Christmas Party Plans
The Carthage Police Department
is planning for its annual Childrens Party
that is scheduled for December 19th in Memorial
The Department plans for
approximately 600 children and have seen a robust
response in the last several years.
Duke Mason will provide music
for the event for the third year. Mason is also
planning a concert where proceeds will help pay
for gifts the children receive at the party.
The event has been a part of
the community for over thirty years.
Although the party is hosted by
the Police Department, it is totally funded by
voluntary contributions from the public.
"Without the generous
giving by some businesses and many citizens, we
would not be able to continue to have the
party," says Capt. Randee Kaiser.
Anyone wishing to contribute to
the party can stop by the Police Department or
mail a donation and a receipt will be provided.
Targeted for Review by State Dept. Inspector
by Dafna Linzer, ProPublica
The State Department inspector
general has begun a comprehensive inspection of
Alhurra, its sister station Radio Sawa and its
parent company, the Middle East Broadcasting
Alhurra, set up under former
President George W. Bush to broadcast an American
perspective of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle
East, was the subject of a joint investigation
last year by ProPublica and CBS "60
The investigation and a series
of ProPublica articles revealed serious staff
problems, financial mismanagement and
long-standing concerns inside the U.S. government
and Congress regarding Alhurras content.
Those stories led to congressional inquiries in
the House and Senate. The station has cost U.S.
taxpayers more than $600 million since it began
broadcasting in 2004.
Alhurra has sought to address
some issues in the last year, by tackling
financial and accounting procedures, according to
several individuals with direct knowledge. Its
president, Brian Conniff, met with congressional
investigators, and Alhurra has hired Tom Dine, a
former head of Radio Free Europe and former
director of AIPAC, the American-Israeli lobby
group, as a consultant. Dine said in an interview
with ProPublica that his enthusiasm for
international broadcasting, and his knowledge of
the Middle East, would help him to promote the
network on Capitol Hill and within the Obama
The White House has not said
whether it intends to overhaul Alhurra or reshape
its mandate. The administration is reportedly
preparing to nominate Walter Isaacson, the former
managing editor of Time magazine and a former
chairman and CEO of CNN, to head the Broadcasting
Board of Governors  which oversees Alhurra,
the Voice of America and other international
government broadcasting efforts. State Department
officials said it is unlikely that any decisions
about Alhurras future will be taken before
a new BBG chairman is in place.
Employees at Alhurra and Radio
Sawa, which broadcast in Arabic to the Middle
East, were told two weeks ago, in an e-mail from
the companys communications director, to
complete a questionnaire ahead of the inspection
and to prepare for meetings with members of the
inspector generals staff.
While the office of the
inspector general "has done other audits on
specific MBN issues, this will be the first
inspection of overall MBN operations,"
Deirdre Klein wrote to the staff, referring to
Alhurras parent network, the Middle East
In a statement, Klein described
the inspection as "routine" and said
Alhurra was assisting "in every way possible
to ensure a comprehensive examination."
Inspections generally focus on
management issues, the use of financial resources
and whether U.S. foreign policy goals are being
As part of the inspections,
employees are asked to complete questionnaires
ahead of interviews. The completed questionnaires
were collected by last Friday and sent to the
inspector generals office ahead of the
inspection, according to several people involved.
(Heres a copy of the questionnaire.)
In addition to
ProPublicas investigation, a number of
current and former employees said they had filed
complaints with the inspector generals
office and with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission, a government agency that enforces
federal employment discrimination laws. The
questionnaire specifically asks employees to
discuss the treatment of women and minorities in
Alhurra has experienced
unusually high staff turnover. A number of senior
staff members who worked on the business side,
handling contracts and expenditures, resigned in
the last year.
Several employees of MBN said
the company had also fired a number of employees
in recent weeks, including a senior editor in
Virginia. The editor, Adil Awadh, said in an
interview with us that he had raised allegations
of financial mismanagement at Radio Sawa both
with supervisors and later with investigators
from the inspector generals office.
Awadh also said he told
investigators of "reports of financial
irregularities in the Baghdad bureau and
MBNs attempt to cover up those
irregularities." Awadh, who won two awards
for Radio Sawa, believes his discussions with
inspectors angered his bosses and led to tensions
in the workplace that ended with his termination
on Sept. 10. He said he suggested to his bosses
that he was being fired for contacting the
inspector generals office but they
disagreed. Awadh said he did not receive a
termination letter but was told he was being
dismissed because the Iraq operation he oversaw
was in disarray.
Radio Sawa, which features
mostly popular Western and Middle Eastern music,
has garnered a steady listenership in the Middle
East, BBG officials have said.
But results from the largest
public opinion poll in the Arab world indicate
that Alhurra is the least-favorite station in the
region overall and is losing viewers.
The poll , published in May
by the University of Maryland and Zogby
International, showed Alhurra with about a 0.5
percent audience preference across the Arab
worlds largest and most influential
countries. Shibley Telhami, a leading Middle East
expert at the University of Maryland and the
Brookings Institution in Washington, said
Alhurras rating was so low that, for the
first time, it fell below the polls margin