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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Thursday January 31 2008 - (813)

Thursday January 31 2008 edition
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Tainted Drugs Linked To Maker Of Abortion Pill
2008-01-31 02:46:47
A huge state-owned Chinese pharmaceutical company that exports to dozens of countries, including the United States, is at the center of a nationwide drug scandal after nearly 200 Chinese cancer patients were paralyzed or otherwise harmed last summer by contaminated leukemia drugs.

Chinese drug regulators have accused the manufacturer of the tainted drugs of a cover-up and have closed the factory that produced them. In December, China’s Food and Drug Administration said that the Shanghai police had begun a criminal investigation and that two officials, including the head of the plant, had been detained.

The drug maker, Shanghai Hualian, is the sole supplier to the United States of the abortion pill, mifepristone, known as RU-486. It is made at a factory different from the one that produced the tainted cancer drugs, about an hour’s drive away.

The United States Food and Drug Administration declined to answer questions about Shanghai Hualian, because of security concerns stemming from the sometimes violent opposition to abortion. But in a statement, the agency said the RU-486 plant had passed an F.D.A. inspection in May. “F.D.A. is not aware of any evidence to suggest the issue that occurred at the leukemia drug facility is linked in any way with the facility that manufactures the mifepristone,” said the statement.

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FBI In Subprime Crackdown
2008-01-31 02:46:11
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating 14 companies for possible accounting fraud and insider trading offenses related to subprime mortgages.

The development, another sign of fallout from the subprime mortgage crisis, comes as light regulation of the industry - in particular mortgage brokers - has been blamed for mis-selling and abuse of mortgage products.

The Securities and Exchange Commission already has about three dozen different investigations into a range of subprime-related issues.

Bill Carter, an FBI spokesman, said the agency had been working "very closely" with the SEC, with some of the latest investigations moving "in parallel". He declined to name the companies involved.

The number of mortgage fraud cases opened by the FBI jumped to 1,210 in fiscal 2007 from 436 in fiscal 2003, the agency said.

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U.S. Commanders In Iraq Favor Pause In Troop Cuts
2008-01-31 02:45:18
Senior U.S. military commanders here say they want to freeze troop reductions starting this summer for at least a month, making it more likely that the next administration will inherit as many troops in Iraq as there were before President Bush announced a "surge" of forces a year ago.

There are about 155,000 U.S. troops in Iraq now, with about 5,000 leaving every month; the proposed freeze would go into effect in July, when troops levels reach around 130,000. Although violence is dropping in Iraq, commanders say they want to halt withdrawals to assess whether they can control the situation with fewer troops.

Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, will probably argue for what the military calls an operational "pause" at his next round of congressional testimony, expected in early April, said another senior U.S. military official here in Baghdad. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and top military officers have said they would like to see continued withdrawals throughout this year, but Bush has indicated he is likely to be guided by Petraeus's views.

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Eli Lilly In Settlement Talks With U.S., Could Pay More Than $1 Billion
2008-01-30 20:35:33
Eli Lilly and federal prosecutors are discussing a settlement of a civil and criminal investigation into the company’s marketing of the antipsychotic drug Zyprexa that could result in Lilly’s paying more than $1 billion to federal and state governments.

If a deal is reached, the fine would be the largest ever paid by a drug company for breaking the federal laws that govern how drug makers can promote their medicines.

Several people involved in the investigation confirmed the settlement discussions. They insisted on anonymity because they have not been authorized to talk about the negotiations.

Zyprexa has serious side effects and is approved only to treat people with schizophrenia and severe bipolar disorder, but documents from Lilly show that between 2000 and 2003, Lilly encouraged doctors to prescribe Zyprexa to people with age-related dementia, as well as people with mild bipolar disorder who had previously been diagnosed only as depressed.

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Giuliani Ends Campaign, Endorses McCain
2008-01-30 20:35:06
Rudolph W. Giuliani, the combative New York City mayor who rose to national prominence during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, formally ended his presidential campaign on Wednesday and declared that he would throw his support to the candidacy of Senator John McCain. 

“John McCain is the most qualified candidate to be the next commander in chief of the United States,” said Giuliani.  “He is an American hero.”

Giuliani made his announcement at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, just hours before the candidates took the stage there for a debate. His decision, on a day that also saw the Democratic contender John Edwards bow out of the race, followed a devastating defeat for Giuliani in Tuesday’s Republican primary in Florida. After a series of early primary losses, Giuliani had made a great effort to win over Florida voters, but finished in a distant third to McCain in the polling.

