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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Thursday December 13 2007 - (813)

Thursday December 13 2007 edition
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CIA Chief Hayden Admits Failure To Inform Congress
2007-12-12 21:34:36
Gen. Michael V. Hayden, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, acknowledged Wednesday that the C.I.A. had failed to keep members of Congress fully informed of the facts that the agency had videotaped the interrogations of al-Qaeda detainees and destroyed the tapes three years later.

General Hayden’s comments struck a different tone than a message he sent to C.I.A. employees last Thursday, when he said that Congressional leaders had been informed about the tapes and of the “agency’s intention to dispose of the material.”

Emerging from a closed-door session with members of the House Intelligence Committee, General Hayden said Wednesday that “particularly at the time of the destruction we could have done an awful lot better at keeping the committee alert and informed.”

After the nearly four-hour hearing, Representative Silvestre P. Reyes of Texas, the committee’s chairman, called parts of General Hayden’s testimony “stunning” and said lawmakers are just at the beginning of what would likely be a “long-term investigation.”

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Blow For Clinton As Obama Takes Lead In New Hampshire Poll
2007-12-12 21:33:59
Rival ahead for first time in New Hamshire.

Hillary Clinton's campaign for the White House suffered a serious setback Wednesday when her main Democratic rival, Barack Obama, took a poll lead for the first time in New Hampshire, a key early state.

The latest ratings, part of a trend that has seen him narrow the gap over the last month, has rattled the Clinton team.

In a sign of its unease, Bill Shaheen, a co-chairman of her campaign, Wednesday raised Obama's drug-taking as a teenager, even though he had admitted to it in his autobiography.

In an interview with the Washington Post website, Shaheen said the Republicans will target Obama's background. "It'll be, 'When was the last time? Did you ever give drugs to anyone? Did you sell them to anyone?' " said Shaheen.
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U.S. House Passes $696 Billion Defense Programs Bill
2007-12-12 21:31:43
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a defense policy bill on Wednesday that would authorize $696 billion in military programs, including $189 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The measure, which covers the budget year that began Oct. 1, does not send money to the Pentagon, but it is considered a crucial policy measure because it guides companion spending legislation and dictates the acquisition and management of weapons programs.

The Senate intended to follow suit this week and send the bill to President Bush, who is expected to sign it. The House vote was 370-49.

"It's good for our troops, good for our families," said Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Missouri, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, which wrote the bill. "It will help improve readiness for our armed forces and bring new oversight to the Department of Defense in areas where oversight was sorely needed in the past."

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Reprimand For Former Scotland Yard Counter-Terror Chief In De Menezes Killing
2007-12-12 21:30:45
The former head of Scotland Yard's counter-terrorism unit will be reprimanded for his role in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC)  said Wednesday night.

Assistant Commissioner Andy Hayman, who resigned last week from the Metropolitan police's specialist operations directorate, will receive a verbal warning for his actions after the shooting of Mr. De Menezes, the Brazilian electrician who was mistaken for a suicide bomber.

Hayman was previously criticized by an IPCC report on the shooting, which concluded that he had "misled" Metropolitan police commissioner Sir Ian Blair. Last night the commission supported the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA)  ruling that he should receive "words of advice".

The IPCC said: "On 6 November, the MPA recommended that Hayman receive advice because he had broken code five of the police code of conduct that says officers should be conscientious and diligent in the performance of their duties.
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Federal Reserve To Team With Canadian, European Central Banks On Credit
2007-12-12 14:51:30

The Federal Reserve, in a move coordinated with central banks in Canada and Europe, this morning announced a new set of steps to try to make banks more willing to lend their cash and help thaw the world's frozen financial system.

In a surprise announcement Wednesday morning, a day after cutting interest rates to stimulate the U.S. economy, the Fed said it would make $40 billion and perhaps more available to banks through new short-term loans, and would also provide at least $24 billion to European central banks coping with a dollar shortage.

In a surprise announcement this morning, a day after cutting interest rates to stimulate the U.S. economy, the Fed said it would make $40 billion and perhaps more available to banks through new short-term loans, and would also provide at least $24 billion to European central banks coping with a dollar shortage.

