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Friday, March 28, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Friday March 28 2008 - (813)

Friday March 28 2008 edition
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Obama Urges Tighter Regulation In Wake Of Housing Slump
2008-03-27 15:34:59
Senator Barack Obama called Thursday for tighter regulation of mortgage lenders, banks and other financial institutions, even as he spoke of pumping $30 billion into the economy to shield homeowners and local governments from the worst effects of the collapse of the housing bubble.

He laid much of the blame for the current financial difficulties on the industry lobbyists and politicians who dismantled much of the regulatory framework overseeing energy, telecommunications and financial services.

Speaking in the Great Hall at the Cooper Union in Manhattan, Obama blamed Democrats no less than Republicans for policies that now cast a shadow of foreclosure and insolvency over millions of Americans. He did not mention former President Bill Clinton by name, but the implied criticism seemed clear.

“Under Republican and Democratic administrations, we failed to guard against practices that all too often rewarded financial manipulation instead of productivity and sound business practices,” said Obama. “The result has been a distorted market that creates bubbles instead of steady sustainable growth - a market that favors Wall Street over Main Street, but ends up hurting both.”

Obama proposed to rebuild the government’s regulatory structure and promised not to clamp a too-tight hand on economic innovation, but he was unsparing in his view that industry lobbyists and weak legislators produced a misshapen deregulation of the economy.

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Arms Supplier Under Scrutiny For Selling Old Weapons, Ammunition To Afghan Forces
2008-03-27 15:34:22
Intellpuke: This article was reported by New York Times writers C. J. Chivers, Eric Schmitt and Nicholas Wood and written by Mr. Chivers.

Since 2006, when the insurgency in Afghanistan sharply intensified, the Afghan government has been dependent on American logistics and military support in the war against al-Qaeda and the Taliban; but to arm the Afghan forces that it hopes will lead this fight, the American military has relied since early last year on a fledgling company led by a 22-year-old man whose vice president was a licensed masseur.

With the award last January of a federal contract worth as much as nearly $300 million, the company, AEY Inc., which operates out of an unmarked office in Miami Beach, Florida, became the main supplier of munitions to Afghanistan’s army and police forces.

Since then, the company has provided ammunition that is more than 40 years old and in decomposing packaging, according to an examination of the munitions by the New York Times and interviews with American and Afghan officials. Much of the ammunition comes from the aging stockpiles of the old Communist bloc, including stockpiles that the State Department and NATO have determined to be unreliable and obsolete, and have spent millions of dollars to have destroyed.

In purchasing munitions, the contractor has also worked with middlemen and a shell company on a federal list of entities suspected of illegal arms trafficking.

Moreover, tens of millions of the rifle and machine-gun cartridges were manufactured in China, making their procurement a possible violation of American law. The company’s president, Efraim E. Diveroli, was also secretly recorded in a conversation that suggested corruption in his company’s purchase of more than 100 million aging rounds in Albania, according to audio files of the conversation.

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Israel Says Hezbollah Has Dramatically Increased Range Of Its Rockets
2008-03-27 15:33:05
With Iranian backing, Hezbollah guerrillas have dramatically increased their rocket range and can now threaten most of Israel, say senior Israeli defense officials.

The Lebanese group has acquired new Iranian rockets with a range of about 300 kilometers, said the officials. That means the guerrillas can hit anywhere in Israel's heavily populated center and reach as far south as Dimona, where Israel's nuclear reactor is located.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to divulge the confidential intelligence assessment to the media.

When Israel and Hezbollah fought a month-long war in 2006, Hezbollah fired nearly 4,000 rockets into Israel. The longest-range rockets fired, which Israel said were Iranian-made, hit some 73 kilometers inside Israel.

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Thousands In Baghdad Protest Basra Assault
2008-03-27 15:32:37
Thousands of supporters of the powerful Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army militia took to the streets of Baghdad on Thursday to protest the Iraqi Army’s assault on the southern port city of Basra, as intense fighting continued there for a third day.

