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Friday, November 16, 2007

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Friday November 16 2007 - (813)

Friday November 16 2007 edition
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Pakistanis Growing Frustrated With U.S. Policies
2007-11-16 02:32:08
Inside call centers and in high school social studies classes, at vegetable markets and in book bazaars, Pakistanis from different walks of life here say that ever since President Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency rule two weeks ago, he's been the most unpopular figure in the country. But running a close second, many say, is his ally: President Bush. 

"We used to love America. Give me Tom Cruise and a vacation in Florida any day," said Parveen Aslam, 30, who like many Pakistanis has relatives in the United States. "But why isn't the U.S. standing up for Pakistan when we need it most? Is America even listening to us? We are calling them Busharraf now. They are the same man."

While many Pakistanis lament that the Bush administration is involved in their country's politics, they also see the United States as the only force strong enough to do what they say is necessary to temper the crisis: pressure the military-led government to restore the constitution, release thousands of political prisoners and lift restrictions on the news media.

The White House has taken note as Pakistanis' ire has risen. Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte is due in Islamabad on Friday, carrying what diplomats say will be a tough message for Musharraf, who has been a U.S. ally on counterterrorism. Negroponte is also expected to visit with former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who was placed under house arrest in Lahore on Tuesday just hours before she was to lead a procession to Islamabad in protest of emergency rule. [The Pakistani government lifted the detention order early Friday.]

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Commentary: The Threat From Terrorism Does Not Justify Slicing Away Our Freedoms
2007-11-16 02:31:41
Intellpuke: The following commentary was written by author Timothy Garton Ash and appears in the Guardian edition for Thursday, November 15, 2007. Mr. Ash writes: "Britain is now one of the most spied upon societies, where such rights as habeas corpus are hacked to bits."  Though he is writing about Britain, I found that Mr. Ash's comments have resonance for American's as well. His commentary follows:

Smiley swirled the last of the brandy in his balloon glass and muttered: "We've given up far too many freedoms in order to be free. Now we've got to take them back." That legendary spymaster's warning about the over-intrusive, over-mighty national security states that we in the self-styled "free world" built up during the cold war was delivered in John le Carre's novel of 1990, "The Secret Pilgrim". But instead of taking those freedoms back, British people have lost more of them. Across the western world, vastly more personal information is held on individuals by states and private companies; ancient liberties are curbed, people detained without trial, free speech stifled.

Shamingly, among the very worst offenders, the most careless with its citizens' liberties, the most profligate in surveillance, is the British state. Once proud to style itself "mother of the free", Britain has the most watched society in Europe. The country that invented habeas corpus now boasts one of the longest periods of detention without charge in the civilized world. And the guardians of national security want to make that even longer. Yet these same guardians cannot detect illegal immigrants working in their own offices (and even, in one case, reportedly helping to repair the prime minister's top-security car), nor detain a terrorist suspect (who turned out to be a wholly innocent Brazilian) without shooting him in the head.

A compulsion to legislate ever more new restrictions is combined with paroxysms of staggering inefficiency. Can anyone think of a better formula for sacrificing liberty without gaining security? Smiley must be turning in his grave. Or if, as is sometimes rumored, he is still living quietly in Cornwall under another name, then we need to hear his voice again: "We are giving up far too many freedoms in order to be free. We must take them back."

The salami-slicing of Britain's civil liberties, including the right to privacy, has at least two causes. One is the spectacular growth, since Smiley's day, of the technologies of information, communication, observation and data registration. The other is the threat of international terrorism, especially jihadist terrorism, made dramatically visible by the New York, Madrid and London bombings. Even without the atrocities of 9/11 and 7/7, there would have been a vast growth in the personal information stored in computer servers, mobile phone records, credit-rating databanks, CCTV videos and the like. Even without that explosion in the technological possibilities for state and private Big Brothering, such terrorist attacks would have provoked a tightening of security.

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Democrat Contenders Step Up Attacks At Las Vegas Debate
2007-11-16 02:29:59
With less than 50 days until the first presidential primary begins, sharp exchanges mark debate.

Sen. Barack Obama, stepping up his criticism of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, directly accused her of being duplicitous in one of several testy exchanges that marked the Democratic debate in Las Vegas, Nevada, Thursday night as one of the most heated of the presidential campaign.

