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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Wednesday October 10 2007 - (813)

Wednesday October 10 2007 edition
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As Mideast Realigns, U.S. Leans Toward Sunnis
2007-10-10 03:23:08
The White House is re-embracing Sunni authoritarian regimes to counter the rise of Shiite Iran.

Americans are hearing much less from the Bush administration about democracy for the Middle East than they did a year ago. As Shiite Iran rises, the White House has muted its calls for reform in the region as it redirects policy to re-embrace Sunni Arab allies - who run, to varying degrees, authoritarian regimes.

The invasion of Iraq in 2003 shifted the balance of power in the Middle East, delivering a Shiite-led government to a country that had for decades been dominated by its minority Sunnis. That, in turn, opened the door to Iranian expansion.

To contain Tehran, Washington is now reaching out to Saudi Arabia, other Gulf states, Egypt, and Jordan, in the form of large arms deals and new talks on such issues as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which in the eyes of most Arabs and many others remains the greatest source of tension - and extremist support - in the region.

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Britain's Big Business Is 'Failing On Climate Change'
2007-10-10 03:20:49
Report finds that less than half of the U.K.'s FTSE 350 companies have introduced schemes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The U.K.'s top companies are failing to face up to climate change, with less than half of the FTSE 350 companies introducing schemes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to a report released Tuesday.

The second annual report from the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), a New York-based independent organization which works with shareholders and corporations to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions, found that only 38% of the companies that responded to its survey have put in place emissions reduction schemes with targets.

The findings of the report have prompted a unlikely coalition of leading environmental agencies, U.K. companies and cross party Parliament members to write an open letter to Britain's environment secretary, Hilary Benn, and the business and enterprise secretary, John Hutton, arguing for standardized carbon reporting.

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Clinton Cites Lessons Of Partisanship
2007-10-10 03:19:44
In interview, senator argues political battles she has weathered equip her to unite the nation.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton pushed back against criticism from fellow Democrats that she is too polarizing to unite the country as president, arguing that the political battles she has been through make her uniquely equipped to bring the nation together and build a centrist governing coalition.

In an interview aboard her campaign bus, Clinton (New York) acknowledged that she has contributed to the divisive politics of the past decade but said she has learned from those experiences. She said that if she becomes president, she will attempt to assemble a broad, centrist coalition on such key issues as health care, energy independence and national security.

The former first lady called President Bush's political and governing strategy of concentrating primarily on his party's base for support "a tragedy" for the country's politics.

"I actually think that in a way, the fact that I've been through so much incoming fire all these years is an advantage," she said, adding: "It's been my observation that when you're attacked continually in American politics, you either give up or get disoriented or you either lose or leave - or you persevere and show your resilience."

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Israeli Army Orders Confiscation Of Palestinian West Bank Land
2007-10-10 03:18:36
Seizure would allow huge expansion of Israeli settlements; move seen as rush to make changes before U.S. summit.

The Israeli army has ordered the seizure of Palestinian land surrounding four West Bank villages apparently in order to hugely expand settlements around Jerusalem, it emerged Tuesday.

The confiscation happened as Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met to prepare the ground for a meeting hosted by President George Bush in the United States aimed at reviving a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

However, critics said the confiscation of land suggested that Israel was imposing its own solution on the Palestinians through building roads, barriers and settlements that would render a Palestinian state unviable.

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Obama Proposes Capping Greenhouse Gases And Making Polluters Pay
2007-10-09 15:38:09
Senator Barack Obama presented a plan on Monday to decrease the nation’s dependence on foreign oil and fight global warming by creating an auction system requiring power companies and other industries to pay for their pollution. By the year 2020, he said, emissions would be reduced to levels from 1990.

In a speech in New Hampshire, Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate from Illinois, called for imposing a national cap on carbon emissions, investing $150 billion over 10 years to develop new energy sources and reducing dependence on foreign oil by 35 percent by 2030.

“No business will be allowed to emit any greenhouse gases for free,” Obama said in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  “Businesses don’t own the sky, the public does, and if we want them to stop polluting it, we have to put a price on all pollution.”

The energy speech was the latest effort by Obama to cast himself as a critic of how business has been conducted in Washington. Every president since Gerald R. Ford, Obama argued, has pledged to curb fossil fuel use, but the United States’ dependence on foreign oil has climbed.

