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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Sunday January 6 2008 - (813)

Sunday January 6 2008 edition
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U.S. Considers New Covert Push Within Pakistan To Deal With Al-Qaeda
2008-01-06 03:12:25
President Bush’s senior national security advisers are debating whether to expand the authority of the Central Intelligence Agency and the military to conduct far more aggressive covert operations in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

The debate is a response to intelligence reports that al-Qaeda and the Taliban are intensifying efforts there to destabilize the Pakistani government, said several senior administration officials.

Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and a number of President Bush’s top national security advisers met Friday at the White House to discuss the proposal, which is part of a broad reassessment of American strategy after the assassination 10 days ago of the Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. There was also talk of how to handle the period from now to the Feb. 18 elections, and the aftermath of those elections.

Several of the participants in the meeting argued that the threat to the government of President Pervez Musharraf was now so grave that both Musharraf and Pakistan’s new military leadership were likely to give the United States more latitude, said officials. No decisions were made, said the officials, who declined to speak for attribution because of the highly delicate nature of the discussions.

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Romney Targeted In GOP Debate
2008-01-06 03:11:17
Three days before New Hampshire voters go to the polls, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney engaged in a confrontational televised debate with his fellow Republican presidential contenders, clashing over foreign policy, immigration, character and negative campaigning.

Romney accused his chief rival in the state, Sen. John McCain (Arizona), of supporting amnesty for illegal immigrants. "I have never supported amnesty," McCain retorted angrily, adding, "You can spend your whole fortune on these attack ads, but they still won't be true."

Clearly feeling under siege and trailing McCain in two polls released Saturday, Romney was repeatedly in the crosshairs of his rivals. After one sharp exchange with Iowa caucus winner Mike Huckabee, Romney accused his opponents of attacking his character rather than engaging in a serious debate. They, in turn, accused him of flip-flopping. "Is there a way to have this about issues and not about personal attacks?" he asked. "I hope so."

As he seeks to recover from his defeat in Iowa in a state where he was once a strong front-runner, Romney has reinvented his pitch to voters here, turning throwaway lines from his speeches of the past month into the central theme of his candidacy. Gone is the discussion of how important it is for young people to "get married before they have babies." Gone is the story about his father's main accomplishment being raising his four sons. Gone is the shtick about how Midwestern values are the same as heartland values and Yankee values.

In their place is an attempt to convince voters that Romney is the Republican equivalent of Democrats Barack Obama and John Edwards- the only candidate who can bring radical change to a Washington establishment mired in bureaucracy and old thinking. "I spent my life changing things. I did not spend my life in politics, talking about changing things," he told a crowd in Bedford earlier in the day.

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Britain's Defense Ministry 'X-Files' On UFOs To Go Public
2008-01-06 03:10:18
Without warning, the orange UFO swooped toward them. The crew of the RAF Vulcan bomber banked hard and radioed they were being chased across the Atlantic by a large mysterious object. The incident was classified as a UFO sighting and the details were immediately locked away.

Now, 30 years later, the extraordinary encounter is among thousands of previously secret cases contained in the government's "X-Files" that officials are to release in their entirety.

The cases, many from a little-known defense intelligence branch tasked with investigating UFO claims, will be published by the Ministry of Defense (MoD) to counter what officials say is "the maze of rumor and frequently ill-informed speculation"  surrounding Whitehall and its alleged involvement with Unidentifed Flying Objects.

The public opening of the MoD archive will expose the once highly classified work of the intelligence branch DI55, whose mission was to investigate UFO reports and whose existence was denied by the government until recently. Reports into about 7,000 UFO sightings investigated by defense officials - every single claim lodged over the past 30 years - are included in the files, whose staged release will begin in the spring.

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NASA's Shuttle Schedule Sparks Worries
2008-01-06 03:08:36
NASA's plan to increase the number of space shuttle flights it launches this year, in an effort to speed up final assembly of the international space station, has stoked concern among independent experts that the space agency is placing scheduling demands on the 27-year-old fleet similar to those that contributed to the Challenger and Columbia disasters.

NASA has scheduled six shuttle launches this year - twice the number of flights it managed in each of the past two years - but that plan has already been complicated by the grounding of the shuttle Atlantis as the result of a recurring electrical problem.

Although NASA has many new safety procedures in place as a result of the Columbia accident, the schedule has raised fears that the space agency, pressured by budgetary and political considerations, might again find itself tempting fate with the shuttles, which some say were always too high-maintenance for the real world of space flight.

NASA officials say they remain confident that the three spacecraft will complete their schedule of 13 flights by the time the shuttle program is due to shut down in September 2010. Officials also say they will finish assembly of the space station, which they say will be a historic achievement for mankind.

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Plane With 10 Aboard Crashes Off Alaska's Kodiak Island
2008-01-06 03:07:15
A small plane crashed Saturday in waters off Kodiak island in southern Alaska, killing at least five of the 10 people on board, authorities said.

