Saturday, January 31, 2009

Obama Ignores Existing Federal Economic Stimulus Plans

30 Jan 2009 14:00 Africa/Lagos

Obama Ignores Existing Federal Economic Stimulus Plans

PETALUMA, Calif., Jan. 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- President Barack Obama's current economic stimulus plan makes no mention of any provisions to address a myriad of problems that have been uncovered in existing federal programs designed to stimulate the economy and create jobs.

The Small Business Act of 1953 was one of the first economic stimulus plans adopted by the United States government. The purpose of the Small Business Act was to direct federal infrastructure funds to small businesses where over half of Americans work and where the overwhelming majority of new jobs are created. Since 1953, the Small Business Act has spawned a number of federal programs designed to stimulate the national economy and create jobs by assisting small businesses and firms owned by women, minorities and veterans.

During the Bush Administration, many of the programs were damaged by severe budget cuts and attempts by Bush officials to dismantle the Small Business Administration and its programs. (

Since 2003, over a dozen federal investigations have been released that found fraud, abuse, loopholes and a dramatic lack of proper oversight in virtually every federal program established to assist small businesses. (

The single largest problem that has been uncovered is the diversion of up to $100 billion a year in federal small business contracts to Fortune 500 firms and hundreds of other large businesses. ABC, CBS and CNN all released investigative stories that found billions of dollars in federal small business contracts had actually gone to corporate giants such as Wal-Mart, Microsoft, Home Depot, John Deere, Xerox, General Dynamics and European conglomerates like British Aerospace, Rolls Royce and Burhmann NV headquartered in Holland. (ABC,; CBS,; CNN,

In March of 2005, the Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General issued Report 5-15 which stated, "One of the most important challenges facing the Small Business Administration and the entire Federal government today is that large businesses are receiving small business procurement awards and agencies are receiving credit for these awards." (

Federal law currently stipulates that a minimum of 23 percent of the total value of all federal contracts and subcontracts shall be awarded to small businesses. The American Small Business League (ASBL) estimates that if President Obama's economic stimulus plan includes provisions to stop the diversion of federal small business contracts to corporate giants, over $100 billion a year in additional federal infrastructure funds could be redirected to middle class firms and create millions of jobs with minimal expense to taxpayers.

Source: American Small Business League
CONTACT: Christopher Gunn, Communications Director,
American SmallBusiness League, +1-707-789-9575,

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

American Times News Update

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25 Jan 2009
Miss Indiana Katie Stam Wins 2009 Miss America Pageant

25 Jan 2009 05:42 Africa/Lagos

Miss Indiana Katie Stam Wins 2009 Miss America Pageant

LAS VEGAS, Jan. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Miss Indiana Katie Stam from Seymour, Indiana was crowned Miss America 2009 tonight at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. The final night of the Miss America Pageant was broadcast from Las Vegas on TLC.

(Photo: )

Katie's triumphant walk across the stage was just the beginning of a journey that will take her to every corner of the country during her year of service as Miss America 2009. She will travel approximately 20,000 miles each month speaking to audiences about her platform of Passion for Service: Promoting Community Service and Involvement and acting as the official National Goodwill Ambassador for Children's Miracle Network. Children's Miracle Network, a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children by raising funds for children's hospitals, is the national platform partner of the Miss America Organization.

Katie is a student at the University of Indianapolis. Her scholastic ambition is to earn her bachelor's degree in Communication with an emphasis on electronic media and she ultimately hopes to become a television news reporter and anchor. Along with the title of Miss America 2009, Katie won a $50,000 scholarship to continue her education. For the talent portion of the competition, Katie sang "Via Dolorosa."

The first runner-up was Miss Georgia Chasity Hardman, who earned a $25,000 scholarship. Her talent performance was the song, "Home" for the musical, The Wiz and her personal platform is Boys and Girls Club of America: DREAMing Through Music.

Second runner-up honors and a $20,000 scholarship were awarded to Miss Iowa Olivia Myers. Her talent was a tap dance to "Fever", and her personal platform is Teaching Tolerance: Fostering a Just and Caring Culture from the Classroom Out."

Miss Indiana Katie Stam, Miss South Dakota Alexandra Hoffman, Miss Georgia Chasity Hardman, and Miss Alabama Amanda Tapley were the winners of TLC's America's Choice, an online competition where viewers got the opportunity to vote four Miss America contestants into the Top 15. The contestants were announced at the beginning of the 2009 Miss America Pageant broadcast.

As the world's largest provider of scholarship assistance for young women and one of the nation's leading achievement programs, the Miss America Organization last year made available more than $45 million in cash and scholarship assistance. The Miss America Organization provides young women with a vehicle to further their personal and professional goals and instills a spirit of community service through a variety of nationwide community-based programs.

