Tuesday, September 29, 2009

U.S. News Media Group Releases Annual Retirement Guide and 'America's Best Affordable Places to Retire'

29 Sep 2009 15:48 Africa/Lagos

- U.S. News Media Group Releases Annual Retirement Guide and 'America's Best Affordable Places to Retire'-

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- U.S. News Media Group today released its annual Retirement guide and listing of the Best Affordable Places to Retire, an extension of its popular Best Places series. The Best Affordable Places, available today at www.usnews.com/affordable, are featured in the October "Retirement" issue of U.S.News & World Report magazine, on newsstands starting September 29, 2009.

America's Best Affordable Places to Retire, selected by U.S. News editors, were chosen from locations nationwide by analyzing key indicators including low cost of living, high-quality healthcare and elder-care facilities, educational and cultural opportunities, and reasonable housing prices, all while offering access to the services and amenities people look for in an ideal retirement spot.

Like other "Best Places" listings on USNews.com, the Best Affordable Places to Retire package includes extensive information for consumers preparing for retirement as well as an interactive search tool to help users find locations that best fit to their individual lifestyles. Visitors can examine and sort through extensive economic and quality-of-life data, as well as specific state and city information, such as sales taxes and housing prices, to find the most affordable place to retire.

"Preparing for retirement is a complex process, not to mention the difficulty of actually financing it," said Brian Kelly, editor of U.S.News & World Report. "Through the Best Affordable Places to Retire, U.S. News breaks down the most relevant financial information to help families make the best choices in financing their retirement."

The 10 cities honored as America's Best Affordable Places to Retire are (listed alphabetically):

-- Ann Arbor, Michigan
-- Asheville, North Carolina
-- Aurora, Colorado
-- Columbia, South Carolina
-- Columbus, Ohio
-- Eugene, Oregon
-- Fort Worth, Texas
-- Jacksonville, Florida
-- Kansas City, Missouri

-- Tucson, Arizona

The Best Places to Retire package includes data from Onboard Informatics, the premier data services company for top tier organizations in real estate, media and technology.

For more information about the Best Affordable Places to Retire, please visit www.usnews.com/retire.

About the U.S. News Media Group

The U.S. News Media Group is a multi-platform digital publisher of news and analysis, which includes the monthly U.S. News & World Report magazine, the digital-only U.S. News Weekly magazine, www.usnews.com, and www.rankingsandreviews.com. Focusing on Health, Money & Business, Education, and Public Service/Opinion, the U.S. News Media Group has earned a reputation as the leading provider of service news and information that improves the quality of life of its readers. The U.S. News Media Group's signature franchises include its News You Can Use® brand of journalism and its "America's Best" series of consumer guides that include rankings of colleges, graduate schools, hospitals, health plans, and more.

About Onboard Informatics

Since 2001, Onboard Informatics has provided comprehensive local, regional and national real estate data solutions, powerful web tools and web services to some of the most innovative companies in real estate, media, and technology industries. Onboard combines its expertise in data aggregation, standardization, and integration with expert consulting, transforming the complexity of data into meaningful solutions to support their clients in achieving business objectives. Privately held since its founding, Onboard is located in the heart of the world's financial center in the Wall Street area of New York City. For more information about Onboard Informatics, or to request a demo, visit www.onboardinformatics.com.

Source: U.S. News Media Group

CONTACT: Liz Putze, +1-202-955-2136, eputze@usnews.com, or Lucy Byrd,
lbyrd@usnews.com, both of U.S.News & World Report

Web Site: http://www.usnews.com/retire

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Saudi Ambassador Responds to Congressional Letter on Peace in the Middle East

13 Sep 2009 14:24 Africa/Lagos

Saudi Ambassador Responds to Congressional Letter on Peace in the Middle East

WASHINGTON, Sept. 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Saudi Ambassador to the United States Adel A. Al-Jubeir responded to a July 31 letter, co-signed by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) and more than 220 Members of the House of Representatives, to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud. In the letter, the Members noted the Saudi-sponsored Arab Peace Initiative and urged Saudi Arabia to make a dramatic gesture towards Israel as a confidence building measure to promote peace.

In his response, Ambassador Al-Jubeir thanked the Members for their interest in promoting peace in the Middle East and stated: "Over the years, Saudi Arabia has taken clear positions that attest to its desire to see this long-standing conflict resolved equitably and permanently."

Ambassador Al-Jubeir outlined the requirements for peace which are enshrined in numerous international resolutions and contained in the Arab Peace Initiative. These include Israeli withdrawal of all Arab territories occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and a just settlement for Palestinian refugees in exchange for recognition, an end to the conflict, security, peace and normal relations with all Arab countries.

The Ambassador also reiterated the Saudi position that an incremental approach to peace, or one built on confidence-building measures, will not succeed. "It has not succeeded over the past three decades and, we believe, will not succeed today." The Ambassador cited as an example the issue of Israeli settlers in Palestinian territories: in 1979, when the Camp David Accords were signed, the number of settlers was about 5,000. By the time the Madrid Peace Conference was held in 1991, the number reached 100,000, and by the time the Annapolis Peace Conference was convened in 2007, the number of settlers had exceeded 200,000. In the past, a number of confidence-building measures were undertaken, but no peace was achieved.

