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Friday, November 23, 2007

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Friday November 23 2007 - (813)

Friday November 23 2007 edition
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In Iraq: 18 Die In Clashes With Al-Qaeda, Mortar Attack Hits Green Zone
2007-11-22 15:00:36
Suspected al-Qaeda fighters killed three Iraqi soldiers early Thursday, then stole their Humvees to ambush rival Sunnis south of Baghdad, police said, a brazen example of the challenges still facing Iraqis despite a lull in violence.

A series of mortars later struck the U.S.-protected Green Zone, said Iraqi police. The attack coincided with the celebration of Thanksgiving but there were no immediate reports of casualties in the heavily fortified area, which houses the U.S. Embassy, thousands of American troops and contractors, and Iraqi government headquarters.

About 10 blasts were heard in central Baghdad just before 5 p.m., and a huge plume of black smoke rose into the sky as the sun was setting. The U.S. government public address system in the Green Zone also warned people to "duck and cover" and to stay away from windows.

The attack by the al-Qaeda fighters south of Baghdad began when they targeted an Iraqi army patrol near the rural area of Hawr Rijab, killing three soldiers and commandeering two Humvees, according to a local police report.

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Commentary: McCain-Feingold's Wealth Of Hypocrisy
2007-11-22 15:00:10
Intellpuke: The following commentary was written by Washington Post op-ed columnist and author George F. Will and appears in the Post edition for Thursday, November 22, 2007.

Congress is less divided by partisanship than it is united by devotion to the practice of protecting incumbents. Doing this with, for example, the bipartisan embrace of spending "earmarks" is routinely unseemly. But occasionally, incumbent protection is also unconstitutional.

It was in 2002, when Congress was putting the final blemishes on the McCain-Feingold law that regulates and rations political speech by controlling the financing of it. The law's ostensible purpose is to combat corruption or the appearance thereof. But by restricting the quantity and regulating the content and timing of political speech, the law serves incumbents, who are better known than most challengers, more able to raise money and uniquely able to use aspects of their offices - franked mail, legislative initiatives, C-SPAN, news conferences - for self-promotion.

Not satisfied with such advantages, legislators added to McCain-Feingold the Millionaires' Amendment to punish wealthy, self-financing opponents. The amendment revealed the cynicism behind campaign regulation's faux idealism about combating corruption.

The amendment says: When a self-financing House candidate exceeds the personal spending threshold of $350,000, his opponent gets three benefits. First, the opponent can receive contributions triple the per-election limit of $2,300 from each donor. Second, the donors' now-tripled contributions are not counted against those donors' aggregate contribution limits for the two-year election cycle. Third, the opponent is permitted to coordinate with his political party committee unlimited party expenditures that otherwise would be limited by statute. Senate campaigns are subject to similar provisions, which are even more generous to candidates opposed by wealthy, self-financing individuals.

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164 People Die Of Rift Valley Fever In Sudan
2007-11-22 14:59:37
An outbreak of Rift Valley Fever in Sudan has killed 164 people, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday.

Rift Valley Fever is normally a mild disease in humans with a fatality rate of around one percent. But in patients who develop the hemorrhagic fever form, the fatality rate is around 50 percent, according to the United Nations health agency.

More than 221 people caught the virus over the last two weeks, bringing the total number of cases to 451, including those who died.

Most of the cases occurred in White Nile, Sinnar, and Gezira states in eastern Sudan, said WHO. Around two dozen cases were reported in Khartoum State, where three died.

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Health Care Industry Rife With Medical Errors
2007-11-22 02:46:07
At least 1.5 million Americans a year are injured after receiving the wrong medicine or the incorrect dose.

The case of actor Dennis Quaid's newborn twins, who were reportedly given 1,000 times the intended dosage of a blood thinner at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, underscores one of the biggest problems facing the healthcare industry: medication errors.

At least 1.5 million Americans a year are injured after receiving the wrong medication or the incorrect dose, according to the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academies of Science. Such incidents have more than doubled in the last decade.

The errors are made when pharmacists stock the drugs improperly, nurses don't double-check to make sure they are dispensing the proper medication or doctors' bad handwriting results in the wrong drug being administered, among other causes.
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DHS Delays On Citizenship Applications Could Keep Hundreds Of Thousands From Voting In 2008
2007-11-22 02:45:30

The Department of Homeland Security failed to prepare for a massive influx of applications for U.S. citizenship and other immigration benefits this summer, prompting complaints from Hispanic leaders and voter-mobilization groups that several hundred thousand people likely will not be granted citizenship in time to cast ballots in the 2008 presidential election.

Bush administration officials said Wednesday that they had anticipated applicants would rush to file their paperwork to beat a widely publicized fee increase that took effect July 30, but did not expect the scale of the response. The backlog comes just months after U.S. officials failed to prepare for tougher border security requirements that triggered months-long delays for millions of Americans seeking passports.

