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Monday, October 01, 2007

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Monday October 1 2007 - (813)

Monday October 1 2007 edition
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'U.S. Plan To Bomb Iran'
2007-10-01 02:40:40
Australia, Britain and Israel "expressed interest" in U.S. "surgical" bombing raid.

Australia, Britain and Israel have "expressed interest" in a U.S. campaign to launch "surgical" bombing raids on Iran targeting the Revolutionary Guard facilities, one of the U.S.' leading investigative reporters, Seymour Hersh, reports.

In a lengthy article in the latest issue of The New Yorker, Hersh details how the U.S. is making plans for a strike on Iran, beefing up intelligence resources within the CIA and shifting its rhetorical campaign in a bid to win support from the American people should the strikes proceed. 

Hersh says the Administration has stopped trying to justify the campaign on the basis of curtailing Iran's nuclear ambitions, to redefining the war in Iraq as a strategic battle.

This is because there is a consensus within the intelligence community that  Iran is at least five years away from obtaining a bomb, Hersh said in an interview on CNN on Sunday.

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U.S. Air Force Arranged No-Work Contract
2007-10-01 02:40:07
Experts question official's deal with non-profit.

While waiting to be confirmed by the White House for a top civilian post at the Air Force last year, Charles D. Riechers was out of work and wanted a paycheck. So the Air Force helped arrange a job through an intelligence contractor that required him to do no work for the company, according to documents and interviews.

For two months, Riechers held the title of senior technical adviser and received about $13,400 a month at Commonwealth Research Institute, or CRI, a nonprofit firm in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, according to his resume; but during that time he actually worked for Sue C. Payton, assistant Air Force secretary for acquisition, on projects that had nothing to do with CRI, he said.

Riechers said in an interview that his interactions with Commonwealth Research were limited largely to a Christmas party, where he said he met company officials for the first time.

"I really didn't do anything for CRI," said Riechers, now principal deputy assistant secretary for acquisition. "I got a paycheck from them."

Riechers's job highlights the Pentagon's ties with Commonwealth Research and its corporate parent, which has in recent years received hundreds of millions of dollars worth of grants and contracts from the military, and more than $100 million in earmarks from lawmakers.

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As Legislature Squabbles, Michigan State Government Partially Shuts Down
2007-10-01 02:39:07
Michigan's state government partially shut down early Monday as the new fiscal year began with no budget deal in place to plug a $1.75 billion deficit.

Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm was still awaiting key votes on a tax increase from the Republican-controlled Senate after 12:01 a.m., the deadline for approving a state budget. The state has no authority to spend money without a budget in place.

Parts of a temporary budget fix that would have avoided a shutdown were approved Sunday, but lawmakers at midnight were still scrambling to reach a deal on the tax increases.

Granholm was waiting for the tax measures before signing a 30-day continuation budget.

In one of the first signs a shutdown was looming, campers were asked to leave some Michigan state parks Sunday night.

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Breaking News: 'Catastrophic' Volcanic Eruption In The Red Sea Off Yemen Coast
2007-10-01 00:28:16
A volcano has erupted on a tiny island off the coast of Yemen, spewing lava and ash hundreds of feet into the air, a Canadian naval vessel near the island in the Red Sea reported Sunday. There were no reports of deaths, but at least nine people were missing.

The Yemeni government asked NATO to assist in searching for survivors on Jabal al-Tair island, which lacks a settled population but includes military installations.

The Yemeni news agency SABA confirmed the eruption and said a military garrison on the island is being evacuated. It wasn't clear how many people are stationed on the island, which is used for naval control and observation because large cargo ships pass nearby.

Ken Allan, a Navy spokesman, said a NATO fleet just outside the territorial waters of the island reported seeing a "catastrophic volcanic eruption" at 7 p.m. local time (1600 GMT). The two-mile-long island is about 70 miles (110 kilometers) off the coast of Yemen.

