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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Sunday November 25 2007 - (813)

Sunday November 25 2007 edition
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Fire Destroys 49 Homes In Malibu, 5,000 Acres Burned
2007-11-25 01:27:18
Blaze is city's most destructive in 15 years, thousands evacuated.

The most destructive fire in Malibu in nearly 15 years raced through parched canyons Saturday, destroying 49 homes and forcing the evacuations of thousands of residents.

The so-called Corral Fire burned nearly 5,000 acres before the fierce Santa Ana winds died down, allowing firefighters to make a stand against the blaze. By evening, the fire was 25% contained. Six firefighters sustained minor injuries, said authorities.

Meteorologists said the winds were subsiding and not expected to return Sunday. A red flag warning, issued when the humidity level drops below 8%, would remain in effect in Los Angeles and Ventura counties until Sunday evening.

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Commentary: What Ever Happened To 'We The People'?
2007-11-25 01:26:45
Intellpuke: The following commentary was written by author and nationally syndicated talk show host Thom Hartman and is an excerpt from his new book, "Cracking The Code: How To Win Hearts, Change Minds, and Restore America's Original Vision", and first appeared on's edition for Friday, November 23, 2007. Mr. Hartman's book is published by Berret-Koehler Publishing. The excerpt follows:

We the people

The traditional American liberal story is the story of We the People.

As Americans, the most important part of our social identity is our role as citizens. To be a citizen means to be part of, and a de- fender of, the commons of our nation. The water we drink, the air we breathe, the streets we drive on, the schools that we use, the departments that protect us - these are all the physical commons. And there are also the cultural commons - the stories we tell ourselves, our histories, our religions, and our notions of ourselves. And there are the commons of our power systems (in the majority of American communities), our health-care system (stolen from us and privatized over the past twenty-five years, our hospitals in particular used to be mostly nonprofit or run by mostly city or county governments), and the electronic commons of our radio and TV spectrum and the Internet.

Most important for citizenship is the commons of government - the creation and the servant of We the People.

Franklin D. Roosevelt understood this commons. In his "Four Freedoms" speech, he said, "Necessitous men are not free men." Hungry people aren't free people, no matter what you want to call them. Hungry people can't be good citizens: they're too busy taking care of the hungry part of themselves to care about the citizen part.

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Revised Rule For U.S. Employers That Hire Immigrants
2007-11-25 01:26:10
The Bush administration will suspend its legal defense of a new rule issued in August to punish employers who hire illegal immigrants, conceding a hard-fought opening round in a court battle over a central measure in its strategy to curb illegal immigration, according to government papers filed late Friday in federal court.

Instead, the administration plans to revise the rule to try to meet concerns raised by a federal judge and issue it again by late March, hoping to pass court scrutiny on the second try. The rule would have forced employers to fire workers within 90 days if their Social Security information could not be verified.

The government’s proposal was a response to an indefinite delay to the rule ordered Oct. 10 by the judge, Charles R. Breyer of Federal District Court in San Francisco. Judge Breyer found that the government had failed to follow proper procedures in issuing the rule and that it should have completed a survey of its impact on small business.

He also found that the Social Security database the government would use to verify workers’ status was full of errors, so the rule could lead to the dismissal of many thousands of workers who were American citizens or legal immigrants.

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U.S. FDA: Flu Drugs Affecting Childrens' Behavior
2007-11-25 01:24:37
U.S. government health regulators recommended adding label precautions about neurological problems seen in children who have taken flu drugs made by Roche and GlaxoSmithKline.

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday released its safety review of Roche's Tamiflu and Glaxo's Relenza. Next week, an outside group of pediatric experts is scheduled to review the safety of several such drugs when used in children.

FDA began reviewing Tamiflu's safety in 2005 after receiving reports of children experiencing neurological problems, including hallucinations and convulsions.

Twenty-five patients under age 21 have died while taking the drug, most of them in Japan. Five deaths resulted from children "falling from windows or balconies or running into traffic".

There have been no child deaths connected with Relenza, but regulators said children taking the drug have shown similar neurological problems.

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Rich Nations Fail To Honor Climate Pledge
2007-11-24 03:28:51
Poor nations receive little of promised $1.2 billion intended to tackle the effect of global warming.

A group of rich countries including Britain has broken a promise to pay more than a billion dollars to help the developing world cope with the effects of climate change. The group agreed in 2001 to pay $1.2 billion (£600 million) to help poor and vulnerable countries predict and plan for the effects of global warming, as well as fund flood defenses, conservation and thousands of other projects. Yet new figures show less than $180 million (£90 million) of the promised money has been delivered. Britain has so far paid just $20 million (£10 million).

The disclosure comes after Prime Minister Gordon Brown said this week that industrialized countries must do more to help the developing world adapt to a changed climate, and two weeks before countries meet in Bali to begin negotiations on a new global deal to regulate emissions which is expected to stress the need for all countries to adapt.

