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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Sunday November 11 2007 - (813)

Sunday November 11 2007 edition
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Iraqi Insurgents 'Grilled For Iran Evidence'
2007-11-11 01:42:00
Privately contracted interrogator says U.S. military seeks evidence incriminating Iran from Iraqi fighters.

U.S. military officials are putting huge pressure on interrogators who question Iraqi insurgents to find incriminating evidence pointing to Iran, it was claimed last night.

Micah Brose, a privately contracted interrogator working for American forces in Iraq, near the Iranian border, told The Observer that information on Iran is "gold". The claim comes after Washington imposed sanctions on Iran last month, citing both its nuclear ambitions and its Revolutionary Guards' alleged support of Shia insurgents in Iraq. Last week the U.S. military freed nine Iranians held in Iraq, including two it had accused of links to the Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force.

Brose, 30, who extracts information from detainees in Iraq, said: "They push a lot for us to establish a link with Iran. They have pre-categories for us to go through, and by the sheer volume of categories there's clearly a lot more for Iran than there is for other stuff. Of all the recent requests I've had, I'd say 60 to 70 per cent are about Iran.

"It feels a lot like, if you get something and Iran's not involved, it's a let down." He added: "I've had people say to me, 'They're really pushing the Iran thing. It's like, shit, you know'."

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U.S. Army Spending $2.6 Billion On Helicopters That Overheat
2007-11-11 01:41:34
The U.S. Army is spending $2.6 billion on hundreds of European-designed helicopters for homeland security and disaster relief that turn out to have a crucial flaw: They aren't safe to fly on hot days, according to an internal report obtained by the Associated Press.

While the Army scrambles to fix the problem - adding millions to the taxpayer cost - at least one high-ranking lawmaker is calling for the whole deal to be scrapped.

During flight tests in Southern California in mild, 80-degree weather, cockpit temperatures in the UH-72A Lakota soared above 104, the point at which the Army says the communication, navigation and flight control systems can overheat and shut down.

No cockpit equipment failed during the nearly 23 hours of testing, according to the Pentagon report, prepared in July, but the report concluded that the aircraft "is not effective for use in hot environments."

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Pressure In Pakistan Builds As Bhutto Pushes Ahead To Endgame
2007-11-11 01:40:54
Freed opposition leader makes U-turn over fired lawyers and judges and calls on her supporters to march.

President Pervez Musharraf began buckling to international pressure Saturday as Pakistan's attorney-general, Malik Mohammad Qayyum, suggested the state of emergency - announced eight days ago amid his "post-modern coup"  against his own regime - could be lifted within a month.

It came as the temporary house arrest imposed on former Prime Minister and opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, to prevent her from addressing a rally of tens of thousands of her supporters in Rawalpindi on Friday, was also lifted.

The latest concession by the President and chief of the army to the demands of Washington and London, which have been attempting to broker a power-sharing deal between Musharraf and Bhutto, comes after Musharraf suggested elections, originally planned for January, would go ahead by February 15.

The reversals came as Bhutto aligned herself for the first time with deposed chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry. The move by Musharraf is unlikely to be enough to end days of protests - led by lawyers and journalists - over Musharraf's purging of the country's Supreme Court, which had sought to hold the regime accountable for corruption and human rights abuses.

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Thousands Of Veterans Turn Out For Vietnam Memorial's 25th Anniversary
2007-11-11 01:39:29

Thousands of graying Vietnam veterans, many clad in jungle boots and old fatigues, marched down Constitution Avenue Saturday to mark the 25th anniversary of the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and to pay tribute to the more than 58,000 war dead enshrined on the Wall.

Their numbers thinned by age, their marching cadence uneven, the men and women who served in the war paraded to the rousing music of Sousa and the calls of "Thank you!" and "Welcome home!" and "Hoo-Ah!" from the crowds who lined the sidewalk.

They came from across the country and from all lines of work, many now retired. They carried flags and banners or wore jackets and T-shirts proclaiming where and when they had served. The names of such battles as Khe Sanh and Ia Drang, once places of death and horror, were emblazoned on signs and windbreakers. Many marchers sported the insignia of their old division: the Americal's white stars on a blue field or the 1st Cavalry's black horse's head on a yellow shield.

There were marchers who had been soldiers, Marines, medics, nurses, Red Cross volunteers, airmen who handled fierce attack dogs, sailors who manned heavily armed harbor patrol boats and simple "grunts."

