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Monday, September 24, 2007

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Monday September 24 2007 - (813)

Monday September 24 2007 edition
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Obama Faces Challenge To Gain Lead In Polls
2007-09-23 15:59:42
Donors who have helped Illinois senator take lead in fundraising are growing impatient with gap in polls.

While the candidates for the White House will spend the next week furiously raising money in advance of their next financial reporting deadline, the man who has raised the most is facing a different challenge: turning that money into a lead in the polls.

Like his fellow contenders, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Illinois), who led all candidates in both parties by pulling in $58.5 million over the first six months of the year, will be holding a string of fund raisers this week, before the latest quarterly fund raising deadline of Sept. 30.

Even before the totals are announced, however, some of the donors who have helped raise millions for Obama are beginning to ask when the gap in polls between Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-New York) will finally begin to narrow. The first votes in the primary season will be cast in less than four months, and the nomination could be wrapped up in a matter of weeks after that.

"People ask me all the time when I'm raising money: 'What is going on with the polling?' " one member of Obama's national finance committee said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the campaign's restriction on committee members speaking to the news media. "He drives out great crowds wherever he goes, but everyone still wonders a little bit if that's going to turn into votes."

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Iraq Prime Minister Al-Maliki: Blackwater Shootings Threaten Sovereignty
2007-09-23 15:59:05
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Sunday the shooting deaths of civilians - allegedly at the hands of Blackwater USA guards - and other violence involving the company pose "serious challenges to the sovereignty of Iraq" and cannot be accepted.

"The Iraqi government is responsible for its citizens and it cannot be accepted for a security company to carry out a killing," he told the Associated Press, speaking in his New York hotel suite ahead of his appearance at the U.N. General Assembly.

Noting that Blackwater has been linked to at least seven incidents involving gunfire on Iraqi civilians, he added: "There are serious challenges to the sovereignty of Iraq." In Arabic, he used the word "tajawiz" which can be translated either as "affronts" or "challenges".

However, Maliki left open the possibility that Iraq and the United States would work toward a solution to the problem of Blackwater. "We have coordinated with the American side to establish a joint committee to ascertain the facts and hold accountable" those responsible, he said.
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Yasuo Fukuda Selected As Japans New Prime Minister
2007-09-23 15:58:24
Desperate for competence, Japan's troubled ruling party on Sunday chose as its leader an admittedly un-charismatic party elder known for his dovish foreign policy and quiet political know-how.

Yasuo Fukuda, 71, a long-time salaryman in the oil industry before serving as cabinet chief under two prime ministers, will formally become prime minister on Tuesday.

He will take over from Shinzo Abe, the relatively youthful (at 53) but unpopular prime minister who left his party in perhaps its worst political mess since World War II, when he abruptly announced his desire to quit 11 days ago and checked into a hospital for stress-related stomach trouble.

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which has monopolized post-war political power in Japan, badly lost its way during Abe's one year in power, as financial scandal and failure to address a fiasco involving 50 million misfiled pension records led to a crushing defeat in a mid-summer election in the upper house of parliament.

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CEOs, Bush Rangers Rebuff Republicans On Iraq War, Widening Deficit
2007-09-23 02:05:29
Dozens of corporate executives who backed President George W. Bush for re-election in 2004, including some of his top fund-raisers, are now helping Democrats running for president.

John Mack, chief executive officer of Morgan Stanley, Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp., and Terry Semel, chairman of Yahoo! Inc., are among some 60 executives writing checks to Democrats such as Senators Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois, a review of U.S. Federal Election Commission records shows.

While the vast majority of business leaders still back Republicans for 2008, the stature of some of those donating to Democrats suggests that support may be eroding, seven years into the Bush presidency. Some executives expressed concern over Republican positions on issues ranging from the war in Iraq and stem-cell research to global warming and the fiscal deficit.

The shift in political-spending patterns is "very unusual," says Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a Washington-based group that advocates campaign-finance reform.

