News Release Archive - 1999

Hurricanes and Climate Change

ROSS GELBSPAN
Author of The Heat Is On: The Climate Crisis, the Cover-Up, the Prescription, Gelbspan said: “The ferocity of Hurricane Floyd — like Hurricane Mitch, which last year killed 9,000 people in Central America — is part of a pattern of extreme weather which results directly from early-stage global warming. Warmer surface waters fuel more intense and severe hurricanes. In the last few years, surface waters in both the Atlantic and Pacific have warmed by several degrees — independent of El Niño events. That increase, coupled with a warming-driven rise of atmospheric humidity of 5 percent per decade since the mid-1970s, accounts for the unusually intense rains which accompany these hurricanes. The chief cause of global warming is the buildup of emissions from our burning of oil and coal.”
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DR. PAUL EPSTEIN
Associate director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, Epstein said: “Global warming did not ’cause’ Hurricane Floyd (or the New York City outbreak of encephalitis). Hurricane strength and outbreaks of diseases with such complex life-cycles cannot be accurately predicted. But extreme weather events are growing in intensity as a result of heat building up in the atmosphere and oceans. And as increasingly unusual weather patterns envelop us, they can ‘decouple’ natural biological controls over opportunistic pests and pathogens. We can, therefore, expect more such surprises.”
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KATHERINE SILVERTHORNE
Director of U.S. PIRG’s Campaign to Stop Global Warming, Silverthorne said: “Hurricane Floyd and this past summer’s extreme weather are dramatic previews of what scientists predict that global warming could do. As we prepare for more extreme weather events like Floyd, Congress continues to block measures that could curb global warming. One of the best ways to curb global warming is to reduce auto pollution by increasing miles-per-gallon standards. We applaud the 40 senators who voted Wednesday to lift the freeze on upgrading miles per gallon (CAFE) standards for casting perhaps the single most important environmental vote of this session.”
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KENNY BRUNO
Research associate with the Transnational Resource and Action Center, Bruno said: “Although we can’t point to a single ’cause’ of this specific hurricane, climate change is likely to cause more hurricanes and more severe hurricanes. If we follow the recommendation of some members of the European parliament, we can call this Hurricane Exxon, Hurricane Mobil or Hurricane Shell, instead of Hurricane Floyd, since it is these companies that are most responsible for climate change — and the devastating storms that are associated with it.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020 or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Just Back From East Timor

Despite Indonesia’s agreement to an international force in East Timor, the violence there continues. The following people, most of whom were UN-accredited observers for the late August vote, have recently returned from East Timor and are available for interviews:

BARBARA NASH
A UN-accredited observer with the International Federation for East Timor, Nash just returned on September 8. Nash is a teacher and grandmother.
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JEROME HANSEN
Hansen, who has also done election monitoring in Sri Lanka and Cambodia, is currently a graduate student in conflict analysis and resolution at George Mason University.

MIRIAM YOUNG and ANDREW WELLS
Associated with the Asia Pacific Center for Justice and Peace, Young and Wells led an ecumenical delegation to East Timor.

ELKE ENDER and MARIN GERSKOVIC
Volunteers with the United Nations Mission in East Timor, Ender is a graduate student, Gerskovic is a former Yugoslavian diplomat.

BONNIE LING
Ling, who is from Athens, Georgia, recently returned from East Timor.

CHRIS LUNDRY
Lundry is a doctoral student studying East Timor at Arizona State University.

WILLIAM SEAMAN
Seaman was in East Timor for more than a month.

DIANE FARSETTA
Farsetta, who lives in Madison, Wisconsin, returned from East Timor on September 10.