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High Oil Prices Spur Massive Wealth Shift
2007-11-10 14:01:18
High oil prices are fueling one of the biggest transfers of wealth in history. Oil consumers are paying $4 billion to $5 billion more for crude oil every day than they did just five years ago, pumping more than $2 trillion into the coffers of oil companies and oil-producing nations this year alone.

The consequences are evident in minds and mortar: anger at Chinese motor-fuel pumps and inflated confidence in the Kremlin; new weapons in Chad and new petrochemical plants in Saudi Arabia; no-driving campaigns in South Korea  and bigger sales for Toyota hybrid cars; a fiscal burden in Senegal and a bonanza in Brazil. In Burma, recent demonstrations were triggered by a government decision to raise fuel prices.

In the United States, the rising bill for imported petroleum lowers already anemic consumer savings rates, adds to inflation, worsens the trade deficit, undermines the dollar and makes it more difficult for the Federal Reserve to balance its competing goals of fighting inflation and sustaining growth.

High prices have given a boost to oil-rich Alaska, which in September raised the annual oil dividend paid to every man, woman and child living there for a year to $1,654, an increase of $547 from last year. In other states, high prices create greater incentives for pursuing non-oil energy projects that once might have looked too expensive and hurt earnings at energy-intensive companies like airlines and chemical makers. Even Kellogg's cited higher energy costs as a drag on its third-quarter earnings.

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Author Norman Mailer Dies At 84
2007-11-10 14:00:41
Norman Mailer, the combative, controversial and often outspoken novelist who loomed over American letters longer and larger than any writer of his generation, died today in Manhattan. He was 84.

He died of acute renal failure at Mount Sinai Hospital early this morning, his family said. Mailer burst on the scene in 1948 with “The Naked and the Dead,” a partly autobiographical novel about World War II, and for the next six decades he was rarely far from the center stage. He published more than 30 books, including novels, biographies and works of nonfiction, and twice won the Pulitzer Prize: for “The Armies of the Night” (1968), which also won the National Book Award, and “The Executioner’s Song” (1979).

He also wrote, directed, and acted in several low-budget movies, helped found The Village Voice and for many years was a regular guest on television talk shows, where he could reliably be counted on to make oracular pronouncements and deliver provocative opinions, sometimes coherently and sometimes not.

Mailer belonged to the old literary school that regarded novel writing as a heroic enterprise undertaken by heroic characters with egos to match. He was the most transparently ambitious writer of his era, seeing himself in competition not just with his contemporaries but with the likes of Tolstoy and Dostoyevksy.

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Rice's Management Criticized
2007-11-10 02:14:49
Critics cite Blackwater, Baghdad embassy and passports.

Shortly after Condoleezza Rice took charge of the 57,000-person U.S. State Department in 2005, she said she relished the challenge of "line responsibility" in leading a large organization. "I really enjoy that," she said in an interview. "Some of my favorite times here have been my budget and high-level management reviews."

Nearly three years later, Rice is under fire from inside and outside the State Department for a range of crises that are largely managerial in nature - the failure to monitor private security guards in Irfaq, the delays in opening the huge U.S. Embassy under construction in Baghdad and the resistance of some Foreign Service officers to being forced to serve there. Over the summer, the department also fell woefully short in processing passport applications, resulting in ruined vacation plans for many Americans.

Within the department, Rice is viewed by many rank-and-file employees as an aloof manager who relies on a tight circle of aides, leaving her out of touch with the rest of the staff, in contrast to her predecessor, Colin L. Powell, a retired Army general who won praise from workers for treating them as though they were his "troops." At her last town hall meeting with employees 2 1/2 years ago, Rice told staffers: "I consider myself the chief management officer of this department." A poll by the American Foreign Service Association, however, indicated that an overwhelming majority did not feel that Rice was their advocate.

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News Analysis: U.S. Strategy For Pakistan Looks More Fragile
2007-11-10 02:14:13
In pushing for the deal that took Benazir Bhutto back to Pakistan, the Bush administration hoped to build a broader base of support that might help Gen. Pervez Musharraf  stay in power, but General Musharraf’s sweeping crackdown over the last week has raised questions about that strategy, not least when he sent thousands of police officers on Friday morning to prevent Ms. Bhutto from leading a protest rally against his imposition of de facto martial law.

The images coming out of Pakistan - of police forces blanketing the site of a planned rally by Bhutto, the opposition leader, and then barricading her inside her residence - were hardly consistent with the kind of cooperation the United States promoted.

Bush administration officials and Pakistani experts say they still believe that a power-sharing agreement between Bhutto and the general can survive. “We hope we’re seeing a little bit of political theater here,” said a senior State Department official.

