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Friday, Friday,December December16, 16, 2011

Vol. 148, No. 224 • 52 Pages


GOP candidates talk electability, economy Last shots in Iowa:

Discussion focuses on attacks each candidate has lobbed at the others. By TIM BUCKLAND New Hampshire Union Leader

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Describing leadership roles in business or government, and even summoning a reference to an NFL

quarterback, each Republican presidential candidate said at a debate Thursday night that they would be the most electable against President Barack Obama. “Anybody up here could probably beat Obama,� U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas said. In the final debate before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, early discussion focused on electability and attacks each candidate has

lobbed at the others. “I understand from my successes and failures how a business works,� said former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who has recently been supplanted atop the polls by Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. “I know what it takes to get the economy going and President Obama doesn’t.�

Gingrich, questioned about his conservative record, said that as House Speaker he helped adopt four balanced budgets and engineered sweeping welfare reforms. “Pretty conservative,� he repeatedly said. In debates, Gingrich said, “Barack Obama will not have a leg to stand on.� Gingrich, who was placed at the center podium in recognition of his place in the

polls, found himself under attack early by U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who sharply criticized him for reportedly accepting $1.6 million in consulting payments from the government-sponsored mortgage agencies Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. “We can’t have, as our Republican nominee, someone who stands for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,� she said. His

consulting efforts, which she called “lobbying,� are designed “to keep this grandiose scheme going.� Gingrich called her charges “blatantly false.� “I have never once changed my position once because of any kind of payment,� Gingrich said, adding that he would call for shutting down Freddie Mac +See GOP debate, Page A12

Witness to a war’s end State-owned

vehicle use gets scrutiny On the road: A new

report produces baseline data on state vehicle use for the first time, but current practices have defenders. By GARRY RAYNO New Hampshire Union Leader

Senior Airman Ryan Weeks of Milan, foreground, serving with the New Hampshire Air National Guard’s 157th Air Refueling Wing, stands at attention with the other members of the U.S. military color guard, at the ceremony signifying the end of the American presence in Iraq, on Thursday at the Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center. REUTERS/SHANNON STAPLETON

Honor guard in Iraq includes Milan man Making history: Senior Airman Ryan Weeks is front and center at ceremony marking official end of war.

U.S. military puts wrap on nearly 9 bloody years of war

By PAUL FEELY New Hampshire Union Leader


Iraq will be tested: U.S.

formally ends war with scant fanfare; last 4,500 U.S. troops to leave Iraq. By MISSY RYAN and PATRICK MARKEY Reuters

+See Iraq War, Page A12

REGULAR FEATURES Abby................................. B5 Business........................B3-4 Classified ............E3-8, F5-6 Comics/TV .............D10-D11 Crosswords ......................D9 Editorials........................ A10 Lifestyles ......................... B5

Lotteries...........................A4 Notices ................C1-6, D8-9 Obituaries ........................ A8 Opinion ...........................A11 Sports............................D1-7 Weather......................... D12

A Small Prayer

Today’s Chuckle

We are at a disadvantage, Lord, when we’re not walking with You. Amen

The only way these Wall Streeters will see the light is if they figure out how to repackage light and sell it as derivatives.

New Hampshire Union Leader Š2011 Union Leader Corp., Manchester, N.H.

+See Vehicles, Page A12

BAGHDAD — U.S. forces formally ended almost nine years of war in Iraq on Thursday with a modest flag-lowering ceremony in Baghdad, while to the north flickering violence highlighted ethnic and sectarian strains threatening the country in years ahead.

CONCORD — Tracking the miles that state vehicles are used for non-state business resulted in 14 vehicles being reassigned from state agencies to the state’s auto pool. The first report on the use of state vehicles was recently released showing that 233 of the state’s 1,884 vehicles were used for non-state business more than 15 percent of the time. Some vehicles were driven more than 70 percent of the time for personal use, mostly by directors or commission-

ers to commute between their homes and their offices, according to Grant Bosse of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy in Concord. On Monday the center will launch “Fleet Week,� a weeklong investigation of the personal use of state-owned vehicles by state employees. The investigation and an opinion piece by the center’s president, Charles Arlinghaus, highlight Cannon Mountain Ski Area general manager John DeVivo’s use of a state vehicle. DeVivo also manages Franconia Notch State Park. Bosse will report that the state-owned 2010 Chevrolet Impala DeVivo uses was driven almost 31,000 miles in fiscal year 2011, and almost 19,000 miles was to travel between Franconia and DeVivo’s home

Senior Airman Ryan Weeks of Milan, was chosen to represent the Air Force in the American color guard for the ceremony marking the end of U.S. involvement in COURTESY the war in Iraq.