MARK SALZER
Salzer is coordinator of the East Timor Action Network (ETAN) in Boston. He recently returned from his second trip to East Timor.
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BEN TERRALL
Terrall, director of the East Timor Research and Relief Project, is San Francisco coordinator of ETAN.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020 or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

East Timor and Economic Summit

KRISTIN SUNDELL
A UN-accredited observer with the International Federation for East Timor and national field organizer with the East Timor Action Network, Sundell recently returned from East Timor. She is in contact with others who are just returning and have witnessed the brutality there.
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AMY GOODMAN and ALLAN NAIRN
Goodman and Nairn have each won numerous journalist awards for their coverage of East Timor. They both survived the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre there. Goodman, host of Pacifica Radio’s “Democracy Now!” program, was recently expelled from Indonesia because she is on a blacklist. She is in regular contact with Nairn, believed to be the only U.S. journalist still in East Timor. Nairn has written a new article for The Nation, “U.S. Complicity in Timor,” documenting tacit approval by U.S. officials for Indonesia’s ethnic cleansing of East Timor.
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JEFFREY WINTERS
Associate professor of Political Economy at Northwestern University and author of Power in Motion: Capital Mobility and the Indonesian State, Winters is currently in Indonesia.
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MATTHEW JARDINE
Author of East Timor: Genocide in Paradise, Jardine was a UN-accredited observer and just returned from East Timor on September 7. He said: “The APEC summit in New Zealand embodies the very logic by which the U.S. government has sacrificed the East Timorese people for profits in resource-rich Indonesia over the last 24 years.”
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WILLIAM HARTUNG
Senior fellow at the World Policy Institute and author of U.S. Arms Transfers to Indonesia, Hartung said: “The Clinton administration’s suggestion that it has limited leverage over the Indonesian military is absurd. The U.S. has been a principal source of arms, aid and investment to the Jakarta regime for three decades. President Clinton should use the occasion of the APEC summit to end all arms, aid and investment to Indonesia until it respects the vote and withdraws from East Timor.”
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STEPHEN ZUNES
Chair of the Peace and Justice Studies Program at the University of San Francisco, Zunes said: “More East Timorese have been murdered and ethnically cleansed in the past 10 days than Kosovar Albanians in the months prior to the NATO bombing. Legally, the case for intervention is far stronger: Kosovo was universally recognized as part of Serbia, East Timor is illegally occupied by Indonesia. Bombing Jakarta wouldn’t be necessary. All the U.S. would need to do is stop bailing out Indonesia’s economy and stop blocking the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force, which the Australians have already agreed to lead.”

East Timor: What’s Going On?

News reports from East Timor indicate that the Indonesian army and the militias are now working together openly to wreak new terror on the streets of East Timor’s capital, Dili.

The following analysts and commentators are available for interviews:

JOSE RAMOS-HORTA
Jose Ramos-Horta is winner of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize and the International Representative of the National Council of Timorese Resistance. (He will be at a news conference at the National Press Club at 9 a.m. on Wednesday.)
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ALLAN NAIRN
An award-winning journalist, Nairn has written about East Timor for The Nation, The New Yorker and other outlets. He survived the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre in East Timor. He is currently in East Timor and is about to release a report that documents cooperation between the militias, the Indonesian army and U.S. officials. He is one of the only American reporters left in East Timor, now under martial law.

DR. DAN MURPHY
A doctor from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Dr. Murphy spent nine months in East Timor working at a clinic. He was recently deported from East Timor. He said: “To date, statements from the administration have lacked definitive consequences for Indonesia. The U.S. government could stop military aid, stop joint military exercises, deny World Bank funding, recall our ambassador, send peacekeeping forces with or without Indonesian cooperation. The administration’s current actions reflect complicity, and tacitly give a green light to the terror.”
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AMY GOODMAN
Pacifica radio journalist Goodman, who has won numerous awards for her coverage of East Timor and was recently expelled from Indonesia because she is on a blacklist, said: “The Indonesian forces are ethnically cleansing the East Timorese; they are burning homes, forcing people out by the thousands at gun-point if not killing them outright. If the U.S. would say to Indonesia, no more arms, no more international aid or loans, the violence would stop today.”

KRISTIN SUNDELL
A UN-accredited observer with the International Federation for East Timor and national field organizer with the East Timor Action Network, Sundell just returned from her second trip to East Timor today. “The militias are working directly with the Indonesian army. This is well-coordinated, systematic violence. This is not militias run amok.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Labor Day: Key Issues

LAURA JONES
A recent study by the 2030 Center, a public policy institute that advocates for the economic interests of young adults, examined the threats to job security due to increases in temporary work. Jones, communications director for the 2030 Center, said: “As Americans race to the beach this Labor Day weekend, an army of young temporary workers will keep American businesses humming — and they won’t be getting holiday pay to do it. Wages and job quality are actually declining for young Americans — since 1973, entry-level wages for young workers have fallen between 5 and 29 percent… Few benefits, lower wages, diminished labor standards — that is reality for nearly 1 million temps under age 35.”

