Phivolcs: Slim probability of Taal Volcano caldera eruption Ibeh wasn’t that explosive in the offensive end but was a stable defensive presence for the Batang Pier with 19 points, 13 rebounds, three steals, and two blocks as they won their first game of the conference, 103-81, against Alaska.The 24-year-old center said he expects more from himself, echoing what his head coach Pido Jarencio said.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGolden State Warriors sign Lee to multiyear contract, bring back ChrissSPORTSCoronation night?SPORTSThirdy Ravena gets offers from Asia, Australian ball clubs“I want to see more from myself, my expectations are higher than the performance I had today,” said Ibeh Wednesday at Ynares Center in Antipolo.Jarencio said Ibeh, who stands at 6-foot-10, was already an intimidating presence underneath and he believes his young reinforcement can still improve as the conference goes. Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Solon urges Solgen to reconsider quo warranto petition vs ABS-CBN “He’s intimidating inside with his long arms and he’s getting those rebounds,” said Jarencio in Filipino. “When you give him a drop pass he can finish and I think he’ll still improve.”“I can see what he can do for the team and that’s what’s important. His rebounding is the number one thing for us, second is his presence and that is the intimidation factor. Last is he can finish underneath no matter how he gets the ball,” added Jarencio.Ibeh said his main goal during the game against the Aces was give it everything on defense while also being careful with his fouls.“I was just really trying to focus on maintaining a high-level effort and staying solid defensively and I was kind of watching my fouls,” said Ibeh who got called with just two fouls in 40 minutes of play.“When I’m on the floor it’s going to be a different story in terms of opposing teams getting easy baskets,” added Ibeh. “Whatever they run I know I have the ability to take them out of that especially if their import is their focal point. That’s something I pride myself in.”ADVERTISEMENT NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption PLAY LIST 02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award03:05Malakanyang bilib sa Phivolcs | Chona Yu Rondina, Pons turn back Japanese foe to kick start FIVB Boracay Open bid MOST READ Gretchen Barretto’s daughter Dominique graduates magna cum laude from California college LeBron James stretches lead in NBA All-Star Game fan voting View comments Nadine Lustre’s phone stolen in Brazil The Witcher series prompts over 500,000 reprints of Andrzej Sapkowski’s books MANILA, Philippines—NorthPort big man Prince Ibeh is eager to prove that he can still be better for the Batang Pier in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.ADVERTISEMENT Eduard Folayang gets new opponent for ONE Manila card LATEST STORIES Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Pagadian on tighter security for 100,000 expected at Sto. Niño feast
Dear Editor,On May 5, 1838, some 180 years ago, the first batch of 128 East Indian immigrants landed at Plantation Highbury, East Bank Berbice. It is important that, as Guyanese, we do not allow the historical significance of Plantation Highbury to diminish.Over the last thirty years, on May 5th, Guyanese gathered at this prestigious site to reflect and show gratitude for the sacrifices of our ancestors.Through the generosity of the Indian Government, Guyana has received a monument to commemorate this historical occasion. The controversial Palmyra site selected for such a monument still baffles the mind of the majority of Guyanese.While Guyanese are extremely grateful for this monument, the reasons given for the selection of this site over the Highbury site have indeed displayed the ignorance and subsequent lack of emotion of those who were instrumental in deciding for the Guyanese population that Palmyra is the best place for such a monument.The reasons given thus far are that Palmyra is at a junction where the Berbice bridge — the way to the Corentyne — and the town of New Amsterdam can be accessed. More people will get to view it.Security at Palmyra would be superior to that at Highbury. The area is more populated, Highbury is too isolated.There is not enough space at Highbury to accommodate such a monument. There is enough land space at palmyra.The roads to the site are not that good, and it’s too far away from the urban areas.Again, the question is: Where is the historical justification for the selection of this Palmyra site?Please permit me to give reasons why Highbury is the best place for such a monument.1: Our forefathers landed at Highbury, not at Palmyra. Highbury was declared a heritage site due to its immense historical significance. The imprints of the feet of our forefathers will forever be in the hearts of us, their descendants. Those with genuine appreciation for the sacrifices of our forefathers will always feel that emotional attachment to a place like Highbury. This site was always graced by the presence of distinguished individuals from 1988 to date. Presidents Desmond Hoyte, Samuel Hinds, Bharrat Jagdeo, Donald Ramotar, and in the last two years, his Excellency David Granger, Indian High Commissioners past and present, Ministers of Government, members of the diplomatic corps, and thousands of Guyanese as well as foreigners, the likes of Yesu Persaud, Ravi Dev, former Prime Minister of Trinidad Basdeo Panday, have all paid homage to this place of pilgrimage. On the historical 100th anniversary of Indian arrival, the then Deputy Prime Minister of India together with the Prime Minister of Guyana joined the gathering under the sacred bel and peepar trees which are still present there today to commemorate this occasion.1. Both domestic and regional tourism can be boosted by the enhancement of Highbury heritage site. With persons making that journey to Highbury, not only will it give them that experience, but also will boost the economic growth of the area. Local shops, fruit juice vendors, subsistence farmers as well as boarding houses can all benefit from the sale of their products and services. Along the way to the site, one can also see a Hindu architectural wonder in the Gay Park Sri Krishna Mandir, the Bermine site, where bauxite was once mined, nature’s own variety of plant and animal life seem untouched, and the breath of clean, fresh air, wide savannah lands that stretch towards the horizons. The poor condition of the roads to the area is not an excuse anymore, as the stretch from Everton to Highbury is already paved, and work is currently being done to have a fully paved road, along with street lights, connecting the town of New Amsterdam to Everton.2. A monument at palmyra after time will lose the interest of the public, as it will be just a pass-by as it is with other monuments in the country that are sited based on the thought that “most people will see it here”. Once the appreciation is there for our rich history, then the question of long journey to Highbury will not even arise.3. Wherever the monument is placed, it must be secured. So the cost of security will not differ based on location. As with every national heritage site, the Government provides assistance in preserving our heritage, and Highbury has receive much needed support from the Government in recent years, and I am confident that such will continue in the future.4. As further development works are earmarked for the site, appropriate security measures will be put in place. The Berbice Indian Commemoration Committee is tasked with the responsibility for the Highbury Heritage Site, and will ensure that the assets are secured.5. The Highbury site can accommodate over three thousand under the roof itself. Sanitary facilities, potable running water, as well as a cooking area are currently at the disposal of the public. This place is used for farmers’ meetings, seminars, medical outreaches, school tours among many other things. The placement of the monument will further enhance the outlook of this site and serve as a stimulus for further development.Mr Editor, it is clear that the justification given for the placement of this commemorative monument at Highbury far outweighs that of the palmyra site. Together with the likes of Dr. Yesu Persaud, Mr. Nourang Persaud and other Guyanese, particularly Berbicians, I am pleading with the relevant authorities to correct this unfortunate situation.Yours faithfully,Ramesh Maraj(PRO- Berbice Indian Cultural Committee)
Former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of the Presidency, Omar Shariff, 46, and his reputed wife, Savitri Hardio, 32, were before Magistrate Fabayo Azore charged with refusing to provide named documents to the Police.According to the charge, which the couple separately denied, on or before October 14 at Georgetown, both failed to comply with an order made by acting Chief Justice Yonette Cummings to provide named documents. The documents in question were all requested by Police as part of a probation order.Former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Presidency Omar SharifThe prosecution did not object to bail, but requested that both defendants lodge their passports at the court.Magistrate Azore placed both parties on self-bail and they were ordered to report every other Monday to the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU). The matter will continue on February 1, 2017.Shariff is currently the subject of a probe into alleged financial crimes by SOCU. However, he has denied such allegations, although conceding he has unsettled tax matters with the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), in relation to the sale of phone credit. Shariff was a candidate for the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) at the last elections, and remained as Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of the Presidency, even after a new government took office.However, he was sent on leave in June 2016 by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon after SOCU launched a massive probe into several bank accounts which carried his name and the names of persons who worked close to him.In a letter to Shariff, Minister Harmon stated that he was to proceed on leave in order for him to cooperate fully with SOCU in the matter.“This is [a] money-laundering and tax-evasion matter, since … [it concerns] large sums of money that he has in his personal accounts,” Harmon had said.However, Shariff always maintained his innocence in the matter and stated that he did no wrong.He chose to remain silent amid all accusations against him, until later, when he issued a statement, which read, “After consultation with my attorney, I have been advised that it is now appropriate and has become necessary for me to address the false and unsubstantiated allegations and imputations being published by the electronic, broadcast and print media.”