Additional information about the Miss America Organization can be found at

For up-to-the-minute competition news and information, as well as downloadable high-resolution images of Miss America 2009 Katie Stam and the 2009 contestants, visit the 24-hour online pressroom at

To download photos of tonight's crowning moment, go to

PRN Photo Desk,
Source: The Miss America Organization

CONTACT: Sharon Pearce of the Miss America Organization, +1-609-653-8700
x117, or

Web Site:

The Sound That Changed America: Motown Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary

The Supremes


SANTA MONICA, CA January 28, 2009 /PRNewswire/ — As an irresistible force of social and cultural change, Berry Gordy's legendary Motown Records made its mark not just on the music industry, but society at large, with a sound that that has become one of the most significant musical accomplishments and stunning success stories of the 20th century. Diana Ross & The Supremes, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations,, the The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson & The Jackson 5, Lionel Richie & The Commodores,, The Contours, and Martha and the Vandellas., Gladys Knight & the Pips, their music communicated and brought together a racially divided country and segregated society, around the world, touching all people of all ages and race. No other record company in history has exerted such an enormous influence on both the style and substance of popular music and culture. With more than 180 No. 1 hit songs worldwide and counting, that influence is still being felt today, from pop to hip-hop, Motown celebrates the 50th anniversary of the company's founding.

Motown, of course, stands for more than just the historic music. The label and its remarkable legacy is a reflection of the hard work of dedicated individuals overcoming incredible obstacles to achieve great success. Nearly a half-century ago, on January 12, 1959, to be exact, a young African-American songwriter named Berry Gordy founded Tamla Records with a loan of $800 from his family, marking the birth of the "Motown Records Corporation." A man of vision, drive, talent and determination, Berry Gordy was also a producer, innovative entrepreneur, and teacher. The phenomenal success of Motown Records is a tribute to all that he embodies and all the talent that he brought out in others. Under his leadership, and through determination and support of the Motown family of artists, Gordy forged new grounds for minorities and made the "Motown Sound" a worldwide phenomenon beloved by millions.

Berry Gordy always learned from all his experiences and applied them to his business. He put the tedious time he spent working on the assembly line at Detroit's Lincoln-Mercury automobile plant to good use: "Every day I watched how a bare metal frame, rolling down the line would come off the other end, a spanking brand new car. What a great idea! Maybe, I could do the same thing with my music. Create a place where a kid off the street could walk in one door, an unknown, go through a process, and come out another door, a star." That little thought that came to him while running up and down that assembly line became a reality we now know as "Motown."
When Motown was housed in its famed "Hitsville U.S.A." offices at 2648 West Grand Boulevard in Detroit, it was not just a location; history would be made there. In fact, Berry Gordy created a twenty-four hour hit-making and artist development factory, nurturing the artistic talent of the singers, writers, producers, as well as, corporate executives. Today, Motown is not only the greatest pop music hit factory ever heard, but an institution, a state of mind, a way of life, a style, the "Sound of Young America." The distinctive, upbeat and uplifting music brought together pop and soul, white and black, old and young, like never before and continues to this day. Regardless of race or social background, teenage girls admired Diana Ross and teenage boys pretended to be Smokey Robinson. Motown became the heartbeat of American pop music. With multi-platinum artists ranging from the Miracles, Temptations, Four Tops and Supremes to Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Jackson 5, the House That Gordy Built had and has no rival. Motown defined the term "crossover" not only on record and stage, but also behind the scenes. After breaking down barriers and having pop radio embrace Motown artists, Berry Gordy set his sights on television. He booked his artists on popular shows such as American Bandstand and the Ed Sullivan Show, making history as the first African-American artists on these shows. After captivating national audiences with repeat performances on The Ed Sullivan Show, The Supremes were the first R&B act to play the country's most prestigious night club, New York's Copacabana, which paved the way for other R&B acts into the top cabaret circuits around the world.
Motown was the first African-American-owned record label to reach widespread national acclaim, Motown broke down racial prejudice by becoming the most successful independent record company in history and the most successful African-American owned business in America.

After Gordy purchased that first Detroit property, he converted the garage into a small recording studio and the kitchen into the control room. The company's first signing was the Miracles, led by Smokey Robinson, and its first release was Marv Johnson's "Come to Me," January 21, 1959. But its first major hit was Barrett Strong's "Money (That's What I Want)," a song co-written by Gordy himself, which reached #2 on Billboard's R&B chart in 1960. A year later, the Miracles would score the company's first million seller with "Shop Around." That same year, teen girl group the Marvelettes landed the company's first pop No. 1, "Please Mr. Postman," while the label signed two young groups, the Supremes and the Temptations. Within three years, those two groups would lead Motown into the mainstream, when the Supremes launched an unprecedented string of five consecutive No. 1 hits, starting with "Where Did Our Love Go," while the Temptations released the eternal Motown classic, "My Girl." In 1968 the company had five records out of the Top 10 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart and accomplished another unprecedented feat by seizing the top three spots for a full month.

Upon his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, Motown's founder was given the following tribute: "Gordy endeavored to reach across the racial divide with music that could touch all people, regardless of the color of their skin. Under his tutelage, Motown became a model of black capitalism, pride and self-expression and a repository for some of the greatest talent ever assembled at one company… Motown's stable of singers, songwriters, producers and musicians took the concept of simple, catchy pop songs to a whole new level of sophistication and, thanks to the music's roots in gospel and blues, visceral intensity… After Motown, black popular music would never again be dismissed as a minority taste… Aesthetically no less than commercially, Motown's achievements will likely remain unrivaled and untoppable."
Today, the label is part of the Universal Music Group, with its classic recorded music catalog managed by Universal Music Enterprises (UMe). The timeless songs from Motown between 1959 and 1985 are represented by EMI Music Publishing.
From late 2008 to the end of 2009, Universal Music Group and EMI Music Publishing will mark the historic Detroit label's musical achievements with a series of initiatives. Notably, Universal Music Enterprises will issue monthly music releases in both physical and digital formats, with bonus tracks enhancing these packages. Details will be announced as each new package approaches.

