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New ‘clean water’ funding for Djibouti’s drought-stricken rural areas

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

With the announcement Monday of 2 million in new funding from the European Union (EU), the Republic of Djibouti’s Ministry of Agriculture hopes to provide some relief to an estimated 25,000 rural inhabitants suffering through severe drought conditions. The money, to be channeled through UNICEF for its water and sanitation program, will be used to develop new wells and improve existing ones.

UNICEF is to contribute a further €60,000, as well as technical expertise to the Ministry of Agriculture, who will carry out the bulk of the work.

“The two-year water supply project targeting rural districts is very significant since people living in 45 villages and their 40,000 heads of cattle will have access to clean drinking water,” said Joaquin Gonzalez, EU Representative in Djibouti.

At the same time, the UN aid agency World Food Program (WFP) indicated that it is working with the Ministry of Agriculture and UNICEF to gradually shift Djibouti’s reliance on emergency aid to a Food for Work program, which it hopes will assist nomadic herders in Djibouti with long-term sustainability. “What we are trying to do together with the Ministry of Agriculture and UNICEF is, for example to dig wells so that despite drought, these herders will be able to irrigate their fields,” said Simon Pluess, WFP spokesman. “And, together with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, we will try and promote vegetable gardens.”

Djibouti has survived harsh drought conditions for the past 5 years. Groundwater is the primary source of water for drinking and irrigation, but has been difficult to exploit and is often contaminated. Almost 50 percent of people in rural Djibouti do not have ready access to properly developed source of drinking water. And, due to the ongoing drought, water availability for livestock is limited. Livestock have shown signs of distress and, subsequently, milk production is down substantially.

Nearly half of all families in Djibouti’s northwest were forced to migrate to find pasture for their livestock. As the droughts continue, the importance of properly maintained wells has become apparent. “Life is harder and harder for us. Years ago there were more rains and also more pastureland for cattle. Now it is good for us to have functioning wells so that we can keep cattle here,” said Anou Amada, farmer in the village of Andoli.

A 2006 survey indicated that only 15 percent of wells in Djibouti were equipped with a protective concrete wall to prevent contamination. Andoli’s well is one of many undergoing repair through WFP’s Food for Work project.

“WFP couldn’t do this alone, so we work with the Ministry of Agriculture and UNICEF to dig wells and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization for vegetable gardens,” said Benoit Thiry, Director, WFP in Djibouti.

When the project is completed in 2008, it will have increased Djibouti’s water pump capacity by adding 25 solar-power pumps, which would compliment the current 61 diesel-powered pumps. “The advantage of solar…is that it is much cheaper and requires less maintenance,” said Omar Habib, UNICEF communication specialist. “We want the people to participate and to appropriate these pumping stations. The government’s role in the long term should be as restricted as possible,” he added.

PostHeaderIcon What To Expect From Your California Medicare Supplement Agent}

Submitted by: Dennis Jarvis

Health insurance has become difficult for everyone including agents and this also extends to the ever-changing world of California Medicare supplements. It seems there is something not only news but pretty dramatic either changing or being proposed every week with California Medigap plans. It’s hard enough to keep up with the changes as a California Medicare Supplement agent much less a new shopper who just turned 65. This is where the value of a really good California agent comes into play. Let’s walk through the benefits of a licensed California agent and also discuss how to know you found a good one.

Just the other day, I was shopping for solar panels. Yes, I’m trying to support an idustry which is good for the U.S. but let’s face it…I would love to knock down that check I send to PG&E every month. It’s painful. I had one company come out which has the world “Solar” all over the their truck, cards, and website so I felt like they would be able to really help me get the best set-up since I’m an electric novice and new to all the jargon. I immediately got the feeling after speaking with him that he really wanted to “Sell” just line of cells and couldn’t really give good reasons to me as to why that was the way to go. A friend of mine referred me to an electrician who did a lot of Solar so I called him. It was night and day. He knew everything there was to know and clearly explained to me why certain set-ups were good or bad for my house. It was such a breath of fresh air.

To most people shopping for California Medicare supplemental insurance, the situation is much the same. Who have a whole slew of new terminology to wrap your heads around and there’s always that nagging sense of, “Am I missing something…Do I know enough to make what looks like a really important decision?”. That’s not a great feeling and this is why you want a professional licensed California Medigap agent on your side. There are so many plans out there (new ones just added in the last few years) and it can be difficult to see exactly how they are different. It’s one thing to talk about a Part A deductible but how much will a hospital bill run me for hip replacement? You don’t want to be cheap with the potential for really big bills but at the same time, you don’t want to over pay. Basically, you want the best coverage at the best price. We are trying to provide all the detail you’ll need on californiaMedigap.com to make an informed decision, but ultimately, it’s probably best to have a 3rd party California Medicare agent on your side for the big questions. So what do you want to look for in a prospective agent?