In Basra, there seemed to be no breakthrough in the fighting by either side. As much as half of the city remained under militia control, hospitals in some parts of the city were reported full, and the violence continued to spread. Clashes were reported all over the city and in locations 12 miles south of Basra.

The Iraqi Army’s offensive in Basra is an important political test for the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and for American strategy in Iraq. President Bush sought to portray the fighting in a positive light on Thursday, declaring the offensive by Maliki’s government a “bold decision.”

If the army’s assault in Basra leads the Mahdi Army to break completely with its current cease-fire, which has helped to tamp down attacks in Iraq during the past year, there is a risk of escalating violence and of replaying 2004. That year, the militia fought intense battles with American forces that destabilized the entire country.

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British Columbia Suspends Issuing Licenses For Salmon Farms
2008-03-27 15:31:35
British Columbia will not issue new licenses and tenures for finfish aquaculture, including salmon farms, on the central coast while it examines a new approach to managing the controversial industry.

Salmon farms have been blamed for destruction of wild salmon stocks and have drawn ire from environmentalists and First Nations in the province.

Agriculture Minister Pat Bell said the new approach will be developed in collaboration with First Nations to protect the health of wild salmon.

Elmer Derrick of the First Nations Leadership Council Aquaculture Group said the announcement is good news for the survival of coastal ecosystems.

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Woman Files Taxes For 28 Dead People
2008-03-27 15:30:46
An Atlantic County woman hoping to collect more than $100,000 in tax refunds  will get two years in federal prison instead.

Candy L. Atohi, 37, of Buena Vista Township, was sentenced yesterday for filing 30 fraudulent claims for federal tax refunds, all but two of them in the names of deceased New Jersey residents, according to U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie.

"What amazes us year after year is what people think they will get away with," said Christie. "Filing fraudulent returns on behalf of dead people is about as brazen as I've seen, and the case is a good and timely reminder of the consequences of tax evasion and fraud"

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Cybersquatting Cases On The Rise
2008-03-27 15:09:46
If you tried to guess the web domain for FIFA without knowing the exact address, chances are, you would get to an Internet page that has nothing to do with the International Football Federation.

Cases of so-called cybersquatting -- or abusive registration of trademarks on the Internet --- are on the rise, the World Intellectual Property Organisation said Thursday.

A record 2,156 complaints were filed with the organisation's arbitration and mediation centre, 18 percent more than 2006 and 48 percent more than 2005.

"These increases confirm that 'cybersquatting' remains a significant issue for rights holders," said WIPO Deputy Director General Francis Gurry.

Against the background of an unprecedented number of cybersquatting cases in 2007, the evolving nature of the domain name registration system is causing growing concern for trademark owners around the world, said the UN agency.

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Site To Raise Awareness Of Mesothelioma
2008-03-27 14:56:40
Current statistics show 2,000-3,000 people are diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma in the U.S. each year, and 10,000 Americans die from all asbestos-related diseases, according to statistics compiled by the Environmental Working Group. Mesothelioma was not tracked as a specific cause of death by federal health officials until 1999, so actual totals for mesothelioma may be much higher.

It is the primary goal of to raise awareness in the public about mesothelioma and related asbestos diseases, to provide a forum for those affected by mesothelioma, and to create a network of information and resources expanding hope for a cure. is a public awareness and community outreach effort of Beasley, Allen, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C.

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer affecting the mesothelium, or the protective lining around our internal organs. It most commonly affects the linings of the lungs, abdomen and heart. Unfortunately, many symptoms of mesothelioma (shortness of breath, severe cough, chest pain) do not appear for 20 or more years, making it difficult to diagnose early. For this reason, the cancer is often diagnosed in the later stages, making it difficult for proper treatment and survival.

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U.S. Initially Unconcerned About Missile Parts To Taiwan
2008-03-27 03:44:39

After Taiwanese officials reported in early 2007 that four packages they had received from the U.S. military did not contain the helicopter batteries they had expected, U.S. officials suggested that Taiwan simply dispose of the incorrect items - which turned out to be parts for U.S. nuclear missiles.

