaint issued Dec. 1, 2006. Until Nov. 30, 2006, Alcatel was a French telecommunications company, whose American Depositary Receipts were traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Sapsizian was employed by Alcatel or one of its subsidiaries for over 20 years. At the time of the conduct alleged in the indictment, he was the deputy vice president responsible for Latin America. El Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), the state-owned telecommunications authority in Costa Rica, was responsible for awarding all telecommunications contracts, including mobile telephone contracts. Prior to 2000, Alcatel had been unsuccessful in obtaining mobile telephone contracts in Costa Rica, repeatedly losing to a competitor which utilized a different technology than Alcatel. The indictment alleges that from February 2000 through September 2004, Sapsizian conspired with Alcatel's senior representative in Costa Rica to make payments to a member of ICE's Board of Directors, who was also an advisor to a more senior official in the Costa Rican government. The payments were intended to cause the ICE official to exercise his influence to initiate a bid process which favored Alcatel's technology and to vote to award Alcatel a mobile telephone contract. Sapsizian is charged with offering the ICE official 1.5 percent to 2 percent of the value of the contract in exchange for the ICE official's efforts in assisting Alcatel to obtain the contract. The indictment further alleges that Sapsizian was aware that the ICE official intended to share the corrupt payments with the senior government official. Alcatel was in fact awarded a mobile telephone contract in August 2001, which was valued at $149 million. According to the indictment, Sapsizian authorized one of Alcatel's Costa Rican consulting firms to funnel the payments to the ICE official. Sapsizian is charged with conspiring to launder money for allegedly causing Alcatel CIT to wire $14 million in "commission" payments to the consultant. The consultant, in turn, wire transferred $2.5 million to the ICE official. Thus, Sapsizian is charged with eight counts of violating the FCPA for allegedly causing those payments to the ICE official. The conspiracy and FCPA charges each carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison. The money laundering charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. An indictment contains only allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it is the government's burden to prove a defendant's guilty beyond a reasonable doubt at trial. This case is being prosecuted by Deputy Chief Mark F. Mendelsohn, and Trial Attorney Mary K. Dimke of the Fraud Section of the Criminal Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, Washington. The case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Costa Rican Attorney General Francisco Dall'Anese and his office provided substantial assistance to this investigation.

 

A Mobile man was found guilty today of eight felony charges brought in connection with his false and fraudulent application for assistance after Hurricane Katrina

, U.S. Attorney Deborah J. Rhodes of the Southern District of Alabama announced. Governor Reiss Sr., 54, was convicted by a federal jury following a two day trial and an hour of deliberation. Reiss called a FEMA hotline one month after Hurricane Katrina and claimed that his primary residence, vehicle and personal property in New Orleans had been completely destroyed. Reiss had moved out of the house in New Orleans at least three months before the storm and was living at a house on East Lourdes Street in Mobile, Ala. when Katrina struck. The New Orleans property had been foreclosed on in the months before the storm, and neither Reiss nor any of his family lived there at the time. "The jury's verdict shows that fraud and deception will not be tolerated in the Southern District of Alabama, particularly when people have taken advantage of a catastrophe to enrich themselves at the expense of others," said U.S. Attorney Rhodes. "Our efforts to investigate and prosecute fraud in connection with Hurricane Katrina will continue." Based on the false claims Reiss made to FEMA, he was awarded $12,858 for temporary housing and to replace his home. Reiss spent some of the housing money on a new vehicle and on visiting his daughter in California. After FEMA discovered that he did not live in New Orleans, Reiss was ordered to repay the money, which he has not done. Reiss was convicted of making a false claim to the government, making a false statement, two counts of theft of public money, two counts of wire fraud, and two counts of aggravated identity theft. Sentencing was set for March 26, 2007 before U.S. District Judge William H. Steele. Reiss was taken into custody pending sentencing. Making false claims and false statements each carry a maximum possible term of five years in prison. Theft of public money is punishable by a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Each count of wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and each count of aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory consecutive term of two years in prison. Each felony conviction is also punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and restitution of any proceeds of the crime. In September 2005, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales created the Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force, designed to deter, investigate and prosecute disaster-related federal crimes such as charity fraud, identity theft, procurement fraud and insurance fraud. The Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force -- chaired by Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division -- includes the FBI, the U.S. Inspectors General community, the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Executive Office for the United States Attorneys and others. This case was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security, Office of the Inspector General and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daryl A. Atchison and Sean P. Costello.

 

The Council on American- Islamic Relations (CAIR) tonight called on Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA) to apologize for anti-Muslim remarks he made in a recent letter to a constituent.

 Goode's letter to the head of the local Sierra Club chapter slammed the planned use of a Quran for the ceremonial swearing-in of Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress. (No religious texts of any kind are used for the official swearing-in ceremony.) "I do not subscribe to using the Koran in any way," wrote Goode. "The Muslim Representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don't wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran." Goode also decried the growth of the American Muslim community. He wrote, "I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America." (Keith Ellison has traced his family's roots in America to the year 1742.) SEE: Anti-Muslim Letter Goes Out to Hundreds -- Not All are Amused http://www.c-ville.com/index.php?cat=141404064431134&ShowArticle_ID=11041812060944 420 "Representative Goode's Islamophobic remarks send a message of intolerance that is unworthy of anyone elected to public office," said CAIR National Legislative Director Corey Saylor. "There can be no reasonable defense for such bigotry." Saylor said Goode should apologize for his remarks and offered to arrange a meeting between the congressman and members of the Muslim community in his district. The controversy over Representative-elect Ellison's use of the Quran for the ceremonial oath began with a recent commentary by Dennis Prager, a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, in which he wrote that swearing an oath on the Quran "undermines American civilization." CAIR has asked that Prager be removed from the taxpayer-supported council. CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 32 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

 

December 18

 Robert M. Gates was sworn in as the
nation's 22nd secretary of defense in a ceremony at the Pentagon here today.

After President Bush introduced Gates as "an experienced and thoughtful
leader," Vice President Richard B. Cheney administered the oath of
office. Gates was officially sworn in at the White House earlier today in a
private ceremony.

"It is an honor to have the opportunity to work with the people in this
department -- dedicated professionals whose overriding priority is the
defense of our nation," Gates said upon taking the oath at the
Pentagon.

The Defense Department is carrying on many different activities, all of
which are important, but the most pressing concern is the situation in
Iraq, Gates said. Since being confirmed by the Senate, Gates has
participated in National Security Council meetings on Iraq, received a number
of briefings at DoD, and discussed the situation and way forward in
Iraq with the president. He said he intends to travel quite soon to Iraq
and meet with military leaders and other personnel there.