First and foremost is knowledge and experience. Let’s assume that we start on the basis that most people are generally good and someone will have our interest as their driving influence (which isn’t always the case). A person can only help you if they really know their market. Take it from me, a licensed agent with decades under the slightly expanding belt..this only comes with time and experience. You have to see and help 100’s of clients in order to know all the various wrinkles in the California Medicare supplement market. Getting license is only the beginning of the journey. You can hear it in their voice and in the explanations they give for different recommendations. You’ll know if there’s experience behind their words.

Once you’ve established that they are knowledgeable (in a way that helps you), then we need to know that they really want what’s best in your interest. Are they trying to “sell” you into something? Are they pushy and do they get irritated when you have questions or want to understand further how the options differ? This focus on helping you to weed through the various options and really find the best fit for your budget and needs is paramount.

With a wide degree of experience and a singular focus on helping you find the best California Medicare supplement plan, you’ll get all the benefits of having license California Medigap agent with no additional cost to you. That’s halfway to world peace!

About the Author: Dennis Jarvis is a licensed insurance agent concentrating on

California Medicare supplement insurance

. Find more articles and guidance about

california medigap

plans.

Source:

isnare.com

Permanent Link:

isnare.com/?aid=1167506&ca=Finances}

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Home of Stonehenge builders found

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Scientists have uncovered the largest Neolithic settlement in the United Kingdom at the Durrington Walls and believe that the village was inhabited by the people who built the Stonehenge monument.

Scientists say that the village was built around 2,600 B.C., roughly when Stonehenge was believed to have been constructed, and housed over 100 people.

Inside the areas which would have been the interior of houses at the time, scientists also found outlines of what they think were beds and cupboards or dressers. Pieces of pottery and “filthy” rubbish around the site. Animal bones, arrowheads, stone tools and other relics were also discovered.

“We’ve never seen such quantities of pottery and animal bone and flint. In what were houses, we have excavated the outlines on the floors of box beds and wooden dressers or cupboards,” said Sheffield University archaeologist Mike Parker Pearson.

So far, the dig has revealed at least 8 houses roughly 14-16 feet square, but scientists say that they think there may have been at least 25 altogether.

The site was likely to have been occupied only seasonally rather than year-round and evidence suggests that a lot of “partying” went on at the location.

“The animal bones are being thrown away half-eaten. It’s what we call a feasting assemblage. This is where they went to party – you could say it was the first free festival. The rubbish isn’t your average domestic debris. There’s a lack of craft-working equipment for cleaning animal hides and no evidence for crop-processing,” added Pearson.

The Durrington Walls are approximately 2 miles from the Stonehenge site.

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Ingrid Newkirk, co-founder of PETA, on animal rights and the film about her life

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Last night HBO premiered I Am An Animal: The Story of Ingrid Newkirk and PETA. Since its inception, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has made headlines and raised eyebrows. They are almost single-handedly responsible for the movement against animal testing and their efforts have raised the suffering animals experience in a broad spectrum of consumer goods production and food processing into a cause célèbre.

PETA first made headlines in the Silver Spring monkeys case, when Alex Pacheco, then a student at George Washington University, volunteered at a lab run by Edward Taub, who was testing neuroplasticity on live monkeys. Taub had cut sensory ganglia that supplied nerves to the monkeys’ fingers, hands, arms, legs; with some of the monkeys, he had severed the entire spinal column. He then tried to force the monkeys to use their limbs by exposing them to persistent electric shock, prolonged physical restraint of an intact arm or leg, and by withholding food. With footage obtained by Pacheco, Taub was convicted of six counts of animal cruelty—largely as a result of the monkeys’ reported living conditions—making them “the most famous lab animals in history,” according to psychiatrist Norman Doidge. Taub’s conviction was later overturned on appeal and the monkeys were eventually euthanized.

PETA was born.

In the subsequent decades they ran the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty against Europe’s largest animal-testing facility (footage showed staff punching beagle puppies in the face, shouting at them, and simulating sex acts while taking blood samples); against Covance, the United State’s largest importer of primates for laboratory research (evidence was found that they were dissecting monkeys at its Vienna, Virginia laboratory while the animals were still alive); against General Motors for using live animals in crash tests; against L’Oreal for testing cosmetics on animals; against the use of fur for fashion and fur farms; against Smithfield Foods for torturing Butterball turkeys; and against fast food chains, most recently against KFC through the launch of their website kentuckyfriedcruelty.com.

They have launched campaigns and engaged in stunts that are designed for media attention. In 1996, PETA activists famously threw a dead raccoon onto the table of Anna Wintour, the fur supporting editor-in-chief of Vogue, while she was dining at the Four Seasons in New York, and left bloody paw prints and the words “Fur Hag” on the steps of her home. They ran a campaign entitled Holocaust on your Plate that consisted of eight 60-square-foot panels, each juxtaposing images of the Holocaust with images of factory farming. Photographs of concentration camp inmates in wooden bunks were shown next to photographs of caged chickens, and piled bodies of Holocaust victims next to a pile of pig carcasses. In 2003 in Jerusalem, after a donkey was loaded with explosives and blown up in a terrorist attack, Newkirk sent a letter to then-PLO leader Yasser Arafat to keep animals out of the conflict. As the film shows, they also took over Jean-Paul Gaultier‘s Paris boutique and smeared blood on the windows to protest his use of fur in his clothing.

