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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Wednesday January 23 2008 - (813)

Wednesday January 23 2008 edition
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Following Losses, Asian Markets Ease Higher
2008-01-23 03:13:42
The calm seemed to return to markets across Asian on Wednesday morning.

After two brutal days in which some Asian stock indexes fell more than 12 percent, most of the exchanges across the region rebounded, albeit only modestly.

At mid-day, most markets had recouped some losses, with Japanese shares up less than one percent and the Australian stock market, which tumbled 7.1 percent on Tuesday, its worst single-day loss in nearly two decades, ahead 4 percent. The battered Hang Seng index advanced 4.5 percent. Chinese equity indexes rose, then fell back.

In Japan, the Nikkei average traded up more than 3 percent early in the session, but traders pared gains more amid concerns of more problems in the United States.

Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Shinko Securities, told Reuters that investors were worried that New York shares might continue to fall in trade Wednesday, which was making them reluctant to hold on to positions.

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Clinton Looking Beyond South Carolina
2008-01-23 03:13:03
The next Democratic presidential nominating contest will take place in South Carolina on Saturday, but Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has already turned her full attention to places such as this: delegate-rich pockets of states that will vote in a tidal wave of primaries two weeks from now.

Clinton has been focused on California, New York, New Jersey and Arkansas since her defeat in the Iowa caucuses earlier this month, betting that she can sweep states where her name recognition and popularity are strong.

The logic seems simple: She represents New York in the Senate, and New Jersey is next door; she was the first lady of Arkansas for a decade; and California will be the biggest prize when 22 states vote on Feb. 5. But in a system that awards delegates by congressional district, with some worth more than others, the calculation is far from straightforward, and Clinton backers fear that the setup could boost Sen. Barack Obama if he fares well in populous corners of key states.

Her strategists call it a "game of chess," part of the byzantine path to the Democratic nomination in a campaign that has pitted two strong front-runners and a determined third candidate, former senator John Edwards, in a tight battle from one contest to the next.

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Missing U.S. Marine Spotted In Mexico
2008-01-23 03:11:43
Missing U.S. Marine Cesar Laurean, wanted in the slaying of a pregnant colleague, visited relatives in Mexico last week but left without saying where he was headed, a man identified as his cousin said Tuesday.

Juan Antonio Ramos Ramirez told the Associated Press that Laurean walked into his liquor store on Jan. 14 or Jan. 15, and the two cousins chatted for 10 minutes about their families. Laurean then told Ramos Ramirez that he had to get back to two friends outside, but he might return. He never came back.

CNN first reported Tuesday that Laurean had briefly stopped by Ramos Ramirez's liquor store in Zapopan, just outside Guadalajara.

Days later, Ramos Ramirez saw a television report that Laurean was wanted in the United States for killing 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach.

"We were completely shocked," he said.

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Stocks Slip On Wall Street After Fed Cut, Europe's Markets Rebound
2008-01-22 19:20:58

The Federal Reserve's surprise short-term interest rate cut today helped European markets rebound from steep Monday losses but sent Wall Street on a wild ride through negative territory.

The Dow Jones industrial average opened the day down 465 points, managed to pull nearly even in midday trading, dove once again and tried to muster a rally that eventually fell short by the close of trading.

The Dow finished down 128.11 points, or 1 percent. The Nasdaq composite index closed off 47.75, or 2 percent, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index was down 14.69, or 1 percent.

In an attempt to head off a recession, the Fed cut the federal funds rate, the rate at which banks lend to each other, to 3.5 percent, from 4.25 percent. The last time it cut rates that much was in 1984. In its most recent surprise rate cut, following the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, it cut the rate by half a point.

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Editorial: Pakistan - The Boomerang Effect
2008-01-22 19:20:31
Intellpuke: The following editorial appeared in the New York Times edition for Tuesday, January 22, 2008.

For more than a decade, Pakistan’s powerful and secretive intelligence service has fueled a treacherous dynamic in South Asia by supporting Islamic militants in Afghanistan and Kashmir. Now comes the distressing, but not surprising, news that the ISI, or Inter-Services Intelligence, has lost control of some of these Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked networks. The militants have turned on their former patrons and helped carry out a record number of suicide attacks inside Pakistan in 2007, including possibly the one that killed Benazir Bhutto.