"I look forward to hearing their honest assessments of the situation on
the ground and of having the benefit of their advice, unvarnished and
straight from the shoulder, on how to proceed in the weeks and months
ahead," Gates said.

The situation in Afghanistan is also very important, Gates said. The
progress made there in the last five years cannot be undone, he said, and
the U.S. and NATO must keep their commitment to the Afghan people.

"How we face these and other challenges in the region over the next two
years will determine whether Iraq, Afghanistan, and other nations at a
crossroads will pursue paths of gradual progress towards sustainable
governments, which are allies in the global war on terrorism, or whether
the forces of extremism and chaos will become ascendant," he said.

Bush also emphasized that America is at a time of great consequence in
the war on terror. The secretary of defense must understand the
challenges of the present, see the threats of the future, and provide the best
possible advice to help direct the nation's armed forces as they engage
the enemies of freedom around the world, he said.

Gates is the right man for the job, Bush said.

"He knows the stakes in the war on terror," Bush said of Gates. "He
recognizes this is a long struggle against an enemy unlike any our nation
has fought before. He understands that defeating the terrorists and the
radicals and the extremists in Iraq and the Middle East is essential to
leading towards peace. As secretary of defense, he will help our
country forge a new way forward in Iraq so that we can help the Iraqis
achieve our shared goal of a unified, democratic Iraq that can govern itself,
sustain itself and defend itself, and be an ally in our struggle
against extremists and radicals."

Everyone wants to find a way to bring America's troops home, Gates
said, but the U.S. cannot afford to fail in the Middle East. "Failure in
Iraq at this juncture would be a calamity that would haunt our nation,
impair our credibility, and endanger Americans for decades to come," he
said.

Bush cited Gates' long career in public service: He started in an
entry-level position at the Central Intelligence Agency in 1966, rose to
become its director, has worked under six presidents, and spent almost
nine years on the National Security Council staff.

"Bob Gates' lifetime of preparation will serve him well as the
secretary of defense," Bush said.

Bush and Gates both praised outgoing Defense Secretary Donald H.
Rumsfeld, noting his exceptional leadership during a time of change at DoD.
"Donald Rumsfeld has devoted decades of his life to public service,"
Gates said. "He cares deeply about our men and women in uniform and the
future of our country."

Gates said that defense transformation will remain a priority for him,
and he pledged to involve in the decision-making processes those who
will ultimately carry out the decisions.

"I return to public service in the hope that I can make a difference at
a time when our nation is facing daunting challenges and difficult
choices," he said.

 

 

Ocean West Holding Corporation anuncia su nuevo nombre y símbolo de acciones

Nuevo símbolo (AKMN)

 December 18, 2006 -- AskMeNow, una subsidiaria totalmente propiedad de Ocean West Holding Corporation (OTCBB: OWHC), líder en respuestas móviles inteligentes, anunció hoy que el nombre y el símbolo de acciones oficiales de la empresa han cambiado a AskMeNow Inc., símbolo de acciones AKMN (OTCBB: AKMN) en la cartelera de NASD OTC con vigencia el 18 de diciembre de 2006.

La aprobación se basa en reciente liquidación de SEC de la Declaración de información de Cédula 14C de la empresa y los informes periódicos enmendados.

El cambio del nombre de la empresa a AskMeNow Inc. no afecta las posesiones de los inversionistas actuales y todas las inversiones realizadas a través de Ocean West Holding Corporation se transferirán al nuevo nombre y símbolo de la empresa.

Acerca de AskMeNow

AskMeNow es la manera más fácil y cómoda de acceder a información en Internet o de contenido local desde un celular o un dispositivo PDA móvil. La primera red de estilo de vida móvil, AskMeNow utiliza su tecnología patentada para ofrecer una plataforma de interacción basada en el lenguaje natural y de provisión dinámica de contenido diseñada para una recuperación simple y rápida de la información. La empresa genera ganancias a través de tarifas por uso y auspicios publicitarios móviles contextuales uno a uno. AskMeNow se lanzó oficialmente en noviembre de 2005. La empresa está basada en Irvine, California. Para obtener más información, haga clic en www.askmenow.com.

Declaraciones a futuro

Determinadas declaraciones del presente comunicado de prensa no son históricas ni hechos actuales y constituyen declaraciones a futuro dentro del significado de dicha expresión en la sección 27A de la Ley de valores de 1933 y de la sección 21E de la Ley de intercambio de valores de 1934. Dichas declaraciones a futuro implican riesgos conocidos y desconocidos, incertidumbres y otros factores que podrían hacer que los resultados financieros u operativos reales de la empresa o de AskMeNow difirieran materialmente de los resultados históricos o de cualquier resultado futuro expresado o implicado por las declaraciones a futuro. Dichas declaraciones a futuro se basan en nuestras mejores estimaciones de futuros resultados, rendimiento o logros, basadas en las condiciones actuales y en los resultados más recientes de la empresa y de AskMeNow. Además de declaraciones que explícitamente describen tales riesgos e incertidumbres, se insta a los lectores a considerar inciertas y a futuro todas las declaraciones que tengan los términos puede, va a, potencial, oportunidad, desmiente, prevé, intenta, estima, anticipa o tiene pensado. Las declaraciones a futuro que contiene el presente comunicado también están sujetas en general a otros riesgos e incertidumbres que se describen periódicamente en los informes y declaraciones de registro de la empresa presentadas ante la Comisión de valores e intercambio.

 

Military Aircrews Continue Supporting Mount Hood Rescue Effort 

 

After finding the body of one missing
climber on Mount Hood, Ore., members of the Oregon Army National Guard,
Nevada Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve are continuing the search
today for two other lost climbers.

Rescue crews, joined by civilian volunteers, planned to take advantage
of clearing weather after several days of snow, ice and winds hampered
earlier efforts, Capt. Christopher Bernard of the Air Force Reserve's
304th Rescue Squadron, based in Portland, told reporters today.

The 304th Rescue Squadron was the first aircrew on the scene, Dec. 11,
after three climbers went missing after they set out Dec. 7 for what
was to be a two-day climbing trip, Air Force Staff Sgt. Nick Przybyciel,
of the 446th Airlift Wing at McChord Air Force Base, Wash., told
American Forces Press Service.

Nine pararescue team members and three combat rescue officers conducted
ground surveillance through Dec. 14 before pausing operations during
inclement weather as they geared up to launch the air mission, Przybyciel
said.

The squadron left one crewmember on the mountain to serve as a spotter
for a Nevada Air National Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft. The aircraft
is part of the only Air Force wing equipped with "scathe view"
technology that provides real-time imagery of ground activity via
electro-optical and infrared sensors mounted on military aircraft, Przybyciel
explained.