With less than 50 days until primary voting begins, the Democratic contenders showed off newly polished answers on a range of familiar questions. Clinton (New York), the front-runner criticized for sounding evasive during the last debate, on Oct. 30, was much more aggressive, repeatedly challenging her rivals by name, as she had not done in past debates. She also denied playing up her gender, even as she described her delight at the possibility of being a serious contender to become the first female president.

If Clinton was significantly more critical of her rivals, Obama was more direct than he has been in previous debates. In response to his first question from moderator Wolf Blitzer, he said that "what the American people are looking for right now is straight answers to tough questions, and that is not what we've seen out of Senator Clinton on a host of issues."

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Stocks Fall Amid Consumer Concerns
2007-11-16 02:29:04
Wall Street skidded lower Thursday as investors grappled with concerns about the strength of consumer spending and the overall economy after downbeat comments from J.C. Penney Co. and Wells Fargo & Co.  Investors soured on retailers and banks, while falling oil prices hurt shares of energy companies.

Wall Street is concerned about rising gas prices. Although oil has come off the highs seen last week, prices remain elevated and could crimp consumer spending as the all-important holiday shopping season approaches.

''The J.C. Penney comments in terms of their guidance have sort of put another nail in retail. The assumption is the consumer has given up,'' said Charlie Smith, chief investment officer at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh. ''Three-dollar to $3.20 a gallon gas and house prices falling at 5 percent a year is really a double-whammy the consumer can't overcome.''

Wells Fargo president and chief executive John Stumpf said the housing market is seeing its steepest decline since the Great Depression. The bank has boosted its loss provisions in recent quarters to cover increasing defaults on mortgages and home-equity products. Still, the company has been able to avoid big writedowns that other banks have faced because it has little exposure to some complex financial instruments such as mortgage-backed securities that have recently soured.

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The $6 Million Spree That Landed A Saudi Prince In A London Court
2007-11-15 20:55:08
Handguns, 4x4s, "girls: party night 5" and a carry out meal for £391 ($800) - the ambassador's spree.

It is a remarkable shopping list by any standards. And it has landed the Saudi ambassador to Britain with a possible £3 million ($6 million) debt, and the embarrassment of having allegations about the ostentatious spending habits of the royal family laid bare.

Bills he is claimed to have run up on an array of luxury amusements include two top-of-the-range Chevrolet 4x4s, a thermal night vision kit for his Hummer H2, dozens of designer watches and jewels, a selection of handguns and two Arab karaoke machines. One carry out meal came to almost $800 (£391). And then there is the $2,500 item on a trip to a hotel in Casablanca that reads: "Girls: party night 5".

These, and scores of others, are detailed in documents filed to the high court in a claim against the ambassador, Prince Mohammed bin Nawwaf bin Abdul Aziz, a nephew of King Abdullah.

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Panel: China's Spying Threatens U.S. Technology Secrets
2007-11-15 15:42:03

China's extensive spying inside the United States is the greatest threat to the security of American technology secrets.

Advances by the Chinese military are catching U.S. intelligence officials by surprise.

The Defense Department may be inadvertently outsourcing the manufacturing of key weapons and military equipment to factories in China.

These are among the key findings released Thursday by a bipartisan panel commissioned by Congress to study the economic and security relationship between the United States and China. The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, created by Congress in 2001, has been criticized in the past for taking a hawkish stance on China in its annual reports.

The book-length report, the fifth produced by the panel, said China appears to be reversing its move toward free markets by setting up state-owned enterprises to maintain control over 12 key industries, including oil, telecommunications, shipping, automobiles, steel and information technology.

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Cyclone Sidr Slams Into Bangladesh
2007-11-15 15:41:29
A powerful cyclone packing 149 mph winds slammed into Bangladesh on Thursday night, tearing down flimsy houses, toppling trees and power poles, and forcing hundreds of thousands to flee their homes in the low-lying nation.

Tropical Cyclone Sidr swept in from the Bay of Bengal, buffeting southwestern coastal areas within a 155-mile radius of its eye with heavy rain and storm surges predicted to reach 20 feet high.

Sidr's eye crossed the Khulna-Barisal coast near the Sundarbans mangrove forests around 9:30 p.m. (11:30 a.m. EST), the Bangladesh Meteorological Department said. It was centered over the Baleshwar River in Barguna district.

In the coastal districts of Bagerhat, Barisal and Bhola, residents said the storm flattened thousands of flimsy straw and mud huts, and uprooted trees and electric poles.

