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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Sunday November 4 2007 - (813)

Sunday November 4 2007 edition
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'Desperate' Musharraf Declares Martial Law In Pakistan
2007-11-04 01:02:35
Pakistan's president imposes emergency rule ahead of supreme court decision on election.

Pakistan's president Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency rule last night, plunging the nuclear power into crisis and triggering condemnation from leaders around the world.

The action to reassert his flagging authority was, he said, a response to Islamic militancy and to the "paralysis of government by judicial interference". He said that his country's sovereignty was at stake.

Judges and lawyers were arrested, troops poured on to city streets and television and radio stations were taken off the air. Musharraf also suspended the constitution and fired the chief justice, Muhammad Iftikhar Chaudhry, who spearheaded a powerful mass movement against him earlier this year.

Saturday night police arrested opposition politicians and senior lawyers including the chief justice's lawyer, Aitzaz Ahsan, and Imran Khan. "Musharraf is acting like a spoiled child, holding the whole country hostage. These are the last days of Pervez Musharraf," said Ahsan as he was escorted from his home into a police van. Ahsan, who leads the Supreme Court Bar Association, said that lawyers would launch a series of nationwide protests Monday.

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Commentary: Now Is The Time For Clarity Over Iran
2007-11-04 01:02:01
Intellpuke: The following commentary was written by The Observer columnist Mary Riddel and appears the news magazine's edition for Sunday, November 4, 2007. Ms. Riddel writes that: conflict isn't inevitable, it's not even likely ... yet. It is still possible to build alliances to wean Tehran from the bomb and America from an attack. Her commentary follows:

The drums of war are beating. In America, talk of a strike against Iran grows louder. In Israel, hardliners claim Tehran is close to getting the bomb. In Bahrain, host to the U.S. Fifth Fleet, the state's foreign minister imagines doomsday. "We don't want to wake up and see our skies dark, our sirens blaring," he says.

Last summer, the prospect of attack was negligible. Now a leading London risk analyst puts the likelihood at 30 per cent, and others think that estimate conservative. A security specialist at Chatham House tells me he "cannot imagine George W Bush not doing something" if he thinks Iran is close to acquiring a nuclear weapon.

This is not about some distant tomorrow. If Bush launches an offensive, he is likely to act early next year, before the U.S. presidential election campaign begins. The opening salvos of the Third World War could be fired within months. Catastrophe has rarely looked so close or felt so distant.

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Indonesians Refuse To Leave Volcano
2007-11-04 01:01:29
More than 25,000 villagers were refusing to leave their homes on the slopes of a killer Indonesian volcano on Sunday despite warnings by scientists the peak was poised for a powerful eruption, said officials.

"They believe it will not erupt," said Sigit Raharjo, a spokesman for the local government close to Mount Kelud in the heart of the country's densely populated Java island. "They are being very foolish. All we can do is ask them to leave."

Kelud - one of more than 100 active volcanoes in Indonesia - has been on the highest alert level for more than two weeks, but on Saturday recorded a spike in activity that led scientists to wrongly declare an eruption had begun.

Scores of people, including women hauling babies in slings, descended from the mountain in police trucks and on bicycles and motorcycles. Some were in tears.

"I am afraid because the authorities say this eruption will be worse than the ones that have come before," said Marsini, resident of a village three miles from the crater. "They say there may be poisonous gas. I am leaving now."

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Global Food Crisis Looms As Climate Change, Rising Fuel Prices Bite
2007-11-03 02:55:59
Demand for biofuels and soaring crop prices raise fears of political instability.

Empty shelves in Caracas. Food riots in West Bengal and Mexico. Warnings of hunger in Jamaica, Nepal, the Philippines and sub-Saharan Africa. Soaring prices for basic foods are beginning to lead to political instability, with governments being forced to step in to artificially control the cost of bread, maize, rice and dairy products.

Record world prices for most staple foods have led to 18% food price inflation in China, 13% in Indonesia and Pakistan, and 10% or more in Latin America, Russia and India, according to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). Wheat has doubled in price, maize is nearly 50% higher than a year ago and rice is 20% more expensive, says the U.N. Next week the FAO is expected to say that global food reserves are at their lowest in 25 years and that prices will remain high for years.

Last week the Kremlin forced Russian companies to freeze the price of milk, bread and other foods until January 31, for fear of a public backlash with a parliamentary election looming. "The price of goods has risen sharply and that has hit the poor particularly hard," said Oleg Savelyev, of the Levada Center polling institute.

India, Yemen, Mexico, Burkina Faso and several other countries have had, or been close to, food riots in the last year, something not seen in decades of low global food commodity prices. Meanwhile, there are shortages of beef, chicken and milk in Venezuela and other countries as governments try to keep a lid on food price inflation.