E MAY NOT have been there for the start of the war with Iraq, but a New Hampshire man had a front row view of history when it ended. Senior Airman Ryan Weeks of the 157th Air Refueling Wing of the New Hampshire Air National Guard and a Milan resident, represented the U.S. Air Force in the Armed Forces Color Guard that lowered the flag used by U.S. forces in Iraq during a 45-minute ceremony Thursday in Baghdad. The event effectively ended the nearly 9-year war, which left 4,500 Americans and over 100,000 Iraqis dead, and wounding another 32,000 U.S. troops. “It was a tremendous honor to be involved in +See NH Airman, Page A12

Parents with young kids strive to make things better “Melissa’’ hopes her children have absorbed her message about Christmas. “I do tend to explain to my children that everybody is having a hard time. Santa is having a hard time, too, so he may not be able to bring lots of toys.� (See the Santa Fund donor list on Page B1.) But one of her young kids, who has a specific toy in mind, still wanted to know: “Do you think you could ask Santa for . . . .� The No. 1 gift request is the Skylanders game for the PlayStation they got in a better financial time.


UNH-Durham budget pinch

military custody.

+Page A4


The University of New Hampshire’s non-unionized Jobless benefits requests drop staff won’t receive raises this fiscal year because of a The number of Americans who filed requests for tight budget, but the same staff at Keene State College, Plymouth State University and Granite State College will jobless benefits fell sharply last week to the lowest level since May 2008, indicating that a fragile labor all get pay bumps. +Page A5 market continues to heal. +Page B3


Sweeping defense spending bill The National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 passed the Senate on an 86-13 vote, a solid show of support that belied the considerable opposition and debate behind it. The final compromise mandates that terrorism suspects thought to have ties to al-Qaida and planning attacks against the United States be taken into


Grappone goes green Grappone Automotive Group is in the midst of a building-wide renovation to its headquarters and Toyota dealership, which had grown over time into a complex of four interconnected buildings off Route 3A. +Page E1

F o r those unfamiliar with Skylanders, an evil tyrant has frozen the Skylanders and banished them to Earth, and only by putting the action figures on the Portal of Power can the Skylanders come back to life, to save Skylands forever. Sometimes, it seems Melis+See Santa Fund, Page A12

Today’s Letters: Pages A11, F3


A new year After making international news with his performance in a junior varsity game last season, Brad Rhoades is expected to be a key player off the bench for the Pembroke Academy varsity, which opens its season tonight. +Page D1

Page A12 • NEW HAMPSHIRE UNION LEADER • Friday, December 16, 2011

Iraq War “After a lot of blood spilled by Iraqis and Americans, the mission of an Iraq that could govern and secure itself has become real,� Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said at the ceremony at Baghdad’s still heavily-fortified airport. Almost 4,500 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis lost their lives in the war that began with a “Shock and Awe� campaign of missiles pounding Baghdad and descended into sectarian strife and a surge in U.S. troop numbers. U.S. soldiers lowered the flag of American forces in Iraq and slipped it into a camouflage-coloured sleeve in a brief outdoor ceremony, symbolically ending the most unpopular U.S. military venture since the Vietnam War of the 1960s and 70s.