The Piper Navajo Chieftain crashed soon after take off at 1:48 p.m. in shallow waters, according to the Coast Guard.

A private float plane from a fish processing company pulled four people from the wreckage. Another person managed to swim to shore, said State Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters.

Troopers pulled five bodies from the water after the tide receded, said Peters. The pilot was among the dead, she said.

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Canada's Boreal Forest A Critical Shield Against Global Warming
2008-01-05 17:09:43
The boreal forest occupies nearly half of Canada's land mass, yet it's more significant to national myth and memory - as home to the coureurs de bois and the hewers of wood - than it is to any discussion of a shared future; but the blanket of woodlands that runs all the way from Yukon to the coast of Labrador may play a huge role in the battle to protect the planet from climate change.

As one of the last great intact forests on Earth, along with the Russian taiga and the Amazon rain forest, the boreal is considered one of the world's largest carbon storage systems. The trees and soil of Canada's northern forest form a critical shield against global warming, storing a volume of carbon equal to 27 times the world's annual greenhouse-gas emissions.

That's why organizations such as the U.S.-based Pew Trust have invested more than $40 million in the last seven years to lobby for greater protection of Canada's forests. Their efforts contributed to a major announcement by the federal government last month that removes more than 4 million hectares of land from development in the Northwest Territories.

Land around the East Arm of Great Slave Lake is designated to become a national park, and the area of the Ramparts River and Wetlands will become a national wildlife area. More than 60,000 square kilometers of land claimed by the Akaitcho Dene First Nations also will be set aside to prevent mining and mineral exploration over the next five years.

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Trio Of Earthquakes Strike Off British Columbia Coast.
2008-01-05 17:09:09

A trio of moderate to powerful earthquakes struck early Saturday off Canada's British Columbia coast, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injury.

Guy Urban at the Alaska and Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said a moderate quake of magnitude 5.3, perhaps a ”pre-shock” was recorded at 5:39 a.m. EST.

Two stronger quakes, the first with a magnitude of 6.7 was recorded about 20 minutes later, followed by a magnitude 6.5 temblor, in an area about 230 kilometers southeast of the Queen Charlotte Islands, west of Port Hardy, B.C.

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Alaska Taps TransCanada For Natural Gas Pipeline
2008-01-05 17:08:12
TransCanada Corp.'s proposal to build a massive natural gas pipeline from Alaska to Canada is the only one that will be officially considered by the state, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said on Friday.

Five companies, including Calgary-based TransCanada, had submitted applications to build the pipeline about a month ago under the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act. Gov. Palin on Friday said only TransCanada's was considered complete and the state will not further evaluate the other applications.

“We have long stated that it only takes one good application,” Gov. Palin said in a statement. “We're thrilled to have a project sponsor willing to build a pipeline on terms that benefit all Alaskans.”

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Wounded Clinton Takes Fight To New Hampshire
2008-01-06 03:12:09
Barack Obama is mobbed as the campaigns move on from Iowa, while former Democratic front runner battles for her political life.

The New Hampshire Democratic Party's 100 Club dinner is a staid affair, attracting the main candidates as speakers in an act of shameless fundraising; but on Friday night extraordinary scenes unfolded there that captured the mood of a party suddenly filled with the desire to kick out its old guard.

Barack Obama was so mobbed by supporters that a security announcer begged people surging towards the stage to retake their seats. Many were chanting Obama's new signature slogan: "Fired up! Let's go!"

In stark contrast, Hillary Clinton had been booed twice. The first time when she seemed to borrow from Obama's main theme of "change". The second was when she made a veiled reference to her greater experience. "Who will be ready to lead from day one?" she asked the 3,000-strong crowd; but she was forced to pause to let the resulting boos die down. A few weeks ago, such a spectacle would have been unthinkable.

For Clinton, who has long sought an aura of inevitable victory, it was a defining moment of how much the political landscape has now changed. She is facing the battle of her life in New Hampshire to rescue something from the wreckage of her life-long presidential ambitions.

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Bill Gates Helps To Build 'World's Biggest Digital Camera' In The Andes
2008-01-06 03:10:58
Billionaire and former colleague donate $30 million for telescope that can provide early warning of asteroid collision with Earth.

In the daytime the view from Cerro Pachon, a rocky, desolate peak high above Chile, offers a breathtaking vista of the Andes. Mountains of rock topped with snow and glaciers seem to touch the heavens.

Come nightfall, the Andes disappear into gloom and then the real show begins. As if someone had flicked a switch, the gleam of millions of planets and stars studs the inky blackness overhead.

The sky seems too immense to absorb, even for giant telescopes. They focus on one tiny portion at a time, pinpricks in the cosmos, because traditionally astronomers like to dwell on detail.

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In China, A Telecom Giant Rises
2008-01-06 03:09:29
Huawei Technology's controversial tactics have not curbed its growth; now it seeks a U.S. foothold.

