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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Tuesday December 11 2007 - (813)

Tuesday December 11 2007 edition
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Former CIA Officer Recounts Detainee Waterboarding
2007-12-11 03:28:23

A former CIA officer who participated in the capture and questioning of the first al-Qaeda terrorist suspect to be waterboarded said Monday that the harsh technique provided an intelligence breakthrough that "probably saved lives," but that he now regards the tactic as torture.

Zayn Abidin Muhammed Hussein abu Zubaida, the first high-ranking al-Qaeda member captured after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, broke in less than a minute after he was subjected to the technique and began providing interrogators with information that led to the disruption of several planned attacks, said John Kiriakou, who served as a CIA interrogator in Pakistan. 

Abu Zubaida was one of two detainees whose interrogation was captured in video recordings that the CIA later destroyed. The recent disclosure of the tapes' destruction ignited a recent furor on Capitol Hill and allegations that the agency tried to hide evidence of illegal torture.

"It was like flipping a switch," said Kiriakou, the first former CIA employee directly involved in the questioning of "high-value" al-Qaeda detainees to speak publicly.

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U.S. Resists Setting Target On Cutting Carbon Pollution
2007-12-11 03:27:37
Call to reduce emission by 25-40% is key issue; Democrats would back limits, says Kerry.

Britain's Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, will Tuesday begin attempts to persuade the Bush administration to agree to firm targets on carbon pollution as part of a new deal on global warming. Benn arrived at the United Nations climate talks in Bali Monday night, as the U.S. said it is unwilling to approve a draft agreement which called on developed countries to reduce emissions by between 25% and 40% by 2020.

The U.S. said the proposal, which is backed by Britain and the European Union, was "totally unrealistic" and "unhelpful". Other countries, including Japan and Canada, are also believed to be against the idea.

The U.S. said it was in Bali to be "constructive" and wanted the meeting to agree a roadmap to a new agreement on climate change which would be concluded by 2009, but it said it would not agree a firm target, presented either as an emissions reduction or as a maximum temperature rise. European negotiators argue that a target is needed to reflect the urgency of the problem and to encourage industry to invest in green technology. The high-level segment of the talks begins tomorrow, when senior ministers replace civil servants at the negotiating table.

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Leniency Suggested For Suicidal Iraq Veteran
2007-12-11 03:26:26

An Army hearing officer recommended Monday that 1st Lt. Elizabeth Whiteside, a patient undergoing psychiatric treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, should not face a court-martial or other administrative punishment for having endangered the life of another soldier and attempting suicide while in Iraq.

"One of the Army values is integrity, which is defined as doing what is right, legally and morally," Maj. Mervin H. Steals, the investigating officer assigned to conduct a preliminary hearing, wrote in his decision. "The moral thing to do is dismiss these charges, to allow 1LT. Whiteside to end her military service and receive the benefits that she will desperately need for the remainder of her life."

Steals's recommendation will be passed to Maj. Gen. Richard J. Rowe, Jr., commander of the U.S. Army Military District of Washington, D.C., which has jurisdiction over the matter. He can decide to accept, modify or reject Steals'  recommendation.

Whiteside, whose case was recently profiled in the Washington Post, said Monday that she was happy with Steals'  decision. "I'm feeling all right. ... It's not over yet."

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Pakistan Test Fires Medium-Range Missile
2007-12-11 03:25:21
Pakistan's military said Tuesday it had successfully test-fired a medium-range cruise missile capable of delivering nuclear warheads.

The launch of a new version of the Hatf-VII or Babur missile, which has a range of 435 miles, was "part of a continuous process of validating the design parameters set for this weapon system," said an army statement.

It didn't disclose the site of the missile test, but said it will "consolidate Pakistan's strategic capability and strengthen national security".

The Babur missile was first test-fired in 2005, and it can hit targets deep inside India, the main rival of this Islamic nation.

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In Nobel Speech, Gore Pushes U.S., China To Take Action On Global Warming
2007-12-10 16:11:36
Former vice president Al Gore, lauded as "the world's leading political spokesman on the environment," accepted his Nobel Peace Prize Monday and said the United States and China, the world's two largest polluters, "need to make the boldest moves, or stand accountable before history for their failure to act."

"Both countries should stop using each other's behavior as an excuse for stalemate," said Gore, calling the threat from rising temperatures and sea levels "a planetary emergency - a threat to the survival of our civilization that is gathering, ominous and destructive."