1 David De Gea Real Madrid are blaming Manchester United for the collapse of the David De Gea deal.The transfer fell through on Monday night in a mix-up over the paperwork, and on Tuesday morning the Old Trafford giants were keen to claim Madrid were responsible for the collapse of the transfer.But the La Liga giants have hit back by releasing a ten-point statement which paints a very different picture of events1) Manchester United didn’t open any path of negotiation for the registration rights to David De Gea until yesterday morning.2) Real Madrid, despite the difficulties associated with completing a deal of this type on the final day of registration, accepted the initiating of these conversations.3) When Manchester United entered into these negotiations yesterday morning they did so subject to being able to reach an agreement with Real Madrid player Keylor Navas, in order that he would join the British club from this season, and informed that they were in contact with the representatives of said player.4) Real Madrid and Manchester United arrived quickly at an agreement for the transfers of both players. After the editing of the relevant contractual documents and with the intention of proceeding with enough time to get everything sent to the Transfer Matching System of FIFA (TMS) as well as his registration with the Spanish Football League (LFP), Real Madrid resent the contracts to Manchester United at 13:39 Spanish time.5) Manchester United sent back their comments on said contracts eight hours later, at 21:43 Spanish time, including small modifications. Due to not being relevant, all of the modifications were accepted immediately by Real Madrid with the intention of being able to register the player on time in the TMS and with the LFP.6) Real Madrid, having obtained the signatures of David De Gea and Keylor Navas, sent back to the English club the signed contracts at 23:32 Spanish time, waiting to receive the final documents signed by Manchester United.#7) Manchester United reached a final agreement with the representatives of Keylor Navas at 23:53 Spanish time and it was at this time that the contracts were sent to the player to be signed.8) Manchester United entered into the TMS all the information for the De Gea deal, but not those for Keylor Navas, at 00:00 Spanish time, sending back to Real Madrid at the same time the signed transfer contracts. Real Madrid received the completed documentation at 00:02 and tried to access the TMS, but found it to already be closed.9) At 00:26 Spanish time the FIFA computer system, TMS, invited Real Madrid to fill in the details for David De Gea, given that the registration period in England continues to be open until today. Real Madrid, with the prospect of some contention over the transfer of the player, decided to send the contracts to the LFP, even knowing that the period had expired.10) Definitively, Real Madrid had done everything necessary, at all times, to ensure that these two transfers happened.
Mark Hughes Stoke boss Mark Hughes is not planning to be busy in the transfer market in January.Hughes has earned plaudits for his side’s progress this season, notably after an eye-catching victory over Manchester City earlier this month.The Potters boast one of the tightest defences in the Barclays Premier League and the attacking trio of Marko Arnautovic, Bojan Krkic and Xherdan Shaqiri are a potentially potent force.These strengths are still to be reflected in league position, with a failure to win in the last two keeping them down in 11th, but they are just six points off fourth and Hughes is happy with his squad.He said: “We have got a few ideas but whether they lead to anything significant we will have to wait and see.“I don’t think there is any urgency from our part to address any issues in the team. I think we are fine at the moment. The squad is strong. We have got players coming back from injuries as well.“If there are opportunities and the right players are available we will have conversations with people you need to have conversations with and we will see where that takes us. If we don’t do anything this January we will just keep our powder dry and wait for the summer.”Hughes is also relaxed about the possibility of other clubs attempting to move in on any of his players.The Welshman, whose side host his former club Manchester United on Boxing Day, said: “We wouldn’t encourage it but I don’t think there will be.“There is always speculation about good players, everyone in football understands that. Everyone in football will have interest in the good players they have and other teams will covet those good players.“We are not the only ones that will have speculation about their players but at the moment we are a strong unit, a strong squad. We are enjoying what we are doing and we are quite comfortable.”Hughes is hoping some business will be done in the coming weeks, however, as defender Erik Pieters and striker Arnautovic consider new contract offers.He said: “There may be a little bit of progress with Erik Pieters and I know Marko’s people have been in and conversations are going on. Hopefully we will have some announcements pretty soon.” 1
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant Villaraigosa, accompanied by City Council members Wendy Greuel and Janice Hahn, and several city department heads, met Tuesday with a range of legislators, including Assemblywoman Jenny Oropeza, D-Long Beach, chairwoman of the transportation committee; Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg, D-Los Angeles; and Sen. Kevin Murray, D-Los Angeles. Oropeza said the conversation remained on the general topic of transportation and didn’t get into specific commitments or individual projects. “They wanted to make sure I understood they really care about this and they see this as an opportunity to have some resources come to Los Angeles,” Oropeza said. “And he (Villaraigosa) was willing to be a full participant in the process.” Greuel said some of the other concerns discussed in various meetings included making sure substantial funding for mass transit is included in the transportation package, protection for Proposition 42 transportation funding and a focus on the movement of goods. “Generally we’ve been pleased with the receptiveness we’ve seen from the Legislature and from the governor’s representatives as well,” Greuel said. “It’s not a ‘No, this is never happening.’ In fact, it’s been ‘We think this is a possibility.’ You may not get everything you want, but it’s much different than some of the earlier proposals for Los Angeles.” SACRAMENTO – Concerned that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s massive bond plan may shortchange Los Angeles, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other city officials are on a two-day swing to the state Capitol to lobby for the city’s “fair share” in the infrastructure package. Villaraigosa is meeting with Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders today to ensure adequate funding is included for Los Angeles in areas including transportation, housing and education. Fair share, he said, should at the very least be defined by the region’s population. But, he added, “in a region that has the most congested freeways and roads in the United States of America, the dirtiest air, the biggest homeless population, the most overcrowded schools, one could make the argument in addition to population you should take into account need.” He also believes greater consideration should be given to local governments that have already put up money in those same areas through local bond measures. Villaraigosa’s popularity in the building was still evident, as the former Assembly speaker had trouble leaving the chambers and getting back on schedule with all the people who wanted to shake hands and get a photo taken with him. As he walked through the building, he greeted legislative staff members and elevator operators that he recognized from his days in the Assembly. He then bumped into and chatted with film actor/director and political activist Rob Reiner in the hallways outside the chamber. Villaraigosa was scheduled to spend Tuesday evening with his family in Sacramento – the mayor’s wife, Corina, was in town for an event related to her membership on the county’s First 5 commission, an offshoot of Reiner’s statewide preschool effort. Harrison Sheppard, (916) 446-6723 firstname.lastname@example.org 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
Arellano-Felix is wanted in both the United States and Mexico for his role as leader of the violent and sophisticated Tijuana-based Arellano Felix gang, which McNulty said was blamed in a 2003 U.S. indictment for 20 murders in the U.S. and Mexico. One law enforcement official said two suspected assassins for the Arellano Felix gang were among those aboard the Dock Holiday. He requested anonymity because he was speaking before the list of passengers was officially released. The Arellano Felix gang, along with the Gulf Cartel and the Federacion, are the largest Mexican drug cartels. The Arellano Felix gang is believed to be responsible for the huge drug tunnels discovered last January underneath the border. The longest tunnel stretched 2,400 feet from a warehouse near the Tijuana airport to a warehouse in San Diego’s Otay Mesa industrial district. More than two tons of marijuana were found in the tunnel. The DEA says the gang is responsible for smuggling of tons of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines over the past decade. In addition, Braun said the Arellano-Felix gang was involved in smuggling multiple tons of cocaine from all three major cocaine-producing countries in Latin America – Colombia, Peru and Bolivia. McNulty said the gang received some cocaine from FARC, a leftist revolutionary guerrilla group in Colombia. Federal drug agents began preparing for the operation 14 months ago after learning that Arellano Felix was planning to go fishing aboard the vessel off La Paz, Mexico, the U.S. officials announced. The agents enlisted the Coast Guard’s help in mounting the operations, McNulty said.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! WASHINGTON – The Coast Guard caught Mexican drug lord Francisco Javier Arellano Felix deep-sea fishing off Mexico, decapitating a murderous gang that dug smuggling tunnels under the U.S. border, officials said Wednesday. Arellano Felix, 36, was captured when the crew of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Monsoon boarded a U.S.-registered sportfishing boat at 9 a.m. local time Monday about 15 miles off the coast of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allen told a news conference. “We’ve taken the head off the snake,” said Michael Braun, chief of operations for the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. DEA agents discovered Arellano Felix’s fishing plans and asked the Coast Guard to seize the boat in international waters. “This is a huge blow” to one of the three largest Mexican drug cartels, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty said. However, he added, “Much more remains to be done.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhy these photogenic dumplings are popping up in Los AngelesBraun said, “We’re piling on this organization because they are extremely vulnerable right now.” The gang was once led by seven brothers and four sisters, but Braun noted that Javier’s brother Ramon was killed in a shootout with police in 2002, his brother Benjamin is in a Mexican prison and brother Eduardo, while at large in Mexico, is not considered “capable of leading the organization at this time.” “That’s not to say that there aren’t one or more others capable of stepping up and running it,” Braun said. The cutter Monsoon was towing the fishing boat, the Dock Holiday, back to San Diego where DEA agents were to formally arrest Arellano Felix and others among the eight adults and three juveniles who were captured on board. Officials anticipated announcing additional charges against the group in San Diego today.
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe Christmas Truce of 1914 proved that peace is possibleOn Thursday, Fox announced he had moved the celebration from the traditional location at the Zocalo main square in Mexico City because of anticipated protests from supporters of presidential candidate Andr s Manuel L pez Obrador who have been camped out to voice their displeasure with the narrow victory of president-elect Felipe Calder n. Officials in L.A. said that in the case of violence in Mexico, they have beefed up security here. email@example.com (818) 713-3741 IF YOU GO Los Angeles holds its Mexican Independence Day celebration tonight, with Banda El Recodo performing at 7:30 and the official ceremony beginning at 8:30 at 200 N. Spring St. San Fernando hosts festivities at 6 p.m., ending with “El Grito” around 8 p.m. at 117 MacNeil St. For information: (818) 898-1290.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! With the Mexican green, white and red flags waving, thousands are expected to convene in front of City Hall tonight for the annual “El Grito” marking Mexico’s independence from Spain. In Los Angeles – home to the largest population of Mexicans outside Mexico – top regional Mexican musicians are slated to perform, and the celebration will be aired on Spanish-language television. It is also the city’s official kickoff of Hispanic Heritage Month. The cry for independence – “El Grito de Independencia” – commemorates priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla’s 1810 call to the country’s poor to reject Spain’s rule. Late on Sept. 15, 1810, he rang a bell and called for independence, triggering a struggle that lasted more than a decade. On the steps of City Hall, Rub n Beltr n, Mexico’s counsel general, will ring the bell in commemoration of the day and cry “Viva Mexico” as Mexican President Vicente Fox is ringing the bell in the small town of Dolores Hidalgo, 170 north of the capital.