Also upcoming throughout the celebration are releases of classic Motown Television specials in a series of DVD collections and INSIDE MOTOWN, a multi-part documentary on how the company was built.

Press Contacts:
Sujata Murthy
Jonathan Wolfson
Wolfson PR

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

NEWSWEEK Cover: I Got It Bad

In the February 2 issue of Newsweek (on newsstands January 26), "I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)," Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria writes about the challenges President Obama will face in order to fix the economy and restore America's credibility. Plus: Daniel Gross on our "Yes, We Can" president in a "No, We Can't" economy; Somali-Americans recruited for jihad; what makes some people survive; what Obama's presidency means for racial equality; and Newsweek's Oscar Roundtable with six Hollywood stars.(PRNewsFoto/NEWSWEEK) NEW YORK, NY UNITED STATES 01/25/2009

25 Jan 2009 17:04 Africa/Lagos

NEWSWEEK Cover: I Got It Bad

President Obama Needs To Act Quickly and on a Massive Scale To Fix the Economy

"We Have Not Turned the Corner. In Fact, We Can't Even See the Corner Right Now."

NEW YORK, Jan. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- In an essay opening the February 2 Newsweek cover package, "I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)" (on newsstands Monday, January 26), Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria writes that President Barack Obama will have to quickly start planning for a set of more extraordinary measures to pull the United States out of its current, unsustainable economic condition. "The American financial system is effectively broken. Major banks are moving toward insolvency, and credit activity remains extremely weak. As long as the financial sector remains moribund, American consumers and companies -- who collectively make up 80 percent of GDP -- will not have access to credit, and economic activity cannot really resume on any significant scale. We have not turned the corner. In fact, we can't even see the corner right now," he writes.

(Photo: )

"President Obama faces a terrible dilemma. He needs to act quickly and on a massive scale," Zakaria writes. Without large scale action, the financial system will keep bleeding, but the American public believes that we have already spent far too much on bailing out the banks. Zakaria argues that the economic fact is that we have not spent enough. Even worse, "this current crisis has resulted in a deep erosion of American power that we have not fully understood. Even in the depths of the Iraq War, when much of the globe was enraged by George W. Bush's unilateralism, people everywhere believed that the United States had the world's most advanced economy and that its capital markets in particular were the most sophisticated and developed." That system is now seen across the world as a sham, and the attitudes of officials and businessmen range from shock to rage at what they see in the United States.

"When he began his run for the White House, Barack Obama thought he could restore American power and leadership by righting our foreign policy, winding down the Iraq War, closing Guantanamo, ending torture. These are all important policies, and I am glad that he is pursuing them. But right now, the most important way for him to restore America's credibility and influence in the world is to rescue the American model," Zakaria writes.

Also in the cover package, Senior Editor Daniel Gross writes how more and more companies and firms are deciding to forgo the work of restructuring their finances, and instead selling off their inventory and closing. "Rather than soldier on, many operators have opted to simply fold, returning money to investors. Companies, homeowners and money managers willing to quit rather than fight is both a symptom of the nation's deep economic woes and emblematic of the challenge the Obama administration faces," Gross writes. "Our 'Yes, We Can' president is going to have to fix a 'No, We Can't' economy."

(Read cover package at


The Quitter Economy:

AP Archive:
AP PhotoExpress Network: PRN1
PRN Photo Desk,
Source: Newsweek

CONTACT: Katherine Barna, +1-212-445-4859, of Newsweek

Web site:

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Comment of Senator Patrick Leahy on President Obama's Decision to Reverse The 'Mexico City' Policy

24 Jan 2009 01:13 Africa/Lagos

Comment of Senator Patrick Leahy on President Obama's Decision to Reverse The 'Mexico City' Policy

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement by Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Chairman, U.S. Senate Subcommittee on State Department And Foreign Operations:
"President Obama has lifted a misguided, counterproductive and discriminatory policy that harms many and helps no one. This will enable us to help women space births and reduce infant mortality, while preventing abortions, unwanted pregnancies and pregnancy-related deaths, without a single taxpayer dollar being used for abortion. I hope this first step leads to a broader strategy to improve living standards in the world's poorest regions through family planning, maternal and child health care, and promoting adoption of orphans and abandoned children."

Source: Office of U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy
CONTACT: David Carle of the Office of Office of Sen. Patrick Leahy,

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Friday, January 23, 2009

81st Academy Awards® Nominations Announced

January 22, 2009
CONTACT: Teni Melidonian - (310) 247-3090
Toni Thompson – (310) 247-3090

81st Academy Awards® Nominations Announced

Beverly Hills, CA — Nominations for the 81st Academy Awards were announced today (Thursday, January 22) by Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Sid Ganis and Oscar® winner Forest Whitaker.