From a fortress-like corporate campus in the southern China city of Shenzhen, retired army officer Ren Zhengfei is building one of China's most successful experiments in capitalism. A mammoth operation with 70,000 employees and strong backing from the state, Huawei Technologies brags that its goal is to dominate telecommunications equipment markets all over the world.

Its current focus: America.

Three months ago, Huawei teamed up with Bain Capital Partners in a $2.2 billion takeover bid for U.S. networking pioneer 3Com Corp., a Marlborough, Massachusetts, company that makes systems to protect against computer hackers.

Huawei would take an initial stake of 16.5 percent and be allowed to purchase up to 21.5 percent. Bain Capital, a Boston-based private-equity firm, said in a statement that Huawei wouldn't have any operational control over 3Com, which "will be firmly controlled by an American firm."

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Britain's 'Vomiting Bug' Epidemic To Get Worse
2008-01-06 03:07:32
Over 100 U.K. hospital wards closed; fears that infections will spread as schools offices reopen.

Infections from the debilitating norovirus stomach bug will peak this week as millions return to work after the holidays and spread the germs, the British government has warned. People are advised to protect themselves by washing their hands thoroughly at all times.

The virus, which was responsible for closing more than 100 hospital wards last week, can also be guarded against by disinfecting bathrooms and washing cups and dishes properly.

Health Minister Ivan Lewis said: "We want to get the message across to everyone that washing your hands properly with soap and warm water, or even an alcohol gel, can help reduce the spread of infections and help protect you, your family and those around you."

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Storm Drenches Southern California, Little Damage Reported
2008-01-05 17:10:12
Southern California emerged from heavy overnight rains and gale force winds with relatively modest damage, as a strong winter storm barreled in from the north Friday and was expected to last throughout the weekend.

A flash-flood watch was lifted this morning for Los Angeles and Orange counties and the Inland Empire, but remained in effect for San Diego County as the storm front moved farther south.

A woman was swept to her death in a flash flood early today in Chino. A man riding in the same Ford pickup truck was found clinging to a tree, but it took three hours to rescue him, said officials.

Although the incident is still under investigation, the woman believed to be in her 20s was in a pickup that was swept into a riverbed near Chino Corona Road just west of Hellman, said Corona Police Lt. Al Cheatham. At about 1 a.m., the woman made a one-minute 911 cellphone call that led officers to the scene before the call was disconnected, said  Cheatham. When officers arrived, they found her male companion, Rene Valencia, 36, of Corona, several hundred yards south clinging to a tree, said Cheatham.
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Commentary: Obama's Rise, America's Renewal
2008-01-05 17:09:27
Intellpuke: The following commentary was written by Canada's Globe and Mail correspondent John Ibbitson, writing from Des Moines, Iowa. Referring to Obama's win in the Iowa Democratic caucases this week, Mr. Ibbitson writes: "This still-young nation has passed a milestone in its maturing." His commentary follows:

All America is waking to the possibility of Barack Obama.

The Illinois senator's emphatic win here has blown open the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. If Mr. Obama can deliver a victory or very strong second-place showing in New Hampshire Tuesday, then he will transform the once-inevitable Hillary Clinton into a frightened underdog struggling to regain the momentum she has so clearly lost.

But Mr. Obama's Iowa upset is so much more than a one-night wonder. For the first time since the founding fathers permitted slavery to infect the American Constitution, a black man is a major contender for a presidential nomination. This still-young nation has passed a milestone in its maturing.

And it has forced the Democratic Party, its stalwarts and new arrivals, its establishment old guard and youthful insurgents, to ask the most fundamental of political questions.

Can they risk giving this young, black man, with his revelatory strengths and potentially fatal weaknesses, the nomination? Are the Democrats, is America, ready for Barack Obama? Or is it too soon?

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Archaeology: Clues From The Mists Of Time Reveal Peru's Chachapoya
2008-01-05 17:08:50
The broken skeletons were scattered like random pottery shards, rediscovered where they had fallen centuries ago.

Were these ancient people cut down in some long-forgotten battle? Did European-introduced diseases cause their demise? Were they casualties of some apocalyptic reckoning at this great walled citadel?

The "cloud warriors" of ancient Peru are slowly offering up their secrets - and more questions. Recent digs at this majestic site, once a stronghold of the Chachapoya civilization, have turned up scores of skeletons and thousands of artifacts, shedding new light on these myth-shrouded early Americans and one of the most remarkable, if least understood, of Peru's pre-Columbian cultures.

Among the arresting findings: the practice of incorporating the dead into defensive walls; the use of stone missiles to repel invaders; the discovery of gargoyle-like stone carvings; and the civilization's sudden collapse, possibly in a final, purifying conflagration.

Though almost everyone knows about the Inca and Machu Picchu, relatively few have heard of the Chachapoya or visited their domain, a vast swath of Amazon headlands and breathtaking cloud forests on the slopes of the Andes. This walled settlement, among the largest monuments of the ancient Americas, rivals the Incas' Machu Picchu in scale and grandeur.
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