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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Saturday October 13 2007 - (813)

Saturday October 13 2007 edition
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Former Qwest CEO Says NSA Punished Company For Refusal To Participate In Warrantless Surveillance Program
2007-10-13 03:42:57
NSA wanted company to participate in warrantless surveillance of Americans seven months before 9/11 attacks, according to court documents.

A former Qwest Communications International executive, appealing a conviction for insider trading, has alleged that the government withdrew opportunities for contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars after Qwest refused to participate in an unidentified National Security Agency (NSA) program that the company thought might be illegal.

Former chief executive Joseph P. Nacchio, convicted in April of 19 counts of insider trading, said the NSA approached Qwest more than six months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to court documents unsealed in Denver, Colorado, this week.

Details about the alleged NSA program have been redacted from the documents, but Nacchio's lawyer said last year that the NSA had approached the company about participating in a warrantless surveillance program to gather information about Americans' phone records.

In the court filings disclosed this week, Nacchio suggests that Qwest's refusal to take part in that program led the government to cancel a separate, lucrative contract with the NSA in retribution. He is using the allegation to try to show why his stock sale should not have been considered improper.

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As Logging Fades, Rich Carve Up Open Land In West
2007-10-13 03:42:03
With the timber industry in decline, some new investors are snapping up open spaces to be private playgrounds.

William P. Foley II pointed to the mountain. Owns it, mostly. A timber company began logging in view of his front yard a few years back. He thought they were cutting too much, so he bought the land.

Foley belongs to a new wave of investors and landowners across the West who are snapping up open spaces as private playgrounds on the borders of national parks and national forests.

In style and temperament, this new money differs greatly from the Western land barons of old - the timber magnates, copper kings and cattlemen who created the extraction-based economy that dominated the region for a century.

Foley, 62, standing by his private pond, his horses grazing in the distance, proudly calls himself a conservationist who wants Montana to stay as wild as possible. That does not mean no development and no profit. Foley, the chairman of a major title insurance company, Fidelity National Financial, based in Florida, also owns a chain of Montana restaurants, a ski resort and a huge cattle ranch on which he is building homes.

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Putin Warns: We Will Dump Missile Treaty
2007-10-13 03:40:35
Russia's president tells Condoleezza Rice and Robert Gates that missile deal "must cover China and India".

Vladimir Putin warned Friday that Russia was considering withdrawing from a major cold war arms treaty banning intermediate nuclear missiles unless it was expanded to include other states.

President Putin said that Moscow was planning to dump the intermediate range nuclear forces treaty (INF) - signed in a landmark deal between the U.S. and Soviet Union in 1987 - unless countries such as China were included in its provisions.

His comments came during talks in Moscow Friday involving U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Russia's Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, and Defense Minister, Anatoly Serdyukov.

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Lt. Gen. Recardo Sanchez Says Bush Administration's Handling Of Iraq War Is Incompetent
2007-10-12 21:30:20
Former top U.S. commander in Iraq blames administration for a "catrophically flawed, unrealistically optimistic war plan", says "surge" was a desperate strategy.

In a sweeping indictment of the four-year effort in Iraq, the former top American commander called the Bush administration’s handling of the war incompetent and warned that the United States was “living a nightmare with no end in sight.”

In one of his first major public speeches since leaving the Army in late 2006, retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez  blamed the administration for a “catastrophically flawed, unrealistically optimistic war plan” and denounced the current “surge” strategy as a “desperate” move that will not achieve long-term stability.

“After more than fours years of fighting, America continues its desperate struggle in Iraq without any concerted effort to devise a strategy that will achieve victory in that war-torn country or in the greater conflict against extremism,” said Gen. Sanchez at a gathering in Washington, D.C., of military reporters and editors.

General Sanchez is the most senior in a string of retired generals to harshly criticize the administration’s conduct of the war. Asked following his remarks why he waited nearly a year after his retirement to outline his views, he responded that it was not the place of active duty officers to challenge lawful orders from civilian authorities. General Sanchez, who is said to be considering a book, promised further public statements criticizing officials by name.

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Russia's Putin Criticizes U.S. Officials On Missile Defense
2007-10-12 21:30:01
Russian President Valdimir V. Putin sharply upbraided the visiting American secretaries of state and defense on Friday as highly anticipated negotiations produced no specific accords to resolve growing disagreements over missile defense and other security issues.

Putin followed a pattern of recent criticisms of American policy, whether speaking in Moscow, Munich, Germany, or even Maine, and he shaped the initial public tone on Friday when he greeted Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice  and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates at his residence outside Moscow with a derisive lecture in front of the television cameras.