The group’s tactics have been criticized. Co-founder Pacheco, who is no longer with PETA, called them “stupid human tricks.” Some feminists criticize their campaigns featuring the Lettuce Ladies and “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” ads as objectifying women. Of their Holocaust on a Plate campaign, Anti-Defamation League Chairman Abraham Foxman said “The effort by PETA to compare the deliberate systematic murder of millions of Jews to the issue of animal rights is abhorrent.” (Newkirk later issued an apology for any hurt it caused). Perhaps most controversial amongst politicians, the public and even other animal rights organizations is PETA’s refusal to condemn the actions of the Animal Liberation Front, which in January 2005 was named as a terrorist threat by the United States Department of Homeland Security.

David Shankbone attended the pre-release screening of I Am An Animal at HBO’s offices in New York City on November 12, and the following day he sat down with Ingrid Newkirk to discuss her perspectives on PETA, animal rights, her responses to criticism lodged against her and to discuss her on-going life’s work to raise human awareness of animal suffering. Below is her interview.

This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

Contents

  • 1 The HBO film about her life
  • 2 PETA, animal rights groups and the Animal Liberation Front
  • 3 Newkirk on humans and other animals
  • 4 Religion and animals
  • 5 Fashion and animals
  • 6 Newkirk on the worst corporate animal abusers
  • 7 Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act
  • 8 Ingrid Newkirk on Ingrid Newkirk
  • 9 External links
  • 10 Sources

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Boston rings in the new year

Monday, January 1, 2007

Last night, 1 million people filed into Boston, Massachusetts to celebrate the 31st Annual First Night celebration. The people who attended the First Night celebration enjoyed live musical performances, ice sculptures, and finally, fire works.

Tonight was a great night for the ice sculptures and the people, as temperatures where around 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius).

At City Hill Plaza, Mayor Thomasn Menino made an appearance and held a countdown to noon for younger people who might not be able to stay up for the festivities that were to happen later in the night.

First Night celebrations were also held in Chatam, Fall River, New Bedford, and other towns and cities.

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Five police officers killed in Dallas, Texas during sniper attack

Sunday, July 10, 2016

On Thursday, five police officers were killed and seven were injured after a sniper attacked a public protest march in downtown Dallas, Texas. Sources indicate at least three other people were taken into custody for questioning relating to the attack. The march was held to protest the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota during engagements with police officers.

Police identified 25-year-old Micah Johnson as the suspect. Johnson had previously served in the US army, and police reported he said he wanted to exact revenge upon police officers after news of Sterling and Castile’s deaths. Ammunition and weapons were found inside Johnson’s home. Dallas Police reported the policemen were shot at from a height. Officials said two civilians were also injured in the attack.

Micah Johnson served for the United States Army Reserve from 2009 until early 2015, including a tour of Afghanistan. Johnson had no criminal record. His attack was reported to be a lone mission.

After the attack earlier on Thursday, police killed Micah Johnson in El Centro College’s parking lot by a bomb explosion.

Hillary Clinton, 2016 United States presidential election candidate and favorite for the Democratic nomination this July, said, “There is too much violence, too much hate, too much senseless killing, too many people dead who shouldn’t be. No-one has all the answers. We have to find them together.”

After Johnson was killed, Mike Rawlings, Dallas’ mayor, said “We believe now the city is safe”.

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Edmund White on writing, incest, life and Larry Kramer

Thursday, November 8, 2007

What you are about to read is an American life as lived by renowned author Edmund White. His life has been a crossroads, the fulcrum of high-brow Classicism and low-brow Brett Easton Ellisism. It is not for the faint. He has been the toast of the literary elite in New York, London and Paris, befriending artistic luminaries such as Salman Rushdie and Sir Ian McKellen while writing about a family where he was jealous his sister was having sex with his father as he fought off his mother’s amorous pursuit.

The fact is, Edmund White exists. His life exists. To the casual reader, they may find it disquieting that someone like his father existed in 1950’s America and that White’s work is the progeny of his intimate effort to understand his own experience.

Wikinews reporter David Shankbone understood that an interview with Edmund White, who is professor of creative writing at Princeton University, who wrote the seminal biography of Jean Genet, and who no longer can keep track of how many sex partners he has encountered, meant nothing would be off limits. Nothing was. Late in the interview they were joined by his partner Michael Caroll, who discussed White’s enduring feud with influential writer and activist Larry Kramer.

