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Monday, February 11, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Monday February 11 2008 - (813)

Monday February 11 2008 edition
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Bush Orders Clampdown On Flights To U.S.
2008-02-11 01:07:48
European Union officials furious as Bush administration says it wants extra data on all air passengers.

The Bush administration is pressing the 27 governments of the European Union to sign up for a range of new security measures for transatlantic travel, including allowing armed guards on all flights from Europe to America by U.S. airlines.

The demand to put armed air marshals on to the flights is part of a travel clampdown by the U.S. that officials in Brussels described as "blackmail" and "troublesome", and could see west Europeans and Britons required to have U.S. visas if their governments balk at Washington's requirements.

According to a U.S. document being circulated for signature in European capitals, E.U. states would also need to supply personal data on all air passengers overflying but not landing in the U.S. in order to gain or retain visa-free travel to America, said senior E.U. officials.

And within months the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is to impose a new permit system for Europeans flying to the U.S., compelling all travellers to apply online for permission to enter the country before booking or buying a ticket, a procedure that will take several days.

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Blasts Kill Dozens In Northern Iraq, Gates Arrives In Baghdad
2008-02-11 01:06:59
A series of bombings targeting Iraqi security forces and U.S.-backed Sunni guards killed as many as 37 people in northern Iraq on Sunday, according to Iraqi officials.

The deadliest attack targeted an outdoor market in the predominantly Sunni village of Yathrib, where residents have recently battled the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq. Witnesses said the U.S.-backed guards were monitoring the market, which is less than 10 miles east of the city of Balad, when a suicide car bomber attacked in their vicinity.

The late-afternoon explosion was followed by a second car bombing nearby, said Iraqi police. 

Hospital officials in Balad said 33 people were killed and 41 wounded in the explosions. U.S. military officials put the death toll at 23.

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Backed By Vatican, Exorcism Has A Revival
2008-02-11 01:06:19
The wind-swept village of Poczernin, Poland, is bracing for an invasion of demons, thanks to a priest who believes he can defeat Satan.

The Rev. Andrzej Trojanowski, a soft-spoken Pole, plans to build a "spiritual oasis" that will serve as Europe's only center dedicated to performing exorcisms. With the blessing of the local Catholic archbishop and theological support from the Vatican, the center will aid a growing number of Poles possessed by evil forces or the devil himself, he said.

"This is my task, this is my purpose - I want to help these people," said Trojanowski, who has worked as an exorcist for four years. "There is a group of people who cannot get relief through any other practices and who need peace."

Exorcism - the church rite of expelling evil spirits from tortured souls - is making a comeback in Catholic regions of Europe. Last July, more than 300 practitioners gathered in the Polish city of Czestochowa for the fourth International Congress of Exorcists.

About 70 priests serve as trained exorcists in Poland, about double the number of five years ago. An estimated 300 exorcists are active in Italy. Foremost among them: the Rev. Gabriele Amorth, 82, who performs exorcisms daily in Rome and is dean of Europe's corps of demon-battling priests.

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Actor Roy Scheider, 75, Dies In Arkansas
2008-02-11 01:03:39
Roy Scheider, the actor best known for his role as a police chief in the blockbuster movie "Jaws," has died. He was 75.

Scheider died Sunday at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences hospital in Little Rock, said hospital spokesman David Robinson. The hospital did not release his cause of death.

However, hospital spokeswoman Leslie Taylor said Scheider had been treated for multiple myeloma at the hospital's Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy for the past two years.

Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss starred in the 1975 movie, "Jaws," which was widely hailed as the film that launched the era of the Hollywood blockbuster. It was the first film to earn $100 million at the box office.
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Obama Defeats Clinton In Maine Caucuses
2008-02-10 22:08:13
Barack Obama defeated Hillary Rodham Clinton in Maine presidential caucuses Sunday, grabbing a majority of delegates as the state's Democrats overlooked the snowy weather and turned out in heavy numbers for municipal gatherings.

Democrats in 420 Maine towns and cities were deciding how the state's 24 delegates will be allotted at the party's national convention in August. Despite the weather, turnout was "incredible," said party executive director Arden Manning.

With 70 percent of the participating precincts reporting, Obama led in state delegates elected over Clinton, 1,564 to 1,122, with 17 uncommitted.

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UFO Sightings In Britain Jump 40% In 2007
2008-02-10 22:07:47

The number of UFO sightings in Britain soared by 40% last year.

Britain's Ministry of Defense logged 135 reports - up from 97 in 2006 - including a camper who claimed a spaceship fleet abducted his dog and swiped his tent near Cardiff.