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UAW Sets Strike Deadline For Chrysler
2007-10-09 15:37:25
Pressure Mounts for new contract on wages, benefits.

The United Auto Workers (UAW) turned up the pressure on Chrysler Monday to wrap up a contract in the next two days.

The union set a deadline of 11 a.m. Wednesday for a strike against the smallest of the three Detroit automakers if the two sides have not reached a new labor contract for the company's 45,000 workers represented by the union. The UAW sent a notice to local union officials Monday saying Chrysler has so far failed to make an offer that "adequately addresses" wages, benefits and other issues.

Chrysler spokeswoman Michele Tinson said, however, that the deadline does not mean a strike is imminent. She said the UAW could still decide to extend talks past the deadline.

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China Promotes Taiwan-Focused Military Officers
2007-10-09 15:36:23
China has promoted at least four senior military officers with experience in planning for war over Taiwan ahead of a major political meeting next week at which the Communist Party has said it will adopt a new strategy to stop the self-governing island moving toward independence.

In a move that was quietly handled even by the standards of China’s secretive military, Beijing last month elevated Gen. Chen Bingde of the army to chief of the general staff, a post where he will exercise day-to-day operational command of the country’s 2.3 million-strong armed forces.

As General Chen was promoted through the senior ranks in the 1980s and 1990s, he held a series of command posts in the Nanjing Military Region opposite Taiwan, where China has concentrated its preparations for any conflict over the island, according to official biographies and military analysts.

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Heavy Fighting Reported In Pakistan
2007-10-09 15:35:41
In some of the heaviest fighting seen in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, Pakistani fighter jets bombed villages for the third day Tuesday as the authorities battled pro-Taliban militants.

Soldiers, civilians and militants have all suffered casualties in the fighting in the region of North Waziristan, but the reported figures have so far been impossible to verify.

Pakistan’s chief military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Waheed Arshad, said that at least 45 Pakistani soldiers have been killed since the first ambush on Saturday, and a further 20 wounded. Another 50 soldiers, who went missing on Monday, were able to re-establish contact today, he said.

The state of the bodies of 31 soldiers that had been retrieved by local elders - some of the bodies were decapitated, some burned - had led the military to resort to aerial bombardment of the militants’ holdouts, according to a military official who asked not to be named.

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Beers Of The World Unite! Miller And Molson Coors To Merge In U.S., Puerto Rico
2007-10-09 15:34:54

SABMiller and Molson Coors announced Tuesday that will merge their United States and Puerto Rican operations in an effort to better compete against Anheuser-Buschand the increasing popularity of wine and other spirits.

The joint venture, which will be known as MillerCoors, places several of the nation’s most recognizable beer brands under a single concern. Miller will hold a controlling 58 percent stake in the venture, though the companies will split voting interest.

The companies said they expect to save $500 million in annual costs from the deal, which is expected to close at the end of the year. The companies estimate net revenue of the businesses at $6.6 billion.

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Dragonfly Or Insect Spy? Scientists At Work On Robobugs
2007-10-09 02:42:22
Government says flying robots disguised as dragonflies do not exist yet, but they are being developed. Others aren't so sure they don't already exist.

Vanessa Alarcon saw them while working at an antiwar rally in Washington, D.C.'s Lafayette Square last month.

"I heard someone say, 'Oh my god, look at those'," the college senior from New York recalled. "I look up and I'm like, 'What the hell is that?' They looked kind of like dragonflies or little helicopters. But I mean, those are not insects."

Out in the crowd, Bernard Crane saw them, too.

"I'd never seen anything like it in my life," said the Washington, D.C., lawyer. "They were large for dragonflies. I thought, 'Is that mechanical, or is that alive?' "

That is just one of the questions hovering over a handful of similar sightings at political events in Washington, D.C.,  and New York. Some suspect the insect-like drones are high-tech surveillance tools, perhaps deployed by the Department of Homeland Security. 

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Sen. Reid: Bill To Increase Tax Rate On Massive Earnings By Firms Won't Pass Senate
2007-10-09 02:41:15
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nevada) has told private-equity firms in recent weeks that a tax-hike proposal they have spent millions of dollars to defeat will not get through the Senate this year, according to executives and lobbyists.

Reid's assurance all but ends the year's highest-profile battle over a major tax increase. Democratic lawmakers, including some presidential candidates, had been pushing to more than double the tax rate on the massive earnings of private-equity managers, who the Democrats say have been chronically undertaxed.