Contents

  • 1 On literature
  • 2 On work as a gay writer
  • 3 On sex
  • 4 On incest in his family
  • 5 On American politics
  • 6 On his intimate relationships
  • 7 On Edmund White
  • 8 On Larry Kramer
  • 9 Source

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3000 homeless after fire breaks out in Chad refugee camp

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A fire broke out in a refugee camp in eastern Chad Friday, leaving 3,000 people homeless and injuring 10, according to the United Nations (UN) refugee agency United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Refugees have been living in the camp as a result of the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan.

The fire started in the Goz Amer camp triggered by a cooking fire that had gone unwatched. The fire moved quickly through the camp due to high winds. Many of the refugees lost all of their belongings and food rations in the blaze. After receiving tents from the UNHCR in 2004, many of the refugees built traditional dwellings out of sticks and mud, and these shelters burned rapidly in the fire.

In a UNHCR press release, Emmanuel Uwurukundo, acting UNHCR head in Koukou-Angarana said: “Everybody around, refugees and all our partners alike, rushed to the spot and tried to extinguish the fire with whatever they had: clothes, extinguishers and water. The teamwork was outstanding.”

The refugees have already suffered so much tragedy and now face yet another trauma.

In Geneva the UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres commented on the situation: “The refugees have already suffered so much tragedy and now face yet another trauma. I am deeply relieved that there was no loss of life in this devastating fire. We will do everything we can to help and to get shelter and food supplies to them as quickly as possible.”

Families affected by the fire were housed at three area schools, and the UNHCR announced on Friday that it planned to deliver aid supplies including sleeping mats, blankets and kitchen sets. The World Food Programme was also asked by the UNHCR for an extra monthly food ration to be delivered to the families whose homes were destroyed in the blaze.

The Goz Amer camp houses about 20,500 refugees, and is located approximately 70 kilometers from the Sudanese border. Goz Amer is one of 12 UNHCR-run camps along the Chad-Sudan which all told contain over 240,000 refugees from Darfur.

Chad and Sudan signed a peace agreement on March 13 in an attempt to end a five-year conflict, and the leaders of both countries agreed not to back rebel groups that are active near their borders.

Approximately 2.2 million people from the Darfur region have left their homes since the beginning of the violence in 2003. The UN puts the number of deaths due to the Darfur conflict at over 200,000, and the Sudanese government has said that only 9,000 have died.

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Warhol’s photo legacy spread by university exhibits

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Evansville, Indiana, United States — This past week marked the opening night of an Andy Warhol exhibit at the University of Southern Indiana. USI’s art gallery, like 189 other educational galleries and museums around the country, is a recipient of a major Warhol donor program, and this program is cultivating new interest in Warhol’s photographic legacy. Wikinews reporters attended the opening and spoke to donors, exhibit organizers and patrons.

The USI art gallery celebrated the Thursday opening with its display of Warhol’s Polaroids, gelatin silver prints and several colored screen prints. USI’s exhibit, which is located in Evansville, Indiana, is to run from January 23 through March 9.

The McCutchan Art Center/Pace Galleries at USI bases its exhibit around roughly 100 Polaroids selected from its collection. The Polaroids were all donated by the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program, according to Kristen Wilkins, assistant professor of photography and curator of the exhibit. The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts made two donations to USI Art Collections, in 2007 and a second recently.

Kathryn Waters, director of the gallery, expressed interest in further donations from the foundation in the future.

Since 2007 the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program has seeded university art galleries throughout the United States with over 28,000 Andy Warhol photographs and other artifacts. The program takes a decentralized approach to Warhol’s photography collection and encourages university art galleries to regularly disseminate and educate audiences about Warhol’s artistic vision, especially in the area of photography.

Contents

  • 1 University exhibits
  • 2 Superstars
  • 3 Warhol’s photographic legacy
  • 4 USI exhibit
  • 5 Sources

Wikinews provides additional video, audio and photographs so our readers may learn more.

Wilkins observed that the 2007 starting date of the donation program, which is part of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, coincided with the 20th anniversary of Andy Warhol’s death in 1987. USI was not alone in receiving a donation.

K.C. Maurer, chief financial officer and treasurer at the Andy Warhol Foundation, said 500 institutions received the initial invitation and currently 190 universities have accepted one or more donations. Institutional recipients, said Mauer, are required to exhibit their donated Warhol photographs every ten years as one stipulation.

While USI is holding its exhibit, there are also Warhol Polaroid exhibits at the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York and an Edward Steichen and Andy Warhol exhibit at the Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. All have received Polaroids from the foundation.

University exhibits can reach out and attract large audiences. For example, the Weatherspoon Art Museum at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro saw attendance levels reach 11,000 visitors when it exhibited its Warhol collection in 2010, according to curator Elaine Gustafon. That exhibit was part of a collaboration combining the collections from Duke University, located in Durham, North Carolina, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which also were recipients of donated items from the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program.