Andrew Pendleton, climate change policy analyst at Christian Aid, said: "This represents a broken promise on a massive scale and on quite a cynical scale as well. Promising funds for adaptation is exactly the kind of incentive the rich countries will offer at Bali to bring the developing world on board a new climate deal. This is the signal we are seeing on all fronts, that the developed countries are unwilling to fulfil their moral and legal commitments."

Under the terms of the climate adaptation agreement, made at a United Nations meeting in Bonn, Germany, in 2001, the European Union, Canada, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and New Zealand said they would jointly pay developing countries $410 million (£200 million) each year from 2005 to 2008. They called on other countries to donate as well. The money was supposed to compensate developing countries for the severe effects over the coming decades of global warming, which is largely caused by carbon emissions from the developed world.

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Analysts: Freddie Mac May Report Larger Loss
2007-11-24 03:28:27
Freddie Mac, the second-largest U.S. mortgage-finance company, may report wider losses than it forecast as the slump in credit markets worsens, said Moody's Investors Service.

Freddie Mac, which reported a record loss of $2.03 billion in the third quarter this week, may have underestimated when it projected that 0.11 percent of the debt it guarantees will go bad in the next two years, Moody's analysts Brian Harris and Craig Emrick in New York said in a report Wednesday.

"Continued deterioration in the mortgage market, resulting in further decline in these books, may lead to credit losses in excess of their 11 basis point loss forecast," Harris and Emrick wrote.

Freddie Mac, based in McLean, Virginia, said it expected credit losses to continue to increase into next year. The company and its larger sibling, Fannie Mae, based in Washington, D.C., guarantee 40 percent of the $11.5 trillion U.S. home-loan market. The government-chartered companies have lost $57 billion in market value because of write-downs caused by record U.S. mortgage foreclosures.

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Lebanese President Hands Power To Army
2007-11-24 03:27:34
Lebanon was again plunged into uncertainty Friday after its legislature failed in a fifth attempt to elect a president, and the former Syrian backed-president Emile Lahoud, whose term ended at midnight, passed control of the security services over to the army, declaring a state of emergency.

The U.S.-backed government of Fouad Siniora rejected the declaration. "It is as if the statement was never issued," said Siniora. The constitution says a president cannot call a state of emergency without government approval, but Lahoud and the Hezbollah-led opposition view the cabinet as unconstitutional following the walk out of its Shia ministers last year.

The country is now in a presidential vacuum, with thousands of troops deployed across Beirut, and is likely to stay that way until the elections, postponed until next Friday, are attempted again.

Neither side seems clear on what the army's mandate will be, with some expecting it to play a noticeably greater role in managing the state and others anticipating a continuation of the status quo. Few Lebanese have expressed surprise at the move. It is generally seen as a stalling measure to give the two camps more time to find a way out of the impasse.

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Fortunes Shift As Oil Prices Soar
2007-11-25 01:27:04
Millionaires are created in Moscow but French fishermen riot over lost profit as oil price effects ripple around the world.

Oil makes the world go 'round. Each day, more than 85 million barrels of black gold are pumped from the ground - that's nearly 70 ounces for each of the 6.6 billion men, women and children on Earth.

Since January, the price of a barrel of oil has almost doubled and is now approaching $100. Blame tensions in the Middle East, speculators on a quest for profit and the hunger for energy of rising powers, including India and China.

The ripples from this price surge are washing up on every shore. It's creating new wealth in such locales as Moscow, where oil barons are almost at a loss about how to spend their riches. But the effects in some other places are less predictable. Israelis fear a rush of people will chop down trees to heat their homes. Farmers in northern Iraq are abandoning their fields to sell gas. Fishermen in France, stung by the price of diesel, have rioted.

As Californians cope with gasoline near $3.50 a gallon and other Americans brace for a winter of high heating bills, we asked Times correspondents how the skyrocketing prices are affecting their corner of the world. Here's what they found.
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Commentary: Banks Gone Wild
2007-11-25 01:26:28
Intellpuke: The following commentary was written by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and appeared in the Times edition for Friday, November 23, 2007.

“What were they smoking?” asks the cover of the current issue of Fortune magazine. Underneath the headline are photos of recently deposed Wall Street titans, captioned with the staggering sums they managed to lose.

The answer, of course, is that they were high on the usual drug - greed. And they were encouraged to make socially destructive decisions by a system of executive compensation that should have been reformed after the Enron and WorldCom scandals, but wasn’t.

In a direct sense, the carnage on Wall Street is all about the great housing slump.

This slump was both predictable and predicted. “These days,” I wrote in August 2005, “Americans make a living selling each other houses, paid for with money borrowed from the Chinese. Somehow, that doesn’t seem like a sustainable lifestyle.” It wasn’t.

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Australia Prime Minister John Howard, A Bush Ally, Defeated In Election
2007-11-25 01:25:11
Next prime minister promises new course on Iraq, global warming.

Australia's Conservative Party Prime Minister John Howard suffered a humiliating defeat Saturday at the hands of the left-leaning opposition, whose leader has promised to immediately sign the Kyoto Protocol on global warming and withdraw Australia's combat troops from Iraq. 