Continued from Page A1 The remaining 4,000 American troops will leave by the end of the year. Toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is dead, executed in 2006, and the worst sectarian violence has, at least for now, passed. But Iraq still struggles with insurgents, a fragile power-sharing government and an oil-reliant economy plagued by power shortages and corruption. “Iraq will be tested in the days ahead, by terrorism, by those who would seek to divide, by economic and social issues,� Panetta told the rows of assembled U.S. soldiers and embassy officials at the ceremony. “Challenges remain, but the United States will be there to stand by the Iraqi people.� In Falluja, the former heartland of an al-Qaida insurgen-

cy that suffered some of the most vicious fighting in the war, several thousand Iraqis celebrated the withdrawal on Wednesday, some burning U.S. flags and waving pictures of dead relatives. Falluja became more than any other Iraqi city a symbol for the brutality of the war after the 2003 invasion. Ali al-Falluji’s building lies with its ceiling collapsed, debris scattered across a Falluja roadside just as the Iraqi businessman left it in 2004 when U.S. bombs punctured its roof. “This scene must remain like it is as a testimony to the brutality of the Americans,� said Falluji. It took two U.S. incursions into Falluja in 2004, and weeks of devastating houseto-house fighting, to subdue the city.

Iraq veterans praise Obama as U.S. withdraws “Honorable ending�: Michael Breen

and Michael Rodriguez speak for the Truman National Security Project. By JOHN DiSTASO Senior Political Reporter

MANCHESTER — A day after the war in Iraq officially ended, two New Hampshire veterans praised President Barack Obama for bringing the troops home with “dignity and honor.� Portsmouth native Michael Breen and Michael Rodriguez of Hanover spoke on a conference call organized by the Truman National Security Project, described by spokesman David Solimini as “the country’s only progressive national security leadership institute. “We recruit, train and position progressives from around the country to be leaders on issues of national security,� Solomini said, U.S. Marine Corps and Iraq war veteran Rodriguez said,

“Looking back and having come back from there, this is an honorable ending to this. “The President has done a pretty amazing job in taking down the majority of al-Qaida’s leadership and weakening its network. “Thousands have lost their lives for this and this is certainly a worthy end,� Rodriguez said. Former U.S. Army Capt. Breen, a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said he crossed the border into Kuwait leaving Iraq at 3 a.m. on the morning of July 4, 2004, “so I have a sense of the enormity of that feeling that will come when the convoy crosses that border, when they turn in their ammunition, when they can take their body armor off and they know they’ve made it. Breen said Obama “is doing an excellent job of recognizing who we ought to be fighting and who we ought to be going after and who are the real threats to Americans.� He said Obama correctly “shifted assets� from Iraq to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, Yemen and “other places, and

we’re seeing the benefits. It’s paid huge dividends and speaks to a smart and tough strategy that’s taking the greatest threats to America off the field of battle.� Breen praised Obama for “ending the war with dignity and honor.� Meanwhile, Iraq veteran and paratrooper Justin Ford, president of the VETPAC, a proDemocratic Party political action committee, said, “Everyone has sacrified so much and can be proud to leave Iraq with their heads held high.� He said the Obama administration “set out clear goals, guidelines and they hit those milestones and achieved them. “The administration has done great things not only in Iraq, but we’ve seen what it’s done in Libya and with al-Qaida and taking out Osama bin Laden. “We set out to provide a sense of security and democracy within Iraq and I feel that we achieved that,� Ford said. He said he was “proud to see this close in an honorable way to leave Iraq with their heads held high.�

NH Airman such a historical ceremony,� wrote Weeks, 22, in an email response to questions Thursday after the event. “We knew how important this was to the United States and especially to the families of those individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice. We wanted to guarantee the ceremony was flawless.� Live video coverage of the ceremony showed Weeks standing on the right side of the Color Guard formation, standing at attention as the flags were lowered. Weeks, the 157th’s Airman of the Year for 2011, said he wasn’t sure at first he was the right man to participate in the ceremony. “A base-wide email was sent out in search of an Air Force individual between the heights of 5’11� and 6’1�, who would be staying in Iraq until ‘end of mission’ and was interested in representing the Air Force on the Joint Service Color Guard team,� wrote Weeks. “I was hesitant at first because I had zero color guard experience up to that point but I decided to go for it. After a couple days of practice they determined that I was the right fit for the team.� Weeks, a 2007 graduate of Berlin High School, is on his third deployment. “I’m currently on my third overseas assignment,� wrote Weeks. “The first was an involuntary at Al Asad, Iraq. The second was in Bagram, Afghanistan. I volunteered for the second and third deployments. I arrived in Iraq in late October for a short notice tasking to assist with the surge of troops and equipment leaving the country. I am in the 447th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron (ELRS).� Weeks serves as an air transportation journeyman. Specifically, he oversees the loading and off-loading of cargo and passengers from military aircraft. Enrolled full-time at the University of New Hampshire while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in structural engineering, he postponed school to volunteer for the deployment.