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U.S. House Passes $50 Billion Iraq War Bill That Requires Bush To Start Bringing Troops Home
2007-11-15 01:54:09
Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives pushed through a $50 billion bill for the Iraq war Wednesday night that would require President Bush to start bringing troops home in coming weeks with a goal of ending combat by December 2008.

The legislation, passed 218-203, was largely a symbolic jab at Bush, who already has begun reducing force levels but opposes a congressionally mandated timetable on the war. And while the measure was unlikely to pass in the Senate -

"The fact is, we can no longer sustain the military deployment in Iraq," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California.  "Staying there in the manner that we are there is no longer an option."

The White House pledged to veto the bill, and Republicans said they would back the president.
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U.S. Is Looking Past Musharraf In Case He Falls
2007-11-15 01:53:43
Almost two weeks into Pakistan's political crisis, Bush administration officials are losing faith that the Pakistani president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, can survive in office and have begun discussing what might come next, according to senior administration officials.

In meetings on Wednesday, officials at the White House, State Department and the Pentagon huddled to decide what message Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte would deliver to General Musharraf - and perhaps more important, to Pakistan’s generals - when he arrives in Islamabad on Friday.

Administration officials say they still hope that Negroponte can salvage the fractured arranged marriage between General Musharraf and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. In Pakistan, foreign diplomats and aides to both leaders said the chances of a deal between the leaders were evaporating 11 days after General Musharraf declared de facto martial law.

Several senior administration officials said that with each day that passed, more administration officials were coming around to the belief that General Musharraf’s days in power were numbered and that the United States should begin considering contingency plans, including reaching out to Pakistan’s generals.

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Russia Withdraws All Troops From Georgia
2007-11-15 01:53:14
A top Russian general said early Thursday that Russia has completed its withdrawal of troops that had been based in Georgia since the Soviet collapse, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency.

The presence of Russian troops in the ex-Soviet republic was one of the longtime irritants between Georgia and its giant neighbor.

"There are no more Russian troops in Georgia, there remain only peacekeepers .. in Abkhazia and those that are part of the combined forces in South Ossetia with the participation of Georgia," the news agency quoted Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Ground Troops Gen. Alexei Maslov as saying.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia are two separatist regions of Georgia that have been outside Georgian control since the mid-1990s. Georgian leaders complain that Russian troops in both regions support the separatists, and their continued presence is likely to remain an issue of hot dispute between Tbilisi and Moscow.

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Las Vegas Judge Rules Simpson To Face Trial
2007-11-15 01:52:28
O.J. Simpson, the former football great who was acquitted of double murder in 1995, was ordered to stand trial Wednesday in what prosecutors say was the armed robbery of his own memorabilia from a pair of collectors.

Las Vegas Judge Joe Bonaventure ordered Simpson, 60, to stand trial in the Sept. 13 incident at the Palace Station Hotel and Casino. Prosecutors say Simpson and five other men stole the memorabilia at gunpoint from Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley.

Three of those involved in the incident, Walter Alexander, Charles Cashmore and Michael McClinton, agreed to plead guilty and testify for the prosecution.

Bonaventure's decision came after three and a half days of testimony from eight prosecution witnesses, a motley group that included three former codefendants testifying as part of plea agreements and, finally, a victim who made achingly clear his reluctance to harm Simpson, a defendant he clearly admired.

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Senators, NASA Concerned About U.S. Access To Space Station
2007-11-16 02:31:57
When the space shuttle fleet is retired in 2010, the United States will be dependent on an increasingly hostile Russia for five years to give American astronauts access to the International Space Station, lawmakers and NASA officials said Thursday.

Senator Bill Nelson, the Florida Democrat who leads the Senate subcommittee on space, which oversees the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, said he was concerned about the gap before the launching of the shuttle’s replacement, the Orion crew vehicle, in 2015.

This gap gives Americans no independent access to the $60 billion space station that they are largely paying for, he told a subcommittee hearing. It also gives Russia, whose leader, Vladimir V. Putin, is increasingly challenging American interests, greater influence over the joint project.