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IEDs Are 'Single Most Effective Weapon Against Our Deployed Forces'
2007-09-30 16:36:43

It began with a bang and "a huge white blast," in the description of one witness who outlived that Saturday morning, March 29, 2003. At a U.S. Army checkpoint straddling Highway 9, just north of Najaf, four soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division, part of the initial invasion of Iraq, had started to search an orange-and-white taxicab at 11:30 a.m. when more than 100 pounds of C-4 plastic explosive detonated in the trunk.

The explosion tossed the sedan 15 feet down the road, killing the soldiers, the cabdriver - an apparent suicide bomber - and a passerby on a bicycle. Lt. Col. Scott E. Rutter, a battalion commander who rushed to the scene from his command post half a mile away, saw in the smoking crater and broken bodies on Highway 9 "a recognition that now we were entering into an area of warfare that's going to be completely different."

Since that first fatal detonation of what is now known as an improvised explosive device, more than 81,000 IED  attacks have occurred in Iraq, including 25,000 so far this year, according to U.S. military sources. The war has indeed metastasized into something "completely different," a conflict in which the roadside bomb in its many variants - including "suicide, vehicle-borne" - has become the signature weapon in Iraq and Afghanistan, as iconic as the machine gun in World War I or the laser-guided "smart bomb" in the Persian Gulf War of 1991.

IEDs have caused nearly two-thirds of the 3,100 American combat deaths in Iraq, and an even higher proportion of battle wounds. This year alone, through mid-July, they have also resulted in an estimated 11,000 Iraqi civilian casualties and more than 600 deaths among Iraqi security forces. To the extent that the United States is not winning militarily in Iraq, the roadside bomb, which as of Sept. 22 had killed or wounded 21,200 Americans, is both a proximate cause and a metaphor for the miscalculation and improvisation that have characterized the war.

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6 Die From Brain-Eating Amoeba In U.S. Lakes
2007-09-30 16:35:40
Microscopic bug thrives in warmer waters.

It sounds like science fiction but it's true: A killer amoeba living in lakes enters the body through the nose and attacks the brain where it feeds until you die.

Even though encounters with the microscopic bug are extraordinarily rare, it's killed six boys and young men this year. The spike in cases has health officials concerned, and they are predicting more cases in the future.

"This is definitely something we need to track," said Michael Beach, a specialist in recreational waterborne illnesses for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"This is a heat-loving amoeba. As water temperatures go up, it does better," said Beach. "In future decades, as temperatures rise, we'd expect to see more cases."

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U.S. Is Top Arms Seller To Developing World
2007-10-01 02:40:26
The United States maintained its role as the leading supplier of weapons to the developing world in 2006, followed by Russia and Britain, according to a Congressional study to be released Monday. Pakistan, India and Saudi Arabia were the top buyers.

The global arms market is highly competitive, with manufacturing nations seeking both to increase profits and to expand political influence through weapons sales to developing nations, which reached nearly $28.8 billion in 2006.

That sales total was a slight drop from the 2005 figure of $31.8 billion, a trend explained by the strain of rising fuel prices that prompted many developing states - except those that produce oil - to choose upgrading current arsenals over buying new weapons.

The report, “Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations,” was produced by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, a division of the Library of Congress, and presents a number of interesting observations linking arms sales and global politics. For example, Russia has been a major supplier of weapons to Iran in past years, including a $700 million deal for surface-to-air missiles in 2005.

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Supreme Court Faces Broad Array Of Potentially Divisive Issues
2007-10-01 02:39:36
U.S. high court will consider lethal injection, workplace fairness, drug sentences, stock fraud and inmates rights among other issues.

The Supreme Court Monday opens a new term that includes a rich mix of cases - on election law, sentencing in drug cases, executions by lethal injection, age bias in the workplace and the rights of employees who put their money into 401(k) accounts.

The court will also consider - again - whether the detainees at Guantanamo Bay have a right to plead their innocence before a judge.

Three years ago, the justices ruled that the right to habeas corpus written into American law extended to the terrorism prisoners at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba. This seemed to open the door to hearings before an independent judge.

