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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Wednesday December 26 2007 - (813)

Wednesday December 26 2007 edition
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U.S. Supreme Court To Hear Voter I.D. Challenge
2007-12-25 19:38:52

The U.S. Supreme Court will open the new year with its most politically divisive case since Bush v. Gore decided the 2000 presidential election, and its decision could force a major reinterpretation of the rules of the 2008 elections.

The case presents what seems to be a straightforward and even unremarkable question: Does a state requirement that voters show a specific kind of photo identification before casting a ballot violate the Constitution?

The answer so far has depended greatly on whether you are a Democratic or Republican politician - or even, some believe, judge.

"It is exceedingly difficult to maneuver in today's America without a photo I.D. (try flying, or even entering a tall building such as the courthouse in which we sit, without one)," Circuit Judge Richard A. Posner, a Ronald Reagan appointee, wrote in deciding that Indiana's strictest-in-the-nation law is not burdensome enough to violate constitutional protections.

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At Least 15 Dead, 100 Missing In Nepal Bridge Collapse
2007-12-25 19:38:10
A steel footbridge collapsed Tuesday in western Nepal under the weight of hundreds of people on their way to a fair, plunging scores about 100 feet into icy Himalayan waters. At least 15 were killed and more than 100 were missing and feared dead, said officials.

Troops were being rushed to the area to assist with search-and-rescue operations. But with efforts halted by nightfall, hopes were slim of finding more survivors in the fast-flowing mountain river, said Anil Pandey, the top government official in the area.

Authorities believe some 500 people traveling to a village fair were crossing the Bheri River on the bridge when its support cables snapped under the weight, said Pandey.

"Some of them managed to climb to safety, some fell on the banks, but the ones who plunged in the river are the ones who are still missing," he said.

Crowds gathered on both sides of the river, trying to save the victims and treating the wounded. Some of those who had fallen used the bridge's cables to haul themselves up.

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Proposed Alaska Gold Mine Could Imperil Salmon, Way Of Life
2007-12-25 19:38:35
The gold mine proposed for this stunning open country might be the largest in North America. It would involve building the biggest dam in the world at the headwaters of the world's largest sockeye salmon fishery, which it would risk obliterating.

Epic even by Alaskan standards, the planned Pebble Mine has divided a state normally enthusiastic about extracting whatever value can be found in its wide-open spaces. It is an ambivalence that has upended traditional politics, divided families and come to rest at kitchen tables like the one 75-year-old Olga Balluta sat beside one autumn afternoon, listing her favorite foods.

"Brown bear fat and black bear fat. Fish gut salad - crackly when you eat it," said Balluta, a member of the local Native population that would be most directly affected by the mine.

From his chair by the sink, neighbor Rick Delkittie said, "I know my grandfather used to tell me, 'Don't ever get used to the white man's food'."

That lesson, with its implied warning against dependence on anyone outside the land and waters that have nourished local residents for nearly 10,000 years, guides the subtle, shifting and uniquely Alaskan calculation that will decide whether Pebble goes forward.

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34 Killed In Two Iraq Bombings
2007-12-25 19:37:50
Two bombs in separate Iraqi cities ripped through crowds of people Tuesday, causing some of the worst carnage in the country in recent weeks and revealing that - despite the relative calm of recent months -- insurgent groups remain capable of devastating attacks.

The morning bombs detonated in two major cities north of the capital: Baiji, an oil refinery town, and Baqubah, a provincial capital where the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq remains lethal, even though it has lost some of its earlier dominance. The attacks, which killed at least 34 people and wounded as many as 100, prompted calls by Iraqi officials for more Iraqi soldiers and police in the northern provinces to quell the violence.

The more devastating attack occurred in Baiji, near a checkpoint outside a two-story housing complex for oil industry employees. The complex was guarded by members of the Facilities Protection Service, part of the Interior Ministry, and members of the local Sunni volunteer security force, one of the many groups increasingly targeted by insurgents after joining forces with the American military.

Police and provincial officials said a small car loaded with explosives detonated about 9:30 a.m. outside the checkpoint, killing at least 22 people and wounding between 60 and 80 other people. The U.S. military put the death toll at 20 plus 80 injuries.

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