Free Internet Press

Uncensored News For Real People This is a mirror site for our daily newsletter. You may visit our real site through the individual story links, or by visiting .

Friday, December 21, 2007

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Friday December 21 2007 - (813)

Friday December 21 2007 edition
Free Internet Press is operated on your donations.
Donate Today

Putin, The Kremlin Power Struggle And The $40 Billion Fortune
2007-12-21 03:50:14
An unprecedented battle is taking place inside the Kremlin in advance of Vladimir Putin's departure from office, Britain's Guardian newspaper has learned, with claims that the president presides over a secret multibillion-dollar fortune.

Rival clans inside the Kremlin are embroiled in a struggle for the control of assets as Putin prepares to transfer power to his hand-picked successor, Dmitry Medvedev, in May, well-placed political observers and other sources have revealed.

At stake are billions of dollars in assets belonging to Russian state-run corporations. Additionally, details of Putin's own personal fortune, reportedly hidden in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, are being discussed for the first time.

The claims over the president's assets surfaced last month when the Russian political expert Stanislav Belkovsky gave an interview to the German newspaper Die Welt. They have since been repeated in the Washington Post and the Moscow Times, with speculation over the fortune appearing on the internet.

Citing sources inside the president's administration, Belkovsky claims that after eight years in power Putin has secretly accumulated more than $40 billion (£20 billion). The sum would make him Russia's - and Europe's - richest man.

Read The Full Story

Editorial: Arrogance And Global Warming
2007-12-21 03:49:41
Intellpuke: The following editorial appears in the New York Times edition for Friday, December 21, 2007.

The Bush administration’s decision to deny California permission to regulate and reduce global warming emissions from cars and trucks is an indefensible act of executive arrogance that can only be explained as the product of ideological blindness and as a political payoff to the automobile industry.

The decision, announced Wednesday by Stephen Johnson, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, overrode the advice of his legal and technical staffs, misconstrued the law and defied both Congress and the federal courts. It also stuck a thumb in the eyes of 17 other state governors who have grown impatient with the federal government’s failure to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and wanted to move aggressively on their own.

The Clean Air Act of 1970 gave California authority to set its own clean air standards if it first received a federal waiver. The law also said that other states could then adopt California’s standards. In 2004, California asked permission to move ahead with a law requiring automakers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new cars and light trucks by 30 percent by 2016. That would require improvements in fuel economy far beyond those called for in the energy bill signed this week.

Read The Full Story

Personal Touch For Presidential Candidate Richardson In Envoy Role
2007-12-21 03:47:18
In 1998, Bill Richardson, then the United States ambassador to the United Nations, flew to Japan in search of backing for potential military strikes in Iraq.

Landing in Tokyo, Japan, he asked how a previous session, conducted by his boss, Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright,  had gone. Not well, Richardson learned. Dr. Albright’s Japanese counterpart requested permission to smoke, she lectured him on the dangers of tobacco, and things never improved from there.

Now Richardson, 60, is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, running not only on his years as an elected official - he was a congressman from New Mexico and is now governor - but also on his parallel career, as a self-appointed and official diplomat. He argues that no Democratic candidate has as much international experience and puts withdrawal from Iraq at the center of his pitch. A recent New York Times/CBS poll puts him a distant fourth in Iowa, New Hampshire and nationally, leading to speculation that he could end up as a vice-presidential nominee or in a cabinet post.

So Richardson began his meeting with a question.

“Mind if I smoke?” he asked, pulling out the cigar he had tucked into his jacket a moment before. He left Japan with the assurances for which he had come.

Read The Full Story

In Europe, Nine More Nations Drop Checkpoints
2007-12-21 03:46:21
For more than 60 years, Hradek Nad Nisou, a remote stretch of bottomland in the Czech Republic was one of the most closely guarded sectors of Central Europe.

The borders of three countries - Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic - intersect here along the Neisse River. For as long as anyone can remember, the rhythms of life on all sides have been regulated by a dense network of security depots, road barriers and immigration checkpoints that were originally designed to keep people out and prevent others from leaving.

On Friday, however, each of the crossings will finally go dark as borders are thrown open here and along frontiers that had separated Eastern and Western Europe since the end of World War II. The last vestiges of the Iron Curtain will disappear.

With fireworks and speeches, the switch began shortly after midnight Friday at multiple crossing points up and down the long frontier, as people crossed from country to country freely, no questions asked. At the frontier between Austria and Slovakia, leaders of the two nations ceremonially hand-sawed through a red and white border barrier.