Another sighting, of two objects a mile wide over Guernsey, was witnessed by two airline pilots.

One, Ray Bowyer, 50, said: "I'm not saying it was from another world, but I've never seen anything like it in all my years of flying."

Discs, formations, white or orange lights, triangular shaped craft and pipe-like objects were all spotted in 2007. Reports were lodged from all over England, Scotland and Wales at all times of the year.

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Obama Sweeps Clinton In Three States, Huckabee Wins Kansas, Louisiana, McCain Projected To Win Washington
2008-02-10 03:38:43
Sen. Barack Obama narrowed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's lead in the fight for Democratic presidential delegates Saturday, sweeping three states, while Sen. John McCain hit a detour on his march to the Republican nomination.

Obama won Louisiana, Nebraska and Washington by wide margins as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee won Kansas and Louisiana and remained in a tight race with McCain in the state of Washington.

None of the results reconfigured the delegate counts that will settle the nominations, but for Democrats they set the stage for the Maine caucuses Sunday and the so-called Potomac primaries Tuesday in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Clinton and Obama remain locked in a showdown that might not be settled until the August convention in Denver, Colorado, and each sought to make the case on the trail Saturday that each is better situated to defeat McCain.
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Philip Roth: 'Bush Is Too Horrendous To Be Forgotten'
2008-02-10 03:38:10
Intellpuke: German news magazine Der Spiegel recently interviewed American author Philip Roth. The interview was published on Spiegel Online's edition for Friday, February 8, 2008. Among the items discussed with Roth in the interview were his latest book, growing old, why George W. Bush is the worst American president ever and why Roth never gives out his cell pone number. The interview follows:

Philip Roth, who will be 75 in March, is one of America's most critically acclaimed living writers. His 1969 novel "Portnoy's Complaint" brought him fame, and he went on to win a Pulitzer Prize for 1997's "American Pastoral."

Many of his novels feature Roth's fictional alter ego, Nathan Zuckerman. Zuckerman appears again in Roth's latest work, "Exit Ghost," where he returns to New York after many years of seclusion in rural New England.

SPIEGEL talked to Roth about "Exit Ghost," the U.S. election and the pleasures of rural life.

SPIEGEL: Mister Roth, how often have you tried to kill Nathan Zuckerman, the hero or narrator of so many of your novels?

Philip Roth: (laughs) I don't know - do you?

SPIEGEL: Three times. Once in "Deception" ...

Roth: Oh, yes, I forgot that one.

SPIEGEL: And then again in "The Counterlife" at the age of 44. He's quite alive again, he is 71 now, but in your new book "Exit Ghost" you kill him once more.

Roth: I haven't killed him. I just sent him home.

SPIEGEL: "Gone for good" is what you write. Does that make a difference?

Roth: It certainly does.

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U.S. Army Buried Study Faulting Planning For Iraq War
2008-02-11 01:07:29
The U.S. Army is accustomed to protecting classified information, but when it comes to the planning for the Iraq war, even an unclassified assessment can acquire the status of a state secret. That is what happened to a detailed study of the planning for postwar Iraq prepared for the Army by the RAND Corporation, a federally financed center that conducts research for the military.

After 18 months of research, RAND submitted a report in the summer of 2005 called “Rebuilding Iraq.” RAND researchers provided an unclassified version of the report along with a secret one, hoping that its publication would contribute to the public debate on how to prepare for future conflicts.

The study’s wide-ranging critique of the White House, the Defense Department and other government agencies was a concern for Army generals, and the Army has sought to keep the report under lock and key.

A review of the lengthy report - a draft of which was obtained by the New York Times - shows that it identified problems with nearly every organization that had a role in planning the war. That assessment parallels the verdicts of numerous former officials and independent analysts.

The study chided President Bush - and by implication Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who served as national security adviser when the war was planned - as having failed to resolve differences among rival agencies. “Throughout the planning process, tensions between the Defense Department and the State Department were never mediated by the president or his staff,” it said.

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Venezuela's Chavez, In Feud With Exxon Mobil, Threatens To End Oil Exports To U.S.
2008-02-11 01:06:41
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez threatened Sunday to halt oil exports to the United States if the oil giant Exxon Mobil succeeds in freezing billions of dollars of foreign petroleum assets controlled by Venezuela.

The warning ratchets up a fierce legal dispute between Venezuela and Exxon after Chavez’s move to exert greater state control over the nation’s oil industry last year. Rather than submitting to Venezuela’s terms, Exxon withdrew from a major production venture, intensifying the feud.