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Homeland Security Relaxes Chemical Plant Storage Rules
2007-11-03 02:55:06
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Friday eased rules requiring tens of thousands of U.S. chemical plants to protect their stockpiles from terrorists, pleasing chemical industry lobbyists but disappointing environmentalists and some Democratic lawmakers, who said they will beef up requirements next year.

The regulations will touch a wide range of U.S. industry, including pulp and paper mills, petroleum plants, food and agriculture facilities, and manufacturing and industrial cleaning sites.

The measure has been delayed for years by disagreements within the Bush administration over the need for new regulations after the 2001 terrorist attacks. Partisan battling is likely to intensify in the Democratic Congress because the chemical security legislation expires in September 2009.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff described the rules as "a critical piece" of federal efforts to diminish the threat posed by large private stockpiles of dangerous chemicals.

DHS in April proposed a list of 344 chemicals that businesses would have to track and disclose to the department through an online reporting system but,  under heavy criticism from industry, it released a less stringent version Friday, reducing the number of targeted chemicals to about 300 and raising the reporting threshold of many chemicals of highest security concern.

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Loyal To Kerik, Giuliani Missed Warning Signs
2007-11-03 02:53:42
New evidence suggests Rudolph W. Giuliani overlooked disturbing information as he supported Bernard B. Kerik.

If the rise of Bernard B. Kerik under the mentorship of Rudolph W. Giuliani was meteoric, the speed of his fall was breathtaking.

In December 2004, President Bush nominated Kerik, a former New York police commissioner, to head the federal Department of Homeland Security.Seven days later, Kerik withdrew as a nominee.

A cascade of questions followed about his judgment as a public official, not least that he had inappropriately lobbied city officials on behalf of Interstate Industrial, a construction firm suspected of links to organized crime. Giuliani defended Kerik, a friend and business partner, whom he had recommended to the Bush administration, but he also tried to shield himself from accusations that he had ignored Kerik’s failings.

“I was not informed of it,” Giuliani said then, when asked if he had been warned about Kerik’s relationship with Interstate before appointing him to the police post in 2000.

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Citigroup's Prince Set To Resign Amid Losses
2007-11-03 02:51:29
The embattled head of Citigroup, the global banking giant, has told directors that he would resign from the bank after an emergency meeting this weekend in the wake of a $5.9 billion write-down and sharp drop in profit, people briefed on the situation said Friday night.

Charles O. Prince III, 57, the chairman and chief executive, took responsibility for the bank’s disappointing results and said it would be better for the bank if he left, said these people.

At the meeting on Sunday, directors are also expected to formally accept his resignation and discuss the possibility of another write-off, just weeks after announcing large losses related to subprime mortgages and the credit market turmoil. Prince did not return calls Friday for comment.

A search committee will begin looking for Prince’s successor immediately, according to a person briefed on the situation. “The entire organization is in uproar, and people have been looking for leadership,” said one Citigroup executive close to the situation. “The organization is waiting for something.”

“At some point, the company is worse off or better off without the guy,” said this person. “That collective point has come and passed.”

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Political Instability From Climate Change Threatens Billions Of People
2007-11-04 01:02:18
More than 100 countries face political chaos and mass migration in global warming catastrophe.

A total of 46 nations and 2.7 billion people are now at high risk of being overwhelmed by armed conflict and war because of climate change. A further 56 countries face political destabilization, affecting another 1.2 billion individuals.

This stark warning will be outlined by the peace group International Alert in a report, "A Climate of Conflict", this week. Much of Africa, Asia and South America will suffer outbreaks of war and social disruption as climate change erodes land, raises seas, melts glaciers and increases storms, it concludes. Even Europe is at risk.

"Climate change will compound the propensity for violent conflict, which in turn will leave communities poorer and less able to cope with the consequences of climate change," the report states.

The worst threats involve nations lacking resources and stability to deal with global warming, added the agency's secretary-general, Dan Smith. "Holland will be affected by rising sea levels, but no one expects war or strife," he told The Observer. "It has the resources and political structure to act effectively. But other countries that suffer loss of land and water and be buffeted by increasingly fierce storms will have no effective government to ensure corrective measures are taken. People will form defensive groups and battles will break out."

Consider Peru, said Smith. Its fresh water comes mostly from glacier meltwater. But by 2015 nearly all Peru's glaciers will have been removed by global warming and its 27 million people will nearly all lack fresh water. If Peru took action now, it could offset the impending crisis, he added. But the country has little experience of effective democracy, suffers occasional outbreaks of insurgency, and has border disputes with Chile and Ecuador. The result is likely to be "chaos, conflict and mass migration".

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U.S. Company Recalls E. coli-Tainted Beef
2007-11-04 01:01:48
Cargill Inc. said Saturday it is recalling more than 1 million pounds of ground beef that may be contaminated with E. coli bacteria, the second time in less than a month it has voluntarily recalled beef that may have been tainted.