Before the fee hike, citizenship cases typically took about seven months to complete. Now, immigration officials can take five months or more just to acknowledge receipt of applications from parts of the country and will take 16 to 18 months on average to process applications filed after June 1, according to officials from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is part of DHS. Such a timeline would push many prospective citizens well past voter-registration deadlines for the 2008 primaries and the general elections.

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Canada Declares 25-Million Acre Boreal Forest Off Limits To Development
2007-11-22 15:00:25

Canada's government Wednesday set aside 25 million acres of wilderness - 11 times the size of Yellowstone National Park - for conservation, a move that environmentalists called one of North America's most important acts of nature preservation.

The land in Canada's Northwest Territories is in three huge tracts that will be used to create a national park, a national wilderness area and a conservation area administered by native groups under treaty rights.

The areas are wild, scenic and remote. They have been eyed with increasing interest by diamond, uranium, and oil and gas developers, and the action Wednesday by Canada's ministries of environment and Indian affairs will prevent mining, drilling and most timber-cutting in the areas.

"We are withdrawing massive areas from industrial development to protect some of the most impressive ecological and cultural wonders in the north for generations to come," Environment Minister John Baird said in an announcement from Ottawa.

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Critique Of Ahmadinejad Reveals Political Rift
2007-11-22 14:59:53
An influential hard-line newspaper has made a rare direct attack on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over his recent harsh accusations against veteran politicians ahead of parliamentary elections in March. The daily, Jamhouri Eslami, criticized Ahmadinejad for calling a former nuclear negotiator, Hossein Mousavian, a nuclear spy and saying that influential politicians were using their power to have him cleared of those charges. Mousavian was a close aide to the former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

“Lately defaming political rivals has become common in the country and has replaced lawful behavior,” the newspaper wrote in a front-page editorial on Wednesday. “ We want to reject this kind of behavior as immoral, illegal, illogical and un-Islamic and remind wise figures that such a trend is dangerous for the country,” it added.

Ahmadinejad has proven a divisive leader, with both hard-line conservative and reformist opponents finding fault with his economic programs and his harsh anti-Western rhetoric, but the criticism is often indirect, to avoid political repercussions. Jamhouri Eslami, however, is so established - the current supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was once the managing editor - that it is unlikely to be closed down or censored.

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China Reverses Decision, Allows U.S. Aircraft Carrier To Visit Hong Kong - Carrier Already Enroute To Japan
2007-11-22 14:59:19
China Thursday reversed a decision to block a United States aircraft carrier from making a four-day port call in Hong Kong, but the change of heart by Beijing officials came too late to stop the ship from returning to its base in Japan and missing families who had flown to Hong Kong to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.

The aircraft carrier, the Kitty Hawk, and its flotilla of five support ships were en route back to their base at Yokosuka and were not planning to turn around for Hong Kong, said a spokesman for the Pacific Fleet in Hawaii, Lt. Commander John Filostrat.

The 8,000-member crew was due in Hong Kong on Wednesday for a four-day visit to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.

Some were planning to join family members who had flown in from the United States, Japan and the Philippines. While the ships were nearby in the South China Sea, the Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a “last-minute” refusal of the port call, said the State Department.

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Stocks Plummet As Dow Jones Industrial Average Hits Lowest Level Since April
2007-11-22 02:45:49
A late sell-off sent stock markets down sharply yesterday, with the Dow Jones industrial average closing at its lowest level since April. The plunge came as investors remain frightened and uncertain about a credit crisis that does not show any signs of easing.

“Sentiment just keeps getting more and more bleak,” said James W. Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management. “This week it’s been all about fear overtaking greed.”

Widespread worries about expensive oil, a sagging dollar and a gloomy outlook for economic growth took a toll on investors, who fled to the safety of relatively stable government bonds.

Oil prices flirted with the symbolic number of $100 a barrel, and markets in Asia and Europe dropped as investors wondered if the United States economy would slow more than expected. And the dollar fell to yet another record low against the euro.

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Japan Ignores Appeals From U.S., Other Countries, And Plans To Kill 950 Whales
2007-11-22 02:44:59
The Japanese whaling fleet is sailing south this week to kill about 950 whales in Antarctic waters, despite appeals from the United States, the European Union, Australia and New Zealand to call off the hunt.

What has particularly alarmed anti-whaling countries and environmental groups is Japan's plan, in the name of "research," to kill as many as 50 humpback whales.

It would be the first such hunt since 1966, when a worldwide moratorium was imposed to protect humpbacks, slow swimmers whose numbers were reduced by about 90 percent by over hunting.

Humpbacks have since bounced back to about a third of their pre-whaling population, although they remain listed as endangered under U.S. law and are considered vulnerable by the World Conservation Union.

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