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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Saturday October 6 2007 - (813)

Saturday October 6 2007 edition
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Fort Hunt's Men Break Silence
2007-10-06 03:28:34
WWII interrogators who fought "battle of wits" with Nazi prisoners, lament measures used today.

For six decades, they held their silence.

The group of World War II veterans kept a military code and the decorum of their generation, telling virtually no one of their top-secret work interrogating Nazi prisoners of war at Fort Hunt.

When about two dozen veterans got together yesterday for the first time since the 1940s, many of the proud men lamented the chasm between the way they conducted interrogations during the war and the harsh measures used today in questioning terrorism suspects.

Back then, they and their commanders wrestled with the morality of bugging prisoners' cells with listening devices. They felt bad about censoring letters. They took prisoners out for steak dinners to soften them up. They played games with them.

"We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess or Ping-Pong than they do today, with their torture," said Henry Kolm, 90, an Massachusetts Institute of Technology physicist who had been assigned to play chess in Germany with Hitler's  deputy, Rudolf Hess.

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Sam's Club Beef Recalled After E Coli Illnesses
2007-10-06 03:28:02
The Sam's Club warehouse chain pulled a brand of ground beef patties from its shelves nationwide after four children who ate the food, produced by Cargill Inc., developed E. coli illness, company and health officials said Friday.

Cargill has also asked customers to return any remaining patties purchased after Aug. 26 to the store or destroy them.

The children became ill between Sept. 10 and Sept. 20 after eating ground beef patties that were bought frozen under the name American Chef's Selection Angus Beef Patties from three Sam's Club stores in the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, area.

Sam's Club voluntarily removed the product from its stores nationwide after the illnesses were reported, said the company.

"We can't be certain that meat from other stores is not involved, since the brand .. was likely sold at other Sam's Club locations," said Heidi Kassenborg, acting director of the dairy and food inspection division of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

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$5 Billion Loss At Merrill Lynch Stirs Unease
2007-10-06 03:27:37

Since becoming chief executive of Merrill Lynch in 2002, E. Stanley O'Neal has been credited with making the investment bank leaner and more disciplined.

Yet analysts raised questions Friday about the extent of that discipline after Merrill announced that it would take its first loss since the end of the technology boom and would write down $5 billion primarily in its fixed-income sector: subprime loans, complex debt instruments and leveraged, or risky, loans.

Merrill said it expected to lose up to 50 cents a share for the quarter, compared with a profit of $3.17 a share, or $3 billion, for the quarter a year ago. The size of the write-down was second only to one for $5.9 billion taken by Citigroup, which is three and a half times the size of Merrill.

“While market conditions were extremely difficult and the degree of sustained dislocation unprecedented, we are disappointed in our performance in structured finance and mortgages,” O’Neal said in a statement. “We can do a better job of managing this risk, as we have done with other asset classes.”

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Pakistan Election Poses Challenges For U.S.
2007-10-06 03:27:10

For months, the United States quietly brokered secret talks between Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and exiled former leader Benazir Bhutto to ease Pakistan's political crisis and keep allies in charge of a country on the front line of extremism.

Yet Washington is almost certain to find its central goal of reviving the faltering campaign against al-Qaeda and the Taliban more difficult after Pakistan holds its presidential election Saturday, say U.S. officials and analysts.

If all goes as precariously negotiated, Pakistan is likely to emerge from its political transition dominated by two politicians - Musharraf, an unpopular army chief under political siege since March, and Bhutto, a former prime minister twice ousted after corruption scandals. Both are widely seen as pro-Western and unrepresentative of the priorities of most Pakistanis.

"The United States has no choice but to rely on these two," said Marvin G. Weinbaum, a former State Department Pakistan analyst. "But Musharraf is today significantly weakened. Whatever his sincerity, whatever his willingness to help the United States against al-Qaeda and the Taliban, he doesn't have the capacity to do it. And Bhutto is badly out of touch."