The announcement sent U.S. markets higher, with the Dow Jones industrial average up 124 points just before noon.

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U.S. Trade Deficit Hits Highest Level In 3 Months
2007-12-12 14:50:42
The U.S. federal budget deficit for November was up sharply compared with a year ago, but much of the increase was blamed on a quirk of the calendar.

The Treasury Department reported Wednesday that the budget deficit for November totaled $98.2 billion, a record for the month. That was up 34.5 percent from a deficit of $73 billion set in November 2006.

However, government analysts noted that much of the increase reflected the fact that because Dec. 1 fell on a Saturday this year, about $17 billion in benefit payments were made early, shifting the impact into November.

The deficit for the first two months of the current budget year, which began on Oct. 1, totaled $153.8 billion, up 25.6 percent from the same period in the 2007 budget year.

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China: U.S. Mortgage Crisis A Global Problem
2007-12-12 14:49:02
On the first day of high-level economic talks, Chinese officials turned the tables on their American counterparts, saying the subprime mortgage crisis that has shaken the U.S. economy and the weakening dollar are as much a problem for the global economy as Chinese exchange rates.

The meetings, which took place outside of Beijing, were part of the third session of the strategic economic dialogue, which was set up a year ago by Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr., and Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi.

The twice-yearly talks were imagined to be a forum where the two sides could discuss long-term economic issues. As the session opened, the two sides acknowledged that their trade relationship - with the United States acting as chief customer to China's burgeoning industrial economy - was, as Paulson said, "central to each nation's interest and to maintaining a stable, secure and prosperous global economic system."

The first two sessions were dominated by discussions about China's currency. U.S. officials have been pushing China to allow its currency to rise in value against the dollar - not only for the sake of fairness to American competitors who are put at a disadvantage, but for what they have argued is the good of the Chinese economy.

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At Least 46 Killed By Three Car Bombs In Iraq
2007-12-12 14:48:02
Three powerful car bombs exploded one after the other in a southern provincial capital on Wednesday, killing at least 46 and injuring 149, the most devastating attack in the nation since August, said police.

The attack in Amarah, in Maysan province, was believed to be its first mass bombing since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. The area is considered one of the country's safest, and the bombings shattered a hopeful, if brittle, lull in Iraq's violence.

Coming as British forces prepare to hand over neighboring Basra province this weekend to Iraqi security forces, the bombings also underscored the fragility of southern Iraq, where rival Shiite groups are battling for influence and resources.

Police expect the death toll to rise. Immediate casualty numbers varied. Officials in Amarah said that at least 46 were killed, while Brig. Gen. Abdul Kareem Khalaf, the spokesman for Iraq's Interior Ministry, which oversees the national police, put the toll at 26.

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The American Gap Between Words And Deeds
2007-12-12 21:34:15
It sounds good - at first. The U.S. says it wants to be part of a climate treaty and looks forward to a new chapter in climate policy. But a closer look reveals that Washington continues to torpedo any concrete agreement.

When it comes to climate change, America's image in the world is hardly the best. Wherever countries are trying to limit emissions of greenhouse gases, the U.S. - and especially the administration of President George W. Bush - is seen as a dangerous spoil-sport, doing what it can to torpedo far-reaching climate agreements.

It is a role, recent U.S. statements lead one to hope, the country may be tired of playing. At the climate change conference currently being held on the Indonesian island of Bali - the beginning of a process to find an international climate change agreement to succeed the soon-to-expire Kyoto Protocol - American diplomats have been doing their best to sound as though the U.S. wants to be part of the solution.

"The IPCC (the International Panel on Climate Change) has made it clear that climate change is a serious challenge," Paula Dobriansky, U.S. undersecretary of state for democracy and global affairs and head of the U.S. delegation at Bali, told reporters on Wednesday. "We have to respond to that challenge and open a new chapter of climate diplomacy." She wants that chapter to be opened right away, she said.

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Grinch ... Er ... Bush Vetoes Children's Health Insurance Bill - Again!
2007-12-12 21:32:28
President Bush vetoed legislation Wednesday that would have expanded government-provided health insurance for children, his second slap-down of a bipartisan effort in Congress to dramatically increase funding for the popular program.

