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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Wednesday January 2 2008 - (813)

Wednesday January 2 2008 edition
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Doubts Raised on Technology Sales To China
2008-01-01 19:43:26
Six months ago, the Bush administration quietly eased some restrictions on the export of sensitive technologies to China. The new approach was intended to help American companies increase sales of high-tech equipment to China despite tight curbs on sharing technology that might have military applications.

Today the administration is facing questions from weapons experts about whether some equipment - newly authorized for export to Chinese companies deemed trustworthy by Washington - could instead end up helping China modernize its military. Equally worrisome, the weapons experts say, is the possibility that China could share the technology with Iran or Syria.

The technologies include advanced aircraft engine parts, navigation systems, telecommunications equipment and sophisticated composite materials.

The questions raised about the new policy are in a report to be released this week by the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, an independent research foundation that opposes the spread of arms technologies.

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Kucinich Asks Iowa Supporters To Back Obama
2008-01-01 19:42:57
Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich on Tuesday asked his supporters to make rival Barack Obama  their second choice if he doesn't meet a cutoff point for voting in Iowa's caucuses.

Kucinich, an Ohio congressman at the back of the pack of Democratic hopefuls, seemed to concede a loss in the caucuses. He said his recommendation was for ''Iowa only''.

''Senator Obama and I are competing in the New Hampshire primary next Tuesday, where I want to be the first choice of New Hampshire voters,'' Kucinich said in a statement.

Candidates in Thursday night's caucuses must reach a level of support in each of the state's 1,781 precincts - typically 15 percent of those who attend. Candidates who fail to meet that aren't considered viable, and their supporters can move to another candidate or go home.

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Dozens Killed As Mob Burns Church In Kenya
2008-01-01 19:42:25
Dozens of people seeking refuge in a church in Kenya were burned to death by a mob on Tuesday, according to witnesses and Red Cross officials, in an escalation of ethnic violence that is threatening to plunge the country into chaos.

Up to 40 people died inside the church, a few miles from a town called Eldoret, after young men from a rival tribe poured gasoline on it and set it on fire, said the witnesses and officials.

In Nairobi, the capital, tribal militias squared off against each other in several slums. Witness reports indicate that more 200 people have been killed in the past two days in violence connected to a disputed election Kenya held last week.

The European Union said there was clear evidence of ballot rigging, and European officials called for an independent investigation. Kenya’s government, which won the election by a razor-thin margin, has refused. Government officials said they would crack down harshly on anyone who threatened law and order, and they banned political rallies for the foreseeable future.

A knot of rage seemed to be moving across the country, from the slums of Nairobi, the capital, to the cities along the Indian Ocean, to usually tranquil towns on the savanna. Many people were furious that President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner on Sunday in the country’s most fiercely fought election, despite widespread evidence of fraud.

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Bhutto's Doctors Cite Government Pressure To Keep Silent
2008-01-01 02:40:16
Pakistani authorities have pressured the medical personnel who tried to save Benazir Bhutto's life to remain silent about what happened in her final hour and have removed records of her treatment from the facility, according to doctors.

In interviews, doctors who were at Bhutto's side at Rawalpindi General Hospital said they were under extreme pressure not to share details about the nature of the injuries that the opposition leader suffered in an attack here Dec. 27.

"The government took all the medical records right after Ms. Bhutto's time of death was read out," said a visibly shaken doctor who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. Sweating and putting his head in his hands, he said: "Look, we have been told by the government to stop talking. And a lot of us feel this is a disgrace."

The doctors now find themselves at the center of a political firestorm over the circumstances of Bhutto's death. The government has said Bhutto, 54, was killed after the force of a suicide bombing caused her head to slam against the lever of her vehicle's sunroof. Bhutto's supporters have pointed to video footage, including a new amateur video released Monday, as proof that she was killed by gunfire.