By that the official meant Bhutto’s insistence on holding a rally, General Musharraf’s decision to barricade her in her house, and the subsequent speech by Bhutto to the nation that was broadcast on official Pakistani television.

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Commentary: A Post-Bush America Is Not About To Fall At Europe's Feet
2007-11-10 02:13:18
Intellpuke: The following commentary was written by Martin Kettle and appears in the Guardian edition for Saturday, November 10, 2007. Mr. Kettle writes for the Guardian on British, European and American politics, as well as the media, law, music and many other subjects. In his commentary, Mr. Kettle writes that the prospect of a more pliable U.S. is largely an illusion. European Union  states must make some very serious, existential choices. His commentary follows:

If a week is a long time in politics, a year is an eternity. Yet this is an important time to look ahead. In 12 months we will at last know who is to succeed George Bush in the White House. Right now, the outcome of that contest is difficult to predict. Nevertheless the election will shape the context of international affairs until well into the coming decade. For those who want to set a course for Britain and Europe during those years, it is not too soon to start thinking and preparing.

For the moment, what is important is to recognize two things. The first is that the November 2008 election is absolutely not a shoo-in for the Democrats, despite their strong general poll position and Bush's unpopularity. A President Rudy Giuliani or a President Mitt Romney remains as open a possibility as a President Hillary Clinton or a President Barack Obama. The second is that the new U.S. administration, of whatever party stripe, will preside over a far less benign political moment for the world than many, not least in our continent, currently assume.

That claim may seem perverse. Bush suffers unprecedentedly low ratings at home. He has also triggered unmatched hostility abroad. Visit America and you find bestselling Bush's Last Day bumper stickers and desk calendars, while 01/20/09 countdown clocks (see are this season's must-have onscreen accessory. What's not to look forward to about January 2009, given that the Bush years have been so uniquely disastrous?

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59 Children Die In Deadliest Afghan Suicide Attack
2007-11-10 02:12:28
Ninety-Three other children were injured, some critically, 5 teacher, 6 parliament members, and 5 bodyguards were also killed in the attack.

The number of children killed in Afghanistan's deadliest ever suicide attack this week was put at 59 Friday, possibly the largest number to die in a single suicide attack anywhere in recent times.

The revelation, grim even by the wretched standards of Afghanistan and Iraq, set off immediate recriminations about why such a large number of children were involved in a high-profile public event. The education ministry in Kabul insisted it had instructed schoolchildren to be kept away from the kind of function targeted in Tuesday's bombing.

The children, all boys aged between eight and 18 from the same school, had gathered to welcome a visiting delegation of parliamentarians to a sugar factory outside the town of Pul-i-Khumri, 90 miles north of the capital, in the province of Baghlan. Five teachers, six parliament members and five bodyguards were also killed in the attack, and 93 other children were injured, some critically. Witnesses have said some victims may have been killed or wounded by guards who opened fire after the blast.

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Spain Shows Perils Of Climate Change
2007-11-10 02:11:46
It's an apocalyptic view of the future, a stark warning to Spain of what the country could look like if action is not taken to reduce the effects of climate change.

The warning comes in a book, Photoclima, launched this week by Greenpeace in which images of some of Spain's most emblematic places have been altered to show what they could look like in the future. Using statistics from the United Nations panel on climate change and a touch of digital makeup Greenpeace hopes to scare Spain into taking action.

We see the Ebro river in Zaragoza as a dried-up riverbed in 2070, by which time the fields of Valencia, which have provided Spain with oranges for centuries, will have all but disappeared. Perhaps the most dramatic image is that of La Manga de Mar Menor in Murcia, where hotels and apartment blocks abut the Mediterranean. In a few decades, according to Greenpeace, most of this will be underwater.

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U.S. Concerned About Pakistan's Nuclear Limits
2007-11-11 01:41:49
Lack of knowledge about Islamabad's weapons arsenal leaves White House with few good options to prevent it from falling into wrong hands.

When the United States learned in 2001 that Pakistani scientists had shared nuclear secrets with members of al-Qaeda,  an alarmed Bush administration responded with tens of millions of dollars worth of equipment such as intrusion detectors and I.D. systems to safeguard Pakistan's nuclear weapons.

But Pakistan remained suspicious of U.S. aims and declined to give U.S. experts direct access to the half-dozen or so bunkers where the components of its arsenal of about 50 nuclear weapons are stored. For the officials in Washington now monitoring Pakistan's deepening political crisis, the experience offered both reassurance and grounds for concern.

