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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Saturday September 29 2007 - (813)

Saturday September 29 2007 edition
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Girl On Sex Tape Found Safe And Is With Relatives
2007-09-28 23:25:19
A young girl who was seen being sexually assaulted in a homemade videotape has been found and is safe with relatives and sheriff's officials, an investigator said Friday.

"We found the victim. She's safe," Nye County sheriff's Detective David Boruchowitz told the Associated Press.

Widespread media accounts of the case led to the crucial tip that helped find the girl, Boruchowitz said. He did not provide details of her identity, where she lives or how she was located, but a news conference was planned later Friday.

A man being sought for questioning, Chester Arthur Stiles, remains at large, said Nye County Sheriff Tony DeMeo.

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Venezuela, Bolivia Back Iran's Nuclear Plans
2007-09-28 23:23:30
Ahmadinejad signs energy agreements during South America visit.

Red carpets, brass bands, bear hugs and a hero's welcome: there is at least one part of the Americas that loves Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

South America this week greeted the Iranian president as a brother and benefactor, defrosting him after his icy reception in New York. The leaders of Bolivia and Venezuela embraced Ahmadinejad and blessed Iran's nuclear program, underlining how much influence Washington has lost over a region it once considered its backyard.

The Iranian president signed a series of energy and trade deals during brief stopovers which extended Tehran's foothold in South America. In contrast to the insults heaped on him in New York, the visitor was feted as a strategic ally in the struggle against gringo imperialism. Cuba and Nicaragua echoed the rhetoric.
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NATO Chief Says Taliban Could Regain Afghanistan Territory
2007-09-28 23:21:32
The Taliban could recapture territory in southern Afghanistan won by British troops in fighting this summer, NATO's commander warned Friday.

General Dan McNeill, an American, said British soldiers had made "significant progress" in Helmand province but were facing difficulties securing gains and it was "likely" some of the ground would have to be taken again if the Taliban regrouped over the winter.

Gen. McNeill told the BBC: "We are pleased with the success we have had in Helmand province. That's not to say we are declaring victory and moving on, we have just had significant progress."

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Bush Tries New 'Spin' On Global Warming At Conference
2007-09-28 15:58:57

President Bush assured the rest of the world Friday that he takes climate change seriously and vowed that the United States "will do its part" in crafting "a new international approach" to reduce the greenhouse gases that are warming the planet. However, he proposed no new initiatives to do so.

Addressing a Washington conference of major economic powers, Bush said "the moment is now" to find a broad consensus on how to confront the challenge of climate change. "I want to get the job done," he told hundreds of envoys, lobbyists and activists. "We have identified a problem; let's go solve it together."

His much-anticipated address, though, was more a defense of his own record on the issue than a concrete roadmap for future action. Bush said he wants to reach agreement with other heads of state by next summer on a long-term goal for reducing emissions, an accord that would allow different nations to decide how to meet targets. He touted technology as the ultimate solution, ignoring calls for mandatory limits on emissions.

Among the measures he advocated were proposals he has been promoting for years, including cleaner coal production; more nuclear, solar and wind power; additional ethanol as a substitute for gasoline; and increased vehicle fuel efficiency standards. He called energy security and climate change "two of the great challenges of our time" and said that "the United States takes these challenges seriously."

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U.S.-Led Forces Kill A Senior Al-Qaeda Leader In Iraq
2007-09-28 15:58:26

The U.S. military in Iraq has killed a senior leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq who was responsible for bringing foreign fighters into the country and kidnapping U.S. soldiers in 2006, an Army general announced Friday.

The senior leader, a native of Tunisia who goes by the pseudonym Abu Usama al-Tunisi, was killed in an air strike Tuesday by a U.S. Air Force F-16 jet as part of a series of raids on the al-Qaeda in Iraq network, Army Brig. Gen. Joseph Anderson, chief of staff for Multinational Corps Iraq, told a Pentagon briefing.

Anderson said the death of Tunisi east of the town of Karbala "deals a significant blow" to al-Qaeda in Iraq, an organization he described as now "fractured, ruptured" and forced to operate in remote locations.

The U.S. military released a handwritten note it said was found at the site where Tunisi was killed in which he describes himself as being "surrounded" for two-and-a-half months. Anderson said the note was indicative of an organization in disarray.

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Report Assails F.D.A. Oversight Of Clinical Trials
2007-09-28 03:33:16
Federal investigator finds that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does very little to ensure the safety of the millions of people who participate in clinical drug trials.