"It is our firm view that resolution of this conflict does require outlining the final settlement at the outset, followed by prompt resumption of negotiations on all final status issues -- borders, Jerusalem, water, security and refugees -- with a deadline set for their early conclusion. The focus must be on the final settlement and on the final peace, not on an incremental process. This will make the final outcome clear to all parties, and thereby undermine the ability of extremists on both sides to delay or derail the movement to peace."

In addition, the Ambassador underlined the importance of continued, active U.S. involvement necessary to effectively move toward peace: "It is also absolutely imperative for the United States to play an active and robust role in the negotiations, as history has shown."

To view the letter, please click here. For more information on Saudi Arabia's efforts to promote Middle East peace or on the Arab Peace Initiative, please visit www.SaudiEmbassy.net.

Source: Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Information Office

CONTACT: Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia Information Office, Washington,
DC, +1-202-337-4076, press@saudiembassy.net

Web Site: http://www.saudiembassy.net/

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Pelosi Statement on Eighth Anniversary of September 11

11 Sep 2009 16:22 Africa/Lagos

Pelosi Statement on Eighth Anniversary of September 11

WASHINGTON, Sept. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today on the eighth anniversary of September 11:

"Every year on September 11, we remember the victims and honor the heroes of that fateful morning eight years ago. We are reminded of the nearly 3,000 American lives cut short during this unspeakable tragedy. We recall the firefighters and first responders, the rescue workers and all who perished trying to save others.

"It is in their names that we pledge to never forget the attacks. It is in their memories that we rededicate ourselves to the values we hold most dear: freedom and equality, pluralism and the rule of law.

"This anniversary reminds us not just of images of destruction and despair, but of the unity we all felt in the wake of the attacks and our potential to move forward as one community and one nation. In that spirit, Congress established September 11 as a National Day of Service and Remembrance. As a component of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act and a tribute to Senator Kennedy's lifelong commitment to public service, this day will bring all Americans together to clean up their neighborhoods, assemble care packages for our veterans, soldiers and first responders, volunteer at food banks and shelters, and participate in service projects nationwide.

"I urge my fellow citizens to take this day to commemorate the fallen of 9/11 and honor their sacrifice by giving back to their communities and rededicating themselves to our common future."

Source: Office of the Speaker of the House

CONTACT: Brendan Daly, Nadeam Elshami, Drew Hammill, +1-202-226-7616,
all of Office of the Speaker of the House

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Justice Department Announces Largest Health Care Fraud Settlement in Its History

2 Sep 2009 16:47 Africa/Lagos

Justice Department Announces Largest Health Care Fraud Settlement in Its History

Pfizer To Pay $2.3 Billion For Fraudulent Marketing

WASHINGTON, Sept. 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. and its subsidiary Pharmacia & Upjohn Company Inc. (hereinafter together "Pfizer") have agreed to pay $2.3 billion, the largest health care fraud settlement in the history of the Department of Justice, to resolve criminal and civil liability arising from the illegal promotion of certain pharmaceutical products, the Justice Department announced today.

Pharmacia & Upjohn Company has agreed to plead guilty to a felony violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act for misbranding Bextra with the intent to defraud or mislead. Bextra is an anti-inflammatory drug that Pfizer pulled from the market in 2005. Under the provisions of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, a company must specify the intended uses of a product in its new drug application to FDA. Once approved, the drug may not be marketed or promoted for so-called "off-label" uses - i.e., any use not specified in an application and approved by FDA. Pfizer promoted the sale of Bextra for several uses and dosages that the FDA specifically declined to approve due to safety concerns. The company will pay a criminal fine of $1.195 billion, the largest criminal fine ever imposed in the United States for any matter. Pharmacia & Upjohn will also forfeit $105 million, for a total criminal resolution of $1.3 billion.

In addition, Pfizer has agreed to pay $1 billion to resolve allegations under the civil False Claims Act that the company illegally promoted four drugs - Bextra; Geodon, an anti-psychotic drug; Zyvox, an antibiotic; and Lyrica, an anti-epileptic drug - and caused false claims to be submitted to government health care programs for uses that were not medically accepted indications and therefore not covered by those programs. The civil settlement also resolves allegations that Pfizer paid kickbacks to health care providers to induce them to prescribe these, as well as other, drugs. The federal share of the civil settlement is $668,514,830, and the state Medicaid share of the civil settlement is $331,485,170. This is the largest civil fraud settlement in history against a pharmaceutical company.

As part of the settlement, Pfizer also has agreed to enter into an expansive corporate integrity agreement with the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services. That agreement provides for procedures and reviews to be put in place to avoid and promptly detect conduct similar to that which gave rise to this matter.

Whistleblower lawsuits filed under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act that are pending in the District of Massachusetts, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Eastern District of Kentucky triggered this investigation. As a part of today's resolution, six whistleblowers will receive payments totaling more than $102 million from the federal share of the civil recovery.