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhicker: John Jackson greets a Christmas that he wasn’t sure he’d see160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! (AP) – Text from President Bush’s news conference on Wednesday, as transcribed by CQ Transcriptions.— BUSH: Thank you all. Good morning. This week I went to the Pentagon for the swearing in of our nation’s new secretary of defense, Bob Gates. Secretary Gates is going to bring a fresh perspective to the Pentagon, and America is fortunate that he has agreed to serve our country once again. I’m looking forward to working with him. Secretary Gates is going to be an important voice in the Iraq strategy review that’s under way. As you know, I have been consulting closely with our commanders and the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the strategy in Iraq and on the broader war on terror. One of my top priorities during this war is to ensure that our men and women wearing the uniform have everything they need to do their jobs. This war on terror is the calling of a new generation. It is the calling of our generation. Success is essential to securing a future for peace for our children and grandchildren. And securing this peaceful future is going to require a sustained commitment from the American people and our military. We have an obligation to ensure our military is capable of sustaining this war over the long haul and performing the many tasks that we ask of them. I’m inclined to believe that we need to increase in — the permanent size of both the United States Army and the United States Marines. I’ve asked Secretary Gates to determine how such an increase could take place and report back to me as quickly as possible. I know many members of Congress are interested in this issue. And I appreciate their input as we develop the specifics of the proposals. Over the coming weeks, I will not only listen to their views; we will work with them to see that this become a reality. 2006 was a difficult year for our troops and the Iraqi people. We began the year with optimism after watching nearly 12 million Iraqis go to the polls to vote for a unity government and a free future. The enemies of liberty responded fiercely to this advance of freedom. They carried out a deliberate strategy to foment sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shia. And over the course of the year they had success. Their success hurt our efforts to help the Iraqis rebuild their country, it set back reconciliation, it kept Iraq’s unity government and our coalition from establishing security and stability throughout the country. We enter this new year clear-eyed about the challenges in Iraq and equally clear about our purpose. Our goal remains a free and democratic Iraq that can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself, and is an ally in this war on terror. I’m not going to make predictions about what 2007 will look like in Iraq, except that it’s going to require difficult choices and additional sacrifices because the enemy is merciless and violent. I’m going to make you this promise: My administration will work with Republicans and Democrats to fashion a new way forward that can succeed in Iraq. We’ll listen to ideas from every corridor. We’ll change our strategy and tactics to meet the realities on the ground. We’ll never lose sight that, on the receiving end of the decisions I make is a private, a sergeant, a young lieutenant or a diplomat who risks his or her life to help the Iraqis realize the dream of a stable country that can defend, govern and sustain itself. The advance of liberty has never been easy. And Iraq is proving how tough it can be. Yet the safety and security of our citizens requires that we do not let up. We can be smarter about how we deploy our manpower and resources. We can ask more of our Iraqi partners, and we will. The one thing we cannot do is give up on the hundreds of millions of ordinary moms and dads across the Middle East who want the hope and opportunity for their children that the terrorists and extremists seek to deny them. And that’s a peaceful existence. As we work with Congress in the coming year to chart a new course in Iraq and strengthen our military to meet the challenges of the 21st century, we must also work together to achieve important goals for the American people here at home. This work begins with keeping our economy growing. As we approach the end of 2006, the American economy continues to post strong gains. The most recent jobs report shows that our economy created 132,000 more jobs in November alone, and we’ve now added more than 7 million jobs since August of 2003. The unemployment rate has remained low at 4.5 percent. The recent report on retail sales shows a strong beginning to the holiday shopping season across the country. And I encourage you all to go shopping more. Next year marks a new start with a new Congress. In recent weeks, I have had good meetings with the incoming leaders of Congress; including Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader-elect Harry Reid. We agreed that we’ve got important business to do on behalf of the American people and that we’ve got to work together to achieve results. The American people expect us to be good stewards of their tax dollars here in Washington. So we must work together to reduce the number of earmarks inserted into large spending bills and reform the earmark process to make it more transparent and more accountable. The American people expect us to keep America competitive in the world, so we must work to assure our citizens have the skills they need for the jobs of the future and encourage American businesses to invest in technology and innovation. The American people expect us to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and increase our use of alternative energy sources. So we must step up our research and investment in hydrogen fuel cells, hybrid plug-in and battery-powered cars, renewable fuels like ethanol and cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel, clean coal technology, and clean sources of electricity like nuclear, solar and wind power. Another area where we can work together is the minimum wage. I support the proposed $2.10 increase in the minimum wage over a two- year period. I believe we should do it in a way that does not punish the millions of small businesses that are creating most of the new jobs in our country. So I support pairing it with targeted tax and regulatory relief, to help these small businesses stay competitive and to help keep our economy growing. I look forward to working with Republicans and Democrats to help both small-business owners and workers when Congress convenes in January. To achieve these and other key goals, we need to put aside our partisan differences and work constructively to address the vital issues confronting our nation. As the new Congress takes office, I don’t expect Democratic leaders to compromise on their principles. And they don’t expect me to compromise on mine. But the American people do expect us to compromise on legislation that will benefit the country. The message of the fall election was clear: Americans want us to work together to make progress for our country. And that’s what we’re going to do in the coming year. And now I’ll be glad to answer some questions. Q: Mr. President, less than two months ago, at the end of one of the bloodiest months in the war, you said: Absolutely, we’re winning. Yesterday, you said: We’re not winning; we’re not losing. Why did you drop your confident assertion about winning? BUSH: My comments — the first comment was done in this spirit: I believe that we’re going to win. I believe that — and, by the way, if I didn’t think that, I wouldn’t have our troops there. That’s what you’ve got to know. We’re going to succeed. My comments yesterday reflected the fact that we’re not succeeding nearly as fast as I wanted, when I said it at the time, and that the conditions are tough in Iraq, particularly in Baghdad. And so we’re conducting a review to make sure that our strategy helps us achieve that which I’m pretty confident we can do. And that is have a country which can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself. You know, I — when I speak, like right now, for example, I’m speaking to the American people, of course. And I want them to know that I know how tough it is. But I also want them to know that I’m going to work with the military and the political leaders to develop a plan that’ll help us achieve the objective. I also want our troops to understand that we support them, that I believe that tough mission I’ve asked them to do is going to be accomplished, and that they’re doing good work and necessary work. I want the Iraqis to understand that we believe that, if they stand up, step up and lead, and with our help we can accomplish the objective. And I want the enemy to understand that this is a tough task, but they can’t run us out of the Middle East; that they can’t intimidate America. They think they can. They think it’s just a matter of time before America grows weary and leaves; abandons the people of Iraq, for example. And that’s not going to happen. What is going to happen is we’re going to develop a strategy that helps the Iraqis achieve the objective