Standing next to McCain at a podium in the library, Giuliani said that “it is appropriate to make this announcement hear at the Reagan library because President Reagan’s leadership remains and inspiration both for John McCain and myself.”

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U.S. Diplomat Says 'Ethnic Cleansing' Taking Place In Parts Of Kenya
2008-01-30 20:34:28
The top American diplomat for Africa said Wednesday that some of the violence that has swept across Kenya in the past month has been ethnic cleansing intended to drive people from their homes, but that it should not be considered genocide.

Jendayi Frazer, the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, who visited some of the conflict-torn areas this month, said she had met with victims of the violence who described being ordered off their land.

“If they left, they were not attacked; if they stayed beyond the deadline, they were attacked,” said Ms. Frazer, while attending an African Union meeting in Ethiopia on Wednesday. “It is a plan to push people out of the area in the Rift Valley.”

The Rift Valley, one of the most beautiful slices of Africa, has been the epicenter of Kenya’s post-election problems and is home to ethnic groups that have long felt others do not belong.

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Pakistan's Arrested Chief Justice Brands Musharraf As Brutal
2008-01-30 20:33:07
Pakistan's ousted chief justice today denounced the president, Pervez Musharraf, as an "extremist general" who believed in "brutal justice" for sacking 60 top judges and keeping him under house arrest for the past three months.

Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudry, who was sacked when Musharraf declared emergency rule last November, said in a letter to western leaders that his wife and three children, one of whom has special needs, were even forbidden from going on to the front lawn of their home in Islamabad as it was occupied by police.

"Barbed-wire barricades surround the residence and all phone lines are cut," said the seven-page statement, released by sympathetic lawyers at a press conference in the capital, Islamabad.

Chaudhry, who emerged as a critic of Musharraf's power last year, attacked him for slandering judges during his recent tour of Europe.

Musharraf told European leaders that he was the best hope for democracy and attacked the supreme court chief justice, describing him as "corrupt and inept".

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Edwards Ends Presidential Bid, Giuliani Expected To Quit
2008-01-30 15:27:35

Democrat John Edwards ended his presidential candidacy Wednesday and Republican Rudolph W. Giuliani is set to do the same after both failed to win any of the nominating contests held so far, leaving each party with essentially a two-person race for the nomination.

"It is time for me to step aside so that history can blaze its path," Edwards told supporters in New Orleans in a farewell speech that was initially scheduled as an address on poverty. He urged his staffers and volunteers not to give up on the causes he has championed, such as universal health care, alleviating poverty and uniting what he calls the "two Americas" of haves and have-nots.

Edwards, a former senator from North Carolina who also ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination in 2004, decided to quit the race after a series of disappointing third-place finishes in the primaries, including one Saturday in South Carolina and a largely symbolic contest yesterday in Florida.

"We do not know who will take the final steps to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but we do know that our Democratic Party will make history," he said in announcing his withdrawal against a backdrop of homes under construction in New Orleans in a project called Musicians' Village. Standing with him were his wife and three children.

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Editorial: The Fine Print
2008-01-30 15:27:05
Intellpuke: The following editorial appears in the New York Times edition for Wednesday, January 30, 2008.

With President Bush, you always have to read the footnotes.

Just before Monday night’s State of the Union speech, in which Mr. Bush extolled bipartisanship, railed against government excesses and promised to bring the troops home as soon as it’s safe to withdraw, the White House undermined all of those sentiments with the latest of the president’s infamous signing statements.

The signing statements are documents that earlier presidents generally used to trumpet their pleasure at signing a law, or to explain how it would be enforced. More than any of his predecessors, the current chief executive has used the pronouncements in a passive-aggressive way to undermine the power of Congress.

Over the last seven years, Mr. Bush has issued hundreds of these insidious documents declaring that he had no intention of obeying a law that he had just signed. This is not just constitutional theory. Remember the detainee treatment act, which Mr. Bush signed and then proceeded to ignore, as he told C.I.A. interrogators that they could go on mistreating detainees?

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U.S. Economic Growth Slowed Dramatically In 4th Quarter
2008-01-30 15:26:29

The United States economy expanded at a disappointingly weak 0.6 percent rate during the last three months of 2007, the government reported Wednesday, offering the latest indication that the United States is already suffering a substantial slowdown, and perhaps a recession.