Protection for Pakistan's nuclear weapons is considered equal to that of most Western nuclear powers, but U.S. officials worry that their limited knowledge about the locations and conditions in which the weapons are stored gives them few good options for a direct intervention to prevent the weapons from falling into unauthorized hands.

"We can't say with absolute certainty that we know where they all are," said a former U.S. official who closely tracked the security upgrades. If an attempt were made by the United States to seize the weapons to prevent their loss, "it could be very messy," the official said.

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Editorial: Abdicate And Capitulate
2007-11-11 01:41:12
Intellpuke: The following editorial appears in the New York Times edition for Sunday, November 11, 2007.

It is extraordinary how President Bush has streamlined the Senate confirmation process. As we have seen most recently with the vote to confirm Michael Mukasey as attorney general, about all that is left of “advice and consent” is the “consent” part.

Once upon a time, the confirmation of major presidential appointments played out on several levels - starting, of course, with politics. It was assumed that a president would choose like-minded people as cabinet members and for other jobs requiring Senate approval. There was a presumption that he should be allowed his choices, all other things being equal.

Before George W. Bush’s presidency, those other things actually counted. Was the nominee truly qualified, with a professional background worthy of the job? Would he discharge his duties fairly and honorably, upholding his oath to protect the Constitution? Even though she answers to the president, would the nominee represent all Americans? Would he or she respect the power of Congress to supervise the executive branch, and the power of the courts to enforce the rule of law?

In less than seven years, Mr. Bush has managed to boil that list down to its least common denominator: the president should get his choices. At first, Mr. Bush was abetted by a slavish Republican majority that balked at only one major appointment - Harriet Miers for Supreme Court justice, and then only because of doubts that she was far enough to the right.

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Forced Iraq Posting Possible At U.S. State Dept.
2007-11-11 01:40:31
Days before deadline for volunteers, about half of 48 slots at U.S. embassy in Baghdad are unfilled.

Four days before a deadline for Foreign Service officers to volunteer to go to Iraq or face the prospect of being ordered there, the State Department notified employees Saturday that "about half" of 48 open assignments there for next year have been filled.

"This reduces but does not eliminate the possibility that directed assignments may be necessary," Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negropontewrote in an e-mailed update. Filling the remaining jobs is still "the Department's priority," he said, adding that he is optimistic that more will volunteer.

With 26 positions still open, however, it appeared increasingly unlikely that they will all be filled by Tuesday's deadline. Both Negroponte and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have made clear in recent days that they intend to proceed with a mandatory call-up if spots remain unstaffed.

"If I need somebody to serve in Iraq, they have to serve there," Rice said in an interview on Friday with the Dallas Morning News. 

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Editorial: Veterans Without Health Care
2007-11-11 01:39:15
Intellpuke: The following editorial appeared in the New York Times edition for Friday, November 9, 2007.

Although many Americans believe that the nation’s veterans have ready access to health care, that is far from the case. A new study by researchers at the Harvard Medical School has found that millions of veterans and their dependents have no access to care in veterans’ hospitals and clinics and no health insurance to pay for care elsewhere. Their plight represents yet another failure of our disjointed health care system to provide coverage for all Americans.

The new study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, estimated that in 2004 nearly 1.8 million veterans were uninsured and unable to get care in veterans’ facilities. An additional 3.8 million members of their households faced the same predicament. All told, this group made up roughly 12 percent of the huge population of uninsured Americans.

Most of the uninsured veterans were working-class people who were too poor to afford private insurance but not poor enough to qualify for care under a priority system administered by the Veterans Affairs Department. Some were unable to get care because there was no V.A. facility nearby, or the nearest facility had a long waiting list, or they could not afford the co-payments required of some veterans.

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Los Angeles Police Proposal To Map Muslim Areas Criticized
2007-11-10 14:01:00
Police call program an effort to improve relations with Islamic community. Civil libertarians criticize profiling while other skeptics note that population is dispersed and defies easy classification.

The Los Angeles Police Department's (LAPD's) plan to map Muslim communities in an effort to identify potential hotbeds of extremism departs from the way law enforcement has dealt with local anti-terrorism since 9/11 and prompted widespread skepticism Friday.

In a document reviewed Friday by The Times, the LAPD's Los Angeles Police Department's counter-terrorism bureau proposed using U.S. census data and other demographic information to pinpoint various Muslim communities and then reach out to them through social service agencies.
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U.S. House Passes $73 Billion In Tax Relief
2007-11-10 02:15:01
Bill would limit alternative minimum tax, offer breaks for mid-income homeowners, poor parents.