Ganis and Whitaker, who won an Academy Award® for his lead performance in “The Last King of Scotland” (2006), announced the nominees in 10 of the 24 categories at a 5:38 a.m. PT live news conference attended by more than 400 international media representatives. Lists of nominations in all categories then were distributed to the news media in attendance and via the Internet on the official Academy Awards Web site,

Academy members from each of the branches vote to determine the nominees in their respective categories – actors nominate actors, film editors nominate film editors, etc. In the Animated Feature Film and Foreign Language Film categories, nominations are selected by vote of multi-branch screening committees. All voting members are eligible to select the Best Picture nominees.

Nominations ballots were mailed to the 5,810 voting members in late December and were returned directly to Pricewaterhouse-Coopers, the international accounting firm, for tabulation.

Official screenings of all motion pictures with one or more nominations will begin for members this weekend at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater. Screenings also will be held at the Academy's Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood and in London, New York and San Francisco.

All active and life members of the Academy are eligible to select the winners in all categories, although in five of them – Animated Short Film, Live Action Short Film, Documentary Feature, Documentary Short Subject and Foreign Language Film members can vote only if they have seen all of the nominated films in those categories.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2008 will be presented on Sunday, February 22, 2009, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.


Nominations for the 81st Academy Awards

Performance by an actor in a leading role
• Richard Jenkins in “The Visitor” (Overture Films)
• Frank Langella in “Frost/Nixon” (Universal)
• Sean Penn in “Milk” (Focus Features)
• Brad Pitt in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
• Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler” (Fox Searchlight)

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
• Josh Brolin in “Milk” (Focus Features)
• Robert Downey Jr. in “Tropic Thunder” (DreamWorks, Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount)
• Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Doubt” (Miramax)
• Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.)
• Michael Shannon in “Revolutionary Road” (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage)

Performance by an actress in a leading role
• Anne Hathaway in “Rachel Getting Married” (Sony Pictures Classics)
• Angelina Jolie in “Changeling” (Universal)
• Melissa Leo in “Frozen River” (Sony Pictures Classics)
• Meryl Streep in “Doubt” (Miramax)
• Kate Winslet in “The Reader” (The Weinstein Company)

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
• Amy Adams in “Doubt” (Miramax)
• Penélope Cruz in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (The Weinstein Company)
• Viola Davis in “Doubt” (Miramax)
• Taraji P. Henson in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
• Marisa Tomei in “The Wrestler” (Fox Searchlight)

Best animated feature film of the year
• “Bolt” (Walt Disney), Chris Williams and Byron Howard
• “Kung Fu Panda” (DreamWorks Animation, Distributed by Paramount), John Stevenson and Mark Osborne
• “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Andrew Stanton

Achievement in art direction
• “Changeling” (Universal), Art Direction: James J. Murakami, Set Decoration: Gary Fettis
• “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Art Direction: Donald Graham Burt, Set Decoration: Victor J. Zolfo
• “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Art Direction: Nathan Crowley, Set Decoration: Peter Lando
• “The Duchess” (Paramount Vantage, Pathé and BBC Films), Art Direction: Michael Carlin, Set Decoration: Rebecca Alleway
• “Revolutionary Road” (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage), Art Direction: Kristi Zea, Set Decoration: Debra Schutt

Achievement in cinematography
• “Changeling” (Universal), Tom Stern
• “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Claudio Miranda
• “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Wally Pfister
• “The Reader” (The Weinstein Company), Chris Menges and Roger Deakins
• “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Anthony Dod Mantle

Achievement in costume design
• “Australia” (20th Century Fox), Catherine Martin
• “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Jacqueline West
• “The Duchess” (Paramount Vantage, Pathé and BBC Films), Michael O’Connor
• “Milk” (Focus Features), Danny Glicker
• “Revolutionary Road” (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage), Albert Wolsky

Achievement in directing
• “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), David Fincher
• “Frost/Nixon” (Universal), Ron Howard
• “Milk” (Focus Features), Gus Van Sant
• “The Reader” (The Weinstein Company), Stephen Daldry
• “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Danny Boyle

Best documentary feature
• “The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)” (Cinema Guild), A Pandinlao Films Production, Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk Phrasavath
• “Encounters at the End of the World” (THINKFilm and Image Entertainment), A Creative Differences Production, Werner Herzog and Henry Kaiser
• “The Garden” A Black Valley Films Production, Scott Hamilton Kennedy
• “Man on Wire” (Magnolia Pictures), A Wall to Wall Production, James Marsh and Simon Chinn
• “Trouble the Water” (Zeitgeist Films), An Elsewhere Films Production, Tia Lessin and Carl Deal

Best documentary short subject
• “The Conscience of Nhem En” A Farallon Films Production, Steven Okazaki
• “The Final Inch” A Vermilion Films Production, Irene Taylor Brodsky and Tom Grant
• “Smile Pinki” A Principe Production, Megan Mylan
• “The Witness - From the Balcony of Room 306” A Rock Paper Scissors Production, Adam Pertofsky and Margaret Hyde

Achievement in film editing
• “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
• “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Lee Smith
• “Frost/Nixon” (Universal), Mike Hill and Dan Hanley
• “Milk” (Focus Features), Elliot Graham
• “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Chris Dickens

Best foreign language film of the year
• “The Baader Meinhof Complex” A Constantin Film Production, Germany
• “The Class” (Sony Pictures Classics), A Haut et Court Production, France
• “Departures” (Regent Releasing), A Departures Film Partners Production, Japan
• “Revanche” (Janus Films), A Prisma Film/Fernseh Production, Austria
• “Waltz with Bashir” (Sony Pictures Classics), A Bridgit Folman Film Gang Production, Israel