Meanwhile, three Oregon Army National Guard helicopter crews joined the
search Dec. 15. Twelve flight crews and medics aboard two UH-60 Black
Hawks from the 1042nd Medical Company (Air Ambulance), based in Salem,
and a CH-47D Chinook from Detachment 1, D Company, 113th Aviation
Battalion, based in Pendleton, are involved in the search.

This morning, a Nevada Air National Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft from
Reno headed to the summit to retrieve a body found in a snow cave
yesterday on Mount Hood's north face. Although officials declined to name
the climber during today's news conference, family members said it was
48-year-old Kelly James.

Joe Wimpler, Mount Hood County sheriff, compared locating the snow cave
to finding "a needle in a haystack" and praised the "excellent spot on
the part of the air crews."

The search for James' companions, Brian Hall and Jerry Cooke, has
narrowed to "The Gullies," an avalanche-prone area with a sheer 2,500-foot
drop. It's still too dangerous to put ground crews in the area, Wimpler
said, but search-and-rescue efforts are continuing from the air.

Bernard noted that the aircrews involved in the operation are combat
veterans who have served in the mountains of Afghanistan. "There's a wide
set of skills coming together to support this mission," he said.

Despite the lack of good news, officials expressed optimism that the
missing two climbers may still be alive. "There definitely is hope,"
Bernard said.

Army Col. Dave Greenwood, Oregon's state aviation officer who has been
flying Black Hawk missions during the search, said the military is
uniquely qualified to carry out the mission. "When we see something like
this, we realize that we're the only ones with our type of capabilities,
so we are always ready to roll," he said.

The Oregon Guard typically conducts about 20 search-and-rescue missions
a year, but few of this magnitude, he said.

Greenwood noted that since returning from Afghanistan in March, the
Oregon Guard helicopter crews spent 43 days this summer fighting
wildfires. "It just never stops," he said. "It's a lot of missions for these
guys."

 

December 16, 2006

 

Taco John's to Use New Produce Vendor

Precaution Taken in Response to Reports of Illness at Two Franchise Locations

-- Approximately 100 Taco John's franchises in the Midwest will be using a new produce vendor starting as soon as today as an extreme precautionary response to reports of potential E. coli contamination at three of the franchise locations, one in Iowa and two in Minnesota, that used a common vendor. The reminder of the Taco John's system utilizes other produce vendors.

"While food samples continue to be analyzed by health departments in both states, and two private laboratories with which we've contracted, we don't want to take any chances with the health of our customers," said Taco John's president and CEO, Paul Fisherkeller. "Once the cause of the illnesses is pinpointed, we can take more targeted action. Since produce is the most common carrier of E. coli, we'd rather be aggressively proactive and replace a possible source."

The company has not been given any specific reason to suspect its current source of produce for that group of franchises, Fisherkeller noted. Taco John's has been told to expect laboratory results from the Black Hawk County Health Department in Iowa and the Minnesota Department of Health on December 14, when it also expects results back from its independent labs.

"We continue to pray for the speedy recovery of all that have fallen ill, and our thoughts are with them and their loved ones," said Fisherkeller.

The company provided this updated chronology of events for the public's information:

  *  Tuesday, November 28-- The first illness was reported to the Black Hawk      County Health Department.    *  Wednesday, December 6 -- The Department contacted Taco John's      indicating that some (not all) of those who were sick had eaten at the      Taco John's franchise at 6210 University Ave., Cedar Falls, IA.  The      same day, the Department conducted an inspection at that location.      Immediately thereafter, Taco John's followed Department recommendations      to replace all the food being used in the restaurant.  The franchise      was allowed to re-open an hour later and remains open.  Taco John's      notified Roma Foods, the primary supplier to franchisees in that      region, of the issue and urged its management to double-check its own      compliance, although Roma, like Taco John's, has an excellent health      and safety record.    *  Thursday, December 7 -- One local newspaper reported that, "'More than      a dozen people are hospitalized in Black Hawk County with an illness      that may be E. coli,' said Tom O'Rourke, director of the county health      department.  'We are not ready to call it E. coli.'"    *  Friday, December 8 -- Another local paper quoted Tom O'Rourke as      saying, "We have no reason to believe a threat still exists."  The      paper went on to say, "Taco John's, located at 6210 University Ave.      remains open.  Local health officials said the restaurant has fully      cooperated with efforts to identify sick customers and ensure food      safety."    *  Saturday, December 9 -- Company representatives phoned and e-mailed      every owner and operator in the Taco John's system to alert them to      this issue and to reinforce standards.    *  Monday, December 11 -- Taco John's took samples taken out of the Cedar      Falls, IA restaurant for independent lab testing, and samples were also      taken by the Black Hawk County Health Department for testing.  The      Black Hawk County Department of Health held a press briefing at which      it indicated that the preliminary test results continue to indicate E.      Coli 157, but that there had been no new cases since December 6.  Taco      John's was notified by the Minnesota Department of Health that it was      investigating the illness of several patrons who had eaten at its      Albert Lea franchise during the same period as those who fell ill in      Iowa.  The Albert Lea, MN restaurant was inspected by the Minnesota      Department of Health, which concluded that it met all standards of      serving safe food.    *  Tuesday, December 12 -- Taco John's Corporate representatives were on      site in Albert Lea, MN; they inspected the restaurant and confirmed      that it met all standards for serving safe food.  The Minnesota      Department of Health reports two possible new cases of E. coli in      Albert Lea and two new cases in Austin, MN.  The Austin restaurant was      inspected by the Department of Health, which concluded restaurant meets      all standards of serving safe food.  Taco John's Corporate      representatives inspected the restaurant and confirmed health      department findings.  The Department of Health took samples for testing      from the Austin restaurant and Taco John's took samples for independent      testing from both the Albert Lea and Austin restaurants.  A      teleconference was held with all Taco John's franchisees to reinforce      all food safety procedures.  

"We continue to work around the clock with the health departments to get to the root of this serious issue," concluded Fisherkeller.

Taco John's International, based in Cheyenne, WY, operates and franchises more than 400 quick-service restaurants in 26 states. The company will be posting regular situation updates at its website, www.tacojohns.com.

Source: Taco John's

 

Even while waging a global campaign against
terrorism, outgoing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld kept his focus
on the future and transformed the Defense Department into a more agile
organization better suited for the 21st century, President Bush said
here today
.

"The record of Don Rumsfeld's tenure is clear; ... there has been more
profound change at the Department of Defense over the past six years
than at any time since the department's creation in the late 1940s," Bush
said during Rumsfeld's farewell ceremony at the Pentagon.

Bush noted that in 2001, he gave Rumsfeld the mission of preparing the
U.S. military for the threats of a new century. After those threats hit
home on Sept. 11, 2001, Rumsfeld launched one of the most innovative
military campaigns in history, sending special operations forces into
Afghanistan to link up with anti-Taliban fighters on horseback.