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Incarcerated Prosecutor Commits Suicide
2007-10-06 03:26:32
A U.S. federal prosecutor from Florida accused of flying to Detroit, Michigan, last month to molest a 5-year-old girl committed suicide in his cell Friday in federal prison, said authorities.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John D.R. Atchison was found unresponsive, taken to a hospital and pronounced dead, said Felicia Ponce, spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Washington, D.C. A previous suicide attempt was foiled in September, according to authorities.

Atchison was being held in a special housing unit in the prison in Milan, about 36 miles southwest of Detroit.

The administrative detention area houses all levels of prisoners, and Atchison had a cell to himself, said Ponce. She declined to say how Atchison killed himself or whether he was on suicide watch, saying the death is being investigated.

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U.S. Military Reports From Shooting Scene Fault Blackwater USA
2007-10-05 15:21:29
U.S. military reports from the scene of the Sept. 16 shooting incident involving the security firm Blackwater USA  indicate that its guards opened fire without provocation and used excessive force against Iraqi civilians, according to a senior U.S. military official.

The reports came to light as an Interior Ministry official and five eyewitnesses described a second deadly shooting minutes after the incident in Nisoor Square. The same Blackwater security guards, after driving about 150 yards away from the square, fired into a crush of cars, killing one person and injuring two, said the Iraqi official.

The U.S. military reports appear to corroborate the Iraqi government's contention that Blackwater was at fault in the shooting incident in Nisoor Square, in which hospital records say at least 14 people were killed and 18 were wounded.

"It was obviously excessive, it was obviously wrong," said the U.S. military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the incident remains the subject of several investigations. "The civilians that were fired upon, they didn't have any weapons to fire back at them. And none of the IP or any of the local security forces fired back at them," he added, using a military abbreviation for the Iraqi police. The Blackwater guards appeared to have fired grenade launchers in addition to machine guns, said the official.

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Commentary: Where In The World Is Cheney?
2007-10-05 15:20:37
Intellpuke: The following commentary was written by Al Kamen, columnist for the Washington Post. His column, In The Loop, for the Post's October 5, 2007, edition follows:

Seems famously secretive Vice President Cheney has been, for most of his tenure, at an undisclosed location, even if he's really just at his office, his residence, Camp David,his house in St. Michaels or the Paul Nelson hunting club in South Dakota.

His daily schedule most often says "no public events are scheduled." From May through September, for example, the Federal News Service Daybook listed about a dozen notices of his whereabouts. For August, the Reuters Daybook had him simply in Wyoming but noted that he would be at the dedication of the "Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center at Grand Teton National Park". 

Cheney declares he's in neither the executive nor the legislative branch of government - therefore not subject to instructions from the archivist to preserve documents - and makes sure there's no paper trail. "I learned early on that if you don't want your memos to get you in trouble someday, just don't write any," he said three weeks ago at the Ford presidential library in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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Climate Change Disaster Is Upon Us, Warns U.N.
2007-10-06 03:28:14
Emergency chief calls for swift action; 12 out of 13 "flash" emergency aid appeals in 2007 related to weather.

A record number of floods, droughts and storms around the world this year amount to a climate change "mega disaster", the United Nation's emergency relief coordinator, Sir John Holmes, has warned.

Sir John, a British diplomat who is also known as the U.N.'s under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said dire predictions about the impact of global warming on humanity are already coming true.

"We are seeing the effects of climate change. Any year can be a freak but the pattern looks pretty clear to be honest. That's why we're trying ... to say, of course you've got to deal with mitigation of emissions, but this is here and now, this is with us already," he said.

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Afghanistan: Militant Attacks Increase, Suicide Bomber Targeted U.S. Troops
2007-10-06 03:27:48
A suicide car bomber attacked an American military convoy Saturday on Kabul's most dangerous road, killing at least one civilian and wounding seven others, said an Afghan official.

Two U.S. and two civilian vehicles were damaged in the attack, said police. Dozens of shops were damaged by the blast.