Each collection donated by the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program holds Polaroids of well-known celebrities. The successful UNC Greensboro exhibit included Polaroids of author Truman Capote and singer-songwriter Carly Simon.

“I think America’s obsession with celebrity culture is as strong today as it was when Warhol was living”, said Gustafon. “People are still intrigued by how stars live, dress and socialize, since it is so different from most people’s every day lives.”

Wilkins explained Warhol’s obsession with celebrities began when he first collected head shots as a kid and continued as a passion throughout his life. “He’s hanging out with the celebrities, and has kind of become the same sort of celebrity he was interested in documenting earlier in his career”, Wilkins said.

The exhibit at USI includes Polaroids of actor Dennis Hopper; musician Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran; publishers Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone Magazine and Carlo De Benedetti of Italy’s la Repubblica; disco club owner Steve Rubell of Studio 54; photographers Nat Finkelstein, Christopher Makos and Felice Quinto; and athletes Vitas Gerulaitis (tennis) and Jack Nicklaus (golf).

Wikinews observed the USI exhibit identifies and features Polaroids of fashion designer Halston, a former resident of Evansville.

University collections across the United States also include Polaroids of “unknowns” who have not yet had their fifteen minutes of fame. Cynthia Thompson, curator and director of exhibits at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, said, “These images serve as documentation of people in his every day life and art — one which many of us enjoy a glimpse into.”

Warhol was close to important touchstones of the 1960s, including art, music, consumer culture, fashion, and celebrity worship, which were all buzzwords and images Wikinews observed at USI’s opening exhibit.

He was also an influential figure in the pop art movement. “Pop art was about what popular American culture really thought was important”, Kathryn Waters said. “That’s why he did the Campbell Soup cans or the Marilyn pictures, these iconic products of American culture whether they be in film, video or actually products we consumed. So even back in the sixties, he was very aware of this part of our culture. Which as we all know in 2014, has only increased probably a thousand fold.”

“I think everybody knows Andy Warhol’s name, even non-art people, that’s a name they might know because he was such a personality”, Water said.

Hilary Braysmith, USI associate professor of art history, said, “I think his photography is equally influential as his graphic works, his more famous pictures of Marilyn. In terms of the evolution of photography and experimentation, like painting on them or the celebrity fascination, I think he was really ground-breaking in that regard.”

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The Polaroid format is not what made Warhol famous, however, he is in the company of other well-known photographers who used the camera, such as Ansel Adams, Chuck Close, Walker Evans, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Helmut Newton.

Wilkins said, “[Warhol] liked the way photo booths and the Polaroid’s front flash looked”. She explained how Warhol’s adoption of the Polaroid camera revealed his process. According to Wilkins, Warhol was able to reproduce the Polaroid photograph and create an enlargement of it, which he then could use to commit the image to the silk screen medium by applying paint or manipulating them further. One of the silk screens exhibited at USI this time was the Annie Oakley screen print called “Cowboys and Indians” from 1987.

Wilkins also said Warhol was both an artist and a businessperson. “As a way to commercialize his work, he would make a blue Marilyn and a pink Marilyn and a yellow Marilyn, and then you could pick your favorite color and buy that. It was a very practical salesman approach to his work. He was very prolific but very business minded about that.”

“He wanted to be rich and famous and he made lots of choices to go that way”, Wilkins said.

It’s Warhol. He is a legend.

Kiara Perkins, a second year USI art major, admitted she was willing to skip class Thursday night to attend the opening exhibit but then circumstances allowed for her to attend the exhibit. Why did she so badly want to attend? “It’s Warhol. He is a legend.”

For Kevin Allton, a USI instructor in English, Warhol was also a legend. He said, “Andy Warhol was the center of the Zeitgeist for the 20th century and everything since. He is a post-modern diety.”

Allton said he had only seen the Silver Clouds installation before in film. The Silver Clouds installation were silver balloons blown up with helium, and those balloons filled one of the smaller rooms in the gallery. “I thought that in real life it was really kind of magical,” Allton said. “I smacked them around.”

Elements of the Zeitgeist were also playfully recreated on USI’s opening night. In her opening remarks for attendees, Waters pointed out those features to attendees, noting the touches of the Warhol Factory, or the studio where he worked, that were present around them. She pointed to the refreshment table with Campbell’s Soup served with “electric” Kool Aid and tables adorned with colorful gumball “pills”. The music in the background was from such bands as The Velvet Underground.

The big hit of the evening, Wikinews observed from the long line, was the Polaroid-room where attendees could wear a Warhol-like wig or don crazy glasses and have their own Polaroid taken. The Polaroids were ready in an instant and immediately displayed at the entry of the exhibit. Exhibit goers then became part of the very exhibit they had wanted to attend. In fact, many people Wikinews observed took out their mobiles as they left for the evening and used their own phone cameras to make one further record of the moment — a photo of a photo. Perhaps they had learned an important lesson from the Warhol exhibit that cultural events like these were ripe for use and reuse. We might even call these exit instant snap shots, the self selfie.