In response, private-equity firms - whose multibillion-dollar deals have created a class of superwealthy investors and taken some of America's large corporations private - hired dozens of lobbyists, stepped up campaign contributions and lined up business allies to wage an unusually conspicuous lobbying blitz. Their argument was that higher taxes would run counter to accepted tax policy and slow economic growth.

Some lawmakers have touted the tax boost as a way to pay for such expensive measures as the repeal of the alternative minimum tax, which this year alone threatens to increase taxes on 23 million households. Lawmakers and lobbyists agree that if the tax is not raised this year, its chances are not strong in 2008, either; Congress tends to be leery of tax increases in election years.

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Turkish Prime Minister Urged To Invade Iraq After Kurdish Rebel Attacks
2007-10-09 02:40:23
Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, came under intense pressure Monday night to order an invasion of northern Iraq following the deadliest attacks for over a decade on the Turkish military and civilians by separatist Kurdish guerrillas.

Erdogan, who has resisted demands from the Turkish armed forces for the past six months for a green light to cross the border into Iraqi Kurdistan, where the guerrillas are based, called an emergency meeting of national security chiefs to ponder their options in the crisis, a session that some said was tantamount to a war council.

A Turkish incursion is fiercely opposed by the Bush Administration since it would immensely complicate the U.S.  campaign in Iraq and destabilize the only part of Iraq that functions: the Kurdish-controlled north.

Two Turkish soldiers were killed Monday in booby trap explosions laid by guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers' party (PKK) - fighters classified as terrorists by Ankara, Washington, D.C., and the European Union. Those casualties followed the killing of 13 Turkish soldiers in the southeast on Sunday when PKK forces outgunned a Turkish unit of 18 men without sustaining any casualties, according to the Kurds.

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Commentary: The Not-So-Small Price Of Iraq
2007-10-10 03:21:05
Intellpuke: The following commentary was written by Dante Zappala, a member of Military Families Speak Out. It appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News edition for Monday, October 8, 2007. Mr. Zappala's commentary follows:

Until recently, I thought America agreed that the death of over 3,800 troops in Iraq is a tremendous loss to this country.

My brother, Sgt. Sherwood Baker, is just one in that number. He was a soldier in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, and was killed in an explosion in Baghdad on April 26, 2004.

Sherwood, like other fallen heroes, was a leader in his community, a vital link in the fabric that binds us as Americans. His son, growing into a young man, has the loss etched into his long, penetrating stares. Who could look at him and say his father's sacrifice was, in actuality, not a large one?

A chorus of war enthusiasts is giving it a shot. House GOP leader John Boehner said it best when asked recently about the monetary and human price tag of the war. He categorized these costs as a "small price to pay".

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Commentary: Britain's New Coal Age
2007-10-10 03:20:13
Intellpuke: The following commentary was written by Prof. George Monbiot an appears in the Guardian edition for Tuesday, October 9, 2007. In his column, Prof. Monbiot investigates work got started on Europe's  largest open pit coal mine on a green hilltop in  Wales when the government says it wants a low-carbon economy, and local residents have mounted huge opposition to the project.  His commentary follows:

As I watched the machine scraping away the first buckets of soil, one thought kept clanging through my head: "If this is allowed to happen, we might as well give up now." It didn't look like much: just a yellow digger and a couple of trucks taking the earth away. But in a secure compound behind me were the heaviest beasts I have ever seen - 1,300 horsepower or more - lined up and ready to start digging one of the largest opencast (open pit in the U.S.) coal mines in Europe. In Romania perhaps? The Czech Republic? No, on a hilltop in south Wales.

The diggers at Ffos-y-fran, on the outskirts of Merthyr Tydfil, are set to excavate 1,000 acres of land to a depth of 600 feet. There has never been a hole quite like it in Britain, and our government's climate change policies are about to fall into it.

Everything about this scheme is odd. The edge of the site is just 36 meters from the nearest homes, yet there will be no compensation for the owners, and their concerns have been dismissed by the authorities. Though local people have fought the plan, their council, the Welsh government and the Westminster government have collaborated with the developers to force it through, using questionable methods. I have found evidence that suggests to me that a member of Tony Blair's government used false or outdated information to seek to persuade the Welsh administration to approve the pit. Yet perhaps the most remarkable fact is this: outside Merthyr Tydfil, hardly anyone knows it is happening.