that the 12 million people want them to achieve, which is a government that can — a country that can sustain itself, govern itself, defend itself. A free country that will serve as an ally in this war against extremists and radicals. Q: Thank you, Mr. President. If you conclude that a surge in troop levels in Iraq is needed, would you overrule your military commanders if they felt it was not a good idea? BUSH: That’s a dangerous hypothetical question. I’m not condemning you; you’re allowed to ask anything you want. Let me wait and gather all the recommendations from Bob Gates, from our military, from diplomats on the ground — interested in the Iraqis’ point of view — and then I’ll report back to you as to whether or not I support a surge or not. Nice try. Q: (OFF-MIKE) BUSH: The opinion of my commanders is very important. They are bright, capable, smart people whose opinion matters to me a lot. Q: Thank you, Mr. President. You have reached out to both Sunni and Shia political leaders in recent weeks. And now there’s word that the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is supporting a moderate coalition in Iraq. Has the U.S. reached out to him? How important is he in the equation moving forward? And what do you say to people who say more troops in Iraq would increase the sectarian split and not calm things down? BUSH: Well, I haven’t made up my mind yet about more troops. I’m listening to our commanders. I’m listening to the Joint Chiefs, of course. I’m listening in and out of government. I’m listening to folks on the Baker-Hamilton commission about coming up with a strategy that helps us achieve our objective. And so, as I said to her — probably a little more harshly than she would have liked — you know, hypothetical questions, I’m not going to answer them today. I’m not going to speculate out loud about what I’m going to tell the nation when I’m prepared to do so about the way forward. I will tell you we’re looking at all options. And one of those options, of course, is increasing more troops. But, in order to do so, there must be a specific mission that can be accomplished with more troops. And that’s precisely what our commanders have said, as well as people who know a lot about military operations. And I agree with them; that there’s got to be a specific mission that can be accomplished with the addition of more troops before, you know, I agree on that strategy. Secondly, whatever we do is going to help the Iraqis step up. It’s their responsibility to govern their country. It’s their responsibility to do the hard work necessary to secure Baghdad. And we want to help them. Thirdly, I appreciate the fact that the prime minister and members of the government are forming what you have called a moderate coalition, because it’s becoming very apparent to the people of Iraq that there are extremists and radicals who are anxious to stop the advance of a free society. And, therefore, a moderate coalition signals to the vast majority of the people of Iraq that, We have a unity government, that we’re willing to reconcile our differences and work together, and in so doing will marginalize those who use violence to use political objectives. So we support the formation of the unity government and the moderate coalition. And the — and it’s important for — that leader Sistani to understand that’s our position. He is a — you know, he lives in a — he lives a secluded life. He — but he knows that we’re interested in defeating extremism and we’re interested in helping advance a unity government. Q: Good morning, Mr. President. Your former secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, advocated for a lighter, more agile military force. Have you now concluded that that approach was wrong? BUSH: No. I strongly support a lighter, agile army that can move quickly to meet the threats of the 21st century. I also supported his force posture review and recommendations to move forces out of previous bases that, you know, they were there for the Soviet threat, for example, in Europe. So he’s introduced some substantive changes to the Pentagon, and I support him strongly. However, that doesn’t necessarily preclude increasing end strength for the Army and the Marines. And the reason why I’m inclined to believe this is a good idea is because I understand that we’re going to be in a long struggle against radicals and extremists. And we must make sure that our military has the capability to stay in the fight for a long period of time. I’m not predicting any particular theater, but I am predicting that it’s going to take a while for the ideology of liberty to finally triumph over the ideology of hate. I know you know I feel this strongly, but I see this — we’re in the beginning of a conflict between competing ideologies; a conflict that will determine whether or not your children can live in peace. Failure in the Middle East, for example, or failure in Iraq or isolationism will condemn a generation of young Americans to permanent threat from overseas. And, therefore, we will succeed in Iraq. And, therefore, we will help young democracies when we find them. BUSH: Democracies like Lebanon; hopefully, Palestinian state, living side by side in peace with Israel; the young democracy of Iraq. It is in our interests that we combine security with a political process that frees people; that liberates people; that gives people a chance to determine their own futures. I believe most people in the Middle East want just that. They want to be in a position where they can chart their own futures. And it’s in our interests that we help them do so. Q: Thank you, Mr. President. In the latest CBS News poll, 50 percent of Americans say they favor a beginning of an end to U.S. military involvement in Iraq; 43 percent said keep fighting, but change tactics. By this, and many other measures, there is no clear mandate to continue being in Iraq in a military form. I guess my question is: Are you still willing to follow a path that seems to be in opposition to the will of the American people? BUSH: I am willing to follow a path that leads to victory. And that’s exactly why we’re conducting the review we are. Victory in Iraq is achievable. It hadn’t happened nearly as quickly as I hoped it would have. I know it’s — the fact that there is still, you know, unspeakable sectarian violence in Iraq, I know that’s troubling to the American people. But I also don’t believe most Americans want us just to get out now. A lot of Americans understand the consequences of retreat. Retreat would embolden radicals. It would hurt the credibility of the United States. Retreat from Iraq would dash the hopes of millions who want to be free. Retreat from Iraq would enable the extremists and radicals to more likely be able to have safe haven from which to plot and plan further attacks. And so it’s been a tough period for the American people. They want to see success. And our objective is to put a plan in place that achieves that success. I’m often asked about public opinion. Of course, I want public opinion to support the efforts. I understand that. But I also understand the consequences of failure. And, therefore, I’m going to work with the Iraqis and our military and politicians from both political parties to achieve success. I thought the American — the election — it said they want to see more bipartisan cooperation. They want to see us working together to achieve common objectives. And I’m going to continue to reach out to Democrats to do just that. Q: Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, Lyndon Johnson famously didn’t sleep during the Vietnam War; questioning his own decisions. You have always seemed very confident of your decisions, but I can’t help but wonder if this has been a time of painful realization for you, as you yourself have acknowledged that some of the policies you hoped would succeed have not. And I wonder if you can talk to us about that. BUSH: Yes, thanks. Q: Has it been a painful time? BUSH: Most painful aspect of my presidency has been knowing that good men and women have died in combat. I — I read about it every night. I — my heart breaks for a mother or father or husband and wife or son and daughter. It just does. And so, when you ask about pain, that’s pain. I — I reach out to a lot of the families. I spend time with them. I am always inspired by their spirit. They — most people have asked me to do one thing, and that is to make sure that their child didn’t die in vain. And I agree with that; that the sacrifice has been worth it. We’ll accomplish our objective. We’ve got to constantly adjust our tactics to do so. We’ve got to insist that the Iraqis take more responsibility more quickly in order to do so. But I — you know, my heart breaks for them. It just does — on a regular basis. Q: But beyond that, sir, have you questioned your own decisions? BUSH: No, I haven’t questioned whether or not it was right to take Saddam Hussein out. Nor have I questioned the necessity for the American people — I mean, I’ve questioned it — I’ve come to the conclusion that it was the right decision. But I also know it’s the right decision for America to stay engaged, and to take the lead, and to deal with these radicals and extremists, and to help support young democracies. It’s the calling of our time. And I