Continued from Page A1

U.S. troops, including New Hampshire Air National Guard Senior Airman Ryan Weeks of Milan, left, carry an Iraqi national flag and a U.S. flag during a ceremony to retire the flags, marking the end of the U.S. military engagement, at the Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center Thursday. REUTERS Weeks said some friends and neighbors in Milan have asked why he continues to volunteer for overseas deployments. He said the answer to that question is easy. “They don’t realize that unless I deploy, America’s troops and assets don’t come home,� wrote Weeks. “They ask for volunteers, why shouldn’t I go? I have no good answer. It’s not for the money. In fact, I took a cut in pay from my summer job to go to Afghanistan. I have postponed my college courses for three semesters now. Sitting here in Baghdad, Iraq, typing these answers, I need not question my service.� A strong history of military service runs through his family as well. “I was raised in a very proud family who has the military embedded in their roots. My

brother is a former Marine who served in Fallujah, Iraq, at the height of the war in 2006. My father is a retired Navy veteran who served several tours in Vietnam. My grandfather served along with his brothers and the list goes on. When it came my time, I was more than willing to serve my country.� The only aspect of his service he is unsure of is exactly when he will put boots back on the ground in the Granite State. A trip home for Christmas remains a possibility. “I can assure you that the withdrawal deadline set for December 31, 2011, will be met,� wrote Weeks. “However, we are still uncertain how soon we will be leaving Iraq. Since I’m in logistics I will be one of the very last troops to leave.�

GOP debate and Fannie Mae. Bachmann stayed on the offensive later in the debate, after Paul said the United States is overreacting to the nuclear threat posed by Iran and its leader, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, saying no hard evidence exists that Iran has the ability to produce a nuclear weapon within the next year. “We have another Iraq going on,� Paul said. “There’s war propaganda going on. The greatest danger is overreacting. That’s how we got into that useless war in Iraq that cost us so much.� “I don’t think I’ve heard a

Continued from Page A1 more dangerous position on foreign policy than the one I heard from Ron Paul,� said Bachmann. “It would probably be the greatest underreaction in world history when we have this unmitigated madman in control over there.� None of the other candidates sided with Paul, with former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania saying he would call for preemptive missile strikes against Iran if it follows through with reports the country is planning to block the Strait of Hormuz shipping lanes in the Persian Gulf. Jon Huntsman, the former

Vehicles in Bethel, Maine, a distance of more than 60 miles. Bosse said the Department of Administrative Services estimates the personal use cost $3,488 for the fiscal year. Department of Resources and Economic Development Commissioner George Bald said Arlinghaus raised a good question when he asks why he is taxed so that DeVivo can drive a state car. But Arlinghaus needs to go further and ask another question, Bald said. “Would you be willing to work six or seven days a week all winter long? Would you like to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to respond when something goes wrong? Would you like to work Christmas, New Year’s, Martin Luther King Day and be responsible for 350 employees?� Bald noted. He added DeVivo does not receive extra compensation if he does work seven days a week or on holidays like Christmas Bald said DeVivo has taken a ski area that was losing money and made it profitable for the last five years, including last year when it had about a $1 million surplus. “It’s not fair to say ‘Isn’t this a wonderful perk,’ unless you understand all the other re-


governor of Utah, said he was not concerned that Republican voters won’t trust him because he declined a debate appearance with businessman Donald Trump and refused to sign a pledge not to raise taxes. “I am not going to pander. I am not going to contort myself to whatever is going on at that moment,� he said. “I’m not going to sign these silly pledges. And I’m not going to show up to a Donald Trump debate.� Santorum said voters can count on his “consistent record of conservatism.� “You know where I stand,�

Continued from Page A1 quirements of the job,� Bald said. “For someone to argue he shouldn’t get a vehicle to drive back and forth to his home is unreasonable.� Cannon, like the rest of the state park system, is self-funding, Bald said, so no state tax dollars pay for operating the ski area or the park. He said the department’s custom has been for the commissioner, four division heads and the manager of Cannon Mountain to have state vehicles. Other employees may take vehicles home at night because of the nature of their jobs, Bald said, like trails bureau employees who are all over the state. Not everyone leaves from Concord, he noted. “The reason we do state vehicles is because it is less expensive than reimbursing someone for mileage all the time,� Bald said. After years of discussions, lawmakers in 2010 passed Senate Bill 402 to cut departments’ vehicle budgets and standardize vehicle use policy across state departments. Rep. Ken Weyler, R-Kingston, who long pushed for greater accountability for vehicle use, said there used to be 16 different policies on use and vehicle

purchases. “I see big savings over the years from what (the Department of) Administrative Services has done,� said Weyler, who is the chairman of the House Finance Committee. “We had 16 different agencies with 16 sets of rules about who can take a car home.� With Administrative Services determining what cars may be purchased and how they can be used, that is good progress, Weyler said. “I’m delighted this has finally come down,� he said. “I worked on for this issue for years.� Bosse said the report for the first time produces baseline data on state vehicle use. “Now that we have the data to look at, most of the time there’s a good reason to let someone bring their state vehicle home for the night,� Bosse said. “But sometimes there isn’t any reason to let someone use a state vehicle for personal use.� The center will run a story a day with articles focusing on the overall issue, the Department of Transportation and the Liquor Commission. The articles will appear beginning Monday on the center’s website: www.jbartlett. org.

he said. “You can trust me. I was the guy speaking for conservatism when it was popular and when it was unpopular.� For his part, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who surged to the

top of the polls when he announced his candidacy in August but has slipped in the polls after poor debate performances, likened himself to Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, who has a 6-1 re-

cord as a starter after facing criticism that he wasn’t capable of being an NFL quarterback. “I hope I am the Tim Tebow of the Iowa caucuses,� Perry said.

Santa Fund sa’s family is being controlled by an evil tyrant because her husband was laid off and they recently received a shutoff notice from Public Service of New Hampshire. Back bills for electricity and heat are ever present. She has a strategy for fighting heating bills. “I turn on the heat until it gets warm, then I shut it off for a while,� she said, waiting until the apartment gets really chilly before she turns the heat back on. “Jeff� works construction and landscaping, but newhome construction continues to lag, and it’s the off season for landscaping. “He just got laid off,’’ said Melissa. “He’s definitely searching for work,� but the competition is fierce. With four children younger than 11, she has been at home, but she would become the breadwinner if she could find a job. “We just keep crossing our fingers. Somebody’s gonna get a break,� she said. Even with a severely restricted budget, there are a few traditions that will continue, including the Christmas stocking. Little things for the stocking change from year to year, but “we always make sure there’s a toothbrush.� The family also always makes sure to appreciate that they are together and have made it through another year as a family. Like many other families, they struggle all year, but it becomes even more difficult at Christmas, and the Union Leader Santa Fund for the Salvation Army helps out. 

The generosity of Santa Fund donors makes it possible for the holidays to still be a joyful time. The Santa Fund makes food, clothing and gifts

Continued from Page A1

available during the holiday season, so ďŹ nancially stressed families can put their resources toward paying bills for basic needs. Santa Fund donations may be made by sending a check to the Union Leader Santa Fund, in care of the New Hampshire Union Leader, P.O. Box 9555, Manchester 03108; or by placing a donation in the Santa Fund box in the lobby of the newspaper, at 100 William Loeb Drive, Manchester, 7 a.m. to 7

p.m., Monday through Friday. Donations can also be made online at www. Every effort is made to promptly publish Santa Fund contributions. Donors who wish to see their contributions listed before Christmas are encouraged to submit them as soon as possible. The Union Leader publishes photos of donors of $1,000 or more. Contact Teresa Robinson at 2067833 for more information.

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NH Airman Witness To End of Iraq War  

SrA Ryan Weeks of the 157th Refueling Wing was chosen to serve as part of the color guard for the official ceremony marking the end of the n...

NH Airman Witness To End of Iraq War  

SrA Ryan Weeks of the 157th Refueling Wing was chosen to serve as part of the color guard for the official ceremony marking the end of the n...