For the first time, travelers have the freedom to drive east from the Algarve coast of Portugal all the way to the edge of Russiawithout encountering a border guard demanding proof of identification.

"It will be a monumental event," said Martin Puta, mayor of Hradek nad Nisou, a town of about 7,500 people. "It will not only mean the end of border controls, but also the end of a psychological barrier."

Read The Full Story

Bear Stearns Reports $1.9 Billion 4th Quarter Writedown
2007-12-20 14:14:12
Bear Stearns Cos. said Thursday a bigger-than-expected writedown in its mortgage portfolio caused the nation's fifth-largest U.S. investment bank to post the first loss in its 84-year history. It took a $1.9 billion writedown in the quarter ended Nov. 30 as its mortgage-backed securities continued to lose value amid the global credit crisis. That was much larger than the $1.2 billion it expected in November.

Bear Stearns' fiscal fourth-quarter loss, and collapse of two hedge funds it managed during the summer, prompted Chief Executive Jimmy Cayne to pass on his 2007 bonus. Members of the company's executive committee also will not receive year-end bonuses.

"We are obviously upset with our 2007 results, particularly in light of the fact that weakness in fixed income more than offset strong and, in some areas, record-setting performance in other businesses," he said in a statement.

The fiscal fourth-quarter loss after paying preferred dividends was $859 million, or $6.90 per share, compared to a profit of $558 million, or $4 per share, a year earlier. The company had negative net revenue of $379 million, compared to revenue of $2.41 billion a year earlier.

Read The Full Story

FTC Approves Google's Takeover Of Doubleclick
2007-12-20 14:13:37

The Federal Trade Commission Thursday approved Google's $3.1 billion takeover of DoubleClick, a move that would marry the two kings of online advertising and raises alarms among privacy advocates and rival advertising companies.

Google, which began life as a search engine, has become the online leader in "text ads," or advertising that displays words. Google uses its search algorithm to target advertising at users, using large amounts of data it has collected from surfers' search habits.

DoubleClick, meanwhile, is the leader in online display advertising, or ads that have pictures and videos.

"After carefully reviewing the evidence, we have concluded that Google's proposed acquisition of DoubleClick is unlikely to substantially lessen competition," the FTC wrote in a statement. The vote was 4 to 1, with Commissioner Pamela Jones Harbour dissenting.

Read The Full Story

Note: Do Not Shine Lasers At Aircraft
2007-12-20 13:37:20

 The US attorney’s office and the FBI this week charged a California couple with shining a laser into the cockpit of a sheriff’s department helicopter, a federal criminal complaint that could land them in jail for up to 20 years and earn them a $250,000 fine.  

The federal criminal complaint was filed on December 13, against Jared Dooley and Kendra Snow.  The complaint states that on November 8, 2007, at about 10:55 p.m., a green laser beam illuminated the cockpit of a Kern County Sheriff’s Department helicopter, which was flying at 500 feet during routine patrol in Bakersfield, California. When the light hit the cockpit, it disoriented the Kern County Sheriff’s pilot, causing pain and discomfort in his eyes for a couple of hours, the FBI said in a statement.

Read The Full Story

China Being Poisoned By Its Food Industry Says Author
2007-12-20 01:37:16
Antibiotics in the meat, pesticide used as preservatives, mercury in the drinking water - Chinese author Zhou Qing says China's food industry is poisoning the country in its greed for profit. If ordinary people knew, there would be a revolution, he adds.

Chinese journalist Zhou Qing, a critic of the regime, unearthed political dynamite in his two-year investigation of China's food industry. He interviewed grocers, restaurant owners, farmers and food factory managers for an expose for which he won a prize as part of the German "Lettre Ulysses Award for the Art of Reportage" in 2006.

His book is a dark account of a ruthless food mafia that stops at nothing to maximize its profits, for example by using contraceptives to accelerate the growth of fish stocks, lengthening the shelf-life of cucumbers with highly toxic pesticide DDT, using hormones and poisoned salt in food production and putting absurd amounts of antibiotics in meat.

Read The Full Story

CIA Will Release Video Tape Documents
2007-12-20 01:36:38
The CIA said Wednesday it would begin handing over documents to Congress about the destruction of videotapings showing the harsh interrogation of two terror suspects after the House Intelligence Committee threatened to subpoena two agency officials.

Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, said Wednesday he had prepared subpoenas for former and current CIA officials and attorneys if they won't appear before the committee voluntarily. The panel rejected a Bush administration request that it defer to an executive branch preliminary inquiry and has launched its own investigation into the videotape destruction.