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Children enjoy interacting with the “Silver Clouds” at the Andy Warhol exhibit. Image: Snbehnke.

Kathryn Waters opens the Andy Warhol exhibit at USI. Image: Snbehnke.

At the Andy Warhol exhibit, hosts document all the names of attendees who have a sitting at the Polaroid booth. Image: Snbehnke.

Curator Kristin Wilkins shares with attendees the story behind his famous Polaroids. Image: Snbehnke.

A table decoration at the exhibit where the “pills” were represented by bubble gum. Image: Snbehnke.

Two women pose to get their picture taken with a Polaroid camera. Their instant pics will be hung on the wall. Image: Snbehnke.

Even adults enjoyed the “Silver Clouds” installation at the Andy Warhol exhibit at USI. Image: Snbehnke.

Many people from the area enjoyed Andy Warhol’s famous works at the exhibit at USI. Image: Snbehnke.

Katie Waters talks with a couple in the Silver Clouds area. Image: Snbehnke.

Many people showed up to the new Andy Warhol exhibit, which opened at USI. Image: Snbehnke.

At the exhibit there was food and beverages inspired to look like the 1960s. Image: Snbehnke.

A woman has the giggles while getting her Polaroid taken. Image: Snbehnke.

A man poses to get his picture taken by a Polaroid camera, with a white wig and a pair of sunglasses. Image: Snbehnke.

Finished product of the Polaroid camera film of many people wanting to dress up and celebrate Andy Warhol. Image: Snbehnke.

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US Court of Appeals reduces sentence for former Philippines officer in spy case

Monday, February 9, 2009

Michael Ray Aquino, a former Philippines National Police officer serving six years imprisonment in McRae, Georgia for espionage could now be eligible for immediate release after a United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit judge panel Friday modified a United States District Court for the District of New Jersey‘s judgment, ordering a resentence of the accused under more lenient guidelines.

“I feel relieved for Michael Aquino and his family. We won the appeal. Michael will be resentenced. His new sentencing range will be 36-46 months (that is, essentially time served). Aquino has now served exactly 41 months in prison to the day on Feb. 9, 2009,” Aquino’s lawyer, Mark A. Berman, Esq. said. “The accused pleaded guilty to merely to possessing military secrets, and a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that Walls erred in using harsher sentencing guideline reserved gathering or transmitting classified documents,” Berman added.

But Federal prosecutors had argued for Walls’ sentence, alleging “his guilty plea included acknowledging the stolen documents could have been used to harm the United States, making him eligible for the stiffer sentence,” Christopher J. Christie, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey submitted. “Crimes like these strike at the heart of our national security because they involve our keeping our secrets secret. These defendants will face the full weight of federal prosecution,” said US Attorney Christie.

“The arrests of Leandro Aragoncillo and Michael Ray Aquino affirm the FBI’s commitment to apprehending those who would seek to reveal classified information to foreign nationals,” explained FBI Special Agent in Charge Leslie Wiser Jr. Both accused were ordered in judicial custody without bail by United States Magistrate Judge Patty Shwartz in September 2005.

“While Aragoncillo was an active participant in the offense, Aquino’s role was purely passive,” wrote Circuit Judge Maryanne Trump Barry in a written opinion promulgated Friday, in “US v Aquino” (No. 07-3202), an appealed case originating from D.C. Crim. No. 05-cr-00719. In the judgment, federal judges Barry, Michael Chagares and Jane A Restani, Chief Judge of the United States Court of International Trade, sitting by designation, have acknowledged that Judge William H. Walls’ interpretation of the harsher sentencing guideline was understandable, but the statute is imprecise. “Accordingly, we will vacate the judgment of sentence and remand for resentencing,” the panel ruled.

“The Honorable Maryanne Barry” is a United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit judge, daughter of Mary MacLeod Trump, who hails from Tong, Western Isles. Barry is the older sister of real estate mogul Donald Trump and the mother of David Desmond, who is a neuropsychologist and the author of the satirical novel Oliver Booth.

The espionage case was the first of its kind, obliging the Court to turn to the dictionary instead as a legal tool to resolve the landmark case. Circuit Judge Barry then used the 1993 version of the Webster’s Third New International Dictionary to define the word “obtain.” The pertinent part, pages 9 to 10 of the 13-page decision provides as follows:

First, Aquino never admitted—at least in so many words—that he “obtained” the documents found in his possession. According to Webster’s, “to obtain” means “to gain or attain possession or disposal of usu[ally] by some planned action or method.” Webster’s Third New International Dictionary 1559 (1993). This has an active connotation. At his sentencing hearing, Aquino answered in the affirmative when asked whether he had “receiv[ed]” documents (App. 44) that Aragoncillo “was providing” (App. 45) or “transmit[ting]” (App. 46). At no point was “planned action or method” on Aquino’s part even suggested. While Aragoncillo was an active participant in the offense, Aquino’s role was purely passive. In short, there is no sound textual basis for selecting either § 2M3.2 or § 2M3.3 to address Aquino’s retention offense at Step One. Fortunately, at Step Two, the Sentencing Commission provided guidance that makes it functionally irrelevant whether we begin our analysis at § 2M3.2 or § 2M3.3. Critically, the District Court did not heed what the Commission had said.—”USA v. Michael Ray Aquino,” Case No. 07-3202, Circuit Judge Maryanne Trump Barry