In a report due to be released Friday, the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, Daniel R. Levinson, said federal health officials did not know how many clinical trials were being conducted, audited fewer than 1 percent of the testing sites and, on the rare occasions when inspectors did appear, generally showed up long after the tests had been completed.

The F.D.A. has 200 inspectors, some of whom audit clinical trials part time, to police an estimated 350,000 testing sites. Even when those inspectors found serious problems in human trials, top drug officials in Washington, D.C.,  downgraded their findings 68 percent of the time, the report found. Among the remaining cases, the agency almost never followed up with inspections to determine whether the corrective actions that the agency demanded had occurred, the report found.

“In many ways, rats and mice get greater protection as research subjects in the United States than do humans,” said Arthur L. Caplan, chairman of the department of medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Animal research centers have to register with the federal government, keep track of subject numbers, have unannounced spot inspections and address problems speedily or risk closing, none of which is true in human research, said Caplan.

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China's Booming Cities Are Running Out Of Water
2007-09-28 03:32:22
Hundreds of feet below ground, the primary water source for Shijiazhuang, the provincial capital of more than two million people, is steadily running dry. The underground water table is sinking about four feet a year. Municipal wells have already drained two-thirds of the local groundwater.

Above ground, this city in the North China Plain is having a party. Economic growth topped 11 percent last year. Population is rising. A new upscale housing development is advertising waterfront property on lakes filled with pumped groundwater. Another half-built complex, the Arc de Royal, is rising above one of the lowest points in the city’s water table.

“People who are buying apartments aren’t thinking about whether there will be water in the future,” said Zhang Zhongmin, who has tried for 20 years to raise public awareness about the city’s dire water situation.

For three decades, water has been indispensable in sustaining the rollicking economic expansion that has made China a world power. Now, China’s galloping, often wasteful style of economic growth is pushing the country toward a water crisis. Water pollution is rampant nationwide, while water scarcity has worsened severely in north China - even as demand keeps rising everywhere.

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Hurricane Lorenzo Hits Mexican Coast
2007-09-28 03:31:41
Lorenzo made landfall early Friday after strengthening rapidly into a Category 1 hurricane as it bore down on Mexico's Gulf Coast with powerful winds and rain, forcing authorities to evacuate low-lying coastal communities.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said the hurricane made landfall along the east-central coast of Mexico, southeast of Tuxpan.

Officials canceled classes and opened more than 60 shelters on the coastline of Veracruz state Thursday, as Mexico's government issued a hurricane warning from Palma Sola to Cabo Rojo.

At least 30 communities near several rivers were ordered to evacuate late Thursday. Residents scrambled to move furniture and belongings to higher ground even as roads began to flood.

"We never expected the hurricane would hit here," said Ribay Peralta, a 33-year-old lawyer who was packing his car with televisions sets, DVD players and other appliances in the town of San Rafael, a low-lying community about 9 miles from Veracruz's coast.

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Europeans Angry After Bush Climate Speech 'Charade'
2007-09-28 23:23:42
U.S. isolated as China and India refuse to back policy.

George Bush was castigated by European diplomats and found himself isolated Friday after a special conference on climate change ended without any progress.

European ministers, diplomats and officials attending the Washington, D.C., conference were scathing, particularly in private, over Bush's failure once again to commit to binding action on climate change.

Although the U.S. and Britain have been at odds over the environment since the early days of the Bush administration, the gap has never been as wide as it was Friday.

Britain and almost all other European countries, including Germany and France, want mandatory targets for reducing greenhouse emissions. Bush, while talking Friday about a "new approach" and "a historic undertaking", remains totally opposed.

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British Prime Minister Brown Calls For Sanctions Amid Fear Of Burma Death Toll
2007-09-28 23:23:16
Diplomatic efforts intensify ahead of U.N. special envoy's arrival.

Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown demanded tougher sanctions against the Burmese military regime Friday, as soldiers and police in Rangoon appeared to gain the upper hand against demonstrators after a violent crackdown the previous day.

Fewer protesters braved the ranks of troops and police who were out in greater force than ever, after at least nine people were killed on Thursday.

Brown expressed Britain's outrage over the response, saying he feared the loss of life was greater than had been confirmed. "I condemn the violence that has been used against the unarmed Burmese protesters who have been exercizing, with great bravery, their right to peaceful protest," he said in a statement.