The growth from October to December came in at half the rate forecast by most economists, and it was down strikingly from the 4.9 percent clip registered last fall. Over all, the economy expanded by 2.2 percent in inflation-adjusted terms for all of 2007, the slowest rate of growth in five years.

“We lost a lot of momentum and stalled in the fourth quarter,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's . “This reinforces the odds for a recession.”

The latest evidence of trouble resounded swiftly in Washington, where the Senate was to take up consideration of a package of tax cuts agreed to last week by the Bush administration and House Democrats aimed at keeping the economy from sliding into recession.

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Policy Aims To Curb Website Name Abuse
2008-01-30 15:25:30

Consumers and businesses may soon find it easier to register an attractive Web site name, now that the nonprofit organization that oversees the global domain name system has agreed to a policy change.

In a meeting last week, board members of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers voted unanimously to make the Web site name registration process more expensive for "domain tasters," who take advantage of loopholes in the process to register - and profit from - millions of domain names without paying for them.

Under the current rules, domain registrars have up to five days to sample domains before committing to purchase them, typically at a cost of around $6.25 per domain. An additional 20-cent surcharge per domain goes to ICANN, but the group has always refunded that fee if the registrar failed to purchase the domain within five days of claiming it.

Until now. The new policy would not refund the 20-cent fee.

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Commentary: The Three Myths Of The U.S. Election Campaign
2008-01-30 01:00:24
Intellpuke: The following commentary was written by Gabor Steingart, reporting from Washington, D.C., and appeared in his "West Wing" column in Spiegel Online's edition for Tuesday, January 29, 2008. Mr. Steingart's commentary follows:

"Change" is the buzzword in the U.S. election campaign. Hoping to emulate Barack Obama's popular success, candidates from both parties are suddenly jumping on the change bandwagon. But some of the things they want to change are in fact sacrosanct - like the Constitution.

At first sight, the candidates in this year's presidential primaries couldn't be more different: a Vietnam veteran, a former first lady, a Baptist preacher, a business executive, a wealthy trial lawyer championing the poor and an African-American senator from Illinois.

"What a selection!" some might exclaim enthusiastically. Truly, democracy at its best! What else could you want?

But the differences aren't as great as they seem, and because of this lack of diversity in their views, the candidates are trying to outdo one another in a contest to determine who is the most willing to bring about real change. "Change" is the buzzword of the season. Suddenly everyone wants to change everything, especially the way politics is conducted today.

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E.U. Leaders Order Banks To Tighten Regulatory Regime
2008-01-30 00:59:35

A meeting of European Union (E.U.) leaders chaired by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in London Tuesday night warned banks and other financial institutions to reform in order to retain confidence in free markets and avert any prospect of the return of protectionism.

In Brown's first big European initiative since becoming prime minister, the French president Nicolas Sarkozy, German chancellor Angela Merkel, acting Italian prime minister Romano Prodi and E.U. president Jose Manuel Barroso joined him for talks in Downing Street to demand increased transparency and regulation in the face of the global credit crunch.

In a short, good-natured press conference held between talks and dinner at the Foreign Office, the leaders voiced similar opinions. "There is nothing fatalistic about what is happening now," Sarkozy told reporters in more direct language than the other leaders.

"What has happened in certain countries has not been to do with the kind of market economy and our sense of what competition really means. If we do not want a return to protectionism we have to show transparency."

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Over 1 Million U.K. Homeowners At Risk
2008-01-30 00:58:19
Economic slowdown would leave many home owners vulnerable says Financial Services Authority.

More than a million homeowners could be at risk of serious financial difficulty and possibly losing their homes in an economic slowdown, the City regulator warned Tuesday. (Editor's note: The "City" is to the U.K. what "Wall Street" is to the U.S.)

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) is preparing for a tougher climate of rising inflation and a slower economy. It fears that many homeowners with large mortgages who have borrowed three and a half times their salaries or more could be at risk.

The warning comes as surveyors predict that 123 homes a day will be repossessed this year. The FSA cites three warning signs on mortgages:

-- The loan was taken out for longer than 25 years.

-- It is worth more than 90% of the home.

-- The amount borrowed is 3.5 times or greater than income.

Over a third of all mortgages sold between April 2005 and September 2007 fall into one or more of these categories. This suggests that more than 2 million of the 5.7 million mortgages written during this period are of potential concern.