From there, Rumsfeld's spirit of innovation just kept growing, Bush
said.

In 2003, he said, Rumsfeld launched Operation Iraqi Freedom, ousting
Saddam Hussein in 21 days and, over the years, seeing the Iraqi people
through the resumption of sovereignty, two elections, a referendum to
approve the most progressive constitution in the Middle East, and the
seating of a newly elected government. "On his watch, the United States
military helped the Iraqi people establish a constitutional democracy in
the heart of the Middle East, a watershed event in the story of
freedom," Bush said.

While fighting the war on terror, Rumsfeld developed a new defense
strategy and a new command structure for the nation's armed forces, with a
new Northern Command to protect the homeland, a new Joint Forces
Command to focus on transformation, a new Strategic Command to defend against
long-range attack, and a transformed Special Operations Command ready
to take the lead in the global war on terror, Bush said. Rumsfeld also
launched the biggest transformation of the Army in a generation and led
efforts to transform the NATO alliance, he said.

"On his watch, NATO sent its forces to defend a young democracy in
Afghanistan more than 3,000 miles from Europe, the first time NATO has
deployed outside the North Atlantic area in the history of the alliance,"
Bush said.

Bush also noted Rumsfeld's other accomplishments: launching the
Proliferation Security Initiative, a coalition of more than 80 nations working
together to stop shipments of weapons of mass destruction; and taking
ballistic missile defense from theory to reality.

"Most importantly, he worked to establish a culture in the Pentagon
that rewards innovation and intelligent risk-taking and encourages our
military and civilian leaders to challenge established ways of thinking,"
Bush said of Rumsfeld.

These changes were not easy to make, Bush said, but Rumsfeld's
determination and leadership led to the best equipped, best trained and most
experienced military in the world. "This man knows how to lead, and he
did, and the country is better off for it," he said.

Rumsfeld, who leaves office Dec. 18, was given a full honors parade
today at the Pentagon. He received service awards from the Army, Navy and
Air Force, and his wife, Joyce, received the Distinguished Public
Servant Award.

 

Visa USA Releases Online Safety Tips, Offers Budgeting Center to Assist Last Minute Holiday Shoppers

Today Expected to Be The Busiest Online Holiday Shopping Day

Dec. 15  With reports that today will be the busiest online holiday shopping day of the year and with more and more shoppers deciding to shop from the comfort of their own homes, Visa USA is providing a few basic tips to help last minute online holiday shoppers keep their personal information safe and budget in check.

"E-commerce spending during this holiday shopping season is already up from last year," said Rosetta Jones, vice president, Visa USA. "We want to make sure that those cardholders who choose to shop online remain safe and secure and do not become unknowing victims of identity theft."

There are simple steps consumers can take to protect their personal information while shopping on the Internet. Available at http://www.visa.com/security, they include:

  * Shop only at Internet merchants you know and trust; if in doubt, check     with the Better Business Bureau, http://www.bbb.org/.    * Beware of emails offering cut-rate prices on popular toys, software or     other gifts; if the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.    * If you receive an unsolicited email from an Internet merchant, do not     click on the links within it. Instead, locate the merchant's Web site     address through a reputable search engine or type the known address.    * Check Internet merchants' refund policies; some merchants set a deadline     for returns or charge a fee to accept returned merchandise.    * Never share your passwords with anyone. Use different passwords for     different Web sites.    * Do not provide your social security number, birth date, or mother's     maiden name in an email or within a Web site.    * Ensure your computer has the latest anti-virus software installed before     shopping online.    * Always print and save the confirmation page when completing an online     purchase.    * Don't wait for paper statements. Check your credit card and bank     statements for suspicious activity by either calling your bank or     visiting your financial institution's Web site.  

Consumers using Visa-branded credit, debit, prepaid and gift cards online this holiday season can be reassured that they are protected by Visa's multiple layers of security. Should a Visa cardholder find charges on their statement they did not authorize, Visa's zero liability policy protects cardholders from unauthorized purchases if their card is ever lost or stolen. Visa's zero liability policy ensures that they pay nothing -- not a cent -- for such transactions. This is a level of protection not offered by cash, checks, gift certificates or store-issued gift cards.

To thwart online fraud, Visa cards carry a 3-digit code on the back of the card, known as the Cardholder Verification Value or, CVV2, which helps ensure that the physical card is in the cardholder's possession while shopping online or by phone.

Visa Gift cards provide an additional layer of security against in-store fraud, as well. Unlike many store-issued gift cards that are typically glued onto a piece of cardboard and exposed to consumers, the Visa Gift card number is protected and fully enclosed in tamper-evident packaging that shields the entire card, making it viewable only after the packaging has been opened. To further protect their card, cardholders can check the balance on a Visa Gift card over the Internet or by telephone.

In the unlikely event of identity theft, Visa also has programs in place to assist cardholders recover. Visa and the consumer group Call for Action, have established a free, confidential program to assist identify theft victims. Help is available by calling (toll-free) 1-866-ID-HOTLINE. Additionally, Visa has established Personal Identity Theft Coverage, which is an optional benefit for cardholders offered through participating Visa member financial institutions.

Visa's award-winning financial education program, Practical Money Skills for Life (http://www.practicalmoneyskills.com/), also features step-by-step actions consumers should take if they suspect identity theft, as well as advice for safeguarding your information.

In addition to monitoring their bank accounts and statements, consumers should also be checking that holiday budget twice. In fact, some financial planners recommend that no more than 1.5 percent of one's annual income should be spent on holiday expenses.

"Last minute holiday shopping can spell panic and problems for one's finances so making a realistic budget and sticking with it is critical to making sure holiday cheer doesn't later turn into shopper's remorse," said Alderman.

To help consumers in this area, Visa USA recently launched a free online Holiday Budgeting Center, available at http://www.practicalmoneyskills.com/holiday, to help consumers avoid the temptation to overspend this holiday shopping season.

This comprehensive Center features a variety of online tools to help consumers figure out how much to spend, along with help constructing a shopping budget and a printable gift log to track spending. There are also tools to assist with making a budget for hosting holiday parties and for travel costs, for those who are spending the holidays away from home.

About Visa

Visa USA is the nation's leading payment brand and largest payment system, enabling banks to provide their consumers and business customers with a wide variety of payment alternatives tailored to meet their evolving needs. Visa USA is committed to increasing the choice, convenience, acceptance and security of Visa payments for all stakeholders in the payment system -- members, cardholders and merchants. Through its 13,369 member financial institutions, more than 500 million Visa-branded cards have been issued to cardholders in the United States.