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Commentary: The Saudi Connection That Belittles Britain
2007-09-23 02:04:28
Intellpuke: The following commentary was written by Nick Cohen and appears in The Oberserver edition for Sunday, Sept. 23, 2007. Mr. Cohen is a columnist for The Observer and New Statesman. He writes occasional pieces for many other publications, including the London Evening Standard and New Humanist. In his commentary, Mr. Cohen writes that there are signs the shameful censoring of Saudi critics in Britain is being challenged.

The riches keep rolling in from Saudi Arabia. On top of the £21 billion ($42 billion) from the al-Yamamah arms deal, the Saudis agreed to pay a further £4.3 billion ($8.6 billion) last week for 72 Eurofighters. Spare parts will probably bring in another billion or so and there are plenty more billions where they came from. So much money, but at what price?

The last days of Tony Blair made it painfully clear that if it came to a choice between the rule of law on the one hand and British manufacturing's dependence on Saudi arms orders and the West's dependence on Saudi oil on the other, the rule of law would have to go.

When the then Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, ordered the Serious Fraud Office to stop its investigation into allegations that BAE had paid off Saudi royals, he showed that zero tolerance had its limits and New Labor was prepared to be soft on crime and the causes of crime in order to keep the Saudis sweet.

As scandalous as the allegations the authorities find it convenient to ignore are the accusations they are willing to pursue. While alleged fraud goes unexamined, the West Midlands police case against Channel 4 for investigating Saudi funding of extremist mosques goes on and on. In the long run, what is being done to Channel 4 is more significant than the nobbling of the Serious Fraud Office.

It goes to the heart of Britain's failure to come to terms with the Saudi attempt to convert Europe's Muslims to wahhabhism and its sister creeds. There has been nothing to match the scale of its propaganda effort in British history.

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Bush Steps Up On Climate Change - But Plans No Change In U.S. Policy
2007-09-23 02:02:55

Amid a mounting sense of urgency about the need for action to slow climate change, President Bush this week will be playing what is, for him, an unusually prominent role in high-level diplomatic meetings on how to confront global warming.

What he will not do, officials said, is chart any shift in policies that have put him at odds with much of the world on the issue.

Monday, at a private dinner on climate change hosted by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Bush will join about two dozen other heads of state, several from countries most vulnerable to higher temperatures and rising seas. On Thursday, he will address a White House-hosted climate change conference that will include senior officials from rapidly developing nations such as China, India and Brazil, which have been reluctant to divert economic resources to curb their rising greenhouse gas emissions.

Top Bush administration officials said the president is not planning to alter his opposition to mandatory limits on greenhouse gases or to stray from his emphasis on promoting new technologies, especially for nuclear power and for the storage of carbon dioxide produced by coal plants.

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War Crimes Lawyers Fight U.N.'s Ban Ki-Moon On 'Secret Appointment'
2007-09-23 02:01:41
U.N. Secretary General is challenged over appointment of top prosecutor of International Criminal Tribunal.

The new leadership of the United Nations is facing a defiant challenge from within one of its few recent successes - the war crimes tribunal in The Hague - over who will steer the epic trials towards their close.

Prosecution lawyers at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) - trying Europe's bloodiest war criminals since the Nazis - fear a backstage deal has been struck between new U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon over an appointment of a successor to chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, who leaves in December. Senior Hague lawyers say they are ready to quit over the issue.

Accounts by tribunal and U.N. sources of how a former Belgian attorney-general petitioned for the job and has reportedly been guaranteed it affords a rare insight into the veiled sanctums of the U.N.
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Pakistan's Musharraf Backs Off Al-Qaeda Pursuit
2007-09-23 15:59:24
Political realities force Musharraf to reduce efforts against al-Qaeda, depriving the U.S. of one of its strongest anti-terrorism allies.

Political turmoil and a spate of brazen attacks by Taliban fighters are forcing Pakistan's president to scale back his government's pursuit of al-Qaeda, according to U.S. intelligence officials who fear that the terrorist network will be able to accelerate its efforts to rebuild and plot new attacks.