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Rebels Accused Of Killing Darfur Peacekeepers
2007-10-01 02:38:48
10 African Union troops die in raid, 50 are missing.

Hundreds of rebels overran an African Union camp in Darfur, killing at least 10 soldiers and leaving 50 more unaccounted for, in the deadliest assault since the peacekeeping mission began three years ago. The attack in Haskanita, near the border of north and south Darfur, completely destroyed the base. Seven peacekeepers were injured.

"There is a great feeling of shock here," said Noureddine Mezni, a spokesman for the African Union (A.U.) mission in Sudan, in a telephone interview from Khartoum. "These were people helping the local population." He said several A.U. teams were trying to find the 50 missing peacekeepers. "We cannot track them now ... maybe we will find them later," he said.

The attack drew immediate international condemnation, with the French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, calling it "a murderous and unacceptable act".

Haskanita has seen heavy recent fighting between government forces and rebel militias from the Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudan Liberation Army Unity faction, which have accused Khartoum of trying to grab land ahead of scheduled peace talks in Libya this month, and before the deployment of a new, vastly beefed-up peacekeeping mission.

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Under Bush, EPA Is Pursuing Fewer Polluters
2007-09-30 16:37:07
U.S. environmental agency's probes and prosecutions have decline sharply.

The Environmental Protection Agency's pursuit of criminal cases against polluters has dropped off sharply during the Bush administration, with the number of prosecutions, new investigations and total convictions all down by more than a third, according to Justice Department and EPA data.

The number of civil lawsuits filed against defendants who refuse to settle environmental cases was down nearly 70 percent between fiscal years 2002 and 2006, compared with a four-year period in the late 1990s, according to those same statistics.

Critics of the agency say its flagging efforts have emboldened polluters to flout U.S. environmental laws, threatening progress in cleaning the air, protecting wildlife, eliminating hazardous materials, and countless other endeavors overseen by the EPA.

"You don't get cleanup, and you don't get deterrence," said Eric Schaeffer, who resigned as director of the EPA's Office of Civil Enforcement in 2002 to protest the administration's approach to enforcement and now heads the Environmental Integrity Project, a watchdog group. "I don't think this is a problem with agents in the field. They're capable of doing the work. They lack the political support they used to be able to count on, especially in the White House." 

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E. Coli Fear Leads To Nationwide Beef Recall In U.S.
2007-09-30 16:35:59
The Topps Meat Co. on Saturday expanded its recall of frozen hamburger patties to include 21.7 million pounds of ground beef that may be contaminated with E. coli bacteria that sickened more than a dozen people in eight states.

The recall of products distributed to retail grocery stores and food service institutions in the United States was a drastic increase from the 332,000 pounds recalled Tuesday.

The recall represents all Topps products with either a "sell by date" or a "best if used by date" between Sept. 25 this year and Sept. 25, 2008. The Elizabeth-based company said this information is found on a package's back panel.

All recalled products also have a USDA establishment number of EST 9748, which is located on the back panel of the package and-or in the USDA legend, said the company.

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In Ukraine, Protagonists Of Orange Revolution Go At It Again
2007-09-30 16:35:09
Ukraine's weary voters go to the polls Sunday for the third time in three years, a testament not only to the country's incessant political infighting but also to the Orange Revolution's legacy of genuinely open political competition.

Since the popular revolt in 2004, which overturned fraudulent presidential results, Ukraine has lurched from one political crisis to the next. The leading actors in the original drama continue to define Ukrainian politics, hard-nosed players on a merry-go-round of intrigue, shifting alliances and brinkmanship.

According to opinion polls, the coalition that led the street protests that swept Viktor Yushchenko into the presidency in early 2005 is running even with the Party of Regions, led by Viktor Yanukovych, the Orange Revolution's villain who reemerged as prime minister in March 2006.

The tight margin expected in Sunday's parliamentary election seems like a prescription for more of the kind of conflict that this year threatened to thrust different parts of the country's security services into violent political strife.

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