Reyes wants acting CIA general counsel John Rizzo and Jose Rodriguez, the former head of the National Clandestine Service, to testify to the committee on Jan. 16. Rodriguez is the official who directed that the tapes, which document the interrogation of two al-Qaeda suspects in 2002, be destroyed.

He told reporters the CIA had agreed to begin providing documents regarding the 2005 destruction of the tapes this week. That could be as early as Thursday, according to senior intelligence officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the legal inquiries. If that doesn't happen, the committee will subpoena them too, Reyes said. The document request includes records related to the 9/11 Commission and to al-Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, whose attorneys were seeking interrogation videos.

Read The Full Story

Next Up For Alaska - A $20 Million 'Ferry To Nowhere'
2007-12-21 03:49:59

Twice in the past two years, Alaska lawmakers lost congressional earmarks to build two "bridges to nowhere" costing hundreds of millions of dollars after Congress was embarrassed by public complaints over the pet projects hidden in annual spending bills.

This year, U.S. Rep. Don Young and U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, who are Alaska Republicans, found another way to move cash to their state: Stevens secured more than $20 million for an "expeditionary craft" that will connect Anchorage with the windblown rural peninsula of Point MacKenzie, located across Cook Inlet from Anchorage in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

Now what Alaska has, budget watchdogs contend, is a ferry to nowhere.

"Earmarks are a bipartisan affliction," said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan budget watchdog group that tracks the projects. "It would take leadership in both parties - and a lot more shame - to ever rein them in."

The $555 billion annual "omnibus" spending bill approved by Congress this week and the $459 billion defense bill passed last month collectively contain more than 11,000 earmarks, despite Democrats' vow to use their first year in the majority to slash the number of such pet projects.

Read The Full Story

IMF: Subprime Crisis Impacts European, U.S. Growth
2007-12-21 03:49:23
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said on Friday global financial stability had taken a blow from the subprime crisis and European and U.S. growth will be weaker as a result.

"Stability has taken a blow," Strauss-Kahn said in an interview on French RTL radio.

"We know that it (growth) will be hit. We know that it will be weaker. Is this reduction in growth in the United States and Europe massive? Not yet, not yet," he said.

"The effects that we can measure, notably at the IMF, are significant. Growth will be weaker. It will not necessarily be catastrophic, it will continue to exist."

Read The Full Story

50 Killed In Pakistan Suicide Bombing
2007-12-21 03:46:47
A suicide attacker detonated a powerful bomb inside a crowded mosque in northwestern Pakistan Friday morning, killing as many as 50 men and wounding 80 as they prayed to mark the Muslim holiday of Id al-Fitr, said Pakistan's former interior minister.

The attack appeared to be the second assassination attempt on the former minister, Aftab Khan Sherpao, in eight months.

“It was a massacre,” said Sherpao, who was unhurt. “That's what I can say.”

In a telephone interview, Sherpao said the bomber detonated the device in the row of worshipers just behind him and his family in his ancestral village of Sherpao as they prayed Friday morning. He said he did not know the identity or affiliation of the attacker.

Read The Full Story

Ex-Treasury Secretary Says Bush, Fed Reserve Not Doing Enough To Prevent Recession
2007-12-20 14:14:25

President Bush and the Federal Reserve aren't taking aggressive enough action to prevent a recession, former Treasury secretary Lawrence H. Summers said yesterday, as Democrats ramped up their attacks on the administration's handling of the housing downturn and credit crises.

Summers, who worked in the Clinton administration, said the risk of a prolonged recession is higher than most economists recognize. He said it is "distinctly possible" that the nation will experience its worst economic conditions since the stagflation of the 1970s and severe recessions of the early '80s.

"For the last year, the economic consensus, and the policy actions that have flowed from it, has been consistently behind the curve in recognizing the gravity of the problems in the housing and financial sectors and their consequences for the overall economy," Summers said in a speech at the Brookings Institution.

At the same event, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-New York), chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, lambasted the administration. "As our country teeters on the edge of recession ... the Bush administration is just whistling into the wind. They seem to be unable to get the government moving quickly, decisively and competently to address a serious economic crisis."

Read The Full Story

Obama's Votes In Illinois Were Often Just 'Present'
2007-12-20 14:13:55
In his votes as a state senator, Barack Obama sometimes sidestepped sensitive issues.

