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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Thursday January 3 2008 - (813)

Thursday January 3 2008 edition
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'They Refused To Come Out. So We Burned Them'
2008-01-02 19:43:26
Intellpuke: Guardian correspondent Xan Rice was the first British reporter to reach Eldoret, in western Kenya, where mostly women and children were killed by a rival ethnic mob. Many victims burned to death, trapped inside the supposed sanctuary of a church. Rice's report follows:

Grace Githuthwa heard the attackers before she saw them. They were singing war songs, running from two sides towards the church compound where she and 200 others were sheltering from the violence. She grabbed her four children and ran inside the Kenya Assemblies of God Pentecostal church.

The hundreds of youths from the Kalenjin tribe armed with bows and arrows and machetes easily overpowered the few Kikuyu men and turned on the women and children.

"They started cutting the church door with a panga [machete]," said Githuthwa. "They were from around here, and even knew some of our names. We kneeled down and surrendered. It was quiet, as we were all praying. We knew this was the end."

Mattresses soaked with paraffin were pushed through the windows and used to block the door. Matches were thrown in.

As the fire engulfed the wooden building, the women grabbed their children and jumped through the burning windows. Githuthwa pushed her two elder children out of the window, and then climbed out holding her three-year-old daughter, Miriam, in her arms.

The Kalenjin youths were waiting outside, "cutting people like firewood" as they emerged.

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Criminal Investigation Opened Into CIA Tapes Destruction
2008-01-02 17:00:13

U.S. Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey announced Wednesday that the Justice Department will open a criminal investigation of the CIA's destruction of videotapes that showed harsh interrogation tactics of suspected terrorists.

Mukasey said the investigation will be handled by a senior prosecutor from Connecticut because the U.S. attorney's office in Alexandria, Virginia, which normally would oversee the case, has asked to be recused from the investigation.

"Following a preliminary inquiry into the destruction by CIA personnel of videotapes of detainee interrogations, the Department's National Security Division has recommended, and I have concluded, that there is a basis for initiating a criminal investigation of this matter," Mukasey said in a statement this afternoon.

Mukasey cautioned that "the opening of an investigation does not mean that criminal charges will necessarily follow."

The move marks a significant escalation of the CIA tapes inquiry, which began Dec. 8 following the CIA's disclosure that tapes showing interrogations of two al-Qaeda prisoners in 2002 were destroyed by the agency three years later. The Justice Department and CIA inspector general's office opened a joint preliminary inquiry to determine whether a full criminal investigation was warranted. That probe led to Wednesday's announcement.

The prosecutor who will head the investigation, John H. Durham, is the second-in-command at the U.S. attorney's office in Connecticut. He will serve as an acting U.S. attorney for the purposes of the probe, and will report to the deputy attorney general, Mukasey said. The post is currently held by acting Deputy Attorney General Craig Morford.

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Pain In The Gas - Oil Prices Hit $100 A Barrel
2008-01-02 16:59:39
Crude oil prices soared to $100 a barrel Wednesday for the first time, reaching that milestone amid an unshakeable view that global demand for oil and petroleum products will outstrip supplies.

Surging economies in China and India fed by oil and gasoline have sent prices soaring over the past year, while tensions in oil producing nations like Nigeria and Iran have increasingly made investors nervous and invited speculators to drive prices even higher.

Violence in Nigeria helped give crude the final push over $100. Bands of armed men invaded Port Harcourt, the center of Nigeria's oil industry Tuesday, attacking two police stations and raiding the lobby of a major hotel. Word that several Mexican oil export ports were closed due to rough weather added to the gains, as did a report that OPEC may not be able to meet its share of global oil demand by 2024.

Light, sweet crude for February delivery rose $4.02 to $100 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, according to Brenda Guzman, a Nymex spokeswoman, before slipping back to settle at a record close of $99.62, up $3.64.

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700 Evacuated In Chile As Volcano Erupts
2008-01-02 16:58:29
About 700 people were evacuated as a volcano erupted Wednesday in southern Chile, rocking the area with explosions and spewing lava and ash.

The Llaima volcano's eruptions were slowing by Wednesday afternoon, so a larger evacuation did not appear necessary.

The evacuees included about 200 tourists, National Forest Service employees and others in the surrounding Conguillio National Park, about 400 miles south of Santiago.

Hundreds spent the night outside or in shelters in Melipeuco, a town of 5,000 near the Llaima volcano. Others fled to communities farther away, but most were returning Wednesday.