BILL FLETCHER, JR.
Assistant to the president of the AFL-CIO, and coauthor of “The Indispensable Ally: Black Workers and the Formation of the CIO, 1934-1941,” Fletcher said: “We live in this paradoxical situation where people are either working too much or they are not working enough to survive. And while we are supposed to have a 40-hour work week, this often gets lengthened for working-class families, either through the direct extension of the work day and forced overtime or through individuals having to work more than one job to survive. The injustice of this can be found in the fact that U.S. workers continue to be productive, but are receiving few benefits of their productivity.”
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GREG LeROY
Director of Good Jobs First, LeRoy is the primary author of the study “Economic Development in Minnesota: High Subsidies, Low Wages, Absent Standards,” which helped lead to the Minnesota state legislature passing significant new reforms to make job subsidies more accountable (signed into law by Gov. Jesse Ventura on May 25). Today, LeRoy said: “Economic development is typically implemented in the name of jobs, jobs, jobs, but we found that half the companies receiving job subsidies in Minnesota pay extremely low wages… The old-school emphasis on simply reducing the cost of capital is ineffective in today’s economy.”
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DAVID BACON
Author of “Unions and the Fight for Multiracial Democracy” in the current issue of Dollars and Sense magazine, Bacon said today: “Union politics are being shaken up by a demographic shift. For example, early in the next millennium, California will become a ‘majority-minority’ state, in which white people, for the first time in centuries, will be the minority. From the beginning, unions have been divided over racism — some perpetuating it, others fighting it. Now, unions have an opportunity — and an obligation — to ensure that they embrace ethnic diversity in the workplace as a path to growth.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020 or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Election Context in East Timor

Indonesian-backed forces have increased their violence in recent days as Monday’s UN-organized referendum on self-determination approaches. In 1975, Indonesia invaded East Timor with tacit U.S. backing. In the 24 years since, 200,000 people have died, a third of the population. Interviews are available with the following analysts:

LYNN FREDRIKSSON
Washington representative of the East Timor Action Network, Fredriksson said: “Few doubt that the vast majority in East Timor will opt for independence if the vote is free. But just days before the long-awaited referendum, the people of East Timor face escalating paramilitary threats, intimidation and outright terrorist attacks. The human rights community is calling on President Clinton to personally demand that the Indonesian-backed violence stop, but he has not yet done so.” Fredriksson can arrange interviews with Timorese leader Jose Ramos-Horta, the co-winner of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize, as well as Dr. Dan Murphy, a physician from Iowa who spent the past nine months in East Timor treating hundreds of internally displaced people and scores of victims of recent paramilitary attacks. He survived a July 4 attack on a UN convoy. Two weeks ago Dr. Murphy was forced to leave East Timor.
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CONSTANCIO PINTO
Author of East Timor’s Unfinished Struggle: Inside the Timorese Resistance, Pinto is the National Council of Timorese Resistance’s representative to the UN and North America. He is a survivor of arrest and torture at the hands of the Indonesian military.

AMY GOODMAN
Goodman won numerous awards for her documentary “Massacre: The Story of East Timor,” which chronicles the Indonesian genocide against the East Timorese and the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre of 250 civilians (which Goodman survived). In the last few days, Goodman, the host of Pacifica Radio’s “Democracy Now!” program, was twice expelled from Indonesia because her name appears on an Indonesian army blacklist of more than 1,000 names. She said: “The Indonesian regime should stop the violence — not the reporters trying to cover it. Indonesian president B.J. Habibie talks about reforming Indonesia since the Suharto regime, but the Indonesian-backed death squads raging through East Timor and the enforcement of the blacklist confirm that the military’s power remains unbroken.”
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JOE NEVINS, [in Dili, East Timor]
Nevins is a UN-accredited observer with the International Federation for East Timor.