The truth about what happened has serious implications in Pakistan. The ability of a gunman to fire at Bhutto from close range, as alleged by her supporters, would suggest that an assassin was able to breach government security in a city that serves as headquarters of the Pakistani military, bolstering her supporters' claims that the government failed to provide her with adequate protection.

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Stocks Fall, Ending Year Of Turmoil On Wall Street
2008-01-01 02:38:54

Stocks fell on Monday, ending a tumultuous year that battered financial firms but left other pockets of the market and the world with stunning gains.

Even a report that showed sales of existing homes had been nudged up in November failed to lift the market as traders closed their books on a year marred by the running crisis in the mortgage market. A small rally in the afternoon helped cut early losses but was not enough to push the market into positive territory.

The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index ended the year up 3.5 percent, slightly less than the inflation rate. For the day, the index fell 10.13 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,468.36 in relatively light trading. The Dow Jones industrial average, which closed up 6.4 percent for the year, ended the day down 101.05 points, or 0.8 percent, at 13,264.82.

“It has been a disappointing year,” concluded Tobias Levkovich, chief United States equity strategist at Citigroup. “The debt bubble burst and its ramifications were far wider than most people anticipated.”

It was also a year of stark contrasts. While the broad market struggled under the weight of the credit crisis, which hurt financial firms, home builders and retailers, sectors like technology, energy and materials posted remarkable gains. The Nasdaq composite index, which includes many technology stocks, ended the year up 9.8 percent, its best showing since 2003. Foreign markets, particularly in developing countries, did even better.

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Following Supreme Court Ruling, Groups Spend Heavily To Sway Voters
2008-01-01 02:37:18
Spurred by a recent Supreme Court decision, independent political groups are using their financial muscle and organizational clout as never before to influence the presidential race, pumping money and troops into early nominating states on behalf of their favored candidates.

Iowans have been bombarded over the last few days with radio spots supporting John Edwards that were paid for by a group affiliated with locals of the Service Employees International Union, which just kicked in $800,000 - on top of $760,000 already spent.

Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, rolled across Iowa on Monday in a customized black-and-gold bus emblazoned with his picture and the logo of the International Association of Firefighters, which has spent several hundred thousand dollars supporting him. And at campaign events in Iowa, backers in A.F.S.C.M.E. union shirts turned out Monday to show their support for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York. Those appearances come in addition to the union’s $770,000 advertising campaign promoting her candidacy.

The groups are prohibited from coordinating their efforts with the campaigns. But the candidates, while often distancing themselves from these efforts, certainly benefit from their activities. Iowa airwaves have been filled with commercials from these groups as they take advantage of the June ruling that lifted a ban on broadcast messages from independent groups within 30 days of a primary or caucus.

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U.S. Military Use Of Unmanned Aircraft Increasing
2008-01-01 19:43:12
The U.S. military's reliance on unmanned aircraft that can watch, hunt and sometimes kill insurgents has soared to more than 500,000 hours in the air, largely in Iraq, the Associated Press has learned.

New Defense Department figures obtained by the A.P. show that the Air Force more than doubled its monthly use of drones between January and October, forcing it to take pilots out of the air and shift them to remote flying duty to meet part of the demand.

The dramatic increase in the development and use of drones across the armed services reflects what will be an even more aggressive effort over the next 25 years, according to the new report.

The jump in Iraq coincided with the build up of U.S. forces this summer as the military swelled its ranks to quell the violence in Baghdad. Pentagon officials said that even as troops begin to slowly come home this year, the use of Predators, Global Hawks, Shadows and Ravens will not likely slow.
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U.S. Diplomat Shot And Killed In Sudan
2008-01-01 19:42:36
An American diplomat in Sudan was shot and killed early Tuesday as he was coming home from a New Year’s Eve party in Khartoum, the capital.

In Washington, D.C., the United States Agency for International Development identified the victim as one of its officials, John Granville, 33, originally of Buffalo, New York. American officials said it is “too early to tell” if the shooting was random or planned, but Sudanese officials said the circumstances were suspicious, especially because gun crime is rare in Khartoum, considered one of the safest cities in Africa.