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Commentary: Are You With Us Or Against Us? The Road From Washington To Karachi To Nuclear Anarchy
2007-11-16 02:31:00
Intellpuke: The following commentary was written by Jonathan Schell and appared on the website on Tuesday, November 13, 2007. Mr. Schell is the author of "The Fate of the Earth" and other books, and the just-published "The Seventh Decade: The New Shape of Nuclear Danger". His commentary follows:

The journey to the martial law just imposed on Pakistan by its self-appointed president, the dictator Pervez Musharraf, began in Washington on September 11, 2001. On that day, it so happened, Pakistan's intelligence chief, Lt. General Mahmood Ahmed, was in town. He was summoned forthwith to meet with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who gave him perhaps the earliest preview of the global Bush doctrine then in its formative stages, telling him, "You are either one hundred percent with us or one hundred percent against us."

The next day, the administration, dictating to the dictator, presented seven demands that a Pakistan that wished to be "with us" must meet. These concentrated on gaining its cooperation in assailing Afghanistan's Taliban regime, which had long been nurtured by the Pakistani intelligence services in Afghanistan and had, of course, harbored Osama Bin Laden and his al-Qaeda training camps. Conspicuously missing was any requirement to rein in the activities of Mr. A.Q. Khan, the "father" of Pakistan's nuclear arms, who, with the knowledge of Washington, had been clandestinely hawking the country's nuclear-bomb technology around the Middle East and North Asia for some years.

Musharraf decided to be "with us"; but, as in so many countries, being with the United States in its Global War on Terror turned out to mean not being with one's own people. Although Musharraf, who came to power in a coup in 1999, was already a dictator, he had now taken the politically fateful additional step of very visibly subordinating his dictatorship to the will of a foreign master. In many countries, people will endure a homegrown dictator but rebel against one who seems to be imposed from without, and Musharraf was now courting this danger.

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OPEC Members Split On Response To High Oil Prices
2007-11-16 02:29:38
Oil cartel contends with politics, prices and its future.

In September 1960, after the mighty Standard Oil of New Jersey dictated a cut in the price it was willing to pay for Middle Eastern oil, an angry group of leaders from the region and Venezuela got together and founded the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). 

No one paid much attention. Two months later, a 43-page CIA report on "Middle East Oil" devoted only four lines to the new group, according to Daniel Yergin's history "The Prize".

Few would dismiss OPEC with such brevity today. Its often-squabbling members have wrested control of their oil fields from the big oil companies. In the 1970s, they administered two price shocks to the world economy. And now, a decade after oil prices collapsed during a financial crisis in Asia, unrefined crude is hovering around its all-time inflation-adjusted peak, channeling as much as $700 billion a year to exporting nations and threatening to slow even the world's strongest economies.

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Decision Time For U.S. Over Iran Nuclear Program
2007-11-15 20:55:22
Iran could have fuel to build a nuclear warhead within a year, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog says.

Iran has installed 3,000 centrifuges for enriching uranium - enough to begin industrial-scale production of nuclear fuel and build a warhead within a year, the United Nation's nuclear watchdog reported Thursday night.

The report by Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), will intensify U.S. and European pressure for tighter sanctions and increase speculation of a potential military conflict.

The installation of 3,000 fully-functioning centrifuges at Iran's enrichment plant at Natanz is a "red line" drawn by the U.S. across which Washington had said it would not let Iran pass. When spinning at full speed they are capable of producing sufficient weapons-grade uranium (enriched to over 90% purity) for a nuclear weapon within a year.

The IAEA says the uranium being produced is only fuel grade (enriched to 4%) but the confirmation that Iran has reached the 3,000 centrifuge benchmark brings closer a moment of truth for the Bush administration, when it will have to choose between taking military action or abandoning its red line, and accepting Iran's technical mastery of uranium enrichment.
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Abbas Calls For Overthrow Of Hamas
2007-11-15 20:54:54
Palestinian president stops short of calling for uprising after killing of eight at Fatah rally in Gaza.

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, called Thursday for the overthrow of the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip in his most confrontational comments since the Islamist group seized power from the Palestinian Authority in June.

Speaking in Algeria, Abbas said: "We have to bring down this bunch, which took over Gaza with armed force and is abusing the sufferings and pains of our people."

Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, seized power in June when its forces went on the offensive against the Palestinian Authority security services, which are dominated by Abbas's Fatah faction. Hamas claimed it attacked only those agencies that had tried to destabilize its government and kill its members.