Gore shared the $1.5 million prize, widely considered the world's most prestigious award, with the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

He used his platform at the regal, 90-minute ceremony in Oslo's ornate City Hall to call on the world to realize that the "climate crisis is real ... it is the eleventh hour."

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USB Sells Stake To Singapore, Middle East Investors After $10 Billion Write-Down
2007-12-10 16:10:50
USB became the latest Western bank to seek a financial lifeline from the cash-rich East today, selling a stake of more than 10 percent to investors from Singapore and the Middle East as it wrote down $10 billion more in mortgage-related assets.

The two investors - the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation and an unidentified Middle East investor -  will inject $9.7 billion and $1.8 billion, respectively, into the troubled Swiss bank.

Citigroup recently agreed to sell a $7.5 billion stake to the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, shoring up its capital base after announcing a fresh charge of $8 billion to $11 billion related to bad subprime investments.

UBS’s mammoth write-down comes on top of a $3.7 billion charge in October, making it by far the biggest casualty of the American home-mortgage crisis among banks outside the United States.

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U.N. Representative Held Hostage In Brazil
2007-12-10 16:09:38
A United Nations representative and three other people have been taken hostage by Indians, and federal officials were flying to the jungle on Monday to negotiate their release.

The Cinta Larga Indians invited David Martins Castro, a representative of the U.N. the High Commission for Human Rights, to a meeting Sunday on their reservation. Martins came with a federal prosecutor and two other people. The Indians prevented all four from leaving.

''Right now the situation is calm, the hostages are being well treated. We are only waiting'' for Federal Indian Bureau President Marcio Meira to negotiate, police inspector Rodrigo Carvalho said by phone from the state capital of Rondonia.

Meira was flying to the reservation on Monday to negotiate their release, said a spokeswoman who declined to be identified according to agency policy.

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Virus Starts Like A Cold But Can Turn Into A Killer
2007-12-11 03:28:02

Infectious-disease expert David N. Gilbert was making rounds at the Providence Portland Medical Center in Oregon in April when he realized that an unusual number of patients, including young, vigorous adults, were being hit by a frightening pneumonia.

"What was so striking was to see patients who were otherwise healthy be just devastated," said Gilbert. Within a day or two of developing a cough and high fever, some were so sick they would arrive at the emergency room gasping for air.

"They couldn't breathe," said Gilbert. "They were going to die if we didn't get more oxygen into them."

Gilbert alerted state health officials, a decision that led investigators to realize that a new, apparently more virulent form of a virus that usually causes nothing worse than a nasty cold was circulating around the United States. At least 1,035 Americans in four states have been infected so far this year by the virus, known as an adenovirus. Dozens have been hospitalized, many requiring intensive care, and at least 10 have died.

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Commentary: The Correct Answer Is To Leave Fossil Fuels In The Ground
2007-12-11 03:27:19
Intellpuke: The following commentary was written by Prof. George Monbiot and appears in the Guardian edition for Tuesday, December 11, 2007. Prof. Monbiot writes: "All the talk in Bali about cutting carbon means nothing while ever more oil and coal is being extracted and burned." His commentary follows:

Ladies and gentlemen, I have the answer! Incredible as it might seem, I have stumbled across the single technology which will save us from runaway climate change! From the goodness of my heart, I offer it to you for free. No patents, no small print, no hidden clauses. Already this technology, a radical new kind of carbon capture and storage, is causing a stir among scientists. It is cheap, it is efficient and it can be deployed straight away. It is called ... leaving fossil fuels in the ground.

On a filthy day last week, as governments gathered in Bali to prevaricate about climate change, a group of us tried to put this policy into effect. We swarmed into the opencast (open pit) coal mine being dug at Ffos-y-fran in South Wales and occupied the excavators, shutting down the works for the day. We were motivated by a fact which the wise heads in Bali have somehow missed: if fossil fuels are extracted, they will be used.

Most of the governments of the rich world now exhort their citizens to use less carbon. They encourage us to change our lightbulbs, insulate our lofts, turn our televisions off at the wall. In other words, they have a demand-side policy for tackling climate change. But as far as I can determine, not one of them has a supply-side policy. None seeks to reduce the supply of fossil fuel. So the demand-side policy will fail. Every barrel of oil and ton of coal that comes to the surface will be burned.

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Israeli Tanks Move Into Southern Gaza
2007-12-11 03:25:40
About 30 Israeli tanks and bulldozers moved into the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday in an operation against Palestinian militants, setting off clashes with Hamas fighters firing rocket-propelled grenades and mortar rounds.