It was Bush's seventh veto in seven years - all but one coming since Democrats took control of Congress in January. Wednesday was the deadline for Bush to act or let the bill become law. The president also vetoed an earlier, similar bill expanding the health insurance program.

Bush vetoed the bill in private.

In a statement notifying Congress of his decision, Bush said the bill was unacceptable because - like the first one - it allows adults into the program, would cover people in families with incomes above the U.S. median and raises taxes.

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Top Lebanese General Killed In Bomb Blast
2007-12-12 21:31:21
A powerful car bomb killed one of Lebanon’s top generals and his bodyguard in a suburb of Beirut on Wednesday, striking an unexpected blow at the country’s most widely respected institution and further undermining Lebanon’s precarious stability.

The army officer, Brig. Gen. François al-Hajj, was killed when a bomb under a parked blue BMW sedan exploded as he drove past on his way to work at the Defense Ministry.

General Hajj, 54, was a top contender to succeed Gen. Michel Suleiman, the army chief who is poised to become the country’s next president. He was also the operational commander during the three-month battle over the summer against Islamic militants holed up in a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon.

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Britain's Chief Science Adviser Calls For Green Technologies - Like Coal?
2007-12-12 21:29:50

The British government must develop green technologies, such as clean-burning coal and renewable energy sources, to combat the worst effects of climate change, the incoming chief science adviser told an influential group of Parliament members Wednesday.

Professor John Beddington, who will take over from Sir David King as the government's chief scientist in January, said there is now a global acceptance that global warming is a serious threat and urged ministers to explore technological fixes to lessen its impact.

He said Britain would need to forge links with China and India to encourage the use of clean coal technology among some of the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gases. Clean coal processes are designed to capture and store carbon dioxide which would otherwise be released by coal as it is burned.

"We need to develop science and technology solutions to mitigating this problem as soon as we can," Beddington told the Innovation, Universities and Skills Committee. "Using clean coal technology may well be the most cost-effective way of doing it."

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Banks See Bigger Loan Losses
2007-12-12 14:51:02
Wachovia Corp. doubled its estimate of loan loss provisions to about $1 billion for the fourth quarter on Wednesday, while the chief executive of rival Bank of America Corp. said he expects current credit market turbulence to extend into 2008.

A third major bank, PNC Financial Services Group Inc., said its adjusted credit loss provision for the last three months of the year will be more than twice as large as in the third quarter.

The disclosures come as a number of the nations' banks have forecast increasing credit losses in the wake of last summer's subprime mortgage crisis.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission last month, Charlotte-based Wachovia had said it expected to record a loan loss provision in the fourth quarter between $500 million and $600 million.

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Scooter Libby Not On List Of Bush Pardons
2007-12-12 14:49:24
President Bush granted pardons Tuesday to carjackers, drug dealers, a moonshiner and a violator of election laws, but not to I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, his vice president's former top aide who was convicted in the case of the leaked identity of a CIA operative.

In all, Bush pardoned 29 convicts and reduced the prison sentence of one more, in the end-of-the-year presidential tradition.

Justice Department spokesman Erik Ablin said Bush has granted 142 pardons and commuted five sentences since taking office in 2001 - lagging far behind the pace set by most modern presidents.

The list was issued with little fanfare Tuesday afternoon by the Office of the Pardon Attorney at the Justice Department. Bushwas not expected to issue any more pardons this year.

In July, Bush commuted Libby's 2 1/2-year sentence, sparing Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff from serving any prison time after being convicted of perjury and obstructing justice. Libby, who recently dropped appeals to have his convictions overturned, has paid a $250,000 fine and remains on two years probation.

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Russia Demands Closure Of British Council Offices
2007-12-12 14:48:36
Arm of British Embassy subject of tax probes.

Russia demanded Wednesday that the British government suspend the work of all regional offices of the British Council, an arm of the British embassy that provides English language lessons and other educational and cultural programming.

The British Council, which has offices in more than 100 countries worldwide, has been the subject of tax probes by the Russian authorities who argue that it has no diplomatic standing and is a for-profit enterprise.

Under British law, the council is a registered charity that operates independently although it is sponsored by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It charges fees for some of its services, which has led to years of legal wrangling over its status.

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