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California Sues EPA Over Greenhouse Gas Emissions
2008-01-02 17:00:33
California sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Wednesday for denying its first-in-the-nation greenhouse gas limits on cars, trucks and SUVs, challenging the Bush administration's conclusion that states have no business setting emission standards.

Other states are expected to join the lawsuit, which was anticipated after the EPA denied California's request Dec. 19. The lawsuit was filed in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson denied California a waiver that it needs under the federal Clean Air Act to move forward with regulating greenhouse gas emissions from new cars and trucks. At least 16 other states had been expected to follow California's lead and adopt the state's tougher emission limits.

"There's absolutely no justification for the administrator's action," California's Attorney General Jerry Brown told the Associated Press in an interview Wednesday. "It's illegal. It's unconscionable and a gross dereliction of duty."

In announcing his decision last month, Johnson said the federal government was moving forward with a national solution and dismissed California's arguments that it faced unique threats from climate change.

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Commentary: Stonewalled By The CIA
2008-01-02 16:59:55
Intellpuke: This commentary was written by Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton, who served as chairman and vice-chairman, respectively, of the 9/11 Commission. Their commentary, which appears in the New York Times edition for Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2007, follows:

More than five years ago, Congress and President Bush created the 9/11 commission. The goal was to provide the American people with the fullest possible account of the “facts and circumstances relating to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001” - and to offer recommendations to prevent future attacks. Soon after its creation, the president’s chief of staff directed all executive branch agencies to cooperate with the commission.

The commission’s mandate was sweeping and it explicitly included the intelligence agencies. But the recent revelations that the C.I.A. destroyed videotaped interrogations of al-Qaeda operatives leads us to conclude that the agency failed to respond to our lawful requests for information about the 9/11 plot. Those who knew about those videotapes - and did not tell us about them - obstructed our investigation.

There could have been absolutely no doubt in the mind of anyone at the C.I.A. - or the White House - of the commission’s interest in any and all information related to al-Qaeda detainees involved in the 9/11 plot. Yet no one in the administration ever told the commission of the existence of videotapes of detainee interrogations.

When the press reported that, in 2002 and maybe at other times, the C.I.A. had recorded hundreds of hours of interrogations of at least two al-Qaeda detainees, we went back to check our records. We found that we did ask, repeatedly, for the kind of information that would have been contained in such videotapes.

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Editorial: Drowning In Special Interest Money
2008-01-02 16:59:10
Intellpuke: This editorial appears in the New York Times edition for Wednesday, January 2, 2007.

Special-interest money in politics is said to be like water - blocking its flow in one direction only channels it to another. In this year’s presidential election, the flow is turning into a flood.

Campaign finance reforms have succeeded in cutting off the major parties from the corrupting power of unregulated “soft money” donations. That has simply shifted these donations to professedly independent groups. Regulating special-interest money in politics has never been more difficult - or more important.

Last year, groups not affiliated with the major parties were responsible for 19 percent of spending in federal elections, up from 7 percent in 2000, according to an analysis by the Wall Street Journal. These independent groups - often called “527s,” after the section of the tax code that allows them - are powerful conduits for special-interest money. They can raise money from corporations, organizations and wealthy individuals without the contribution limits that parties and campaigns have. Many represent very narrow political lobbies, like the tax-phobic Club for Growth, or various unions.

Although nominally unaffiliated with a particular candidate, these groups can play a critical role in the outcome of elections. A now-classic case is the 2004 attack advertising campaign paid for by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group with no official ties to President Bush or the Republican Party.

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Scotland Yard To Assist Investigation Of Bhutto Assassination
2008-01-02 16:58:18
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf on Wednesday bowed to demands for an international role in the investigation of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto's assassination, saying that Britain's Scotland Yard had agreed to assist in the probe.

"We decided to request a team from Scotland Yard to come," said Musharraf, whose government bungled the initial explanation of her killing, contributing to deep suspicions about whether the full story of Bhutto's death will be revealed.

In a nationally televised address, Musharraf blamed al-Qaeda allies for Bhutto's death, which he called a "great tragedy," but one that required "reconciliation and not .. confrontation" among the nation's political factions.

Musharraf addressed the nation shortly after Pakistan's Election Commission announced it had rescheduled a parliamentary election for Feb. 18 - a six-week delay that opposition parties slammed as an attempt by the president's ruling party to avoid almost certain defeat if the vote were held next week as scheduled.

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