MARK SALZER
A public school teacher, Salzer just returned from East Timor as a UN-accredited observer with the International Federation for East Timor.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

U.S. Bombing of Sudan: One Year Later

A year ago — on August 20, 1998 — the U.S. government launched cruise missiles at Sudan and Afghanistan, claiming retaliation for the U.S. embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya two weeks earlier. Key assertions by U.S. government officials — that the al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Sudan was producing chemical weapons and that it was linked to Osama bin Laden — turned out to be inaccurate. The owner of the plant, Salah Idris, has brought suit against the U.S. government.

The following analysts are available for interviews:

JASON VEST
A Washington correspondent for the Village Voice, Vest has investigated the al-Shifa bombing. He comments: “It’s difficult to say what is more amazing: the apparently glaring failures in the intelligence operation that led to the al-Shifa plant being fingered as a chemical weapons site; the actual bombing of the factory; the Clinton administration’s over-the-top pattern of obfuscation and contradictions in explaining its rationale for the bombing; Congress’ less-than-zealous attitude about holding the administration accountable for an unnecessarily destructive act (lying about sex gets you an independent counsel, but bombing another country with shoddy evidence and lying about it doesn’t?); the mainstream media’s unwillingness to hammer on this issue; or the public’s lack of interest.”
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HUSSEIN IBISH
Communications director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Ibish said: “The bombing of the al-Shifa factory was an act of aggression of the most reckless and lawless variety. The information upon which it was based has proven to be flimsy at best, if not outright fabrications. No attempt was made to deal with the supposed problem through diplomatic means. Property was destroyed and lives taken in a crude ‘revenge attack’ aimed at innocent third parties… The timing of the incident with regard to the president’s political fortunes is highly suspect, coming just after his belated admission of an ‘inappropriate relationship.’ It is truly one of the moral low points of recent American foreign policy.”
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MARTIN BUTCHER
Senior visiting fellow at the British American Security Information Council, Butcher said: “The case of the U.S. bombing the al-Shifa plant shows the perils of the U.S. launching strikes against alleged proliferators. This is particularly of concern since Presidential Decision Directive 60, approved in November 1997, allows for the use of nuclear weapons against alleged proliferators.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Global Warming Warning?

ROSS GELBSPAN
Author of The Heat Is On: The Climate Crisis, the Cover-Up, the Prescription, Gelbspan said: “This year in the United States, a 315-mile-an-hour tornado destroyed parts of Oklahoma City, one of the worst droughts on record is decimating crops in the mid-Atlantic states and a summer heat wave has killed more than 270 people in the Northeast. These extreme weather events represent an early stage of global warming — the heating of our atmosphere from the buildup of coal and oil emissions. To restore our climate’s stability requires us to cut those emissions by 70 percent — and that means a global transition to renewable energy sources. That transition, if handled correctly, could create one of the greatest economic booms in history, generating millions and millions of jobs all over the world.”
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WENONAH HAUTER
Director of Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy Project, Hauter said: “The powerful economic forces that benefit from the use and abuse of energy — whether for generating electricity or producing gasoline — are buying and selling public policy on climate change. Political inaction on this tremendous threat to our delicate balance of life is a direct result of the enormous political influence of the energy-intensive industries… Something is really backwards when the so-called conservatives are opposed to reducing emissions as a way of providing insurance against dramatic climate change… In the future, the impact of climate change will be so great that our descendants will be incredulous that our policymakers didn’t act decisively.”
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DAPHNE WYSHAM
Coordinator of the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network, Wysham said: “It’s like the old adage: Everyone talks about the weather, no one does anything about it. The problem is, by not doing anything, we are in fact changing the weather. It’s an awesome thought, but just as we have the power to change the climate, we also have the power to restore it to stability. It comes down to individual choices — our elected leaders, our cars, our power plants, our investments. If we continue to make those choices without climate change in mind, we will continue to see more record droughts, killer heat waves, and devastating hurricanes… Ironically, our denial of the problem of climate change and our continual grasping onto a finite resource — fossil fuels — to meet our energy needs means that we’re neglecting infinite resources — solar, wind, and small hydro — to our collective detriment. Fortunately for us, the infinite resources will still be around when fossil fuels run out. Unfortunately for us, the rest of life on this planet may not.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Fallout From Nuclear Exposure