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Hurricanes Katrina, Rita Killed 320 Million Trees In Mississippi, Louisiana
2007-11-15 15:41:46

New satellite imaging has revealed that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita produced the largest single forestry disaster on record in America - an essentially unreported ecological catastrophe that killed or severely damaged some 320 million trees in Mississippi and Louisiana.

The die-off, caused initially by wind and later by the weeks-long pooling of stagnant water, was so massive that researchers say it will add significantly to the greenhouse gas buildup - ultimately putting as much carbon from dying vegetation into the air as the rest of the American forest takes out in a year of photosynthesis.

In addition, the downing of so many trees has opened vast and sometimes fragile tracts of land to several aggressive and fast-growing exotic species that are already squeezing out far more environmentally productive native species.

Efforts to limit the damage have been handicapped by the ineffectiveness of a $504 million federal program to Gulf Coast land owners to replant and fight the invasive species. Congress appropriated the money in 2005 and added to it in 2007, but officials involved with the emergency conservation program say that only about $70 million has been processed or dispensed so far. Local advocates say onerous bureaucratic hurdles and low compensation rates are major reasons why.

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15,000 Left Homeless By Chile Earthquake, Aftershocks
2007-11-15 15:41:15
Strong aftershocks from a powerful earthquake hit northern Chile on Thursday as the government erected a working military hospital and promised hundreds of other portable dwellings for 15,000 left homeless by the quake.

Government and army workers scrambled to distribute tons of food, water and medicine after the 7.7 magnitude quake struck near the desert village of Quillagua in the foothills of the Andes on Wednesday, killing at least two people and injuring more than 150.

Major aftershocks shook the region Thursday, including one of magnitude 6.2 and another of magnitude 6.8, the U.S. Geological Survey said. There were no immediate reports of further damage or injuries.

The earthquake destroyed or damaged 4,000 houses and the local hospital, blocking roads, crushing cars and knocking out power across northern Chile, said officials.

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Report Details World Carbon Dioxide Emissions By Power Plants
2007-11-15 01:53:56
China, South Africa and India - host the world's five dirtiest utility companies in terms of global warming pollution, according to the first-ever worldwide data base of power plants' carbon dioxide emissions, while a single Southern Co. plant in Juliet, Georgia, emits more annually than Brazil's entire power sector.

The analysis, released Tuesday by the D.C-think tank Global Development Group, a non-profit that focuses on how the actions of rich countries affect developing nations, provides a detailed inventory of power plants' greenhouse gas emissions by region across the globe. The database captures both America's status as the world's biggest carbon dioxide (CO2) emitter, and how quickly it will be outpaced by rapidly-industrializing nations.

While America still produces the most carbon dioxide from electricity generation, releasing 2.8 billion tons of CO2 each year, China is close to overtaking the U.S. at 2.7 billion tons. Moreover, China plans to build or expand 199 coal-fired facilities in the next decade, compared to 83 in the U.S.

Power plants account for 40 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and 25 percent of the world's.

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Opposition Leader Arrested In Pakistan
2007-11-15 01:53:30
Pakistani authorities on Wednesday arrested former cricket star Imran Khan, one of the last major opposition leaders to remain at large since the military-led government declared emergency rule and began widespread detentions. A former ambassador to the United States, Abida Hussain, was also arrested.

Khan, founder of the Movement for Justice Party, has wide support among student activists in Pakistan. His seizure came one day after former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was placed under house arrest in Lahore. Another former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, was deported from Pakistan last month just hours after he returned from exile.

On Wednesday, Bhutto intensified her attempts to reach out to disparate opposition figures, including Sharif, whose elected government was overthrown in a 1999 coup that brought Pervez Musharraf to power.

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UPDATE: Thousands Left Homeless By Earthquake In Chile
2007-11-15 01:52:47
A major earthquake crushed cars, damaged hundreds of houses and terrified people for hundreds of miles around Wednesday. Authorities reported at least two deaths and more than 100 injuries.

The quake, which struck at 12:40 p.m., shook the Chilean capital 780 miles to the south of the epicenter, and was felt as far away as the other side of the continent - in Sao Paulo, Brazil, 1,400 miles to the east.

The U.S. Geological Survey calculated the magnitude at 7.7. It was followed by several aftershocks, including three larger than magnitude 5.

Two women were killed in the town of Tocopilla, 25 miles from the epicenter, when their houses collapsed, authorities said. Hospital director Juan Urrutia said at least 100 people were treated there for injuries or panic.
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