Achievement in makeup
• “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Greg Cannom
• “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), John Caglione, Jr. and Conor O’Sullivan
• “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” (Universal), Mike Elizalde and Thom Floutz

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
• “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.),Alexandre Desplat
• “Defiance” (Paramount Vantage), James Newton Howard
• “Milk” (Focus Features), Danny Elfman
• “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), A.R. Rahman
• “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Thomas Newman

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
• “Down to Earth” from “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Music by Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman, Lyric by Peter Gabriel
• “Jai Ho” from “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Music by A.R. Rahman, Lyric by Gulzar
• “O Saya” from “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Music and Lyric by A.R. Rahman andMaya Arulpragasam

Best motion picture of the year
• “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), A Kennedy/Marshall Production, Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall and Ceán Chaffin, Producers
• “Frost/Nixon” (Universal), A Universal Pictures, Imagine Entertainment and Working Title Production,Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Eric Fellner, Producers
• “Milk” (Focus Features), A Groundswell and Jinks/Cohen Company Production, Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen, Producers
• “The Reader” (The Weinstein Company), A Mirage Enterprises and Neunte Babelsberg Film GmbH Production, Nominees to be determined
• “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), A Celador Films Production,Christian Colson, Producer

Best animated short film
• “La Maison en Petits Cubes” A Robot Communications Production, Kunio Kato
• “Lavatory - Lovestory” A Melnitsa Animation Studio and CTB Film Company Production, Konstantin Bronzit
• “Oktapodi” (Talantis Films) A Gobelins, L’école de l’image Production, Emud Mokhberi and Thierry Marchand
• “Presto” (Walt Disney) A Pixar Animation Studios Production, Doug Sweetland
• “This Way Up”, A Nexus Production, Alan Smith and Adam Foulkes

Best live action short film
• “Auf der Strecke (On the Line)” (Hamburg Shortfilmagency), An Academy of Media Arts Cologne Production, Reto Caffi
• “Manon on the Asphalt” (La Luna Productions), A La Luna Production, Elizabeth Marre and Olivier Pont
• “New Boy” (Network Ireland Television), A Zanzibar Films Production, Steph Green and Tamara Anghie
• “The Pig” An M & M Production, Tivi Magnusson and Dorte Høgh
• “Spielzeugland (Toyland)” A Mephisto Film Production, Jochen Alexander Freydank

Achievement in sound editing
• “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Richard King
• “Iron Man” (Paramount and Marvel Entertainment), Frank Eulner and Christopher Boyes
• “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Tom Sayers
• “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Ben Burtt and Matthew Wood
• “Wanted” (Universal),Wylie Stateman

Achievement in sound mixing
• “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Mark Weingarten
• “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo and Ed Novick
• “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke and Resul Pookutty
• “WALL-E” (Walt Disney),Tom Myers, Michael Semanick and Ben Burtt
• “Wanted” (Universal), Chris Jenkins, Frank A. Montaño and Petr Forejt

Achievement in visual effects
• “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Eric Barba, Steve Preeg, Burt Dalton and Craig Barron
• “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Nick Davis, Chris Corbould, Tim Webber and Paul Franklin
• “Iron Man” (Paramount and Marvel Entertainment), John Nelson, Ben Snow, Dan Sudick and Shane Mahan

Adapted screenplay
• “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Screenplay by Eric Roth, Screen story by Eric Roth and Robin Swicord
• “Doubt” (Miramax), Written by John Patrick Shanley
• “Frost/Nixon” (Universal), Screenplay by Peter Morgan
• “The Reader” (The Weinstein Company), Screenplay by David Hare
• “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Screenplay by Simon Beaufoy

Original screenplay
• “Frozen River” (Sony Pictures Classics), Written by Courtney Hunt
• “Happy-Go-Lucky” (Miramax), Written by Mike Leigh
• “In Bruges” (Focus Features), Written by Martin McDonagh
• “Milk” (Focus Features), Written by Dustin Lance Black
• “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Screenplay by Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Original story by Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
8949 Wilshire Boulevard Beverly Hills, CA 90211-1972
(310) 247-3000 | |

Oscars Media Alert!




From the factory to the Academy Awards® - the making of an Oscar statuette.

A factory tour at R.S. Owens & Company, where the Oscars® are handmade annually.

Experience the process of an Oscar being poured, cast, polished, buffed and electroplated.

Scott Siegel, president, R.S. Owens & Company
Noreen Prohaska, account executive, R.S. Owens & Company

Tuesday, January 27, 2009
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

R.S. Owens & Company
5535 N. Lynch Avenue
Chicago, IL 60630

Representatives from R.S. Owens & Company will demonstrate how an Oscar is manufactured.