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Commentary: By The Numbers
2008-01-31 02:46:30
Intellpuke: The following commentary was written by John Cory and appeared on the website edition for Wednesday, January 30, 2008. Mr. Cory is a Vietnam veteran. He received the Purple Heart and Bronze Star with V device, 1969 - 1970. His commentary follows:

By the numbers we count the fallen
And all the syllables that kill
And all the lies that bury hearts
And make our breathing still
And cold.

By the numbers we mourn the fallen
In this whirlwind of war and lie
Where one tear is too many
And a thousand not enough
For each one that has to die
Because -


- John Cory

While the high school heathers of the press corps rush to generate in-depth analysis of the hairstyle and cleavage of candidates or who looks presidential as opposed to who acts presidential, the real issues get shuttled aside in polls and punditry and primary politico-image management.

At some point there will be one of those staged affairs where they take questions from the audience, the everyday folk - the voters. So let me step up to the microphone and ask a question:

When does 9/11 + 935 = 3,941?

When lies kill.

Nine hundred thirty-five false statements (lies) moved this nation into a war that has resulted in 3,941 deaths so far.

The folks who see profit and growth in the numbers of veterans of this war - the health care insurers - know an opportunity when they see one. In her December 2007 report, Emily Berry for American Medical News gives us a tour by the numbers:

There have been 30,000 troops wounded in action; 39,000 have been diagnosed with PTSD; 84,000 vets suffer a mental health disorder; 229,000 veterans have sought VA care, and 1.4 million troops (active duty and reserves) have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan so far. Estimates run between $350 billion to $700 billion needed for lifetime care and benefits for veterans.

And now, making the rounds in Washington is a plan that has become known as "The Psychological Kevlar Act of 2007" which reaches out to the pharmaceutical industry to partner with the Department of Defense to use the drug Propranalol to treat symptoms of PTSD even before a soldier succumbs to full-blown PTSD. An ounce of prevention, after all, is worth funding for experimentation, I mean research. A numb soldier is a happy soldier.

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Commentary: Entering Sector D
2008-01-31 02:45:37
Intellpuke: The following commentary was written by Washington Post staff writer Henry Allen and appears in the Post's edition for Thursday, January 31, 2008. Mr. Allen's commentary follows:

There's something about the word "disembowel." Or "depravity," or "disfigurement" - about so many words that begin with the letter "d." Divorce, destitution, doubt, drugs, dirt, dwindle. So many of them are on our lips just now - though not "disembowel," and we should be thankful for that much. Once more, as a nation, we have entered Sector D.

As in: debacle, depression, debt and debauchery.

Which is to say: mission unaccomplished in Iraq, world stock markets on tumble-dry, subprime mortgages imploding, Britney Spears. 

People watch their houses plummet in value and say: "We'll just have to make do."

Do. D. Do as in doom, which is mood spelled backward, as in the national mood that dotes on rising global temperatures, falling test scores, and death from diseases such as mutant tuberculosis strewn across the continent by defiant airplane passengers.

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Chinese Fight To Get Home In Worst Blizzard In 50 Years
2008-01-31 02:44:43
Crowds of frantic Chinese fought for seats Wednesday on the few trains leaving southern China, where the worst winter storms in half a century have crippled the nation's transport system during its busiest travel season.

One desperate mob stormed a city bus in the main southern city of Guangzhou, mistakenly thinking it was taking passengers to the day's last departing trains. They pried open doors and elbowed their way inside as helpless police yelled, "It's not going to the station!"

Train service was returning to normal on Thursday, thinning the massive crowds that have been waiting to go home for next week's Lunar New Year - a holiday that is as important in China as Christmas is in the West. For millions of migrant workers, the festival that begins Feb. 7 is their only vacation from dreary jobs in factories that feed the world's ravenous appetite for DVD players, laptops, shoes and other goods.

Hundreds of thousands of Chinese have been stranded over the past days because of the blizzard, but the Railway Ministry said Thursday service had basically returned to normal on the Guangzhou to Beijing line, and extra trains were being put on the schedule.

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Middle East And Asia Lose Internet As Undersea Cable Fails
2008-01-30 20:35:20

Huge swathes of the Middle East and Asia have been left without internet access after a vital undersea cable was damaged.

A fault in the pipeline, which runs between Sicily and Egypt, has dramatically reduced access in countries including Saudi Arabia, Dubai and India, leaving millions of workers struggling to get online.

It is not yet clear what is wrong with the undersea cable, but the effects are already being felt across the region. Reports from the Middle East suggest that most countries are almost completely without access to the internet, while authorities in Mumbai have said that more than half of India's bandwidth has been lost.