In 1999, Barack Obama was faced with a difficult vote in the Illinois Legislature - to support a bill that would let some juveniles be tried as adults, a position that risked drawing fire from African-Americans, or to oppose it, possibly undermining his image as a tough-on-crime moderate.

In the end, Obama chose neither to vote for nor against the bill. He voted “present,” effectively sidestepping the issue, an option he invoked nearly 130 times as a state senator.

Sometimes the “present’ votes were in line with instructions from Democratic leaders or because he objected to provisions in bills that he might otherwise support. At other times, Obama voted present on questions that had overwhelming bipartisan support. In at least a few cases, the issue was politically sensitive.

Read The Full Story

6.8 Earthquake Shakes New Zealand
2007-12-20 14:13:20
A magnitude-6.8 earthquake off New Zealand's east coast rocked much of the country on Thursday, said  emergency officials.

No immediate tsunami warning was triggered at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii by the offshore temblor. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The quake, centered in the Hikurangi undersea trench off North Island, hit at 8:55 p.m. and occurred 25 miles below the surface, the GNS Science geological agency reported.

The agency said the quake was located at sea some 30 miles from the coastal city of Gisborne.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake had a magnitude of 6.6.

Read The Full Story

EPA Administrator Denies California's Limit On Auto Emissions
2007-12-20 01:37:32

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen L. Johnson Wednesday denied California's petition to limit greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks, overruling the unanimous recommendation of the agency's legal and technical staffs.

The decision set in motion a legal battle that EPA's lawyers expect to lose and demonstrated the Bush administration's determination to oppose any mandatory measures specifically targeted at curbing global warming pollution. A total of 18 states, representing 45 percent of the nation's auto market, have either adopted or pledged to implement California's proposed tailpipe emissions rules, which seek to cut vehicles' greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent between 2009 and 2016.

In a telephone news conference last night, Johnson said he thinks that the higher fuel-economy standards and increased renewable-fuel requirements in the energy bill President Bush signed into law Wednesday will do more to address global warming than imposing tailpipe rules in individual states.

"The Bush administration is moving forward with a clear national solution, not a confusing patchwork of state rules, to reduce America's climate footprint from vehicles," said Johnson. "President Bush and Congress have set the bar high, and, when fully implemented, our federal fuel-economy standard will achieve significant benefits by applying to all 50 states."

Read The Full Story

Pakistan - The Army Won't Return To Barracks
2007-12-20 01:37:02
Pervez Musharraf wants to impose an authoritarian presidential system on Pakistan in which the army preserves the dominant role. His people want a civilian government and a rule of law. That - not Islamic militancy - is the crux of the crisis in Pakistan.

A year ago Pakistan’s General Pervez Musharraf commanded a growing economy, international support and a docile political opposition. There were squalls - a separatist insurgency in Baluchistan, a Taliban redoubt on the border with Afghanistan - but these were on the outer limits of the state, remote from Islamabad, the sanitized, whitewashed capital. For a procession of U.S. envoys, Musharraf’s Pakistan was the epitome of a moderate Muslim nation in transition to democracy. It was almost a light in a landscape darkened by Iraq and Afghanistan.

Today Pakistan is stricken by its fifth bout of martial law in five decades. Political and civic dissidents are in jail, the judiciary has been purged and a relatively free media muzzled. What tipped Musharraf’s “enlightened moderation” into repression? There were two overlapping crises. One was an inevitable clash between eight years of military rule and a restive civil society, spearheaded by an independent judiciary. The other was a native, Talibanized insurgency, arching from the Afghan borderlands to settled districts like Swat in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), just 300 kilometers from the capital.

But the cause of the fall - and the link between the crises - is the institution that has ruled Pakistan directly for most of its existence and indirectly for the rest. The Pakistani army commands 600,000 men and women and perhaps 50 nuclear warheads. Under Musharraf’s tutelage, it has become a leviathan: worth $20 billion in assets, controlling a third of all heavy manufacturing and owning 12 million acres of land. Hundreds of military officers have civilian jobs in ministries and state corporations. Deeply politicized intelligence agencies fix elections (which has long been their prerogative), and build and un-build coalitions for the “president”.

Read The Full Story
Original materials on this site © Free Internet Press.

Any mirrored or quoted materials © their respective authors, publications, or outlets, as shown on their publication, indicated by the link in the news story.

Original Free Internet Press materials may be copied and/or republished without modification, provided a link to is given in the story, or proper credit is given.

Newsletter options may be changed in your preferences on

Please email there are any questions.

XML/RSS/RDF Newsfeed Syndication:


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home