Jacqueline Duda, 773-628-5234 or
Noreen Prohaska, 773-842-5160 or

Teni Melidonian, Academy publicist
310-247-3090 or

# # #

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
8949 Wilshire Boulevard Beverly Hills, CA 90211-1972
(310) 247-3000 | |

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Bush Administration Policy Cost Small Businesses Over a Trillion Dollars in Federal Contracts

21 Jan 2009 14:00 Africa/Lagos

Bush Administration Policy Cost Small Businesses Over a Trillion Dollars in Federal Contracts

PETALUMA, Calif., Jan. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- There is no way to know exactly how many billions of dollars in federal contracts American small businesses lost during the eight years of the Bush Administration. During President Bush's tenure, administration officials went to extreme lengths to make it difficult, if not impossible to obtain the government's records on small business contracting.

Under Bush, the United States Department of Justice went to federal court on several occasions to fight Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for the specific names of firms that had received federal small business contracts.

Since 2003, 15 federal investigations have found that Bush Administration officials have diverted billions of dollars in federal small business contracts to Fortune 500 firms and thousands of other large businesses in the U.S. and Europe. (

In 2005, the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Inspector General released Report 5-15, which stated, "One of the most important challenges facing the Small Business Administration and the entire Federal government today is that large businesses are receiving small business procurement awards and agencies are receiving credit for these awards." (

Based on an evaluation of all available federal contracting data, the American Small Business League (ASBL) estimates that the Bush Administration diverted over $100 billion a year in federal small business contracts to large businesses.

In addition to diverting more than $800 billion in federal small business contracts to corporate giants, President Bush has attempted to systematically dismantle every federal program designed to assist small businesses including those firms owned by women, minorities and veterans.

For eight years, Bush Administration officials refused to implement a federal law establishing a 5 percent federal contracting goal for woman-owned firms. Bush officials at the SBA closed the office to assist veteran-owned firms and laid off the vast majority of staff designated to assist minority-owned firms.

Additionally, Bush cut the SBA's budget and staffing to the point that the agency could barely function. During the eight years of the Bush Administration, hundreds of the SBA's most experienced staff were laid off.

Considering the volume of federal small business contracts that have been diverted to large businesses, and the lost contracting opportunities for small businesses and firms owned by women, minorities and veterans, small businesses may have lost over $1 trillion in federal contracts during the Bush Administration.

Small businesses may not fair much better under President Obama. To date, President Obama has not proposed a single policy to stop the flow of federal small business contracts to corporate giants. Even worse, President Obama appears to favor a change in federal law that will divert federal small business contracts to firms controlled by some of the nation's wealthiest venture capitalists.

If President Obama does follow in George Bush's footsteps and enact legislation and policies that will divert even more government small business contracts to large businesses and wealthy investors, he will most likely do just what President Bush did and talk about what a valuable resource small businesses are to our nation's economy while he is doing it.

Source: American Small Business League

CONTACT: Christopher Gunn Communications Director of American Small
Business League, +1-707-789-9575, or

Web Site:

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Barack Obama Becomes the 44th President of the United States of America!

Barack Obama Becomes the 44th President of the United States of America!

Barack Obama has been sworn in as the forty-fourth President of the United States at noon EST (17:00 UTC) on January 20, 2009, in an inaugural ceremony at the U.S. Capitol.

He is the first African American to be elected as the President of America following his election to the presidency in the 56th consecutive quadrennial United States presidential election on Tuesday, November 4, 2008.

Text of President Barack Obama's inaugural address on Tuesday, as prepared for delivery and released by the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

OBAMA: My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we the people have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents.
So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.
These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.
In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.
For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.
What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. Those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control — and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers ... our found fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all the other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort — even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.
To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.
This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.
So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:
"Let it be told to the future world ... that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet (it)."

America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Thank you.
God bless you. And God bless the United States of America

For a comprehensive report on the historic election of Barack Obama, read the new book Barack Obama and the American Dream by Orikinla Osinachi to be released soon in America.

Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama

Barack Obama

20 Jan 2009 01:01 Africa/Lagos

Growing Optimism That Obama Will Improve US Relations: Global Poll

COLLEGE PARK, Md., Jan. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As President-elect Barack Obama prepares for the Inauguration to be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States, a new 17-nation poll conducted for the BBC World Service finds widespread and growing optimism that his presidency will lead to improved relations between the United States and the rest of the world.

The poll also shows people around the world are looking to President Obama to put highest priority on dealing with the current global financial crisis.

In 15 of the 17 countries polled, majorities think that the election of Barack Obama will lead to improved relations with the rest of the world. On average 67 percent express this upbeat view, while 19 percent think relations will stay the same and just 5 percent that relations will worsen. This is up sharply - by 21 points among tracking countries - from polling done for the BBC World Service six months ago, before Obama was elected

Asked to rate six possible priorities for the Obama Administration, the top priority in all 17 countries polled was the global financial crisis. On average 72 percent said that it should be a top priority.

This was followed by withdrawing US troops from Iraq - with 50 percent saying this should be a top priority - then addressing climate change (46%), improving America's relationship with the respondent's country (46%), brokering peace between Israel and the Palestinians (43%), and supporting the government of Afghanistan against the Taliban (29%).

The results are drawn from a survey of 17,356 adult citizens across 17 countries conducted for the BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan together with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland. GlobeScan coordinated fieldwork between November 24, 2008 and January 5, 2009.

"Familiarity with Obama seems to be breeding hope," commented Steven Kull, director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes. "But then again," he added, "he is starting from a low baseline, following eight years of an unpopular US president. Maintaining this enthusiasm will be a challenge given the complexities he now faces."