Putin dismissed with sarcasm the American plan to build components of a missile defense system in formerly Communist nations of Central Europe as a reaction to a threat that had not yet materialized.

“Of course, we can some time in the future decide that some antimissile defense should be established somewhere on the moon,” said Putin, “but before we reach such an arrangement we will lose an opportunity of fixing some particular arrangements between us.”

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ConAgra Asks Stores To Quit Selling Pot Pies Linked To Salmonella Outbreak
2007-10-12 03:59:12
ConAgra Food Inc. has asked stores to stop selling pot pies linked to a salmonella outbreak and is offering refunds for the turkey and chicken-filled meals.

The company and the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday defended their decision not to immediately recall the product.

ConAgra asked stores nationwide to pull the Banquet and generic brand chicken and turkey pot pies after two East Coast grocery chains made their own choice to remove the product from their shelves.

The pot pies made by ConAgra have been linked to at least 152 cases of salmonella in 31 states. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said at least 20 people have been hospitalized as part of the ongoing outbreak, but so far no deaths have been linked to the pot pies.

The company and federal officials warned customers not to eat the pot pies and to throw them away, and ConAgra is offering refunds.

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Conflict Between Religions Threatens Future Of The World, Pope Told
2007-10-12 03:58:43
Islamic scholars desperate to find common ground after sending letter to the Vatican.

The survival of the world is at stake if Muslims and Christians cannot make peace with each other, Islamic scholars have told the Pope.

In a letter addressed to Pope Benedict XVI and other Christian leaders, 138 prominent Muslim scholars from every sect of Islam urged Christian leaders "to come together with us on the common essentials of our two religions", spelling out the similarities between passages of the Bible and the Qur'an.

"If Muslims and Christians are not at peace, the world cannot be at peace. With the terrible weaponry of the modern world; with Muslims and Christians intertwined everywhere as never before, no side can unilaterally win a conflict between more than half of the world's inhabitants. Our common future is at stake," said the letter. "The very survival of the world itself is perhaps at stake."

Scholars used quotations from the Bible and the Qur'an to illustrate similarities between the two faiths such as the requirement to worship one God and to love one's neighbor.

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U.N. Report On Iraq Details 'Ever Deepening Crisis'
2007-10-12 03:57:59
U.S. airstrike on insurgents also kills 15 Iraqi civilian women and children.

A United Nations report issued Thursday outlined an "ever-deepening humanitarian crisis" in Iraq, with thousands of people driven from their homes each month, ongoing indiscriminate killings and "routine torture" in Iraqi prisons.

Also Thursday, a U.S. airstrike in Iraq killed 15 civilians - nine women and six children - and 19 suspected insurgents, said the military. "We regret that civilians are hurt or killed while Coalition forces search to rid Iraq of terrorism," Maj. Brad Leighton, a U.S. military spokesman,said in a statement.

U.S. troops targeting leaders of the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq came under fire while approaching a building near Lake Tharthar in Anbar province northwest of Baghdad, and aircraft fired on the site in response, the military said. The bombing also wounded six people, including a woman and three children.

The assessment by the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq, which covered a three-month period ending June 30, found that civilians were suffering "devastating consequences" from violence across the country. It documented more than 100 civilians allegedly killed by U.S.-led forces during airstrikes or raids.

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Israeli Sanctions Leave Gaza Hungry
2007-10-12 03:57:28
Palestinian Authority prepares for U.S. peace talks, but Hamas is out in the cold.

It does not take shopkeeper Salah Sultan long to count his stock. There are six tins of sardines, four bottles of vegetable oil, one packet of nappies (diapers), nine boxes of wafers and a large tin of powdered milk.

Grains and pulses have been removed from their original packing and subdivided into more affordable portions. Above the door is a space where a television used to be, and by his elbow is the Qur'an and his ledger book.

His accounts make grim reading. His customers owe him 5,000 shekels (£613 or $1,226), and he owes his suppliers double that. "I'm already almost closed and I really don't know for how much longer I will continue. Without the shop I could try ironing or driving a taxi. It is in God's hands," he said, pointing to the Qur'an.

As the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and the Israeli government in Jerusalem prepare for talks in the United States next month, Gaza is excluded from the new rapprochement. Sultan and others like him are facing ruin as a result of Israeli sanctions designed to weaken the Hamas government and punish their supporters.

According to a World Bank report issued last month: "Gaza's economic backbone and privat

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15 Iraqi Civilians Killed As U.S. Aircraft Target Al-Qaeda Leaders
2007-10-12 03:56:59
At least 15 Iraqi civilians, including nine children, were killed last night in American air strikes against suspected al-Qaeda militants north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said Thursday.