“The bandits of Exxon Mobil will never rob us again,” Chavez said in comments broadcast Sunday on his weekly television program. He accused Exxon, one of the largest publicly traded oil companies, and the United States of mounting a conspiracy to destabilize Venezuela.

“I speak to the American empire, because that’s the master,” said Chavez. “Continue, and you will see that we won’t send one drop of oil to the empire of the United States.” Referring to Exxon, he said, “They are imperialist bandits, white-collar criminals, corruptors of governments, overthrowers of governments.”

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Torrential Rains Wash Away Much Of Australia's Drought
2008-02-11 01:05:59
Torrential rain across eastern Australia as well as in the west has delivered large parts of the country from drought.

While the rewards are yet to flow into farmers' pockets, some are experiencing their best season in decades.

New South Wales (NSW) Premier Morris Iemma said Sunday that January's drenching rains would have the two-pronged benefit of easing pressure on farmers and stabilizing grocery prices.

Iemma said "only" 46.1 per cent of NSW was now officially drought declared. The figure is down from 52.6 per cent in December.

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East Timor's President Undergoes Surgery After Shooting
2008-02-11 01:03:24

The president of East Timor, Jose Ramos-Horta, was shot in the stomach after rebel soldiers opened fire on his official residence in an attack early Monday morning. The Nobel peace prize laureate underwent surgery at the Australian military base after the pre-dawn attack, but the seriousness of his condition is not known.

A rebel soldier, Major Alfred Reinado, was killed in the attack that claimed the life of one of the president's bodyguards, who returned fire when the renegade troops struck.

In a separate attack, renegade troops also fired shots at the home of the prime minister, Xanana Gusmao, said  Timorese television, though there were no reports of any injuries and details were sketchy.

During the attack two cars were reported to have driven past the president's house on the outskirts of the capital Dili at about 4:30 a.m. and began shooting.

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Newsblog: Clinton Campaign Manager Steps Aside
2008-02-10 22:08:01
Patti Solis Doyle has stepped down as Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign manager, the campaign announced on Sunday. She will be replaced by Maggie Williams, a senior adviser to the campaign.

Ms. Solis Doyle will stay on as a senior adviser and “will continue to be a key part of the campaign,” said Mo Elleithee, a spokesman.

“It’s not a shakeup,” he said. “It will be a seamless transition. She and Maggie are longtime friends and they have been working closely together for the last month.”

In an e-mail message sent to campaign staff on Sunday afternoon, Ms. Solis Doyle announced that she would step down from the post.

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Editorial: Because They Said So
2008-02-10 14:37:34
Intellpuke: The following editorial appears in the New York Times edition for Sunday, February 10, 2008.

Even by the dismal standards of what passes for a national debate on intelligence and civil liberties, last week was a really bad week.

The Senate debated a bill that would make needed updates to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act - while needlessly expanding the president’s ability to spy on Americans without a warrant and covering up the unlawful spying that President Bush ordered after 9/11.

The Democrat who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, John Rockefeller of West Virginia, led the way in killing amendments that would have strengthened requirements for warrants and raised the possibility of at least some accountability for past wrongdoing. Republicans declaimed about protecting America from terrorists - as if anyone was arguing the opposite - and had little to say about protecting Americans’ rights.

We saw a ray of hope when the head of the Central Intelligence Agency conceded - finally - that waterboarding was probably illegal. But his boss, the director of national intelligence, insisted it was legal when done to real bad guys. And Vice President Dick Cheney - surprise! - made it clear that President Bush would authorize waterboarding whenever he wanted.

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World's Top Bankers: Credit Crisis 'Here To Stay'
2008-02-10 03:38:27

The world economy faces a "turbulent time", Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, warned this weekend after meeting finance ministers from the world's main industrialized nations in Tokyo to discuss ways of tackling the credit crunch.

Darling and his G7 counterparts were presented with a grim assessment of the damage wrought by reckless lending in the American housing market, which has snowballed into a global financial crisis over the past six months.

"It is likely that we face a prolonged adjustment, which could be difficult," finance ministers were warned in a report by the Financial Stability Forum, made up of central bankers and financial regulators from around the world.

The politicians struck an anxious note after discussions on tightening financial regulation and improving early-warning systems to prevent future crises. "The current financial turmoil is serious, and persisting," said Hank Paulson, the  U.S. Treasury Secretary. Darling admitted: "It is undoubtedly the case following the problems that arose in the U.S. housing market last summer that the world is facing a turbulent time."

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