For more information, visit

Source: Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland

CONTACT: Steven Kull of the Program on International Policy Attitudes at
the University of Maryland, +1-301-254-7500

Web Site:

20 Jan 2009
President Obama to Press Reset Button
Jamie Fox, Nas, Kerry Washington, Akon, T.I., Young Jeezy, Tatyana Ali and Jurnee Smollett Have Been Added to the Talent Line Up for Yes We Will! BET's Inauguration Celebration Premiering Tuesday, January 20 at 8:00 PM*
New Poll: Reagan, FDR Lead Presidential Role Models
Growing Optimism That Obama Will Improve US Relations: Global Poll
00:51 to Stream Presidential Inauguration Live

Sunday, January 18, 2009

An Important Letter from President-Elect Barack Obama

Michael Chima --

I have some exciting news to share about the future of this grassroots movement.

I recorded a personal message for you. Please take a minute to watch the video:
The Future

What you built can't stop now. Together with our partners at the Democratic National Committee and its new chairman, Governor Tim Kaine, this movement will continue organizing and bringing new people into the political process.

The challenges facing our country are too great, and our journey to change America is just beginning.

I look forward to working side-by-side with you in the months and years ahead.



Thursday, January 15, 2009

Meet the Oscars®, Chicago

January 14, 2009
CONTACT: Tarrah Curtis – (310) 247-3090

Meet the Oscars®, Chicago

Beverly Hills, CA — For the first time, Oscar® fans in Chicago will be able to hold an actual Oscar statuette and have their photo taken at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ “Meet the Oscars, Chicago.” The one-of-a-kind exhibition will open Friday, February 13, at The Shops at North Bridge on Michigan Avenue, and run through Sunday, February 22, the night of the 81st Academy Awards® presentation. Hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free. Chicago is the only city to host a “Meet the Oscars” exhibition this year.

“Meet the Oscars, Chicago” features a display of Oscars in various stages of completion, as they undergo their intricate, weeks-long manufacturing process. Chicago’s own R.S. Owens & Company has manufactured the statuettes each year since 1982. Six of the Oscars on display will be presented at next year’s Academy Awards ceremony.

Also on display will be the historic statuette that actor Clark Gable won for his performance in “It Happened One Night” (1934). In 1996 an anonymous buyer purchased this Oscar at auction for $607,500. Later that year, the Oscar was returned to the Academy, and the buyer was revealed to be Steven Spielberg.
Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2008 will be presented on Sunday, February 22, 2009, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.
# # #

About the Academy
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is the world’s preeminent movie-related organization, with a membership of more than 6,000 of the most accomplished men and women working in cinema. In addition to the annual Academy Awards – in which the members vote to select the nominees and winners – the Academy presents a diverse year-round slate of public programs, exhibitions and events; provides financial support to a wide range of other movie-related organizations and endeavors; acts as a neutral advocate in the advancement of motion picture technology; and, through its Margaret Herrick Library and Academy Film Archive, collects, preserves, restores and provides access to movies and items related to their history. Through these and other activities the Academy serves students, historians, the entertainment industry and people everywhere who love movies.

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
8949 Wilshire Boulevard Beverly Hills, CA 90211-1972
(310) 247-3000 | |

Inaugural Memorabilia a Hot Commodity

Inaugural memorabilia a hot commodity
January 15, 2009

Visitors from across the world scramble to get their Inauguration memorabilia this week from DC souvenir stands. The AP's Faryl Ury talks to shoppers and store owners. (Jan. 15)

Middle-East News Update

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

NEWSWEEK COVER: What Would Dick Do?

In the January 19, 2009 issue of Newsweek (on newsstands Monday, January 12), "What Would Dick Do?" explores whether President-elect Obama will adopt the antiterror apparatus Vice President Cheney helped create, or if he'll go in a different direction. Plus: why the attack on Gaza has boosted support for Israel's Labor Party; why China will likely be the only economy to grow this year and the reality of organ trafficking. Lastly: a look at HBO's documentary on Rev. Ted Haggard. (PRNewsFoto/NEWSWEEK) NEW YORK, NY UNITED STATES 01/11/2009

11 Jan 2009 18:39 Africa/Lagos

NEWSWEEK COVER: What Would Dick Do?

Once in Office, President Barack Obama May See Things Cheney's Way

Obama Not Likely to Reverse Bush and Cheney's Efforts, But Will Try to Find a Middle Road on National Security Policy

NEW YORK, Jan. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- President-elect Barack Obama was elected partly to reverse Vice President Dick Cheney's efforts to seize power for the White House in the war on terror, but it may not be so simple, and Obama may soon find some virtue in Cheney's way of thinking. In the January 19 Newsweek cover, "What Would Dick Do?" (on newsstands Monday, January 12), Contributing Editor Stuart Taylor Jr. and Editor-At-Large Evan Thomas argue that reversing Cheney's efforts in the war on terror and national security may leave the country in a weakened position.

(Cover Story: )
(Photo: )

In the view of many intelligence professionals, the get-tough measures encouraged or permitted by George W. Bush's administration -- including "waterboarding" self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed -- kept America safe. Cheney himself has been underscoring the point in a round of farewell interviews. "If I had advice to give it would be, before you start to implement your campaign rhetoric, you need to sit down and find out precisely what it is we did and how we did it, because it is going to be vital to keeping the nation safe and secure in the years ahead," he told CBS Radio.