Worldwide, cardholders in more than 150 countries carry more than 1 billion Visa-branded cards, accounting for more than $3 trillion in annual transaction volume. VisaNet, Visa's global processing system and the world's largest financial network, processes transactions with unparalleled reliability.

Visa offers a trusted, reliable and convenient way to access and mobilize financial resources -- anytime, anywhere, anyway.

This press release is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be relied on for legal or financial advice and individuals are strongly encouraged to seek professional help to counsel them in accordance with their particular situation and needs.

Source: Visa USA

Ocean West Holding Corporation anuncia su nuevo nombre y símbolo de acciones

Nuevo símbolo (AKMN)

 December 15, 2006 -- AskMeNow (OTCBB: OWHC), líder en respuestas móviles inteligentes, anunció hoy que el nombre y el símbolo de acciones oficial de la empresa han cambiado a AskMeNow Inc., símbolo de acciones AKMN en la cartelera de NASD OTC con vigencia el 18 de diciembre de 2006.

La aprobación se basa en reciente liquidación de SEC de la Declaración de información de Cédula 14C de la empresa y los informes periódicos enmendados.

El cambio del nombre de la empresa a AskMeNow Inc. no afecta las posesiones de los inversionistas actuales y todas las inversiones realizadas a través de Ocean West Holding Corporation se transferirán al nuevo nombre y símbolo de la empresa.

Acerca de AskMeNow

AskMeNow es la manera más fácil y cómoda de acceder a información en Internet o de contenido local desde un celular o un dispositivo PDA móvil. La primera red de estilo de vida móvil, AskMeNow utiliza su tecnología patentada para ofrecer una plataforma de interacción basada en el lenguaje natural y de provisión dinámica de contenido diseñada para una recuperación simple y rápida de la información. La empresa genera ganancias a través de tarifas por uso y auspicios publicitarios móviles contextuales uno a uno. AskMeNow se lanzó oficialmente en noviembre de 2005. La empresa está basada en Irvine, California. Para obtener más información, haga clic en www.askmenow.com.

Declaraciones a futuro

Determinadas declaraciones del presente comunicado de prensa no son históricas ni hechos actuales y constituyen declaraciones a futuro dentro del significado de dicha expresión en la sección 27A de la Ley de valores de 1933 y de la sección 21E de la Ley de intercambio de valores de 1934. Dichas declaraciones a futuro implican riesgos conocidos y desconocidos, incertidumbres y otros factores que podrían hacer que los resultados financieros u operativos reales de la empresa o de AskMeNow difirieran materialmente de los resultados históricos o de cualquier resultado futuro expresado o implicado por las declaraciones a futuro. Dichas declaraciones a futuro se basan en nuestras mejores estimaciones de futuros resultados, rendimiento o logros, basadas en las condiciones actuales y en los resultados más recientes de la empresa y de AskMeNow. Además de declaraciones que explícitamente describen tales riesgos e incertidumbres, se insta a los lectores a considerar inciertas y a futuro todas las declaraciones que tengan los términos puede, va a, potencial, oportunidad, desmiente, prevé, intenta, estima, anticipa o tiene pensado. Las declaraciones a futuro que contiene el presente comunicado también están sujetas en general a otros riesgos e incertidumbres que se describen periódicamente en los informes y declaraciones de registro de la empresa presentadas ante la Comisión de valores e intercambio.

 

 

Dec 12

Iran president says Israel's to be wiped out

 

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday told delegates at an international conference questioning the Holocaust that Israel's days were numbered.

Ahmadinejad, who has sparked international outcry by referring to the killing of six million Jews in World War Two as a "myth" and calling for Israel to be "wiped off the map," launched another verbal attack on the Jewish state.

"Thanks to people's wishes and God's will the trend for the existence of the Zionist regime is downwards and this is what God has promised and what all nations want," he said.

"Just as the Soviet Union was wiped out and today does not exist, so will the Zionist regime soon be wiped out," he added.

His words received warm applause from delegates at the Holocaust conference, who included ultra-Orthodox anti-Israel Jews and European and American writers who argue the Holocaust was either fabricated or exaggerated.

The Vatican, Germany and the European Commission added their voices on Tuesday to others -- such as the United States and Israel -- who have condemned the Tehran meeting.

Iran says it organized the conference to shed light on the reasons behind the formation of the state of Israel after World War Two and to allow researchers from countries where it is a crime to question the Holocaust to speak freely.

 

 

 

Estremecedor documental sobre tráfico humano de Latinoamericanos se estrenará en enero en televisión por PBS

‘Lives for Sale’ (‘Vidas en Venta’) de producciones Maryknoll muestra por qué los inmigrantes están dispuestos a morir o a ser esclavizados

5 de diciembre de 2006--En un momento en el que la inmigración es un tema candente para los legisladores en los EE.UU., un nuevo documental examina el lado sórdido de la inmigración ilegal, inclusive el mercado negro de seres humanos. “Lives for Sale” (“Vidas en Venta”) se estrenará en las estaciones de televisión PBS en enero de 2007.

El productor ejecutivo, Larry Rich de Maryknoll, dice que el documental apunta a la esencia misma del debate sobre la inmigración.

“La miseria absoluta que empuja a la gente a arriesgarse a morir de sed en el desierto en busca de un trabajo en los EE.UU., es la misma razón por la que se exponen al peligro de ser esclavizados. Ambos riesgos son producto de la desesperación”.

Cada año más de un millón de personas arriesgan sus vidas intentando cruzar la frontera entre EE.UU. y México en busca de una vida mejor y para escapar de una pobreza devastadora. “Vidas en Venta” contrasta el llamado “sueño americano” con el peligroso viaje que cada año emprenden centroamericanos y mexicanos desesperados por la pobreza. Las mujeres son particularmente vulnerables en un mercado negro que se ensaña en los seres humanos. Esto lo ilustran dos poderosas historias que se destacan en el documental: las de una joven mexicana y una niña guatemalteca, ambas víctimas del tráfico humano, cuyas vidas son destruidas por la esclavitud sexual.

Según Rich, el tráfico de seres humanos se ha convertido en la tercera industria ilegal más grande del planeta, detrás del contrabando de drogas y el de armas.

“La mayoría de las víctimas del tráfico de seres humanos terminan como trabajadores esclavizados. Un alguacil de la Florida me dijo que lo que a simple vista puede parecer prostitución o servidumbre doméstica, cuando uno profundiza resulta ser un delito mucho más horrible en muchos sentidos”, dice Rich.

“Las víctimas cosechan nuestros alimentos, o cuidan de nuestros jardines o son blanco de nuestro desprecio por prostituirse, pero no nos damos cuenta de que son, de hecho, esclavos”.