firmly believe it is necessary. And I believe the next president, whoever the person is, will have the same charge, the same obligations: to deal with terrorists so they don’t hurt us, and to help young democracies survive the threats of radicalism and extremism. It’s in our nation’s interest to do so. But the most painful aspect of the presidency is the fact that I know my decisions have caused young men and women to lose their lives. Q: You mentioned the need, earlier, to make sure that U.S. workers are skilled, that U.S. businesses keep investing in technology. You also mentioned that you want targeted tax and regulatory relief for small businesses in the coming year. Can you describe those ideas a little more? And, also, can we really afford new tax breaks at this point, given the cost of the war on terrorism? BUSH: The first question all of us here in Washington are going to ask is: How do we make sure this economy continues to grow? A vibrant economy is going to be necessary to fund not only the war, but a lot of other aspects of our government. We have shown over the past six years that low taxes have helped this economy recover from some pretty significant shocks. After all, the unemployment rate is 4.5 percent. And 7 million more Americans have been — have found jobs since August of 2003. And we cut the deficit in half a couple of years in advance of what we thought would happen. The question that Congress is going to have to face and I’m going to have to continue to face is: How do we make sure we put policy in place that encourages economic growth in the short term? And how do we keep America competitive in the long term? Part of the competitive initiative, which I have been working with Congress on, recognizes that education of young — of the young — is going to be crucial for remaining competitive. And that’s why the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind is going to be an important part of the legislative agenda going forward in 2007. I also spoke about energy in my opening remarks. In my judgment, we’re going to have to get off oil as much as possible to remain a competitive economy. And I’m looking forward to working with Congress to do just that. I’m optimistic about some of the reports I’ve heard about new battery technologies that will be coming to the market that’ll enable, you know, people who — people to drive the first 20 miles, for example, on electricity. That’ll be the initial phase — and, then, up to 40 miles on battery technologies. That’ll be positive, particularly if you live in a big city. A lot of people don’t drive more than 20 miles or 40 miles a day. And, therefore, those urban dwellers who aren’t driving that much won’t be using any gasoline on a daily basis. And that will be helpful to the country. I’m pleased with the fact that we’ve gone from about a billion gallons of ethanol to over 5 billion gallons of ethanol in a very quick period of time — mainly derived from corn here in the United States. But there’s been great progress and we need to continue to spend money on cellulosic ethanol. That means new technologies that will enable us to use wood chips, for example, or switch grass as the fuel stocks for the development of new types of fuels that will enable American drivers to diversify away from gasoline. We’ve spent a lot of time talking about nuclear power, and I appreciate the Congress’ support on the comprehensive energy bill that I signed. BUSH: But nuclear power is going to be an essential source, in my judgment, of future electricity for the United States and places like China and India. Nuclear power is renewable, and nuclear power does not emit one greenhouse gas. And it makes a lot of sense for us to share technologies that will enable people to feel confident that the new nuclear power plants that are being built are safe, as well as technologies that’ll eventually come to the fore that will enable us to reduce the wastes, the toxicity of the waste and the amount of the waste. Continue to invest in clean-coal technologies. Abundance of coal here in America. And we need to be able to tell the American people we’re going to be able to use that coal to generate electricity in environmentally friendly ways. My only point to you is: We got a comprehensive plan to achieve the objective that most Americans support, which is less dependency upon oil. I think it’s going to be very important to keep this economy growing short term and long term by promoting free trade. It’s in our interest that nations treat our markets, our goods and services the way we treat theirs. And it’s in our interest that administrations continue to promote more opening of markets. We’ve had a lot of discussions here in this administration on — on the Doha round of the WTO — WTO negotiations. And I’m very strongly in favor of seeing if we can’t reach an accord with our trading partners and other countries around the world to promote — to get this round completed, so that free trade is universal in its application. Free trade’s going to be good for producers of U.S. product and services, but free trade is also going to be the most powerful engine for development around the world. It’s going to help poor nations become wealthier nations. It’s going to enable countries to be able to, you know, find markets for their goods and services, so that they can better grow their economies and create prosperity for their people. So we’ve got a robust agenda moving forward with the Congress. And I’m looking forward to working with them. And there’s a lot of places where we can find common ground on these important issues. Q: Thank you, Mr. President. This week we learned that Scooter Libby … BUSH: A little louder, please. Excuse me. Getting old. Q: I understand, Mr. President. BUSH: No, you don’t understand. Q: You’re right. I don’t. This week, sir, we learned that Scooter Libby’s defense team plans to call Vice President Cheney to testify in the ongoing CIA leak case. I wonder, sir: What is your reaction to that? Is that something you’ll resist? BUSH: No, I read it in the newspaper today. And it’s an interesting piece of news. And that’s all I’m going to comment about an ongoing case: I thought it was interesting. Q: Thank you, sir. Mary’s having a baby. And you have said that you think Mary Cheney will be a loving soul to a child. Are there any changes in the law that you would support that would give same-sex couples greater access to things such as legal rights, hospital visits, insurance, that would make a difference, even though you said it’s your preference — you believe that it’s preferable to have one man-one woman … BUSH: No, I’ve always said that we ought to review law to make sure that people are treated fairly. On the — on Mary Cheney, this is a personal matter for the vice president and his family. I strongly support their privacy on the issue, although there’s nothing private when you happen to be the president or the vice president. I recognize that. And I know Mary. And I like her. I know she’s going to be a fine, loving mother. I’m not going to call on you again. Like, got too much coverage yesterday, you know. Create a sense of anxiety amongst your — no, no. You handled yourself well, though. Go on. Q: Thank you, Mr. President. A question about the Iraq Study Group report. One of the things that it recommends is greater dialogue, direct talks with Syria and Iran. James Baker, himself, secretary of state under your father, says that it’s a lot like it was during the Cold War when we talked to the Soviet Union. He says it’s important to talk to your adversaries. Is he wrong? BUSH: The — let me start with Iran. We made perfectly clear to them what it takes to come to the table. And that is a suspension of their enrichment program. If they verifiably suspend — that they’ve stopped enrichment, we will come to the table with our E.U.-3 partners and Russia and discuss a way forward for them. It should be evident to the Iranians — if this is what they want to do. I heard the foreign minister — or read the foreign minister say the other day that: Yes, we’ll sit down with America after they leave Iraq. Now, if they want to sit down with us, for the good of the Iranian people, they ought to verifiably suspend their program. We’ve made that clear to them. It is obvious to them how to move forward. The Iranian people can do better than becoming — than be an isolated nation. This is a proud nation with a fantastic history and tradition. And yet they’ve got a leader who constantly sends messages to the world that Iran is out of step with the majority of thinkers; that Iran is willing to become isolated, to the detriment of the people. I mean, I was amazed that once again there was this conference about the Holocaust that heralded a really backward view of the history of the world. And all that said to me was is that the leader in Iran is willing to say things that really hurts his country and further isolates the Iranian people. We’re working hard to get a Security Council resolution. I spoke to Secretary Rice about the Iranian Security Council resolution this morning. And the message will be, that, you, Iran, are further isolated from the world. My message to the Iranian people is: You can do better than to have somebody try to rewrite history. You can do