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Republicans Oppose Attempt To Revise Wiretap Law
2007-10-10 03:19:18

A House Democratic effort to revise the nation's new foreign intelligence surveillance law met swift resistance Tuesday from the White House, Republican lawmakers and even some party members.

The Republican leaders of both chambers said the bill introduced Tuesday by the chairmen of the House intelligence and Judiciary committees seeks to impose restrictions that would impede intelligence and law enforcement efforts to prevent a terrorist attack.

Meanwhile, Rep. Rush D. Holt (D-New Jersey), a member of the House intelligence panel, and a handful of other Democrats introduced a competing bill that would impose even more surveillance restrictions than those endorsed by the committee leaders.

The Democratic chairmen said their bill is an attempt to fix the temporary Protect America Act, which was passed under White House pressure in August with a February expiration date. The Bush administration wants to make the act permanent.

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Security Contractor Gunfire Kills 2 Iraqi Women
2007-10-09 15:38:31
Iraqi police say two women shot when private security guards escorting a convoy opened fire on their car. Elsewhere in Iraq, five bombings kill at least 34 people.

Two women were killed in central Baghdad on Tuesday, said Iraqi police, apparently when a private security company opened fire on their car after it approached a convoy they were guarding.

The identity of the company involved in the shooting was not immediately available, and few details were provided about the events leading up to the incident.

Amid controversy about the shooting deaths of 17 Iraqis last month by the Blackwater security firm, the new shootings are likely to heighten tension surrounding the thousands of armed security guards used by private companies and U.S. government agencies in Iraq. 
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Findings Show Early Exposure To DDT May Raise Risk Of Breast Cancer
2007-10-09 15:37:43

A new study has found a significant link between women's exposure to DDT as young girls and the development of breast cancer later in life.

The results are something of a surprise, said researchers, because several previous studies have found no link between cancer and the insecticide, which was widely used during the 1950s and '60s but was banned in the United States in 1972.

The new work differs from all other studies, however, by focusing on the age at which women were exposed. Echoing the situation with some other breast cancer risks, such as radiation, it finds that DDT increases the risk of breast cancer in adulthood only if the exposure occurred at a young age, before the breasts were fully developed.

All told, girls who had the highest levels of the chemical in their blood during that crucial developmental period were five times more likely to get breast cancer years later than were girls who had the lowest levels. That fivefold increase is a bigger boost in risk than is now attributed to hormone replacement therapy or having a close relative with breast cancer.

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Nobel Prize In Physics Won By German, French Scientists
2007-10-09 15:36:58
Two European scientists won the 2007 Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday for a discovery that lets computers, iPods and other digital devices store reams of data on ever-shrinking hard disks.

France's Albert Fert and German Peter Gruenberg independently discovered a physical effect in 1988 that has led to sensitive tools for reading the information stored on hard disks. That sensitivity lets the electronics industry use smaller and smaller disks.

"The MP3 and iPod industry would not have existed without this discovery," Borje Johansson, a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences told the Associated Press. "You would not have an iPod without this effect."

The two scientists discovered a phenomenon called giant magnetoresistance. In this effect, very weak changes in magnetism generate larger changes in electrical resistance. This is how information stored magnetically on a hard disk can be converted to electrical signals that the computer reads.

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Turkey Says Its Troops Can Cross Iraq Border
2007-10-09 15:35:59
Turkey took a step toward cross-border military action in Iraq Tuesday, as a council of the country’s top political and military leaders issued a statement allowing troops to cross to eliminate separatist Kurdish rebel camps in the mountainous northern region.

Turkey’s move toward military action comes in the face of strong opposition by the United States, which is anxious to maintain peace in that area, one of the rare regions of stability in conflict-torn Iraq.

All government offices and institutions have been ordered “to take all economic and political measures, including cross-border operations when necessary, in order to end the existence of the terror organization in a neighboring country,” said the statement, which was released by the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's office.

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U.S. Supreme Court Declines To Hear CIA Torture Case
2007-10-09 15:35:16
German citizen claims he was kidnapped, imprisoned and tortured by CIA.

The U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday declined to hear the case of a German citizen who said he was kidnapped, imprisoned and tortured by the CIA.