The operations, which inflicted one of the heaviest tolls on Iraqi civilians for months, comes only days after the Iraqi authorities accused private security firms of firing indiscriminately on civilians.

The U.S. military said last night it regretted the deaths of the civilians - six women and nine children - in the strikes near lake Tharthar, 75 miles north of the capital.

"We regret that civilians are hurt or killed while coalition forces search to rid Iraq of terrorism," Major Brad Leighton, a military spokesman in Baghdad, told reporters.

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Shadowy Russian Firm In St. Petersburg Seen As Conduit For Cybercrimes
2007-10-13 03:42:35

An Internet business based in St. Petersburg, Russia, has become a world hub for Web sites devoted to child pornography, spamming and identity theft, according to computer security experts. They say Russian authorities have provided little help in efforts to shut down the company.

The Russian Business Network sells Web site hosting to people engaged in criminal activity, say the security experts.

Groups operating through the company's computers are thought to be responsible for about half of last year's incidents of "phishing" - I.D.-theft scams in which cybercrooks use e-mail to lure people into entering personal and financial data at fake commerce and banking sites.

One group of phishers, known as the Rock Group, used the company's network to steal about $150 million from bank accounts last year, according to a report by VeriSign of Mountain View, California, one of the world's largest Internet security firms.

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After The Demonstrations, Burma Returns To Unspoken Terror
2007-10-13 03:41:41
Many of those who took part in pro-democracy demonstrations flee in fear of reprisals by the military.

It's 9:30 p.m. and the buses in downtown Rangoon have stopped running. People scuttle home across the city's potholed roads and broken pavements and the few taxis still operating will only make short trips. With only 30 minutes to curfew, no one takes chances with the Burmese military these days.

Carrying shotguns and assault rifles, teenagers in military and police uniforms cluster at street corners until curfew, then retreat to fenced-off government buildings as darkness settles.

When the residents of this sprawling city of five million people withdraw to their homes, only pick-up trucks carrying troops ply the downtown area, scattering the dogs that take over the empty streets until the curfew ends at 4 a.m.

With the killing of an unknowable number of peaceful protesters and the imprisonment of thousands more during the pro-democracy demonstrations last month, many people fear reprisals by the military. At the Shwedagon pagoda, the nucleus of the protests, the military is still in force. Wearing steel helmets, flak jackets and carrying extra ammunition, the number of troops far exceeds the few old monks who potter among the golden spires of what is the spiritual center  of Burmese life.

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China To Move 4 Million People From Three Gorges Dam Area
2007-10-13 03:40:14
China plans to move at least 4 million people from their homes to ensure the "environmental safety" of the Three Gorges Dam, state media reported Friday.

The shift of a population the size of Ireland's over the next 10 to 15 years will be one of the biggest environmental resettlements in modern history. Yu Yuanmu, Chongqing city vice-mayor, said the move was necessary to protect the ecology of the 400-mile reservoir formed by the dam, according to Xinhua news agency.

"The reservoir area has a vulnerable environment and the natural conditions make large-scale urbanization or serious overpopulation impossible here," he was quoted as saying.
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Congress Members Find CIA Internal Inquiry 'Troubling'
2007-10-12 21:30:11
Members of the House and Senate intelligence committees expressed concern today about an unusual inquiry into the work of the Central Intelligence Agency'sinspector general, John L. Helgerson, saying that it could undermine his role as independent watchdog.

The inquiry was ordered by General Michael V. Hayden, the C.I.A. director. Representative Silvestre Reyes, the Texas Democrat who is chairman of the House committee, called news of the inquiry “troubling,” noting that the inspector general’s independence is written into law.

“It is this independence that Congress established and will very aggressively preserve,” Reyes said in a statement.

Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, said he was sending a letter to Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, asking him to instruct General Hayden to drop the inquiry.

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Gore, IPCC Win Nobel Peace Prize
2007-10-12 20:55:49

EDITOR'S NOTE: Apologies to our readers for the site not being accessible for a while today, but we were doing necessary maintenance.

Former U.S. vice president Al Gore and a United Nations panel that monitors climate change were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize Friday for their work educating the world about global warming and pressing for political action to control it.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee characterized Gore as "the single individual who has done most" to convince world governments and leaders that climate change is real, is caused by human activity and poses a grave threat. Gore has focused on the issue through books, promotional events and his Academy Award-winning documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth."

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a joint project of the United Nations Environment Program and the World Meteorological Organization, has been monitoring evidence of climate change and possible solutions since 1988.

The science showcased by the panel and Gore's advocacy have helped to "build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change," said the committee.