"I had hoped that the Burmese regime would heed the calls for restraint from the international community. But once again they have responded with oppression and force. This must cease."
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U.S. Rep. Waxman: State Dept. Employees Threatened With Firing If They Testify Before Congress
2007-09-28 15:59:22

Two senior staffers for State Department Inspector General Howard J. Krongard have told employees they could be fired if they cooperate in a congressional probe of Krongard and his office, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-California)  charged Friday.

Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, alleged in a letter to Krongard that Krongard's congressional liaison and an unnamed attorney issued the threats.

The congressional liaison, Terry P. Heide, acknowledged that she is one of the two officials Waxman referred to in his letter. Committee staffers identified John M. Smith as the unnamed attorney.

Waxman said that two officials in Krongard's office had agreed to go on the record about the alleged threats. The two officials, Special Agent Ron Militana and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Brian Rubendall, work as career investigators for Krongard.

According to Waxman's letter, Militana said he kept contemporaneous notes of the conversations with Heide and an office attorney. Waxman cited them in his letter.

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Replacement Toy For Recalled Toy Is ... Er ... Recalled
2007-09-28 15:58:40

When the maker of Thomas & Friends wood railway toys recalled 1.5 million toys in June because they may have contained unsafe levels of lead, the company sent customers a replacement and a gift to make up for all the trouble. Now some of the gifts have been recalled, too.

One of the gifts, a gray railway car with a white roof called the Toad vehicle, and four other Thomas & Friends toys were recalled Wednesday by RC2 of Oak Brook, Illinois. The toys in both recalls were made by a Chinese subcontractor, Hansheng Wood Products.

RC2 has been retesting toys made by Hansheng since June. It discovered excess levels of lead on additional toys in August. By then, however, it had already sent 146,000 gifts. RC2 estimates that about 2,000 were recalled Wednesday.

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Pakistan's Supreme Court Says Musharraf Can Run For Re-Election
2007-09-28 15:58:08
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf on Friday secured a badly needed victory when the Supreme Court cleared the way for him to run for another term, despite a challenge from opponents who claim he is ineligible.

The six-to-three ruling will make it difficult for rivals to block Musharraf from winning another five years in office when the national and provincial assemblies vote on Oct. 6.

Opponents had said Musharraf's other job, as army chief, should disqualify him, but the court's ruling means he can seek another term while remaining in uniform.

Musharraf's aides have said he will retire from the army if he wins another term.

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Children's Health Bill Advances In U.S. Senate
2007-09-28 03:32:42
Overwhelming bipartisan vote in Senate sets up biggest domestic policy clash of Bush presidency.

The Senate, with an overwhelming bipartisan vote Thursday, sent President Bush a $35 billion expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, setting up the biggest domestic policy clash of his presidency and launching a fight that will reverberate into the 2008 elections.

Bush has vowed to veto the measure, but he has faced strong criticism from many fellow Republicans reluctant to turn away from a popular measure that would renew and expand an effective program aimed at low-income children. Democratic leaders, while still as many as two dozen votes short in the House, are campaigning hard for the first veto override of Bush's presidency.

They secured a veto-proof majority last night in the Senate, with the 67 to 29 tally including "yes" votes from 18 of the 49 Republicans, including some of the president's most stalwart allies, such as Christopher S. Bond (Missouri), Kay Baily Hutchison (Texas) and Ted Stevens (Alaska). Democratic leaders are likely to send the measure to the White House next week, giving advocates a few more days to pressure Bush to sign it.

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U.S. To Let Key Guantanamo Detainees Request Lawyers
2007-09-28 03:31:59

Fourteen "high-value" terrorism suspects who were transferred to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, from secret CIA prisons last year have been formally offered the right to request lawyers, a move that could allow them to join other detainees in challenging their status as enemy combatants in a U.S. appellate court.

The move, confirmed by U.S. Defense Department officials, will allow the suspects their first contact with anyone other than their captors and representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross since they were taken into custody.

The prisoners, who include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, have not had access to lawyers during their year at Guantanamo Bay or while they were held, for varying lengths of time, at the secret CIA sites abroad. They were entitled to military "personal representatives" to assist them during the administrative process that determined whether they are enemy combatants.

U.S. officials have argued in court papers against granting lawyers access to the high-value detainees without special security rules, fearing that attorney-client conversations could reveal classified elements of the CIA's secret detention program and its controversial interrogation tactics.

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