The report in The New York Times last week is one more alarming sign of instability in the nuclear-armed state that is supposed to be America’s leading ally in the war on terrorism. It further confirms the failings of President Pervez Musharraf’s government in fighting extremists, despite $10 billion in American aid since 9/11.

It apparently seemed like a good idea in the 1990s for the ISI to back militants as a proxy force to compete with India in Kashmir and to exert influence in neighboring Afghanistan. (The United States contributed to the problem in the 1980s when it also funneled funds through ISI to militants fighting Soviet forces in Afghanistan.) Now it is a grave threat to Pakistan. The insurgency recently has begun spilling out of the lawless tribal areas along the Afghan border and into the city of Peshawar.

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4th Quarter Bank Of America Profit Off 95%
2008-01-22 19:19:45
Bank of America said Tuesday that its fourth-quarter profit tumbled 95 percent because of huge write-downs of mortgage-related securities and higher provisions for future losses in credit card and home equity loans.

Net income was $268 million, or 5 cents a share, compared with $5.26 billion, or $1.16 a share, in the period a year earlier.

Like other banking giants around the world, which have written down billions of dollars worth of mortgage-related securities as prices for those assets have plunged in recent months, Bank of America, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, wrote down $5.28 billion worth of mortgage-related securities in the quarter.

Calling the last few quarters “the toughest environment since I have been C.E.O.,” Kenneth Lewis, the chairman and chief executive who took the job in 2001, nevertheless saw a bright light at the end of the tunnel, forecasting that the United States will stave off a recession this year. Looking forward, Lewis said he was cautiously optimistic about 2008, predicting economic growth would be positive, albeit “anemic,” in the first half of the year.

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U.S. Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Enron Investors' Appeal
2008-01-22 19:18:51
The U.S. Supreme Court dealt a probable fatal blow Tuesday to Enron Corp. investors' efforts to recover $40 billion from Wall Street banks in the 2001 collapse of the Texas energy company.

Without comment, the justices refused to hear arguments in the Enron case. Attorneys for shareholders immediately vowed to return to federal court in Houston in an attempt to prove that the investment banks misled the public and helped conceal Enron's true financial condition.

"It's an uphill battle and we'll keep fighting," said Patrick Coughlin, the lead lawyer for the stockholders.

Attorney Greg Markel, a lawyer not connected with the case who represents corporate clients in securities fraud lawsuits, said shareholders' "chances of succeeding ... are nearly zero."

Enron's demise wiped out thousands of jobs, more than $60 billion in market value and more than $2 billion in pension plans at what had been the seventh-largest company in the country.

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Governments Try To Calm Markets
2008-01-23 03:13:26

Britain was pushing Tuesday night for an emergency meeting to calm financial markets as governments around the world tried to reassure nervous investors. Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown has convened Downing Street talks with his German, French and Italian counterparts to discuss banking regulation and ways to disclose banks' bad debts more quickly.

In an attempt to avoid a repetition of the current credit crisis, the prime minister will call for measures to improve transparency in the banking system, to coordinate national regulators, to review the role of credit rating agencies, and to strengthen the management of liquidity risks.

The move came after another frantic day of trading in global markets which prompted the U.S. Federal Reserve to make an emergency cut in interest rates.

It also led Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England, to warn Tuesday night that Britain faces its biggest economic challenges in more than a decade in the coming year and predict that economic activity could slow "quite sharply" in the short term.

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U.S. Gets Poor Marks On The Environment
2008-01-23 03:12:23
A new international ranking of environmental performance puts the United States at the bottom of the Group of 8  industrialized nations and 39th among the 149 countries on the list. European nations dominate the top places in the ranking, which evaluates sanitation, greenhouse gas emissions, agricultural policies, air pollution and 20 other measures to formulate an overall score, with 100 the best possible.

The top 10 countries, with scores of 87 or better, were led by Switzerland, Sweden, Norway and Finland. The others at the top were Austria, France, Latvia, Costa Rica, Colombia and New Zealand, the leader in the 2006 version of the analysis, which is conducted by researchers at Yale and Columbia Universities.

“We are putting more weight on climate change," said Daniel Esty, the report’s lead author, who is the director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy. “Switzerland is the most greenhouse gas efficient economy in the developed world,” he said, in part because of its use of hydroelectric power and its transportation system, which relies more on trains than individual cars or trucks.