Obama, who has been receiving intelligence briefings for weeks, is unlikely to wildly overcorrect for the Bush administration's abuses. A very senior incoming official, who refused to be quoted discussing internal policy debates, indicated that the new administration will try to find a middle road that will protect civil liberties without leaving the nation defenseless. But Obama's team has some strong critics of the old order, including his choice for director of the CIA, Leon Panetta, who has spoken out strongly against coercive interrogation methods. Obama's administration would do well to listen to Jack Goldsmith, formerly a Bush Justice Department official. Goldsmith worries about the pendulum swinging too far, as it often does in American democracy. "The presidency has already been diminished in ways that would be hard to reverse" and may be losing its capability to fight terrorism, he says. Goldsmith argues that Americans should now be "less worried about an out-of- control presidency than an enfeebled one."

Soon after taking office Obama will face some difficult choices, such as what to do about the detention of suspected terrorists such as Ali al-Marri, a Qatari graduate student who had legally entered the United States and settled in Peoria, Ill., with his wife and five children. He was seized in 2001 as a suspected terrorist-the long-feared Qaeda sleeper agent, sent to the United States to conduct a suicide attack when given the signal by his terrorist controllers. Al-Marri was charged with credit-card fraud and lying to the Feds, but the charges were dropped when he was put in military detention. His case has become a cause celebre among civil libertarians, who argue that the government can't just lock you up indefinitely on suspicion of terrorism.

Obama must decide: Will he enrage many of his supporters by adopting Bush's claim of sweeping power to grab legal residents -- and perhaps even citizens -- and jail them forever? Or will he let a possibly very dangerous man go, and thereby concede that any Qaeda terrorist who can get into the United States legally is free to roam the country unless (and until) he commits a crime? Both options would be political nightmares.

Dealing with the issue of torture will also be complicated. Waterboarding is a brutal interrogation method, but by some (disputed) accounts, it was CIA waterboarding that got Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to talk. It is a liberal shibboleth that torture doesn't work -- that suspects will say anything, including lies, to stop the pain. But the reality is perhaps less clear. Last summer, the U.S. Senate (with Obama absent) voted to require the CIA to use no interrogation methods other than those permitted in the Army Field Manual. These are extremely restrictive: strictly speaking, the interrogator cannot ever threaten bodily harm or even put a prisoner on cold rations until he talks. Bush vetoed this measure, not unwisely. As president, Obama may want to preserve some flexibility. Obama may want to urge Congress to outlaw "humiliating and degrading" treatment of prisoners. But he might also want to carve out an exception for extreme cases, outlining coercive methods, like sleep deprivation, that could be used on specified detainees. To provide political accountability, the president should be required to sign any such orders, share them with the congressional intelligence committees and publicly disclose their number.

National security is an unavoidably murky world. But it doesn't have to be quite so dark as Cheney et al. made it. So much of the anger against the Bush administration could have been avoided if Bush had gone to Congress in the first place. By trying to strengthen the presidency, Cheney weakened it. By keeping Congress, the press and the people in the dark, the vice president virtually guaranteed a backlash. Obviously, some secrets must be kept, but history has shown again and again that excessive government secrecy backfires by breeding conspiracy theories and overreaction by thwarted lawmakers. Obama would do well just to level with the American people about what he is doing to protect their liberties -- while keeping them safe.

(Read cover story at

Photo: NewsCom:
AP Archive:
AP PhotoExpress Network: PRN8
PRN Photo Desk,
Source: Newsweek

CONTACT: Brenda Velez, +1-212-445-4078

Web site:

A Letter from Bill Clinton

Mr. Bill Clinton

Thanks to you, 2009 is going to be an amazing year of progress for America. I know we will all feel a sense of pride and achievement as we watch the new Congress get sworn in and get to work with President Obama.

I'm so proud of the way Hillary, poured herself heart and soul into helping Barack Obama and so many other Democratic candidates last year.

And, like you, I'm looking forward to all the change and progress that those victories will lead to in the weeks and months ahead.

As historic as 2008 may have been, there is no time to rest. Now is the time to keep our momentum going by showing the new Congress that we're here to support them in 2009 right from the very beginning.

Contribute $5, $10, or more today to provide essential early support to translate the promise of 2008 into progress in 2009.

The reason we won so big last year is because House Democrats had the early support from people like you. That early strength we built together put our party on a trajectory for success, and we kept going!

With Barack Obama's inauguration fast approaching, we need to make the same powerful show of strength as the new Democratic Congress gets to work with the new Administration to solve the greatest challenges of our time.

Contribute $5, $10, or more today to provide essential early support to translate the promise of 2008 into progress in 2009.

All of us are anticipating what an emotionally powerful day January 20th is going to be. So many dreams will be fulfilled, so many barriers overcome, and so much history will be made. A bold new era of American leadership is about to begin. However, we shouldn't wait until Inauguration Day to get to work.

All the best,

Bill Clinton

P.S. January 20th is going to be a day like few others in the entire history of our nation. But it's going to take a strong show of early support to meet the deep and serious challenges that await in 2009. Contribute $5, $10, or more today to provide that essential early support and ensure fulfilling the promise of this moment.