No illnesses have been reported, said John Keating, president of Cargill Regional Beef.

The agribusiness giant produced the beef between Oct. 8 and Oct. 11 at a plant in Wyalusing, Pennsylvania, and distributed it to retailers across the country. They include Giant, Shop Rite, Stop & Shop, Wegmans and Weis.

Cargill learned the meat may be contaminated after the Agriculture Department found a problem with a sample of the beef produced on Oct. 8, the company said. The bacteria is E. coli O157:H7.

A spokeswoman for Cargill said 10 states are included in the recall - Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

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Witnesses Tell Congress That FDA Cannot Ensure That Drugs Are Safe
2007-11-03 02:56:21

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration cannot guarantee the safety of the nation’s drug supply because it inspects few foreign drug manufacturers and the inspections it does carry out abroad are less rigorous than those performed in this country, witnesses told a Congressional subcommittee Thursday.

While foreign companies manufacture as much as 80 percent of all ingredients used by American drug makers, the drug agency’s record keeping is so poor that it cannot say which of those have not been inspected, according to the testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

“More than nine years after we issued our last report on this topic, F.D.A.’s effectiveness in managing the foreign drug inspection program continues to be hindered by weaknesses in its data systems,” Marcia Crosse, director of health care for the Government Accountability Office, said in a statement to the committee.

The agency is supposed to inspect domestic drug makers every two years, but there is no such requirement for foreign suppliers, even though foreign factories are more likely to have quality problems, said witnesses.

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Worst Floods In 50 Years Affect Almost A Million People In Mexico
2007-11-03 02:55:32
Famlies sent to shelters forced to flee again; fears of disease grow, more rain forecast.

A huge rescue operation began in southern Mexico Friday, with rescue workers in boats, helicopters and military trucks striving to bring relief to almost a million people whose homes have been overwhelmed by the worst floods in the area in at least half a century.

Families who ignored calls to leave their homes were huddled on rooftops with no food and drinking water as murky waters surged up to the eaves of buildings and forecasters warned of more rain to come. Others were evacuated to shelters that later also proved vulnerable to the floods.

In an address to the nation in which he appealed for donations of everything from can openers to generators, President Felipe Calderon called the crisis in Tabasco state "one of the worst disasters in the history of the country".

The state governor, Andres Granier, said the floods had directly affected 900,000 people. Half a million had been made homeless, and of these, 300,000 still required rescuing. With many of the buildings designated as shelters now also under water, Granier said the authorities were desperately trying to find other accommodation to cope with the new influx of displaced people.

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Condoleezza Rice Faces Subpoena In Espionage Case
2007-11-03 02:54:06
Federal judge orders secretary of state, Wolfowitz, Feith and others to testify at trial of pro-Israel lobbyists.

A federal judge Friday issued a rare ruling that ordered Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and more than 10 other prominent current and former government officials to testify on behalf of two pro-Israel lobbyists accused of violating the Espionage Act at their upcoming criminal trial.

The opinion by U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III in Alexandria, Virginia, directed that subpoenas be issued to officials who include Rice, national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley, former high-level Department of Defense officials Paul D. Wolfowitz and Douglas J. Feith, and Richard L. Armitage, the former deputy secretary of state.

Their testimony has been sought by attorneys for Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, former employees of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee,or AIPAC, who are accused of conspiring to obtain classified information and pass it to members of the media and the Israeli government.

Attorneys for Rosen and Weissman say Rice and the other officials could help clear them because they provided the former lobbyists with sensitive information similar to what they were charged for, according to Ellis' ruling and lawyers familiar with the case. Prosecutors have been trying to quash the subpoenas during secret hearings and in classified legal briefs, but Ellis wrote that the testimony could help "exculpate the defendants by negating the criminal states of mind the government must prove.''

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Unusually Risky Spacewalk To Mend Solar Array
2007-11-03 02:51:53

Astronauts will take part in an unusually risky spacewalk Saturday in an effort to mend a torn solar array on the International Space Station.

In the procedure, Scott E. Parazynski will be far out on a limb - or, rather, out on the end of a 50-foot-long boom gripped by the space station’s robotic arm. Dr. Parazynski will either unsnag or cut a wire that appears to have hung up on a hinge of a solar panel, putting two tears in a left-side solar array.

Dr. Parazynski will carry a tool kit that includes a craft project put together based on instructions radioed from mission control - five straps with ends like a cufflink’s. They will be pushed through reinforced holes in the arrays that were manufactured to slide pins through for safe storage during ascent.

The straps will bind the panels to their neighbors and take on the strain that the torn panels can no longer handle, allowing full deployment of the array. Col. Douglas H. Wheelock will be positioned at the base of the array to provide visual cues to Dr. Parazynski.

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