The United States, with a score of 81.0, he noted, “is slipping down,” both because of low scores on three different analyses of greenhouse gas emissions and a pervasive problem with smog. The country’s performance on a new indicator that measures regional smog, he said, “is at the bottom of the world right now.”

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Reports: Thousands Cross Gaza Wall Into Egypt
2008-01-23 03:11:16
Masked gunmen blew holes in the wall separating the Gaza Strip from Egypt early Wednesday and thousands of Palestinians poured across the border to buy supplies made scarce by an Israeli blockade of the impoverished territory.

Egyptian guards and police from the militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza, stood by without taking action.

Israel transferred fuel to restart Gaza's only electricity plant Tuesday, easing its five-day blockade of the Palestinian territory amid growing international concern about a humanitarian crisis.

Before dawn the next day, Palestinian gunmen began breaching the border wall dividing the town of Rafah, which has a Gazan and an Egyptian side.

The identity of the gunmen who breached the border was not immediately clear. But Hamas expressed support for the move, saying, "Blowing up the border wall with Egypt is a reflection of the ... catastrophic situation which the Palestinian people in Gaza are living through due to the blockade."

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Russia's Gazprom Takes Control Of Serbian Oil Monopoly
2008-01-22 19:20:43
Russia added Serbia's oil monopoly to its recent string of energy acquisitions in a deal that will also allow Moscow to send more natural gas to Europe through its South Stream pipeline, it was announced Tuesday.

Four days after signing a major pipeline deal with Bulgaria, the Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom agreed to take a 51 percent stake in NIS, the Serbian state-owned oil company. The purchase was announced in a statement by the Serbian government.

The deal is yet another blow to the European Union's ambitions to build its own 2,000-mile pipline to bring gas to Europe from Iran and Azerbaijan via Turkey, said analysts.

The E.U.’s Nabucco pipeline project was conceived to allow Europe to reduce its dependence on Russia, which already supplies a quarter of the bloc’s natural gas. Nabucco has been dogged by logistical delays, lack of political will and disputes over financing, said the analysts.

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Utah Scientist: Dust Shortening Winters, Causing Faster Melting
2008-01-22 19:20:16
U.S. Western winters are getting shorter because of dust kicked up by urban and agricultural development, said a University of Utah researcher.

Thomas Painter, head of the school's Snow Optics Laboratory, said in a lecture at the downtown library in Salt Lake City, Utah, Monday that disturbed particles from the Colorado Plateau mix with snow, limiting the heat it can reflect. As a result, today's snowpacks melt about a month earlier than they once did. Painter's research affirms longtime anecdotal claims that the dirtier snow is, the faster it melts.

''That has enormous implications up and down the line,'' said Painter. He said it's important because when the snow cover dissipates earlier than it should, the ground is exposed at a time when the sun is highest in the sky. This can hurt the local ecology.

''That has some impact on regional climate,'' he said. ''We're seeing a 1.5 degree Centigrade temperature increase.''

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Yahoo To Lay Off Hundreds Of Employees
2008-01-22 19:19:33
After seven months as chief executive, Yahoo Inc. co-founder Jerry Yang has concluded hundreds of employees will have to be fired to help the slumping Internet icon recover from years of misguided management.

The Sunnyvale-based company's biggest purge since the dot-bust most likely will be announced next week, a person familiar with the matter said Tuesday. The person asked not to be identified because the exact number of jobs to be cut is still under discussion.

Yang and his management team already have committed to jettisoning at least several hundred jobs to help boost Yahoo's profits and placate investors demanding more action to reverse a steep decline in the company's stock price.

Securities analysts are betting Yahoo will trim its 14,000-employee payroll by about 5 percent - or 700 workers. If that many people are dumped, Yahoo could save about $100 million, JP Morgan analyst Imran Khan estimated in a Tuesday note.

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Fred Thompson Drops Out Of Republican Presidential Race
2008-01-22 19:18:35
Fred D. Thompson, the former senator of Tennessee, dropped out of the Republican race for president Tuesday.

The decision came after Thompson’s third-place primary showing on Saturday in South Carolina, a state he had once hoped to win, instead underscored the weakness of his campaign.

“I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort,” he said in a statement. “Jeri and I will always be grateful for the encouragement and friendship of so many wonderful people.”

Thompson’s advisers said he would not make an endorsement in the race.

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