The United Nations recently warned its staff in Sudan that there was credible evidence that a terrorist cell was in the country and planning to attack foreigners.

According to Western officials, Granville left a New Year’s Eve party at the British Embassy around 2:30 a.m. and headed to his home in an upscale neighborhood in central Khartoum. Shortly before he arrived, a car pulled up next to him and 17 shots were fired, said Sudanese officials. Granville’s driver, a Sudanese employee of the American Embassy, was killed instantly, and Granville was shot in the neck and chest. He was rushed to the hospital and died several hours later. A Sudanese government official said the attack appeared well-planned and involved two gunmen who exited their car together, with one of them shooting Granville and the other shooting the driver. Walter Braunohler, a spokesman for the American Embassy in Khartoum, said he could not comment on the circumstances because the shooting is under investigation.

A spokesman for Sudan’s Foreign Ministry said American and Sudanese law enforcement agents were working closely together to investigate.

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New Year's Snowstom Dumps On Michigan
2008-01-01 19:42:12
A fast-moving New Year's Day storm dumped more than a foot of snow on southeastern Michigan, a record blast that made driving hazardous, snarled the flight home for holiday travelers and threatened to do the same in New England.

Thousands of people in Michigan and Ohio lost power. Authorities reported no deaths or serious injuries from the six-hour burst of snow in Michigan that started around midnight, but they said there were many spinouts and minor accidents.

The storm left 10 to 16 inches of snow across parts of Oakland, Lapeer and St. Clair counties north of Detroit, the National Weather Service said. The western St. Clair County community of Capac reported 16 inches.

"This storm most definitely packed quite a wallop," said Weather Service meteorologist David Shuler in Oakland County. "This will be a memorable storm for the amount of snow it dumped in such a short amount of time."

He said it was the region's heaviest New Year's Day snowstorm on record and was unusual for its intensity. In the heart of the storm, snow fell at a rate of at least 2 inches an hour, with periods of 4 inches an hour.
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Oil Brings Job Boom And Burdens To North Dakota
2008-01-01 02:39:29
At dawn, people from faraway states huddle outside the Mountrail County courthouse in Stanley, North Dakota, the coldest ones leaving briefcases and books to secure their spots for the moment it opens.

It is a peculiar sight in Stanley, population roughly 1,200, one in a constellation of isolated and, in some cases, shrinking farm towns along North Dakota’s wide open western edge where few residents recall a traffic jam.

The early morning line hints at the sudden fortune that has arrived: Oil companies, saying that they located what may prove to be one of the largest recent oil finds in the United States, have begun drilling all through these parts. Fifty-two drilling rigs were at work in the state at the end of December; a count taken in October showed that 198 new wells had been drilled in a year, said state officials.

At the courthouse, the crush of people, known as landmen in the world of oil, spend their days scouring enormous old binders of deeds, each trying to sort out who owns the mineral rights to land that once seemed valuable mainly for growing durum wheat or peas.

“It seems like God flew over this country, and a dart landed on Granddad’s homestead,” said John Warberg, who is being paid royalties for the new oil well on the land where his grandfather’s crumbling, nearly century-old homestead shack stands.

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Critical Flaws Seen In Electronic Voting Machines
2008-01-01 02:37:35
With the presidential race in full swing, Colorado and other states have found critical flaws in the accuracy and security of their electronic voting machines, forcing officials to scramble to return to the paper ballots they abandoned after the Florida debacle of 2000.

In December alone, top election officials in Ohio and Colorado declared that widely used voting equipment is unfit for elections.

"Every system that is out there, one state or another has found that they are no good," said John Gideon, of the advocacy group Voters Unite. "Everybody is starting to look at this now and starting to realize that there is something wrong."

The swing states of California, Ohio and Florida have found that security on touch-screen voting machines is inadequate. Testers have been able to disable the systems and even change vote totals.

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