Soldiers took over the rooftops of several homes and detained about 60 people in house-to-house raids, said residents. The Israeli military said they were detained for questioning.

The gunfire kept frightened motorists away from the main road between the towns of Khan Younis and Rafah, which was blocked at one section by an Israeli tank. Troops also were demolishing a gas station on the road.

The military described the operation as a routine operation "against the terror infrastructure". Militants in Gaza routinely fire crude rockets and mortars at Israeli border communities, and smuggle in weapons from Egypt.

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Obama: 'Our Moment Is Now'
2007-12-10 16:11:52
Oprah Winfrey helps candidate pull huge crown in South Carolina.

An overwhelmingly African American audience took center stage in the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination here Sunday, as Sen. Barack Obama (Illinois), joined by television talk-show host Oprah Winfrey, appealed to black voters to set aside their doubts and seize the opportunity to send him to the White House in 2008.

"South Carolina, our moment is now," Obama said to an audience estimated by organizers as made up of 29,000 people at the University of South Carolina's football stadium. "Don't let them tell you we've got to wait. Our moment is now."

"Dr. King dreamed the dream," said Winfrey, referring to the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., "but we don't have to just dream the dream anymore. We get to vote that dream into reality."

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Biden Calls For Special Counsel To Investigate Tape Case
2007-12-10 16:11:20
A Senate Democratic leader said Sunday the attorney general should appoint a special counsel to investigate the CIA's destruction of videotaped interrogations of two suspected terrorists. Sen. Joe Biden, a Democratic presidential candidate and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, cited Michael Mukasey's refusal during confirmation hearings in October to describe waterboarding as torture.

Mukasey's Justice Department and the CIA's internal watchdog announced Saturday they would conduct a joint inquiry into the matter. That review will determine whether a full investigation is warranted. "He's the same guy who couldn't decide whether or not waterboarding was torture and he's going to be doing this investigation," said Biden, who noted that he voted against making Mukasey the country's top law enforcer.

"I just think it's clearer and crisper and everyone will know what the truth is ... if he appoints a special counsel, steps back from it," said Biden, D-Delaware.

That view was not shared fellow Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller, of West Virginia, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who said Congress can get to the bottom of the matter. "I don't think there's a need for a special counsel, and I don't think there's a need for a special commission," he said. "It is the job of the intelligence committees to do that."

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Putin Endorses Medvedev For Russian President
2007-12-10 16:10:24
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday that he will support first deputy prime minister Dmitry Medvedev as president, ending years of speculation about his choice and all but ensuring that his longtime associate and young protege will succeed him in the Kremlin next year.

"I have known him very closely for more than 17 years and I completely and fully support this proposal," said Putin, speaking to the leaders of four political parties, including the ruling United Russia party, who said they would nominate Medvedev as their candidate.

Medvedev, 42, a lawyer by training who is also chairman of the energy giant Gazprom, is regarded as a relative liberal among the constellation of political factions in the Kremlin. Unlike many in Putin's immediate circle, he has no background in the KGB or the security services. He is believed to be open to constructive relations with the West and greater political pluralism at home.

"It's a signal to the West that we want to continue communication and cooperation," said Igor Bunin, head of the Center for Political Technologies in Moscow, in an interview. "There won't be any radical changes in his presidency, but I believe Medvedev will be milder than Putin. He will largely follow the course set by Putin, but he is more oriented towards the Western model, building a democratic tradition."

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Colorado Police Search For Link In Shootings
2007-12-10 16:09:12
Colorado authorities searched a suburban Denver home early Monday, seeking any link between two deadly shooting sprees at Christian religious centers that left five people dead and communities stunned on a day of worship. Four people and a gunman died in the attacks Sunday at a megachurch in Colorado Springs and at the Youth With a Mission missionary center in the town of Arvada. Five others were wounded.

Police in Arvada said they believed the shootings - which occurred 12 hours and about 65 miles apart - were probably linked, though they had nothing conclusive to back up the theory.

"Given the circumstances, I think it is a good possibility that the two are linked," Arvada Deputy Police Chief Gary Creagor told said early Monday. "But we have to prove that they are."

Early Monday, authorities searched a home in Englewood, about 15 miles south of Denver, that they said could be related to the Colorado Springs shooting. Authorities were seen coming and going from the home, and at one point searched bushes.

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