In e-mail correspondence over several months between U.S. defense officials and Taiwan, the U.S. officials assumed that the erroneous shipment simply contained the wrong type of batteries, not that Taiwan had received four classified nuclear-related items that never should have left U.S. soil.

U.S. government officials familiar with the communications said yesterday that at some point between August 2006 and last week, Taiwan opened the drum-shaped packages and noticed that the items inside were labeled "secret" and that they included Mark 12 nose cones, which are used with U.S. intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Since early 2007, Taiwan had been asking U.S. officials to either reimburse it for the missing batteries or replace them, as part of billions of dollars in U.S. military sales to Taiwan over the past decade, but after the situation was resolved and U.S. authorities told the Taiwanese to get rid of the items they had received - missing warning signs of a serious breach - the Taiwanese double-checked the packages because of worries that discarding them could be dangerous.

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'Carbon Tariff' Could Bring Canadian Jobs Back From China
2008-03-27 15:34:45
Manufacturers that have relocated to China may soon be coming home if the Western world imposes a “carbon tariff” on countries that spew greenhouse gas emissions, according to Jeff Rubin, chief strategist and economist at CIBC World Markets.

Rubin, in a report issued on Thursday morning, said it is clear Western countries are moving quickly to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions and he highlighted that China's estimated emissions in 2007 supplanted the United States after rising rapidly through this decade.

Given the increasing emissions imbalance between the developed world and countries such as China, Rubin said the “only leverage is through trade access,” specifically a “carbon tariff.” Rubin predicted such a tariff, based on $45 per ton of carbon dioxide or equivalent, would be $55-billion annually, a 17-per cent levy on all Chinese imports to the U.S. - almost six times greater than the effective current import tariffs.

The main impact of such a scenario would be on companies that have moved their factories to China - and consumers in North America. In a world where carbon emissions cost nothing, moving to China, with its cheap labor, made perfect sense, said Rubin. That situation is unlikely to last, he added.

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Superbug MRSA Spreading Fast Warns Canadian Report
2008-03-27 15:33:36

A staggering 29,000 Canadian hospital patients acquired the superbug MRSA in a one-year period, including an estimated 2,300 whose deaths were partly attributed to the pernicious bacteria, federal figures released today show.

The increase in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus translates into 12,000 new infections plus 17,000 patients who became colonized, said Andrew Simor, co-chairman of the Canadian Nosocomial Infection Surveillance Program (CNISP). (Being colonized with MRSA means the patients are carriers who are not infected and show no symptoms.)

"Hospital infections are a major burden to good medical care," said Dr. Simor, who made the projections based on the just-released 2006 rates from 48 hospitals in nine provinces.

As the modern day scourge of the health-care system, hospital-acquired infections such as MRSA afflict 220,000 Canadians each year. The number who die from them - at least 8,000 - is equal to those killed by car accidents and breast cancer combined.

It's no wonder, then, that the Public Health Agency of Canada has taken on the superbug as a priority.

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Delta Cancelling Flights To Re-Inspect MD-88 Planes
2008-03-27 15:32:54
Flight cancellations caused headaches for people taking flights on Delta Air Lines from Atlanta on Thursday because of the company's voluntary re-inspection of wiring on its MD-88 airplanes.

Delta began the inspections Wednesday night, causing flights to be canceled and unsuspecting passengers to become frustrated.

Officials were expecting heavy volumes at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Thursday, Delta spokeswoman Chris Kelly said. Both Delta and the Transportation Security Administration were bringing in extra staff to handle the crowd of travelers, she said.

Kelly said she didn't yet have estimates on how many passengers were affected by the flight cancelations and urged travelers to check their flight's status on Delta's Web site.

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North Korea Expels All South Korean Diplomats
2008-03-27 15:32:14
South Korea on Thursday said that it was “deeply regrettable” that North Korea had ordered South Korea officials to leave its territory, but that South Korea was undaunted by the move.