“Vidas en Venta” revela también los trucos que los traficantes de seres humanos usan para hacer caer a sus víctimas en la trampa de la floreciente red de contrabando de inmigrantes. El cruce de la frontera está lleno de peligros que van del robo y las lesiones graves hasta la muerte. Los relatos cobran vida en boca de los propios inmigrantes, de personas que los ayudaron en el camino, de contrabandistas y de agentes de seguridad pública.

 

 

Largent Applauds Congress for Supporting Key
Wireless Legislation


WASHINGTON, DC – Prior to the adjournment of the 109th Congress, Members considered and passed a number of important wireless initiatives that will; protect consumer privacy, aid military personnel overseas, enhance interoperable telecommunications systems for law enforcement personnel and first responders on the home front, and extend important tax credits for research and development of next generation wireless services.

Chief among the wireless bills was HR 4709, The Telephone Records and Privacy Protection Act, which is a measure designed to make the act of "pre-texting" a federal crime. Pre-texting is a term used to describe how individuals fraudulently obtain a phone user's call records through elaborate impersonation schemes and then make the records available for sale. CTIA – The Wireless Association® made outlawing pre-texting on the federal level one of its top priorities for 2006.

"The wireless industry jealously guards their customers' privacy," said CTIA – The Wireless Association® President and CEO Steve Largent. "Pre-texting is fraud - pure and simple - and I applaud Congress for moving to put a strong federal law on the books which expressly makes this form of identity theft illegal. While wireless carriers will continue to take aggressive steps to protect themselves and their customers from this illegal activity, passage of this bill will serve as a significant and meaningful deterrent," continued Largent.

Congress also passed S 2653, known as the Call Home Act of 2006. The legislation would not only direct the Federal Communications Commission to take efforts to reduce telephone rates for Armed Forces personnel overseas, but would also direct the Department of Commerce, in consultation with the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, to award no less than $1 billion for public safety interoperable communications grants no later than September 30, 2007.

"The Call Home Act will assist our best and bravest as they stay in-touch with their families, friends and loved ones while serving our country overseas," said Largent. "And on the home front, the legislation ensures that needed resources are deployed so that law enforcement and first responders are equipped with the interoperable telecommunications services and systems they need to keep our nation safe and secure."

Finally, Congress passed HR 6111, The Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006, which includes an extension of the Research and Development tax credit through 2007. This initiative has a demonstrated track record of encouraging industry to devote resources to the development of innovative, next-generation wireless services here in the United States.

"This is an important piece of legislation because it will help keep America on the forefront of wireless innovation," said Largent. "This bill is a winner for the American economy, for the American worker and for the American consumer, who today relies so heavily upon advanced wireless services."

###
 

 

Specter Criticizes Cablevision Absence

Specter's committee continues to eye the cable sports business looking for possible violations of antitrust law.
 
In a follow-up to a hearing last month in which the NFL got roughed up for an effort to seed its fledgling NFL Network with regular season games, the committee, still headed by Specter through the lame duck session, took another crack at the issue of whether consumers are being fairly treated by sports leagues and cable companies, whether antitrust laws are being violated, or whether the laws need to be adjusted.
 
Specter was particularly interested in whether Congress should step in to close the so-called terrestrial loophole. Per the 1992 Cable Act, operators must provide programming to multichannel video competitors at reasonable rates. But the requirement applies only to satellite-delivered programming, not to terrestrially-delivered networks.
 
Another key issue for the committee was the 2007 sunset on the ban on exclusive contracts between cable operators and programmers in which they have an attributable interest. The issue is key for FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, too, who on Wednesday said he wanted the FCC to open an inquiry into whether maintaining that ban was necessary to assure access to programming.

Mark Cooper of the Consumer Federation of America said that rising cable prices, discrimination in program provision and anti-consumer bundling of programming were all justifications for program access rules, saying cable operators had built barriers to entry. He said that cable should be required to unbundle its programming, allowing consumers to provide some market discipline on the cable industry.
 
While the FCC has placed program-access conditions on the mergers of DirecTV and News Corp. and the divvying up of Adelphia between Comcast and Time Warner, James Baller of the Baller Herbst Group, a law firm that represents state and local governments on telecommunications issues, said that protecting access on a merger-by-merger basis was not sufficient, and that Congress needed to pass unambiguous program-access laws.


 

Bush, Blair Affirm Commitment to Victory in Iraq 

Victory in Iraq requires doing all that's
necessary to support the country's newly elected government, ensuring its
regional neighbors do the same, and promoting peace between Israel and
the Palestinian Authority, President Bush and British Prime Minister
Tony Blair said today.

Bush and Blair addressed the White House press corps following a White
House meeting that focused on Iraq and recommendations of the Iraq
Study Group report, released yesterday.

Bush said success in Iraq hasn't come as quickly as he expected, and he
acknowledged that the United States and Great Britain are facing "a
difficult moment" as they consider new approaches. While they consider
options, including those recommended by the Iraq Study Group, Bush said,
he and Blair continue to share a fundamental belief in the importance of
victory in Iraq.

"It's important for the Iraqi people," the president said. "It's
important for the security of the United States and Great Britain. It's
important for the civilized world.

"We agree that an Iraq that can govern itself, defend itself and
sustain itself as an ally in the war on terror is a noble goal."

Bush called the rise in sectarian attacks in and around Baghdad
"unsettling" and blamed Sunni and Shiite extremists within Iraq, as well as
foreign terrorists, for using them to derail democratic progress.

"We'll support the democratic government of (Iraqi) Prime Minister
(Nouri al-) Maliki as he makes difficult decisions and confronts the forces
of terror and extremism that are working hard to tear his country
apart," the president said.

The U.S. and British commitment to support Maliki's government
transcends the two countries' longstanding alliance, Bush said.

"We're standing together because our two nations face an unprecedented
threat to civilization," he said. "We're standing together to prevent
terrorists and extremists from dominating the Middle East. We stand
together to prevent extremists from regaining the safe haven they lost in
Afghanistan, a safe haven from which they launched attacks that killed
thousands of our citizens."

By standing together with Iraq, the U.S. and Great Britain are
protecting their own countries, Bush said. "We know the only way to secure
peace for ourselves is to help millions of moms and dads across the Middle
East build what our citizens already have: a society that's based on
liberty, that will allow children to grow up in peace and opportunity,"
he said.

Blair noted that the direction Iraq takes will have longstanding
regional and global consequences. He pointed to the history of instability in
the region and emphasized that a big part of resolving it boils down to
promoting the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian
Authority.

Ultimately, the situation in the Middle East will go only one of two
ways, Blair said. "Its people can either be presented with a choice
between a secular or a religious dictatorship, which is not a choice that
any free people would ever choose," he said. "Or, alternatively, they can
enjoy the same possibilities of democracy that we hold dear in our
countries." 
 