Judge Walls sentenced Aquino to 76 months imprisonment for violation of 18 United States Code 793(e), punishable under the harsher United States Sentencing Guidelines, 2M3.2, (Gathering National Defense Information, which imposes 35 years sentence if top secret and 30 years, if not) instead of the more lenient 2M3.3 (Transmitting National Defense Information, etc.)

Because of the Barry decision which modified the original Hall’s sentence, Aquino now faces 37 to 46 months imprisonment when he is resentenced by the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. Since he has already served 40 months, he could be immediately released.

But since he was initially arrested in September 2005 for tourist visa rules violations, he will be delivered by the judicial authorities to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services when he leaves McRae Correctional Institution in Georgia. Aquino will be processed for deportation. McRae is a city in Telfair County, Georgia, United States.

Michael Ray Aquino was a former Deputy Directory of the Philippines National Police Intelligence Group and former senior superintendent of the now-disbanded Philippines Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force under former Philippines president Joseph Estrada.

On November 24, 2000, PR man Bubby Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito were kidnapped along the corner Zobel Roxas Street in Manila and the South Super Highway by gunmen believed to be members of the PNP. Four days after, the victims’ charred remains, consisting of burnt bones, metal dental plates and a ring, were later found in Barangay Buna Lejos, Indang, Cavite. Both victims were killed by strangulation.

P/Col. Glenn Galapon Dumlao, one of the accused, named former Po/Supt. Cezar O. Mancao II and former S/Supt. Michael Ray Aquino as the brains behind the crime. Mancao and Aquino were members of Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force or PAOCTF, headed by then Gen. Panfilo Lacson. Suspects Mancao and Aquino left the country after being implicated in the heinous crime. Dumlao disappeared afterwards but later resurfaced in the US.

In 2005, murder cases were filed in Philippine courts and arrests warrants were issued against accused Dumlao, Aquino and Mancao. Dumlao, a resident of Patchogue, New York was arrested and held without bail on November 20, 2008 by virtue of a warrant of arrest issued by Judge William D. Wall. On December 10, Dumlao was ordered extradited to the Philippines by Judge A. Kathleen Tomlinson of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Long Island, New York.

The initial hearing of the extradition case of Dumlao’s co-accused, Mancao II, now detained in Florida, was held on December 3, in the US District Court in Southern Florida in Fort Lauderdale. Justice Secretary Raul M. Gonzalez had requested the US Justice Department to extradite Mancao and Dumlao to face murder charges in the Philippines. An extradition hearing has yet to be initiated for Aquino, although, as trusted officer of then PNP chief, now senator, Panfilo Lacson, was also requested for extradition by the Philippine government to face trial for the Dacer-Corbito double murder.

“Sir, the other day Leandro ‘Lean’ Aragoncillo called me. … He wants to talk to you and give you some updates on the political situation in the country,” wrote Aquino in an e-mail of January 2005 to his former boss Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson. “I find all the information that you are sending me very useful. I hope you will continue sending more,” replied Sen. Lacson in an e-mail he allegedly sent in January 2005 to Aragoncillo. “By no means would you show this information. … I will be affected severely. Again, please protect the source – Me,” said Aragoncillo in an E-mail he allegedly sent in August 2005 to former Philippines President Joseph Estrada.

In March 2005, Aquino was arrested by immigration authorities for overstaying his visa. He contacted his friend, Leandro Aragoncillo, a Philippine-born civilian FBI Intelligence Analyst, who worked in the White House (between 1999 and 2002) as “administration chief” of the security detail assigned to the Vice President (Gore and then Cheney). However, Aragoncillo’s efforts on Aquino’s behalf eventually led to Aragoncillo being investigated by the FBI. In the course of that investigation, evidence of espionage against the United States Government was uncovered.

According to reports complied by Filipino intelligence professionals, there were indications of a link between Aragoncillo and the French intelligence service, Direction générale de la sécurité extérieure. Frequent visits by Aragoncillo to Manila allegedly were interspersed with clandestine meetings between identified, French operatives and several “illegals” (i.e. unregistered agents) around 2002 to 2004.

“What it means is that there is a hole in White House security. There are two kinds of people at the White House: Those that have been very well-vetted and those that have been extremely well-vetted and have access to the top secret computer network. This man had access to the top secret computer network.” said Richard A. Clarke, a former White House adviser.