better than somebody who hasn’t strengthened your economy. And you can do better than having somebody who’s trying to develop a nuclear weapon that the world believes you shouldn’t have. There’s a better way forward. BUSH: Syria, the message is the same. We have met with Syria since I have been the president of the United States. We have talked to them about what is necessary for them to have a better relationship with the United States. And they’re not unreasonable requests. You know, we’ve suggested to them that they no longer allow Saddamists to send money and arms across their border into Iraq to fuel the violence — some of the violence that we see. And we’ve talked to them about: They’ve got to leave the democrat Lebanon alone. I might say — let me step back for a second — I’m very proud of Prime Minister Siniora. He’s shown a lot of tenacity and toughness in the face of enormous pressure from Syria, as well as Hezbollah, which is funded by Iran. But we made it clear to them on how to move forward. We’ve had visits with the Syrians in the past. Congressmen and senators visit Syria. What I would suggest: that, if they are interested in better relations with the United States, that they take some concrete, positive steps that promote peace, as opposed to instability. Q: Thank you, sir. Mr. President, did you or your chief of staff order an investigation of the leak of the Hadley memo before your meeting with Prime Minister al-Maliki? And if the leak wasn’t authorized, do you suspect someone in your administration is trying to undermine your Iraq policy or sabotage your meeting with Prime Minister al-Maliki a few weeks back? BUSH: I’m trying to think back if I ordered an investigation. I don’t recall ordering an investigation. I do recall expressing some angst about ongoing leaks. You all work hard to find information and, of course, put it out for public consumption, and I understand that. But I don’t appreciate those who leak classified documents. And it’s an ongoing problem here. It really is — not just for this administration, but it will be for any administration that is trying to put policy in place that affects the future of the country. And we’ve had a lot of leaks. As you know, some of them — I don’t know where they’re from. Therefore, I’m not going to speculate. Turns out you never can find the leaker. It’s an advantage you have in doing your job. We can moan about it, but it’s hard to find them — those inside the government that are willing to give, in this case, Hadley’s document to newspapers. You know, there may be an ongoing investigation of this. I just don’t know if there is. If I knew about it, it’s not fresh in my mind. But I do think that at some point in time it’d be helpful, if we can find somebody inside our government who is leaking materials — clearly against the law — that they be held to account. Perhaps the best way to make sure people don’t leak classified documents is that there be, you know, a consequence for doing so. Q: Mr. President, if we could return to the reflexive vein we were in a little while ago. BUSH: The what? Excuse me. Q: Reflexive. BUSH: Reflexive stage. OK. Q: Reflective. BUSH: Reflective stage. Q: Part of the process of looking at the way forward could reasonably include considering how we got to where we are. Has that been part of your process? And what lessons — after five years now of war, what lessons will you take into the final two years of your presidency? BUSH: Well, look, absolutely, that it is important for us, to be successful going forward, is to analyze that which went wrong. And, clearly, one aspect of this war that has not gone right is the sectarian violence inside Baghdad; you know, a violent reaction by both Sunni and Shia to each other that has caused a lot of loss of life as well as some movements in neighborhoods inside of Baghdad. And it’s a troubling — very troubling — aspect of trying to help this Iraqi government succeed. And, therefore, a major consideration of our planners is how to deal with that and how to help — more importantly, how to help the Iraqis deal with sectarian violence. There are a couple of theaters inside of Iraq, war theaters. One, of course, is Baghdad itself, where the sectarian violence is brutal. And we’ve got to — we’ve got to help — we’ve got to help the Maliki government stop it and crack it and prevent it from spreading in order to be successful. I fully understand — let me finish. Secondly is the battle against the Sunnis, Sunni extremists; some of them Saddamists, some of them are al-Qaida. But all of them aiming to try to drive the United States out of Iraq before the job is done. And we’re making good progress against them. It’s hard fighting. It’s been hard work. But our special ops teams, along with Iraqis, are, you know, are on the hunt and bringing people to justice. There’s issues in the south of Iraq; mainly Shia-on-Shia tensions. But primarily the toughest fight for this new government is inside of Baghdad. Most of the deaths, most of the violence, is within a 30-mile radius of Baghdad, as well as in Anbar province. In other words, a lot of the country is moving along positively. But it’s this part of the fight that is getting our attention. And, frankly, we have — it has been that aspect of the battle toward a government that can defend and govern itself and be an ally in the war on terror that — where we have not made as much progress as we’d’ve hoped to have made. Listen, I — last year started off as an exciting year with the 12 million voters. And, you know, the attack on the Samarra — the Samarra mosque was Zarqawi’s successful attempt to foment this sectarian violence. And it’s — it’s — it’s mean, it is deadly. And we’ve got to help the Iraqis deal with it. The — this — success in Iraq will be success — there’ll be a combination of military success, political success and reconstruction. And they’ve got to go hand in hand. And that’s why I think it’s important that the moderate coalition is standing up, which is the beginning of a political process that I hope will marginalize the radicals and extremists who are trying to stop the advance of a free Iraq. That’s why the oil law is going to be a very important piece of legislation. In other words, when this government begins to send messages that we will put law in place that helps unify the country, it’s going to make the security situation easier to deal with. On the other hand, without better, stronger security measures, it’s going to be hard to get the political process to move forward. And so it’s a — we got a parallel strategy. So when you hear me talking about the military — I know there’s a lot of discussion about troops, and there should be. But you got to keep in mind, we’ve also got to make sure we have a parallel political process and a reconstruction process going together; concurrently with a new military strategy. The — I thought it was an interesting statement that Prime Minister Maliki made the other day about generals, former generals in the Saddam army; that they could come back in or receive a pension. In other words, beginning to reach out in terms of a reconciliation plan that I think is going to be important. Had interesting discussions the other day with provincial reconstruction team members in Iraq. These are really brave souls who work for the State Department that are in these different provinces helping these provincial governments rebuild and to see a political way forward. And one of the things that — most of these people were in the Sunni territory that I talked to. And most of them were very anxious for me to help them and help the Iraqi government put reconciliation plans in place. BUSH: There’s a lot of people trying to make a choice as to whether or not they want to support a government or whether or not their interests may lay in extremism. And they understand that a political process that is positive, that sends a signal we want to be a unified country, will help these folks make a rational choice. So it’s a multifaceted plan. And, absolutely, we’re looking at where things went wrong, where expectations were dashed, and where things hadn’t gone the way we wanted them to have gone. Q: Thank you, Mr. President. You said this week that your microphone has never been louder. But on some of the key domestic priorities you’ve talked about, particularly Social Security and immigration, your use of the presidential microphone hasn’t yielded the results that you wanted. So I’m wondering, you know, with a Democratic Congress at this point, Republicans no longer controlling things on Capitol Hill, why you think your microphone’s any louder and how you plan to use it differently to get the results that you’re looking for. BUSH: Yes. Microphone being loud means — is that I’m able to help focus people’s attentions on important issues. That’s what I was referring to. In other words, the president is in a position to speak about priorities. Whether or not we can get those priorities done is going to take bipartisan cooperation, which I believe was one of the lessons of the — of the campaigns. I will tell you: I felt like we had a pretty successful couple of years when it comes to legislation. After all, we reformed Medicare. We put tax policy in place that encouraged economic growth and