"There has been a 50 to 60% cut in bandwidth," Rajesh Charia, president of the Internet Service Providers' Association of India, told Reuters.

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McCain Ends Year With $4.5 Million Campaign Debt
2008-01-30 20:34:54
John McCain, who ended the year with a $4.5 million debt, plans six coast-to-coast fundraisers in three days to capitalize on his Florida victory and front-runner status and build on the $7 million he raised in the first three weeks of January.

McCain's end-of-year financial reports, filed late Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission, showed he raised $6.7 million during the last three months of 2007 and had $3 million cash in hand, not counting end-of-year debt.

He also got a significant boost from a $3 million line of credit from Fidelity Bank & Trust, a loan he secured in November as he prepared to mount a campaign-salvaging stand in New Hampshire.

The loan carried an 8.5 percent interest rate and was secured to a great degree by McCain's proven ability as a fundraiser. If he loses the nomination, McCain could transfer the debt to this Senate campaign committee and continue to raise money to retire it.

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Snow Storm Blankets Middle East - Yes, The Middle East
2008-01-30 20:33:34
The Middle East has been hit by a freak blizzard a few days after parts of China were blanketed in heavy snow.

In Jerusalem, dozens of people bundled up in warm clothing and played in the snow at Gan Sacher, the city's central park, where a snowman-building contest was planned.

The Israeli weather service said up to 20 centimeters (8 inches) of snow had fallen in Jerusalem. More is expected Thursday morning.

In Ramallah, residents were surprised to see snow when they woke up.

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Israeli War Report Condemns Leadership 'Shortcomings'
2008-01-30 20:32:46
There were "grave shortcomings" in Israel's leadership in the second Lebanon war, a government-appointed panel concluded Wednesday. However, the panel said the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, acted in what he thought was the country's interest.

Retired judge Eliyah Winograd, who led the commission, said "great failure overshadowed the military operation" in 2006.

"The war wasted an opportunity, for Israel was engaged in the war and did not finish with a conclusive, clear-cut victory," the final report said.

However, Winograd said Olmert's decisions were "built on substantial grounds". Supporters of the prime minister, who was braced for heavy criticism, depicted the report's findings as a victory for him.

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Mukasey Still Refuses To Judge Waterboarding
2008-01-30 15:27:19
U.S. Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey told skeptical senators Wednesday that it is "not an easy question' to determine whether waterboarding constitutes illegal torture under U.S. law, but he said there is no need to provide a clear answer because the tactic is no longer employed by the CIA.

During his first appearance at the Senate Judiciary Committee since becoming head of the Justice Department, Mukasey also refused to say whether it would be illegal for another country to subject a U.S. citizen to waterboarding overseas.

"If this were an easy question, I would not be reluctant to offer my views on the subject," said Mukasey, referring to the debate over the legality of waterboarding, an interrogation tactic that subjects the victim to simulated drowning. "But with respect, this is not an easy question."

Mukasey's lawyerly and limited responses prompted sharp criticism from the committee's chairman, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vermont),who complained that "it is not enough to say that waterboarding is not currently authorized."

"Torture and illegality have no place in America," said Leahy.

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Editorial: Restoring Civil Rights
2008-01-30 15:26:53
Intellpuke: The following editorial appears in the New York Times edition for Wednesday, January 30, 2008.

In recent decades, and to much public acclaim, Congress passed a series of landmark laws designed to ensure equal rights for all Americans. Lately, and without much notice, the Supreme Court has been gutting them.

Senator Edward Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, has introduced a pair of bills designed to undo the damage done by the court’s badly reasoned decisions. Congress should pass both without delay.

One of the most troubling rulings was in the case of Lilly Ledbetter, a supervisor at a Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company plant who was paid less than her male colleagues after she was given smaller raises over several years. The court’s conservative majority ruled that Ms. Ledbetter had not met the 180-day deadline to file her complaint. It insisted that the 180 days ran from the day the company had made the original decision to give her a smaller raise than the men.

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Federal Reserve Cuts Interest Rates By Half A Point
2008-01-30 15:26:12
The Federal Reserve on Wednesday cut a key interest rate for the second time in just over a week, reducing the federal funds rate by a half point. It signaled that further rate cuts are possible.

Last week, the Fed announced a surprise three-quarter-point cut which drove the funds rate down to 3.5 percent. It was the largest reduction in this rate in more than two decades and the first change in the funds rate between meetings since the immediate aftermath of the September 2001 terrorist attacks.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and his colleagues held an emergency videoconference call on Jan. 21 after a turbulent day on world markets when investors grew increasingly worried about what a recession in the United States would do to the prospects for global growth.