“The FBI said Aragoncillo was concerned about e-mailing from his personal account so many classified documents from FBI computers, and he asked one recipient, Filipino opposition Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, whether he was a nuisance. “The reply, court records say, came back two days later in a cell phone message intercepted by the FBI: “What you are sending are never a nuisance to me. They are in fact informative and very useful,” Clark added.

In September 2005, Aragoncillo, a retired US Marine Gunnery Sergeant with 21 years service was suspended by the FBI, and arrested for violation of Title 18 of the US Code, Sections 371 and 951, admitting espionage activities from August 2000 to August 2005, and taking files while working under VP Cheney from 2001-2002, including giving information to another country.

In July 2007, Aragoncillo, age 50, a naturalized US citizen residing in Woodbury, New Jersey was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for “transferring classified information to assist in overthrow of Philippines government.” Aragoncillo, admitted passing information by cellphone text messages and e-mail messages through Hotmail and Yahoo accounts, to Aquino, former President Joseph Estrada, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, and opposition politicians, who wanted to oust Mrs. Arroyo, including former House Speaker Arnulfo Fuentebella, according to court documents. He will be released from Federal Correction Institute in Big Spring, Texas on May 28, 2014.

The court fined Aragoncillo $40,000. “I never intended to cause harm or injury to the United States,” Aragoncillo told the judge. In July 2007, Sen. Panfilo Lacson as well as deposed president Joseph Estrada have admitted to receiving information from Aquino, but they denied any conspiracy. “Aquino is determined not to return to the country,” said Sen. Lacson, who admitted extending financial support to Aquino and his family.

In July, 2008, Sabina and Carina Dacer, the daughters of missing public relations man Salvador “Bubby” Dacer testified at the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC), after almost eight years of self-exile in the United States. “In his exact words he said, ‘mga anak, kung may mangyari sa akin, walang ibang may kakagawan noon kundi si Ping Lacson, (my daughters, if anything happens to me, no one but Ping Lacson is responsible)” Sabina Dacer told ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs. “Hindi naman kilala ng daddy ko si Michael Ray Aquino as far as we know eh. So kung hindi siya kilala ng daddy ko, sino yung kilala niya na kilala ng daddy ko? (My dad does not know Michael Ray Aquino as far as we know. So, if my dad does not know him, whom does he know that my dad knows?)” Carina Dacer said.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson has vehemently denied any involvement in the Dacer-Corbito murder case. “For the Nth time, I will assert the truth that I had nothing to do with it,” said Lacson in a text message. “They can lie and make people lie even under oath and before a court of law to make me look bad and guilty in the Dacer case. In fact, right after Dacer disappeared, the family sought my help… And I responded the way I should as a law enforcement officer at that time,” Lacson explained.

On Saturday, September 10, 2005, Aquino was also arrested at Queens, New Jersey and was charged with conspiracy and acting as an agent of a foreign official in the jurisdiction of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, presided by U.S. District Judge William H. Walls. Aquino was accused of helping Aragoncillo transmit classified United States documents regarding President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to her opponents in the Philippines, including both former President Joseph Estrada and current opposition leader, Panfilo Lacson, who had been Aquino’s superior in the police force.

In an indictment of 6 Oct 2005 signed and filed by United States Attorney Christopher J. Christie, the Grand Jury sitting at Newark, New Jersey, accused Aquino with charges of – “knowingly communicating classified information by a government employee to an agent or representative of a foreign country (i.e. receiving classified information), acting as an agent of a foreign official without notification of the Attorney General, in violation of Title 18 of the US Code, Section 951, conspiracy to commit all of the above offenses in violation of Title 18 of the US Code, Section 371, and not cooperating with authorities, under Title 18 of the US Code, Section 2.

Under an eventual plea-bargain agreement, Aquino entered a plea of guilty to illegal possession of classified documents, but avoided the more serious charge of espionage which Aragoncillo received. On July 17, 2007, Aquino was sentenced to six years and four months in prison by U.S. District Judge William H. Walls. Federal prosecutors had sought the maximum 10-year term.

Aquino “did subject our nation to some peril,” ruled Judge Walls. “I am sorry for what I did. I never had the intention to harm the United States. I love this country,” said Aquino who addressed the court for three minutes before sentencing, and apologized. On November 21, 2008 his reduced sentence request was submitted to the appellate court.

Meantime, the Philippine National Police (PNP) is monitoring developments in the Aquino espionage case. “Of course we are interested in his case, but all we can do is to wait for the outcome of the case of Michael Ray in the US,” said a police official.

The Alliance for A Just and Lasting Peace in the Philippines has criticized the judgment: “For the AJLPP the news of the release proves that the charade of injustice is ever present when it comes to the cabal of AFP men who served as worst human rights violator and proven puppets of the United States military like the Lacson boys,” the AJLPP said. “On the other cases of oppressed immigrants like the Baoanan case languishes in courts and not acted upon. So much for double standard of American justice system.” The AJLPP statement concluded.