"Whereas in the 1980s global warming seemed to be merely an interesting hypothesis, the 1990s produced clear scientific support."

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U.S. Troops: Fleeing Iraqis Fired Upon By Blackwater USA
2007-10-12 03:58:58
First U.S. soldiers at Blackwater incident find no signs Iraqis fired; incident called "criminal."

Blackwater USA guards shot at Iraqi civilians as they tried to drive away from a Baghdad square on Sept. 16, according to a report compiled by the first U.S. soldiers to arrive at the scene, where they found no evidence that Iraqis had fired weapons.

"It appeared to me they were fleeing the scene when they were engaged. It had every indication of an excessive shooting," said Lt. Col. Mike Tarsa, whose soldiers reached Nisoor Square 20 to 25 minutes after the gunfire subsided.

His soldiers' report - based upon their observations at the scene, eyewitness interviews and discussions with Iraqi police - concluded that there was "no enemy activity involved" and described the shootings as a "criminal event". Their conclusions mirrored those reached by the Iraqi government, which has said the Blackwater guards killed 17 people.

The soldiers' accounts contradict Blackwater's assertion that its guards were defending themselves after being fired upon by Iraqi police and gunmen.

Tarsa said they found no evidence to indicate that the Blackwater guards were provoked or entered into a confrontation. "I did not see anything that indicated they were fired upon," said Tarsa, 42, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. He also said it appeared that several drivers had made U-turns and were moving away from Nisoor Square when their vehicles were hit by gunfire from Blackwater guards.

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Global Warming: The Unheralded Polluter - Cement Industry Comes Clean On Its Impact
2007-10-12 03:58:26
Plants release over 5% of carbon dioxide emissions; industry sees no chance of green-friendly future.

There were no climate change protesters waiting to jeer as the chief executives and other senior figures of one of the world's biggest industries gathered on Wednesday. Yet they represented a business that produces more than 5% of mankind's carbon dioxide emissions. And they were in Brussels, Belgium, to discuss climate change.

The summit was not called by the aviation industry - that is comparatively clean in comparison. Nor was it made up of car makers, oil companies, shipping firms or any other business that has traditionally drawn the fire of green campaigners.

These chief executives deal in a more down-to-earth commodity: cement. It is the key ingredient in concrete, and one that is rapidly emerging as a major obstacle on the world's path to a low-carbon economy.

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China Joins U.N. Censure of Burma's Junta
2007-10-12 03:57:40
Security Council demands political prisoners' release; no sanctions, but vote marks big shift by Beijing.

China turned against the Burmese government Thursday night and supported a U.N. Security Council statement rebuking the military regime for its suppression of peaceful protests, and demanding the release of all political prisoners.

The Security Council statement, which also called for "genuine dialogue" with the opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, marked the first time that Beijing had agreed to U.N. criticism of the junta.

The statement did not threaten sanctions, but the significance of its unanimous support by all 15 members of the Security Council would not have been lost on Burma's generals, who had hitherto been able to count on China, a neighbor and key trading partner, to block U.N. censure.

"That represents a very significant shift in global politics from just a few weeks ago," said the foreign secretary, David Miliband. "It is proof that the recent brutal crackdown and ongoing persecution of peaceful protesters has isolated the Burmese regime. They must now respond to these growing global calls for them to work with others in building a better future for the people of Burma."
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Lead From Carrion Is Killing Off California Condors
2007-10-12 03:57:13
When the dairy farmers around Bakersfield, California, see the white Dodge pickup truck with the brown logo of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the door, they know it's time to bring out their dead.

The biologists come by every couple of weeks to collect the bodies of stillborn calves and haul them to walk-in freezers strategically positioned around the state. Then, in the dark of night, they drag the bovine corpses into clearings visible at dawn from the heights flown by California condors, a species that has battled back from the brink of extinction but is not yet trusted to feed itself.

The massive birds now fly, nest and reproduce reliably outside zoos, but left to plan their own meals, they will swoop down on the carcasses of animals killed by hunters and, in gobbling the carrion feast, ingest chunks of the bullets that scientists now call the most persistent threat to the reestablishment of California condors in the wild: second-hand lead.

In the belly of a 25-pound bird, a .308-caliber round leaches lead into the bloodstream far more efficiently than any toy coated with lead paint. Scientists have seen a condor drop out of the sky dead from lead poisoning, and they have recorded blood lead concentrations in sick birds 40 times the level considered toxic in humans. The evidence, including striking increases in those lead readings during deer-hunting season, stirred the California legislature this summer to pass a bill that would ban lead ammunition in condor habitat.

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