vitality. We passed trade initiatives. Passed a comprehensive energy bill. I’m signing an important piece of legislation today that continues, you know, a comprehensive approach to energy exploration; plus extenders on R D, for example, tax credits. It’s been a pretty substantial legislative record, if you carefully scrutinize it. However, that doesn’t mean, necessarily, that we are able to achieve to same kind of results without a different kind of approach. After all, you’re right: The Democrats now control the House and the Senate. And, therefore, I will continue to work with their leadership and our own leaders, our own members, to see if we can’t find common ground on key issues like Social Security or immigration. I — I — I strongly believe that we can and must get a comprehensive immigration plan on my desk this year. It’s important for us, because in order to enforce our border, in order for those Border Patrol agents who we’ve increased down there, and given them more equipment and better border security — they’ve got to have help and a plan that says, If you’re coming into America to do a job, you can come legally for a temporary basis to do so. I don’t know if you’ve paid attention to the enforcement measures that were taken recently, where they — in some of these packing plants, they found people working that had been illegally — but had documents that said they were here legally. They were using forged documents — which just reminded me that the system we have in place has caused people to rely upon smugglers and forgers in order to do work Americans aren’t doing. In other words, it is a system that is all aimed to bypass, no matter what measures we take to protect this country. It is a system that, frankly, leads to inhumane treatment of people. And, therefore, the best way to deal with an issue that Americans agree on — that we ought to enforce our borders in a humane way — is we’ve got to have a comprehensive bill. And I have made a proposal. I have spoken about this to the nation from the Oval Office. I continue to believe that the microphone is necessary to call people to action. And I want to work with both Republicans and Democrats to get a comprehensive bill to my desk. It’s — it’s in our interests that we do this. In terms of energy, there’s another area where I know we can work together. There is a consensus that we need to move forward with continued research on alternative forms of energy. I just described them in my opening comments. And I’d be glad to go over them again if you’d like, because they’re — they’re positive. It’s a positive development. We’re making progress. And there’s more to be done. So I’m looking forward to working with them. You know, there’s a lot of attitude here that says: Well, you lost the Congress; therefore, you’re not going to get anything done. Quite the contrary. I have an interest to get things done, and the Democrat leaders have an interest to get something done to show that they’re — you know, that they’re worthy of their leadership roles. And it is that common ground that I’m confident we can get — we can make positive progress, without either of us compromising principle. And I know they don’t — I know they’re not going to change their principles and I’m not going to change mine. But nevertheless, that doesn’t mean we can’t find common ground to get good legislation done. That’s what the American people want. The truth of the matter’s the American people are sick of the partisanship and name-calling. I will do my part to elevate the tone. And I’m looking forward to working with them. It’s going to be an interesting new challenge. I’m used to it, as Herman can testify. I was the governor of Texas with Democrat leadership in the House and the Senate. And we were able to get a lot of constructive things done for the state of Texas. And I believe it’s going to be possible here to do so here in the country. Q: Thank you, Mr. President. Merry Christmas. BUSH: Thank you. Q: I have just two questions related to the amazing fact that a quarter of your presidency lies ahead. First, I keep reading that you’ll be remembered only for Iraq. And I wonder what other areas you believe you’re building a record of transformation you hope will last the ages. And second, to follow up on Julie’s question, what is your plan for either changing your role or keeping control of the agenda at a time when Democrats have both houses on the Hill and when the ’08 candidates are doing their thing? BUSH: Well, one is to set priorities, you know? That’s what I’ve just done, setting a priority. My message is, we can work together, and here are some key areas where we’ve got to work together: reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, minimum wage. I hope we’re able to work together on free trade agreements. We can work together on Social Security reform and Medicare reform, entitlement reform. We need to work together on energy, immigration, earmarks. The leadership in the — has expressed their disdain for earmarks. I support their disdain for earmarks. I don’t like a process where it’s not transparent, where people are able to slip this into a bill without any hearing or without any recognition of who put it in there and why they put it in there. It’s not good for the system. And it’s not good for the — building confidence of the American people in our process or in the Congress. First part of the — oh, the last two years. I’m going to work hard. I’m going to sprint to the finish. And we can get a lot done. And you’re talking about legacy. Here, I — I know — look, everybody’s trying to write the history of this administration even before it’s over. I’m reading about George Washington still. My attitude is if they’re still analyzing number one, 43 ought not to worry about it, and just do what he think is right, and make the tough choices necessary. We’re in the beginning stages of an ideological struggle. It’s going to last a while. And I want to make sure this country is engaged in a positive and constructive way to secure the future for our children. And it’s going to be a tough battle. I also believe that Medicare reform, the first meaningful, significant health care reform that’s been passed in a while, is making a huge difference for our seniors. No Child Left Behind has been a significant education accomplishment and we’ve got to reauthorize it. We have proven that you can keep taxes low, achieve other objectives and cut the deficit. The entrepreneurial spirit is high in this country. And one way to keep it high is to keep — let people keep more of their own money. So there’s been a lot of accomplishments. But the true history of any administration is not going to be written until long after the person is gone. And it’s just impossible for short-term history to accurately reflect what has taken place. Most historians, you know, probably had a political preference. And so their view isn’t exactly objective — most short-term historians. And it’s going to take awhile for people to analyze mine, or any other of my predecessors’, until down the road, when they’re able to take — you know, watch the long march of history and determine whether or not the decisions made during the eight years I was president have affected history in a positive way. I wish you all a happy holidays. Thank you for your attendance. Have fun. Enjoy yourself. For those lucky enough to go to Crawford, perhaps I’ll see you down there. Thank you.
Such a record leaves Taylor expecting it could well go the distance when the pair square off in front of a lively crowd in the capital.He said: “I think I’ll have to be patient, I’ve been preparing for a hard 12 rounds so I’ve got 36 minutes of boxing to do, it’s a long time to be in a ring. “So I need to be patient, I can’t burn out in the first couple of rounds. But I’m more than confident in my endurance and my stamina to last at whatever pace the fight goes.”Taylor added: “In terms of the crowd they are going to be mad, they always make a lot of noise and they are always going to be shouting and singing. “So I’m expecting another great atmosphere and I can’t wait to get in there on Saturday and hopefully deliver the goods again.” “I’m expecting a technical, tricky 12 rounds,” said Taylor. “I think it’s going to be very, very technical and a very tricky, awkward fight but I think it will get hairy at times as well, because he can fight, he can do it all. He can box, he can move and he can fight.“So I’m expecting a very tough fight but one that I am fully confident of coming out on top in, and I’m looking to make a statement and put in a good performance, be nice and strong and dominate him.”Vasquez has suffered five defeats in 34 contests but only when faced with world-class opposition. Josh Taylor is out to make a statement in the super-lightweight division by beating former world champion Miguel Vazquez.The Prestonpans boxer takes on the experienced Vasquez at Edinburgh’s Royal Highland Centre on Saturday.Taylor stopped Londoner Ohara Davies in the seventh round in July to add the WBC Silver belt to 2014 Commonwealth Games gold and take his undefeated run to ten matches.But the 26-year-old knows he faces a step up against Mexican Vazquez and has undertaken a gruelling 14-week training camp to get himself in top condition.