The U.S. Attorney's offices for the District of Massachusetts, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and the Eastern District of Kentucky, and the Civil Division of the Department of Justice handled these cases. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts led the criminal investigation of Bextra. The investigation was conducted by the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the FBI, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), the Office of Criminal Investigations for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Veterans' Administration's (VA) Office of Criminal Investigations, the Office of the Inspector General for the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Office of the Inspector General for the United States Postal Service (USPS), the National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units and the offices of various state Attorneys General.

"Today's landmark settlement is an example of the Department of Justice's ongoing and intensive efforts to protect the American public and recover funds for the federal treasury and the public from those who seek to earn a profit through fraud. It shows one of the many ways in which federal government, in partnership with its state and local allies, can help the American people at a time when budgets are tight and health care costs are increasing," said Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli. "This settlement is a testament to the type of broad, coordinated effort among federal agencies and with our state and local partners that is at the core of the Department of Justice's approach to law enforcement."

"This historic settlement will return nearly $1 billion to Medicare, Medicaid, and other government insurance programs, securing their future for the Americans who depend on these programs," said Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Department of Health and Human Services. "The Department of Health and Human Services will continue to seek opportunities to work with its government partners to prosecute fraud wherever we can find it. But we will also look for new ways to prevent fraud before it happens. Health care is too important to let a single dollar go to waste."

"Illegal conduct and fraud by pharmaceutical companies puts the public health at risk, corrupts medical decisions by health care providers, and costs the government billions of dollars," said Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division. "This civil settlement and plea agreement by Pfizer represent yet another example of what penalties will be faced when a pharmaceutical company puts profits ahead of patient welfare."

"The size and seriousness of this resolution, including the huge criminal fine of $1.3 billion, reflect the seriousness and scope of Pfizer's crimes," said Mike Loucks, acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts. "Pfizer violated the law over an extensive time period. Furthermore, at the very same time Pfizer was in our office negotiating and resolving the allegations of criminal conduct by its then newly acquired subsidiary, Warner-Lambert, Pfizer was itself in its other operations violating those very same laws. Today's enormous fine demonstrates that such blatant and continued disregard of the law will not be tolerated."

"Although these types of investigations are often long and complicated and require many resources to achieve positive results, the FBI will not be deterred from continuing to ensure that pharmaceutical companies conduct business in a lawful manner," said Kevin Perkins, FBI Assistant Director, Criminal Investigative Division.

"This resolution protects the FDA in its vital mission of ensuring that drugs are safe and effective. When manufacturers undermine the FDA's rules, they interfere with a doctor's judgment and can put patient health at risk," commented Michael L. Levy, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. "The public trusts companies to market their drugs for uses that FDA has approved, and trusts that doctors are using independent judgment. Federal health dollars should only be spent on treatment decisions untainted by misinformation from manufacturers concerned with the bottom line."

"This settlement demonstrates the ongoing efforts to pursue violations of the False Claims Act and recover taxpayer dollars for the Medicare and Medicaid programs," noted Jim Zerhusen, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky.

"This historic settlement emphasizes the government's commitment to corporate and individual accountability and to transparency throughout the pharmaceutical industry," said Daniel R. Levinson, Inspector General of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. "The corporate integrity agreement requires senior Pfizer executives and board members to complete annual compliance certifications and opens Pfizer to more public scrutiny by requiring it to make detailed disclosures on its Web site. We expect this agreement to increase integrity in the marketing of pharmaceuticals."

"The off-label promotion of pharmaceutical drugs by Pfizer significantly impacted the integrity of TRICARE, the Department of Defense's healthcare system," said Sharon Woods, Director, Defense Criminal Investigative Service. "This illegal activity increases patients' costs, threatens their safety and negatively affects the delivery of healthcare services to the over nine million military members, retirees and their families who rely on this system. Today's charges and settlement demonstrate the ongoing commitment of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and its law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute those that abuse the government's healthcare programs at the expense of the taxpayers and patients."

"Federal employees deserve health care providers and suppliers, including drug manufacturers, that meet the highest standards of ethical and professional behavior," said Patrick E. McFarland, Inspector General of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. "Today's settlement reminds the pharmaceutical industry that it must observe those standards and reflects the commitment of federal law enforcement organizations to pursue improper and illegal conduct that places health care consumers at risk."

"Health care fraud has a significant financial impact on the Postal Service. This case alone impacted more than 10,000 postal employees on workers' compensation who were treated with these drugs," said Joseph Finn, Special Agent in Charge for the Postal Service's Office of Inspector General. "Last year the Postal Service paid more than $1 billion in workers' compensation benefits to postal employees injured on the job."

To view public documents on this matter, please go to our Web site:


Source: U.S. Attorney's Office

CONTACT: Christina Dilorio-Sterling of U.S. Attorney's Office,
+1-617-748-3356, USAMA.MEDIA@USDOJ.GOV

Web Site: http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/ma/press.html

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