Many analysts believed the Fed would quickly follow last week's aggressive move with a cut of at least a half-point at its first regular meeting of the new year. That view gained support on Wednesday hours before the Fed announcement, when the government reported that the total economy slowed to a barely discernible 0.6 percent growth rate in the final three months of last year.

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IMF Cuts Global Economic Growth Projections
2008-01-30 01:00:37

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Tuesday night cut its forecast for global growth this year as it warned of a possible chain reaction from the six-month-old credit crunch rippling through the global economy.

Predicting the weakest expansion since 2003, the IMF said tougher lending standards imposed as a result of the sub-prime meltdown in the U.S. threatened to curb consumer spending in the west, leading to a knock-on effect on the export-dependent economies of Asia.

"The financial market strains originating in the U.S. sub-prime sector have intensified, while the recent steep sell-off in global equity markets was symptomatic of rising uncertainty," it said. The IMF forecasts came as the Federal Reserve, America's central bank, prepared to announce whether it would follow last week's emergency cut in interest rates of 0.75 percentage points with a further reduction in the cost of borrowing.

Despite news Tuesday that higher military spending and aircraft orders led to a 5.2% annual increase in durable goods orders in December, Wall Street was convinced Tuesday night that the Fed would cut interest rates by 0.5 points to 3%. Figures released Tuesday from the 10 biggest metropolitan districts in the U.S. showed house prices falling by a record 8.4% in the year to November.

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A Visit To A Gaza Rocket Factory
2008-01-30 01:00:01

No matter what Israel does, the rockets from the Gaza Strip just keep coming. Young men like Abdul are the reason why. He studies by day, but at night he builds bombs for the Islamic Jihad. He and his fellow militants can produce up to 100 per night.

The young man pulls the door of the taxi closed. He is wet. There is a light drizzle in the Gaza Strip. He turns around and greets the passengers in the back seat with a quick handshake. "Are you ready?" he asks them. "As of this moment, we could be going to paradise at any time." The other people in the car don't respond, and the driver of the Mercedes hits the gas. "I should have phoned my wife," he says after a while. "She should start to keep an eye out for a new husband."

It's a long journey through the pitch-dark night as the taxi heads towards the secret rocket factory in the Gaza Strip. Since Abdul* and his two friends got in, it has become a life-threatening trip. The young men produce rockets for the Islamic Jihad. Day after day, their rudimentary bombs land on Israeli villages, fields and kibbutzim. Israel responds by using air strikes to kill the Qassam commandos. The attacks mostly target cars that carry the militants to their missions - cars like the one we are traveling in this evening.
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Cosmetic Firms To Stop Using Shark Liver Oil In Face Creams
2008-01-30 00:59:09

Leading cosmetic companies have stopped using shark liver oil as a moisturizing base because of concerns over the survival of the deep-sea predators.

In a development welcomed by marine conservationists yesterday, L'Oreal said it had started switching to plant sources for the compound squalene, which is used in creams, lotions and glosses.

Unilever said it had stopped using shark oil in high street brands such as Pond's and Dove some years ago and was now ensuring that beauty spas the firm owns in Spain do likewise. Boots and Clarins have either made similar decisions or never used shark sources in the first place, according to information gathered by the campaign group Oceana. Boots told the Guardian it had never sold shark squalene.

Oceana wants consumers to ask cosmetic retailers about squalene sources and only buy products free of shark oil, while encouraging manufacturers using plant alternatives such as olive oil to make that clear on their products. The group is campaigning for a total ban on deep-sea shark fishing in the northeast Atlantic, which it said has contributed to dramatic declines in shark numbers.

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Huge Asteroid In Close Fly-By Of Earth
2008-01-30 00:57:31
Stargazers took their best look at a huge asteroid as it as it zoomed past Earth Wednesday at a little more than half a million kilometers distance.

“I can confirm it came the closest to Earth ... and it's on its way, away from Earth,” said D.C. Agle, a spokesman for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory after the asteroid 2007 TU24 flew by.

Agle said Earth was never in danger of being struck by the asteroid of roughly 250 meters (750 feet) in diameter as it passed within 538,000 kilometers of our planet, or 1.4 times the Moon's distance from Earth.

If ever an object of that size should strike our planet, it would inflict devastating regional damage, said NASA.

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