The development threatens a pillar of U.S. counter-terrorism strategy, which has depended on Pakistan to play a lead role in keeping al-Qaeda under pressure to reduce its ability to coordinate strikes.

President Pervez Musharraf, facing a potentially fateful election next month and confronting calls to yield power after years of autocratic rule, appears too vulnerable to pursue aggressive counter-terrorism operations at the behest of the United States, the intelligence officials said.

At the same time, the Pakistani military has suffered a series of embarrassing setbacks at the hands of militants in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan where Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda figures are believed to be hiding.
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Commentary: Iraq's 'Dirty Harrys'
2007-09-23 15:58:49
Intellpuke: The following commentary was written by Daved DeVoss and appears in the Los Angeles Times edition for Sunday, September 23, 2007. Mr. DeVoss, editor of East-West News Service, spent six months in Iraq with the U.S. Agency for International Development. In his commentary, Mr. DeVoss writes that the swagger and tactics of private security guards in Iraq is doing more harm than good. His commentary follows:

Blackwater. The name says it all, conjuring images of imminent danger, hidden predators and night terror. From the moment Blackwater USA arrived in Iraq to protect L. Paul Bremer III's Coalition Provisional Authority until last week, when its guards killed 11 Iraqis and wounded 13 more while escorting a diplomatic convoy through Baghdad, the North Carolina-based private security company has been known for its swaggering image and "Dirty Harry" demeanor.

All the U.S. private security armies in Iraq may be cut from the same khaki cloth, but each has its own personality. When I arrived in the country in September 2004 as a senior information officer for the U.S. Agency for International Development, bodyguards with Kroll Inc., whose credo is "in risk there is opportunity," met me at the airport. They were British and Irish veterans of Belfast's "Troubles" and viewed terrorists with a world-weary stoicism.

Our convoy had pulled onto the airport highway and was heading for the Green Zone when three black Chevy Suburbans flashed past. The rear door of the trailing vehicle was open, and inside sat a man dressed in black cradling a large-caliber machine gun. Bandoleers crisscrossed his chest, several handguns and a large knife dangled from his weapons harness and an enormous handlebar mustache covered most of his face.

The look was designed to inspire dread, but it was carried to such cartoonish extremes that the man resembled Yosemite Sam more than the Terminator. "That's Blackwater," said the Kroll driver disdainfully. "You'll see a lot of them while you're here."

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Missteps In The Bunker: How Blunders Led To 6 Nuclear Warheads Being Flown Across The U.S.
2007-09-23 02:05:57

Just after 9 a.m. on Aug. 29, a group of U.S. airmen entered a sod-covered bunker on North Dakota's Minot Air Force Base with orders to collect a set of unarmed cruise missiles bound for a weapons graveyard. They quickly pulled out a dozen cylinders, all of which appeared identical from a cursory glance, and hauled them along Bomber Boulevard to a waiting B-52 bomber.

The airmen attached the gray missiles to the plane's wings, six on each side. After eyeballing the missiles on the right side, a flight officer signed a manifest that listed a dozen unarmed AGM-129 missiles. The officer did not notice that the six on the left contained nuclear warheads, each with the destructive power of up to 10 Hiroshima bombs.

That detail would escape notice for an astounding 36 hours, during which the missiles were flown across the country to a Louisianaair base that had no idea nuclear warheads were coming. It was the first known flight by a nuclear-armed bomber over U.S. airspace, without special high-level authorization, in nearly 40 years.

The episode, serious enough to trigger a rare "Bent Spear" nuclear incident report that raced through the chain of command to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and President Bush, provoked new questions inside and outside the Pentagon about the adequacy of U.S. nuclear weapons safeguards while the military's attention and resources are devoted to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Three weeks after word of the incident leaked to the public, new details obtained by the Washington Post point to security failures at multiple levels in North Dakota and Louisiana, according to interviews with current and former U.S. officials briefed on the initial results of an Air Force investigation of the incident.