The House Friday narrowly approved a $73.8 billion measure to protect millions of families from the alternative minimum tax (ATM) and offer new tax breaks to middle-income homeowners and low-income parents, offset by tax increases that would land primarily on wealthy Wall Street financiers.

The 216 to 193 vote came after a fiery debate that divided Democrats and energized Republicans, who assailed proposed tax increases that Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) called "an assault on free enterprise." Democrats countered that they were only closing tax loopholes on super-rich private-equity and hedge fund managers in order to live by a pledge of fiscal responsibility.

"We planted the flag for fiscal responsibility ... as we gave a tax cut to the middle class," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California). 

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FCC Planning Rules To Open Cable Market To More Competition
2007-11-10 02:14:34
The U.S. Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is preparing to impose significant new regulations to open the cable television market to independent programmers and rival video services after determining that cable companies have become too dominant in the industry, said senior commission officials.

The finding, under a law that gives the commission expanded powers over the cable television industry if it becomes too big, is expected to be announced this month. It is a major departure for the agency and the industry, which was deregulated by an act of Congress in 1996.

Officials say the finding could lead to more diverse programs; consumer groups say it could also lead to lower rates.

Heavily promoted by those groups and by the commission’s Republican chairman, Kevin J. Martin, the decision would be a notable exception to the broad deregulatory policies of the Bush administration. Officials in various agencies have relaxed industry regulations and have chosen not to challenge big corporate mergers.

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Editorial: Indicting Mr. Kerik
2007-11-10 02:13:59
Intellpuke: The following editorial appears in the New York Times edition for Saturday, November 10, 2007.

Bernard Kerik’s indictment on fraud and corruption charges is disturbing on its own, but it also raises broader issues. It is sobering to think how close Mr. Kerik came to becoming secretary of the Homeland Security Department, and it is also troubling that Rudolph Giuliani, a leading candidate for president, has been so close to him for so long, as a friend, boss and business partner.

Because of Mr. Giuliani’s role in Mr. Kerik’s life, the nation has a compelling interest in learning more about the former police chief’s misdeeds.

Mr. Kerik has been accused of accepting renovations to his Bronx apartment from a company that was suspected of having ties to organized crime and was seeking a license from the city. He allegedly used his office to help the company obtain the license. Mr. Kerik also has been accused of hiding the renovation income on his tax returns, along with more than $200,000 in rent payments on an Upper East Side apartment that a developer allegedly paid on his behalf.

It is always a sad day, as United States Attorney Michael J. Garcia noted, when a law enforcement official is accused of breaking the law. That is especially true when the official was New York’s top jailer, the head of the nation’s largest police department, and nearly became the chief of a 180,000-member federal department charged with keeping America safe.

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North Korea Rebuts Uranium Enrichment Claims
2007-11-10 02:12:44
If nation provides proof to counter enrichment accusations, it will be a blow to U.S. intelligence.

North Korea is providing evidence to the United States aimed at proving that it never intended to produce highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons, undermining a key U.S. intelligence finding, South Korean and U.S. officials said this week.

In closely held talks, the North Korean government has granted U.S. experts access to equipment and documents to make its case, in preparation for declaring the extent of its nuclear activities before the end of the year. North Korean officials hope the United States will simultaneously lift sanctions against Pyongyang as the declaration is made.

If North Korea successfully demonstrates that U.S. accusations about the uranium-enrichment program are wrong, it will be a blow to U.S. intelligence and the Bush administration's credibility.

The U.S. charges of a large-scale uranium program led to the collapse of a Clinton-era agreement that had frozen a North Korean reactor that produced a different nuclear substance - plutonium. That development freed North Korea to use the plutonium route toward gathering the material needed for a nuclear weapon. Pyongyang conducted its first nuclear test last year, detonating a plutonium-based device, and has built a plutonium stockpile that experts estimate could yield eight to 10 nuclear weapons.

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Britain's New Afghanistan Plan - Pay Farmers To Ditch Opium
2007-11-10 02:12:10
Troops may target drug factories as part of new strategy to combat Taliban.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is planning a radical scheme to subsidize farmers in Afghanistan to persuade them to stop producing heroin, as part of a wide-ranging drive to re-energize policy in the conflict the prime minister now regards as the front line in the fight against terrorism.

Britain's Foreign Office minister Lord Malloch-Brown has admitted that the rise in opium production in the country means Britain "cannot just muddle along in the middle" and must come up with more imaginative ideas on opium eradication.

Ministers are looking at what Lord Malloch-Brown describes as a system of payments loosely along the lines of the common agricultural policy to woo the Afghan farmers off opium production. The government is conducting joint research on suitable economic incentives with the World Bank.

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