Health Minister Mohammad Amin Fatemi said one civilian was killed and seven others wounded, including one woman and one child.

Afghan TV reported that an American was also killed and showed footage of what appeared to be a dead body. An Associated Press reporter at the scene said he saw an injured U.S. soldier as well.

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Looking Past The Elephant In The Room
2007-10-06 03:27:24
GOP contenders face the same problem: how to break from President Bush without alienating party faithful.

In a campaign swing through Iowa this week, former senator Fred D. Thompson told voters that Republicans need to look to their past to determine the party's future.

"I think back to 1994," Thompson told a crowd here Tuesday, referring to the conservative "revolution" that swept the GOP to control of Congress. "We need to adhere to the principles that made this party great and that made this country the greatest."

Others in the crowded Republican presidential field have different prescriptions for what ails the party. Sen. John McCain (Arizona) is calling for a government that is more aggressive and effective in managing crises at home and abroad. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney contends that the GOP has drifted into an embrace of "big government" and must return to acting as "change-Washington Republicans."

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DOH! Sen. Craig Changes His Mind... Again, Won't Resign
2007-10-06 03:26:47
Though he loses his bid to withdraw his guilty pleas, Craig decides to stay in office, angering some Republican colleagues.

In the latest twist to the Larry E. Craig saga, the Republican senator from Idaho decided Thursday to stay in office for the rest of his term, even after losing a legal bid to withdraw his guilty plea to disorderly conduct in a men's restroom.

Craig said his return to the Capitol after he became entangled in a sex-sting operation had convinced him that he could represent his state's interests while also working to clear his name.

Earlier he had pledged to resign if he lost in court, and his decision to go back on that pledge has surprised and infuriated some of his GOP colleagues. It also complicates the party's struggle to move out from under the cloud of ethical lapses that contributed to the election losses last year, when Democrats gained control of Congress.
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Pentagon: Guantanamo Prosecutor Quits Post
2007-10-05 15:21:40
The U.S. military's chief prosecutor for the Guantanamo war crimes trials has resigned, the Pentagon said Friday.

Air Force Col. Moe Davis asked to be moved to another post after the Pentagon rejected his complaint that another official should not be supervising his work, said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman.

"Clearly, there was a disagreement with respect to roles and authorities that has now been cleared up," said Whitman. "Colonel Moe Davis asked to be reassigned from his duties as the chief prosecutor."

Reached by e-mail, Davis said his orders forbade him from commenting.

Whitman said Davis' resignation would not delay the scheduled resumption of tribunals early next month.

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State Dept. Agents To Accompany Blackwater USA Convoys
2007-10-05 15:20:56
Video cameras to be mounted in security vehicles; all radio transmissions to be recorded.

The State Department will step up its monitoring of Blackwater security operations in Iraq, including placing its own agents in Blackwater convoys, mounting video cameras in security vehicles and recording all radio transmissions, the department announced Friday.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ordered the actions in response to an initial assessment of Blackwater operations by a high-level team she has sent to Iraq to review overall security operations there.

The team, headed by Patrick Kennedy, the senior management officer for the State Department, is reviewing the rules for contractor operations, the extent to which Blackwater and other private security companies abide by them, and whether there should be wholesale changes in the security system.

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Topps Meat Company Going Out Of Business After Recall
2007-10-05 15:20:17

Topps Meat Company, one of the country’s largest manufacturers of frozen hamburgers, said today it was going out of business after it recalled more than 21.7 million pounds of ground beef products last month.

The company, based in Elizabeth, N.J., said a few of its 87 employees will remain at the plant to help the United States Department of Agriculture  investigate how the E. coli bacteria tainted frozen hamburger patties made there.

Anthony D’Urso, the chief operating officer at Topps, said the company was unable to withstand the financial burden of the recall.

“This is tragic for all concerned,” D’Urso said in a statement. “In one week we have gone from the largest U.S. manufacturer of frozen hamburgers to a company that cannot overcome the economic reality of a recall this large.”

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