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Commentary: Oil And Betrayal In Iraq
2007-09-23 02:04:59
Intellpuke: The following commentary was written by George Lakoff and was posted on the website on Thursday, September 20, 2007. Mr. Lakoff is a senior fellow at the Rockridge Institute and writes that the war in Iraq was always about that nation's oil. His commentary follows:

Alan Greenspan should know. It was oil all along. The former head of the Federal Reserve writes in his memoir, "The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World," "I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil." Greenspan even advised Bush that "taking Saddam Hussein out was essential" to protect oil supplies.

Yes, we suspected it. In a deep sense, many of us knew it, just as those in Washington did. But now it's in our face. Greenspan put the mother of all facts in front of our noses. And we can no longer be in denial. The US invaded Iraq for the oil.

Think about what it means for our troops and for the people of Iraq. Our troops were told, and believed because they trusted their president, they were in Iraq to protect America, to protect their families, their homes, their friends and neighbors, our democracy. But they were betrayed. Those troops fought and died and were maimed and had their marriages break up for oil company profits. An utter betrayal of our men and women in uniform and their families, a betrayal of their sacrifices, day after day, month after month, year after year - and for some, forever! Children growing up fatherless or motherless. Men and women without legs or arms or faces - for oil company profits.

And hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed, more maimed, and millions made refugees. For oil profits.

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Rare Shellfish Bartered For Drugs In South Africa
2007-09-23 02:03:49
Chinese Triad gangs are fueling a trade that has seen a surge in the already crime-riddled Cape Town region.

As green rubbery sea creatures are emptied from a bin liner into a sink in the police interview room at Muizenberg, Cape Town, a shabby white man looks on guiltily. He is the first link in an international, multi-million-pound illegal trade that has brought Triad gangs and drugs to South Africa and is tearing the Cape region apart.

The man's flippers and wetsuit lie on the floor. He was caught by game wardens poaching abalone - a saucer-sized mollusc prized as a delicacy in the Far East. He could have earned around £220 ($440) for his catch of 12 kilos but now faces five years in Pollsmoor prison. The stolen abalone, an endangered and protected species, would have been eventually sold to predominantly Chinese buyers for around £225 ($450) a kilo. And that's the problem: the enormous value of the delicacy has brought the Chinese Triad gangs to South Africa. In a cash-free transaction, the Triads swap the abalone for the ingredients to make methamphetamine, or "tik". Hundreds of tons of abalone are  smuggled out of the Cape every year, to be exported through Hong Kong, according to Wildlife Department officials who say that the local abalone is on the brink of extinction.

But it is the effects of tik on South Africans that are most noticeable. Already suffering a murder rate of 50 a day, and a rape every 26 seconds, the Cape is gripped by an epidemic of tik - a highly addictive crystallized form of speed - that has resulted in a 200 per cent surge in drug-related crime in two years. It's driving the region mad - literally. "Tik has a high propensity for causing neuro-psychiatric problems. We were seeing about 40 patients a month, we're now seeing about 180 per month. So that's more than a quadrupling of psychiatric patients," says Dr. Neshaad Schrueder, the head of the emergency unit at GF Jooste hospital in Manenberg, Cape Town.
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Iran's Ahmadinejad Defiant As Protests Grow Over His Visit To The U.N. In New York
2007-09-23 02:02:31
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is poised to deliver a defiant address to the United Nations general assembly this week amid a storm of opposition to his visit to New York and growing international alarm over his country's nuclear ambitions.

On the eve of his departure from Tehran, the Iranian military yesterday showed off a new long-range ballistic missile called the Ghadr - Farsi for "power".

In a speech marking the event, Ahmadinejad shrugged off U.S. and regional concerns about Iran's more assertive role, saying: "Iran is an influential power in the region and the world should know that this power has always served peace, stability, brotherhood and justice."

With the Iranian leader expected to arrive in New York on Sunday for the annual meeting of the 192-member General Assembly, diplomats said that his visit is likely to raise the temperature yet again in the debate surrounding international moves to curb Iran's nuclear enrichment program.

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