Newspaper accounts this week report that workers were unknowingly exposed to deadly radioactive isotopes at key Department of Energy facilities. The following analysts are available for interviews:

JAY TRUMAN
Founder and director of Downwinders, a group of people exposed to radiation during nuclear tests, Truman said: “The news that the workers at Paducah (Ky.) and Oak Ridge (Tenn.) were unknowingly exposed to plutonium and other dangerous isotopes for up to three decades is yet another tragic example of the price paid by average American citizens for this country’s nuclear weapons policy. For decades, these workers were led to believe by the government that they were only dealing with uranium. They were never informed that they were also engaged in the much more dangerous reprocessing of spent fuel rods from naval nuclear reactors. Nor was the public living around these facilities informed that many of these same isotopes that workers now charge resulted in cancer and other illnesses were slowly leaking into their local water supplies… Energy Secretary Bill Richardson has now made his promise that the endless excuses will stop. The proof is in the pudding — the Secretary and the Department have a long way to go to put substance behind those promises.”
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MAUREEN ELDREDGE
Program director of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, Eldredge has just returned from the “Beyond the Bomb” conference in New Mexico sponsored by Peace Action. She said: “We are continually finding more exposures than has previously been admitted by the government. The same pattern is repeated as people try to find information about their health problems, and government denies problems exist and only admits when it’s forced to… This isn’t just about past contamination. We have ongoing nuclear weapons production at Oak Ridge in Tennessee, Savannah River in South Carolina, Los Alamos in New Mexico and Lawrence Livermore in California. Most of these facilities are not in compliance with environmental law and there are weekly reports of worker contamination.”
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JACKIE O. KITTRELL
The general counsel for the American Environmental Health Studies Project, Kittrell has represented sick workers at Oak Ridge, Tenn. She said: “This situation highlights how much atomic workers need benefits given to them rather than relying on the corrupted workers compensation system to determine if their illness was related to their workplace. The administration should revisit its proposal to limit medical disease benefits… This is a general public health matter — nuclear workers are the canaries in the coal mine for many of us… The DOE has had lawyers practicing medicine and doctors practicing law — they purposely refuse to look at the health outcome for workers and others because they don’t want the liability.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Farmers: Beyond the Drought

These analysts are available to talk about the drought and other issues facing farmers:

KATHY OZER
Director of program operations at the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, which works with small (mostly African American) farmers, Zippert said: “What’s far more serious than the drought for our farmers is the price of agricultural commodities. They’re getting 3 or 4 cents a pound for watermelon… The prices that farmers are receiving are the same as 50 years ago… The farmers are not getting the full value of these products, a series of middlemen are. You have the food processors and the agribusiness corporations, which are achieving greater concentration and more buying power. Agriculture policy has subsidized them — and use of fertilizers, pesticides and gasoline — rather than sustainable agriculture. That’s bad for the environment and it’s bad for rural communities.”
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BILL VORLEY
Director of the Food and Agriculture program at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Vorley said: “The government is about to throw between $7 billion and $11 billion at U.S. agriculture because of the crisis of low prices. But this won’t address underlying issues… There is a near-record amount of subsidies in farming, but…the farmer’s share of the food dollar keeps shrinking and more is retained by processors, retailers and seed sellers. Farmers are also getting squeezed by having bought genetically engineered seeds from Monsanto and others that the Europeans are refusing to buy.”
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SALLY HERRIN
Education and communications director of the Nebraska Farmers Union, Herrin said: “Current farm policy has created exactly what the grain trade wants — and pays for with a few million dollars in campaign contributions each election cycle — lots of production and prices in freefall. And eventually, instead of two million farmers (down from six million in 1950), ConAgra and Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland hope to have just 55,000 farmers to deal with, locked into contracts with biopatents and leveraged to the bills of their seedcaps.”
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SCOTTY JOHNSON
Rural outreach coordinator for GREEN (GrassRoots Environmental Effectiveness Network), Johnson said: “Much of farm policy is being advanced for the benefit of agribusiness, chemical, biotech, oil and insurance companies which are all connected with commodities marketers. The American Farm Bureau Federation, the nation’s most powerful farm lobby, advances policies that benefit these corporate interests, not average farmers.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167