Labor Party head Kevin Rudd's pledges move Australia sharply away from policies that had made Howard one of President Bush's staunchest allies.

Rudd has named global warming as his top priority, and his signing of the Kyoto Protocol will leave the United States as the only industrialized country not to have joined the 1997 pact that set mandatory reductions in greenhouse gases.

Rudd said he would withdraw Australia's 550 combat troops from Iraq, leaving twice that number in mostly security roles. Howard had said that all the troops would stay as long as needed.

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Wisconsin Company Recalls Beef Products On E. Coli Concerns
2007-11-25 01:24:15
American Foods Group voluntarily recalled nearly 96,000 pounds of ground beef products after two people were sickened, possibly by the E. coli bacteria, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service said Saturday.

The beef products recalled by the company include coarse and fine ground beef chuck, sirloin and chop beef. They were distributed to retailers and distributors in Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Virginia.

The problem surfaced after an investigation by the Illinois Department of Health, which was looking into two reports of illnesses.

The bacteria is E. coli O157:H7. E. coli is harbored in the intestines of cattle. Improper butchering and processing can cause the E. coli to get onto meat. Thorough cooking, to at least 160 degrees internal temperature, can destroy the bacteria.

E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea and dehydration. The very young, seniors and people with compromised immune systems are the most susceptible to E. coli.

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Commentary - $100 Oil: The Terrible Truth
2007-11-24 03:28:39
Intellpuke: The following commentary was written by David Strahan and appears in the Guardian edition for Saturday, November 24, 2007. Mr. Strahan is the author of "The Last Oil Shock: A Survival Guide to the Imminent Extinction of Petroleum Man". In his commentary he writes:  "Nearing the price barrier is a pointer to the peak of output, and the crisis the powerful want to ignore. Mr. Strahan's commentary follows:

As the price of crude oil sets records almost daily, the British government remains stunningly complacent. With the $100 barrel a real and constant threat, the [British] prime minister's website blithely proclaims "the world's oil and gas resources are sufficient to sustain economic growth for the foreseeable future". Officials refuse to define what is meant by "foreseeable", but it is clear they suffer from extreme myopia, or worse.

All the evidence suggests we are rapidly approaching "peak oil", the point when global production goes into terminal decline for geological reasons. The industry consensus is that world output, excluding that from the OPEC producers, will peak in about 2010. It is also widely agreed that OPEC has grossly exaggerated the size of its reserves, meaning that global output must also peak soon. Since oil provides 95% of all transport energy, as well as vital inputs to modern agriculture, this is likely to provoke a crisis.

Oil executives have traditionally avoided talk of geological constraints - no doubt mindful of the value of their share options - but now even they admit the industry is in difficulty. A growing number believe output will never exceed 100 million barrels per day, compared with 86 million today. At present rates of growth, demand will hit that ceiling within about a decade.

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In Russia, Putin's Abiding Popularity Gives Him High Ratings
2007-11-24 03:28:01
The 1990s are fresh in Vadim Ignatiyev's memory - pathetic wages delayed for weeks, kopeks scraped together to buy food, and a fear of the future blended of helplessness and rage.

The lean, balding 35-year-old, who has spent his adult life working on the line at a glass factory in the suburbs of Nizhnyh Novgorod, now sits at a laden table with his wife and 13-year-old son. Behind him is a brand-new television beside a matching CD player, also new. His Lada car, bought recently with a bank loan, is parked outside the family's second-story walk-up apartment.

"I feel much safer now," said Ignatiyev, whose family recently took its first vacation abroad, a package tour to a Turkish resort. "I have a good job, not a prestigious job, but a good living." In just the past two years, his salary has more than doubled, to $700 a month, reflecting his factory's growing sales.

For the first time in post-Soviet history, a majority of Russians feel optimistic about their own and their country's future, according to the Levada Center, an independent polling agency. The sense of personal and national resurgence, clearly visible in long-depressed Nizhny Novgorod, with its now-plentiful factory jobs, foreign stores and construction cranes, is a key factor in the consistently high approval ratings enjoyed by President Vladimir Putin.

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Embattled Oral Roberts University President Resigns
2007-11-24 03:27:12
The president of Oral Roberts University, facing accusations he misspent school funds to support a lavish lifestyle, resigned  Friday, said officials. Richard Roberts' resignation is effective immediately, according to a statement e-mailed from George Pearsons, chairman of the school's Board of Regents.

Roberts and the evangelical university have come under fire since three former professors sued last month, alleging wrongful termination. The lawsuit includes allegations of a $39,000 shopping tab at one store for Richard Roberts' wife, Lindsay, a $29,411 Bahamas senior trip on the university jet for one of Roberts' daughters, and a stable of horses for the Roberts children.

Roberts, son of school founder and televangelist Oral Roberts, had been on temporary leave from the university, fighting the accusations against him. The Board of Regents had ordered an outside probe of the school's finances.

In a recent interview, Roberts and his wife denied wrongdoing. He has said the lawsuit amounted to "intimidation, blackmail and extortion".

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