 

The Iraq Study Group released its findings
today in a report made available this morning to President Bush and
Congress, and later to the general public.

"We believe that the situation in Iraq today is very, very serious,"
former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton, co-chair of the bipartisan panel
commissioned by Congress to examine the way ahead in Iraq, said at a news
conference following the report's release.

"We do not know if it can be turned around, but we think we have an
obligation to try, and if the recommendations that we have made are
effectively implemented, there is at least a chance that you can see
established a stable government in Iraq and stability in the region," Hamilton
said. "The task ahead of us is daunting -- very, very difficult -- and
we recognize that, but it is not by any means lost."

Members of the study group agree with the administration's goal in
Iraq: to create a country that can govern, sustain and defend itself,
former Secretary of State James Baker, co-chair of the group, said at the
news conference. However, the group believes a new approach is needed in
Iraq, he said.

"As a matter of humanitarian concern, as a matter of national interest,
and as a matter of practical necessity, it is time to find a new way
forward, a new approach," Baker said.

The report recommends a five-fold increase in the number of U.S. forces
training Iraqi troops, he said, but does not endorse a large-scale
increase in U.S. forces overall, a "stay the course" solution, or a
division of Iraq into three autonomous regions.

The Iraq Study Group included a total of 79 recommendations in its
report, Baker said. These recommendations cover military, political and
diplomatic issues, as well as criminal justice, oil, reconstruction, the
U.S. budget process, the training of U.S. government personnel, and U.S.
intelligence, he said.

The group's three most important recommendations are equally important
and reinforce each other, Baker said. The first is a change in the
primary mission of U.S. forces in Iraq that will enable the U.S. to move
its combat forces out of Iraq responsibly. The second recommendation is
prompt action by the Iraqi government to achieve milestones,
particularly on national reconciliation. The third is a new and enhanced
diplomatic and political effort in Iraq and in the region.


"The primary mission of U.S. forces in Iraq should evolve to one of
supporting the Iraqi army, which would take over primary responsibility
for combat operations," the group's report states. "By the first quarter
of 2008, subject to unexpected developments in the security situation
on the ground, all combat brigades not necessary for force protection
could be out of Iraq.

"At that time, U.S. combat forces in Iraq could be deployed only in
units embedded with Iraqi forces, in rapid-reaction and special operations
teams, and in training, equipping, advising, force protection, and
search and rescue," the report states. "Intelligence and support efforts
would continue. A vital mission of those rapid reaction and special
operations forces would be to undertake strikes against al Qaeda in Iraq."

It is clear that the Iraqi government will need assistance from the
United States for some time to come, especially in carrying out security
responsibilities, according to the report.

"Yet the United States must make it clear to the Iraqi government that
the United States could carry out its plans, including planned
redeployments, even if the Iraqi government did not implement their planned
changes," it states. "The United States must not make an open-ended
commitment to keep large numbers of American troops deployed in Iraq."


"Our group offers and supports each and every one of our
recommendations unanimously," Baker said. "We of course recognize that some people
will differ with some of these recommendations; we nevertheless hope very
much that in moving forward, others will wish to continue to broaden
and deepen the bipartisan spirit that has helped us to come together."

Hamilton and Baker both said that if the group's recommendations are
effectively implemented, the chances for success in Iraq will be greatly
improved.

After receiving the report this morning, President Bush pledged to take
the recommendations seriously and act in a timely fashion. "This report
gives a very tough assessment of the situation in Iraq," Bush said. "It
is a report that brings some really very interesting proposals, and we
will take every proposal seriously, and we will act in a timely
fashion."

 Iraq Study Group report

Add more troops, try diplomacy then cut and run because it is unpopular to be there.

The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating. There is no path that can guarantee success.

"Our most important recommendations call for new and enhanced diplomatic and political efforts in Iraq and the region, and a change in the primary mission of U.S. forces in Iraq that will enable the United States to begin to move its combat forces out of Iraq responsibly. We believe that these two recommendations are equally important and reinforce one another. If they are effectively implemented, and if the Iraqi government moves forward with national reconciliation, Iraqis will have an opportunity for a better future, terrorism will be dealt a blow, stability will be enhanced in an important part of the world, and America's credibility, interests and values will be protected."

"If the situation continues to deteriorate, the consequences could be severe. A slide toward chaos could trigger the collapse of Iraq's government and a humanitarian catastrophe. Neighboring countries could intervene. Sunni-Shia clashes could spread. Al-Qaida could win a propaganda victory and expand its base of operations. The global standing of the United States could be diminished. Americans could become more polarized."

"During the past nine months we have considered a full range of approaches for moving forward. All have flaws. Our recommended course has shortcomings, but we firmly believe that it includes the best strategies and tactics to positively influence the outcome in Iraq and the region." 

"The United States should immediately launch a new diplomatic offensive to build an international consensus for stability in Iraq and the region. This diplomatic effort should include every country that has an interest in avoiding a chaotic Iraq, including all of Iraq's neighbors. Iraq's neighbors and key states in and outside the region should form a support group to reinforce security and national reconciliation within Iraq, neither of which Iraq can achieve on its own."

 Given the ability of Iran and Syria to influence events within Iraq and their interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq, the United States should try to engage them constructively. In seeking to influence the behavior of both countries, the United States has disincentives and incentives available. Iran should stem the flow of arms and training to Iraq, respect Iraq's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and use its influence over Iraqi Shia groups to encourage national reconciliation. The issue of Iran's nuclear programs should continue to be dealt with by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany. Syria should control its border with Iraq to stem the flow of funding, insurgents and terrorists in and out of Iraq.

"The United States cannot achieve its goals in the Middle East unless it deals directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict and regional instability. There must be a renewed and sustained commitment by the United States to a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace on all fronts: Lebanon, Syria and President Bush's June 2002 commitment to a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. This commitment must include direct talks with, by and between Israel, Lebanon, Palestinians — those who accept Israel's right to exist — and Syria.

"As the United States develops its approach toward Iraq and the Middle East, the United States should provide additional political, economic and military support for Afghanistan, including resources that might become available as combat forces are moved out of Iraq."

"The primary mission of U.S. forces in Iraq should evolve to one of supporting the Iraqi army, which would take over primary responsibility for combat operations. By the first quarter of 2008, subject to unexpected developments in the security situation on the ground, all combat brigades not necessary for force protection could be out of Iraq. At that time, U.S. combat forces in Iraq could be deployed only in units embedded with Iraqi forces, in rapid-reaction and special operations teams and in training, equipping, advising, force protection and search and rescue. Intelligence and support efforts would continue. A vital mission of those rapid reaction and special operations forces would be to undertake strikes against al-Qaida in Iraq."