The predawn expulsion on Thursday followed an announcement on Wednesday by the new South Korean president, Lee Myung-bak, that his government would not expand economic cooperation with North Korea unless it cooperated in dismantling its nuclear weapons programs.

All 11 South Korean government officials who were based in a jointly operated factory complex in Kaesong, a small town 37 miles from Seoul on the north side of the border between the two countries, returned to South Korea early Thursday after the North Korean authorities gave them three days to leave.

South Korea on Thursday warned that North Korea was worsening its own isolation by disrupting budding economic cooperation between the two Koreas. That cooperation can be seen in the industrial complex in Kaesong where 69 South Korean companies employ 23,000 North Koreans to produce shoes, clothing, watches and other goods.

“We will deal with this issue in a pragmatic way,” said Lee’s spokesman, Lee Dong-kwan. He said that the response would mix “flexibility” and “stern principle,” but did not elaborate.

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Britain Swoons For French First Lady
2008-03-27 15:31:03
Nicholas Sarkozy did most of the talking, but it was his wife who made the headlines.

On his first state visit to Britain, the French president discussed matters of international importance, sealed a string of big bilateral deals and hailed a new era of Franco-British brotherhood.

So what did Britain's media focus on Thursday? Pictures of model-turned-first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, alongside discussion of her chic Dior outfits, her effortless elegance - and her sensible low-heeled shoes.

Even Britain's notoriously Francophobe tabloid press was entranced. ''Carla, first lady of chic,'' proclaimed the Daily Mail. ''Ooh la la, Madame Sarko,'' said the Daily Express.

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AAA Cites Corvette, Scion As Insurance Extremes
2008-03-27 15:09:58
A 2007 Toyota Scion xD costs about $1,104 per year to insure, while a Chevy Corvette costs $2,039 to insure, according to an Automobile Club of Southern California survey released today.

Sticker prices are only one factor in determining insurance costs, according to the Auto Club, which noted that the Corvette lists for $44,170 and the Scion for $14,000.

"Our analysis shows that the least expensive vehicle isn't always the least expensive to insure, and that two similar models can have vastly different insurance premiums when optional features are added," said Steve Mazor, manager of the Auto Club's Automotive Research Center.

"New car buyers should remember to research how much the car of their dreams will cost to insure before they buy it."

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States, Cities Move To Refinance Debt
2008-03-27 15:09:38
States, cities, hospitals and major public agencies battered by wild interest rate swings in one sector of the municipal bond market are scrambling to refinance the debt as they add up the damages to their budgets and nurse some hard feelings.

The highest-profile fallout so far is the tightening of the student-loan market, including the suspension of new student loans by agencies in Pennsylvania, Iowa and Michigan.

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U.S. Increases Unilateral Strikes In Pakistan's Tribal Areas
2008-03-27 03:44:50

The United States has escalated its unilateral strikes against al-Qaeda members and fighters operating in Pakistan's tribal areas, partly because of anxieties that Pakistan's new leaders will insist on scaling back military operations in that country, according to U.S. officials.

Washington is worried that pro-Western President Pervez Musharraf, who has generally supported the U.S. strikes, will almost certainly have reduced powers in the months ahead, and so it wants to inflict as much damage as it can to al-Qaeda's network now, said the officials.

Over the past two months, U.S.-controlled Predator aircraft are known to have struck at least three sites used by al-Qaeda operatives. The moves followed a tacit understanding with Musharraf and Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani that allows U.S. strikes on foreign fighters operating in Pakistan, but not against the Pakistani Taliban, said the officials.

About 45 Arab, Afghan and other foreign fighters have been killed in the attacks, all near the Afghan border, said U.S. and Pakistani officials. The goal was partly to jar loose information on senior al-Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants, by forcing them to move in ways that U.S. intelligence analysts can detect. Local sources are providing better information to guide the strikes, said the officials.

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