A federal district court judge and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit had earlier dismissed the case brought by Khaled el-Masri, agreeing with the government that the case could not go forward without exposing state secrets. The Supreme Court denied review without comment.

Masri, who is of Lebanese descent, has said he was detained by Macedonian police on Dec. 31, 2003, and handed over to the CIA a few weeks later. He said he was taken to a secret CIA-run prison in Afghanistan and physically abused before he was flown back to the Balkans without explanation in May 2004 and dumped on a hillside in Albania.

German officials said they were later informed privately by their U.S. counterparts that Masri was detained in a case of mistaken identity, apparently confused with a terrorism suspect of a similar name. U.S. officials have not publicly admitted any guilt or responsibility in the case.

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Leak Severs Link To Al-Qaeda
2007-10-09 02:42:39
Security breach that firm used to monitor terror groups is closed after exposure to the White House. Firm says Bush Administration's handling of video ruined its spying efforts.

A small private intelligence company that monitors Islamic terrorist groups obtained a new Osama bin Laden video ahead of its official release last month, and around 10 a.m. on Sept. 7, it notified the Bush administration of its secret acquisition. It gave two senior officials access on the condition that the officials not reveal they had it until the al-Qaeda release.

Within 20 minutes, a range of intelligence agencies had begun downloading it from the company's Web site. By midafternoon that day, the video and a transcript of its audio track had been leaked from within the Bush administration to cable television news and broadcast worldwide.

The founder of the company, the SITE Intelligence Group, says this premature disclosure tipped al-Qaeda to a security breach and destroyed a years-long surveillance operation that the company has used to intercept and pass along secret messages, videos and advance warnings of suicide bombings from the terrorist group's communications network.

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From Cocaine To Plutonium: Italian Mafia Clan Accused of Trafficking In Nuclear Waste
2007-10-09 02:42:04
Authorities in Italy are investigating a mafia clan accused of trafficking nuclear waste and trying to make plutonium.

The 'Ndrangheta mafia, which gained notoriety in August for its blood feud killings of six men in Germany, is alleged to have made illegal shipments of radioactive waste to Somalia, as well as seeking the "clandestine production" of other nuclear material.

Two of the Calabrian clan's members are being investigated, along with eight former employees of the state energy research agency ENEA.

The eight are suspected of paying the mobsters to take waste off their hands in the 1980s and 1990s. At the time they were based at the agency's center at Rotondella, a town in Basilicata province in the toe of Italy, which today treats "special" and "hazardous" waste. At other centers, ENEA studies nuclear fusion and fission technologies.

The 'Ndrangheta has been accused by investigators of building on its origins as a kidnapping gang to become Europe's top cocaine importer, thanks to ties to Colombian cartels. The nuclear accusation, if true, would take it into another league.

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Burma's Junta Shuts Down Last Communication Links
2007-10-09 02:40:55
Satellite phones seized in communications blackout; crackdown reflects worry over world opinion.

Burma's regime is targeting the last remaining communications links that brought images of the bloody crackdown on the recent pro-democracy protests to the outside world.

Exiled dissident groups in neighboring Thailand say up to 10 satellite telephones and countless computers earlier smuggled into Burma have been seized, the last lines of contact after the government shut down the internet and blocked mobile and fixed-line telephones.

Officials from Burma's Foreign Afairs Ministry and Home Department security officers also visited a United Nations  office in the Traders Hotel in downtown Rangoon late last week and demanded to see the organization's permits for its satellite phones.

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Kabul Rejects U.S. Pleas To Spray Opium Poppies
2007-10-09 02:39:57
Renewed American efforts to persuade the Afghan government to use crop dusters against poppy production have failed, despite Washington dispatching a top scientist to advocate the safety of spraying herbicides.

Charles Helling met representatives of the Afghan ministries of counter-narcotics, health, and rural rehabilitation on Sunday to discuss fears over the side effects of glyphosate, one of the most effective methods for the mass eradication of opium poppies. Kabul, however, remained unconvinced.

"We have rejected the spraying of poppy in Afghanistan for good reasons: the effect on the environment, other smaller crops and on human genetics," the acting minister for counter-narcotics, General Khodaidad (who uses only one name), told the Guardian. "It was a very friendly discussion, but it is difficult to change our mind," he added.

The U.S. maintains that the herbicide is safe for the environment and the local population. It says the misgivings of the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, are based on myth and Taliban disinformation.

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