 

 

 

Dec. 4, 2006 - A Marine died yesterday in the crash of a
CH-46 Chinook helicopter in western Anbar Province, Iraq. Three other
servicemembers are missing following the accident.


A U.S. Marine Corps CH-46 helicopter from 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing made
an emergency water landing with 16 personnel on board, including the
crew. The accident does not appear to have been caused by enemy action,
officials said.

Thirteen passengers were accounted for yesterday. During
search-and-rescue operations, one Marine was recovered from the water, but attempts
to resuscitate him were unsuccessful. Search-and-recovery efforts are
ongoing for the remaining three unaccounted servicemembers, officials
said.

"Every available resource is being utilized to find the missing
servicemembers," Multinational Corps Iraq officials said in a statement.

Elsewhere in Iraq, four soldiers and a Marine have been killed in two
incidents.

Two Task Force Lightning soldiers assigned to 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry
Division, were killed and two others wounded yesterday in an explosion
near their vehicle in Multinational Division North. The two wounded
soldiers were transported to coalition medical treatment facilities.

Two soldiers assigned to 1st Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters
Group and a Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Dec. 2 from
wounds suffered due to enemy action in Anbar province.

Iraq: Numbers Get Even Worse

Despite overall negative attitude, 83 percent give U.S. solders positive rating

ROCHESTER, N.Y., Dec. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- The latest Harris Poll of public attitudes on the situation in Iraq makes for depressing reading. Most of the numbers are worse than they have ever been in the course of more than three years. For example, those who believe that the situation for U.S. troops "is getting better" has now fallen to nine percent, compared to 17 percent in September 2006 and 22 percent in January of this year.

 TABLE 1

RATING OF PRESIDENT BUSH - HANDLING OF IRAQ

"Overall, how would you rate the job President Bush has done in handling the                issue of Iraq over the last several months?"    Base: All Adults                                                          2003                                       March  April   May   July   Sept   Nov                                         %      %      %      %      %      %   Positive (NET)                       56     67     63     49     47     41   Excellent                            29     38     34     21     16     15   Pretty good                          27     29     28     29     31     26   Negative (NET)                       43     32     36     50     51     58   Only fair                            16     15     18     22     19     19   Poor                                 27     17     18     28     32     38   Not sure                              1      1      1      1      2      1                                                           2004                                Jan  March  April  May  June  July  Sept  Dec                                  %     %     %     %     %     %     %     %   Positive (NET)                51    49    43    42    41    39    41    42   Excellent                     20    18    15    13    13    15    14    12   Pretty good                   31    31    29    29    27    24    27    30   Negative (NET)                46    49    55    56    58    58    58    57   Only fair                     20    19    18    18    19    17    17    19   Poor                          26    30    37    39    39    40    41    37   Not sure                       2     2     2     2     1     3     2     2                                      2005                       2006                  Jan  March May July Sept  Oct  Dec  Jan March May Sept  Nov                    %    %    %    %    %    %    %    %    %    %    %    %   Positive (NET)  39   42   37   34   34   32   29   36   30   29   32   26   Excellent       13   18   13   11   10   11    9   12    8    9    9    7   Pretty good     26   24   24   23   24   21   20   25   21   20   23   20   Negative (NET)  59   56   61   64   65   66   68   61   68   68   64   71   Only fair       17   20   19   20   18   16   17   20   20   21   22   21   Poor            42   36   42   44   46   50   52   41   48   47   42   50   Not sure         2    2    2    2    2    2    2    3    3    3    4    2    Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.                                    TABLE 2          CONFIDENCE THAT U.S. POLICIES IN IRAQ WILL BE SUCCESSFUL   "How confident are you that U.S. policies in Iraq will be successful?"   Base: All Adults                  2003                           2004              Sept  Nov   Jan   Feb  March  April  May  June  July  Sept  Dec                %     %     %     %     %     %     %     %     %     %     %   Confident   27    25    31    31    31    26    25    25    26    29    29   Not    confident  46    51    45    48    46    52    55    53    51    54    51   Not sure    27    24    24    22    22    22    20    22    23    18    20                                      2005                       2006                   Jan  March May July Sept  Oct  Dec Jan March May Sept  Nov                     %    %    %    %    %    %    %    %    %    %    %    %   Confident        25   30   26   23   23   24   22   26   20   22   20   17   Not confident    56   49   54   59   59   61   62   55   61   61   61   63   Not sure         19   21   20   19   18   15   16   20   20   18   19   19    Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.                                    TABLE 3                MILITARY ACTION - RIGHT OR WRONG THING TO DO   "Thinking about everything that has happened, do you think that taking     military action against Iraq was the right or wrong thing to do?"   Base: All Adults                          2003                    2004                        Sept  Nov  Jan  Feb March April May June July Sept Dec                         %    %    %    %    %    %    %    %    %    %    %   Right thing          55   49   55   52   51   49   47   44   43   43   43   Wrong thing          32   37   31   34   33   37   38   42   42   43   43   Not sure             13   13   15   14   16   14   14   14   15   13   14                                      2005                       2006                    Jan March  May July Sept  Oct  Dec Jan March  May Sept Nov                     %    %    %    %    %    %    %    %    %    %    %    %   Right thing      39   41   39   38   37   34   35   40   37   38   39   36   Wrong thing      46   45   48   49   49   53   53   46   48   47   44   46   Not sure         15   15   13   14   14   13   12   13   15   15   17   18                                             2004                       Jan   Feb  March April  May  June  July  Sept  Dec                       %     %     %     %     %     %     %     %     %   Getting better     24    22    24     9    11    19    18    15    18   Getting worse      36    38    38    64    65    49    45    54    50   No real change     31    31    30    20    19    26    30    26    25   Not sure            8     9     8     6     5     6     7     6     6                                      2005                       2006                   Jan March  May July Sept  Oct  Dec  Jan March May Sept  Nov                    %    %    %    %    %    %    %    %    %    %    %    %   Getting better  13   21   21   17   19   19   20   22   17   20   17    9   Getting worse   53   41   39   44   43   44   43   36   46   43   45   58   No real change  28   33   34   35   33   33   32   35   32   31   31   27   Not sure         6    6    6    4    5    4    5    7    6    5    7    6

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.

TABLE 5

RATINGS OF SOLDIERS, MILITARY LEADERS, IRAQI GOVERNMENT AND SECURITY FORCES

 

With one exception (sampling error) the magnitude of the errors that result cannot be estimated. There is, therefore, no way to calculate a finite "margin of error" for any survey and the use of these words should be avoided.

With pure probability samples, with 100 percent response rates, it is possible to calculate the probability that the sampling error (but not other sources of error) is not greater than some number. With a pure probability sample of 2,429 adults one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 2 percentage points. However that does not take other sources of error into account. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

  

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