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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Wednesday March 12 2008 - (813)

Wednesday March 12 2008 edition
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Carlyle Group May Buy Major CIA Contractor: Booz Allen Hamilton
2008-03-12 03:07:03
The Carlyle Group, one of the world's largest private equity funds, may soon acquire the $2 billion government contracting business of consulting giant Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the biggest suppliers of technology and personnel to the U.S. government's spy agencies. Carlyle manages more than $75 billion in assets and has bought and sold a long string of military contractors since the early 1990s. In recent years it has significantly reduced its investments in that industry. If it goes ahead with the widely reported plan to buy Booz Allen, it will re-emerge as the owner of one of America's largest private intelligence armies.

Reports of a potential Carlyle acquisition of Booz Allen's government unit began circulating among U.S. military contractors in December 2007, after Booz Allen's senior partners and board members - a group of 300 vice presidents who own the privately-held firm - gathered at company headquarters in McLean, Virginia, for an extraordinary two-day meeting.

According to a December 15 letter to Booz Allen employees from CEO Ralph W. Shrader that was released by the firm, the vice presidents signed off on a "new strategic direction" that would involve separating the company's commercial and government units and operating them as separate companies. That was widely seen, both inside and outside the company, as a sign that a sale of one or both of the units was imminent. Shrader said the company hoped to come to a resolution of the issues involved by March 31, 2008.

In January 2008, major newspapers - each quoting unnamed people close to the situation - reported that discussions between Booz Allen and Carlyle about the sale of the government unit were underway. According to the Wall Street Journal, the deal will be "centered on Booz Allen's influence in defense and intelligence contracting. If an agreement is reached the sale price will likely be around $2 billion."

Christopher Ullman, Carlyle's chief spokesman, could neither confirm nor deny that a deal was in the works, and declined to comment to CorpWatch about the reports. Because of Carlyle's long experience in the defense sector, he added, such companies "would be a priority for us when the price is right and it's the right fit for us." George Farrar, a Booz Allen spokesman, said his company "has refused to discuss particulars of any ongoing discussions" and would not comment beyond what Shrader wrote in his December 15 missive to Booz Allen's workforce.

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Commentary: Cheap Oil Is Over - Kiss The Gas Guzzling NASCAR Era Goodbye
2008-03-12 03:05:11
Intellpuke: The following commentary was written by James Howard Kunstler and is excerpted from an essay published in the book "Thrillcraft: The Environmental Consequences of Motorized Recreation" published by Chelsea Green Publishing. In his commentary Mr. Kunstler writes: "A suburban nation of snowmobilers, dirt bikers and NASCAR races - all of it was made possible by the one-time blessing of cheap oil." His commentary follows:

The tendency for symbolic behavior in human beings is impressive. We are naturally and unself-consciously metaphorical beings, especially as our technological culture has evolved, and we have developed more and bigger prosthetic extensions of our powers. By the 1960s, when America's industrial "smokestack" economy was at its zenith, cigarette smoking was at its peak, too. Forty percent of the adult population smoked, each smoker behaving like a little factory, expelling the by-products of combustion at all hours of the day and night. It was practically required as a mark of adulthood. It was at least an entitlement. You could smoke on the job and in the college classroom. You could smoke in the doctor's waiting room. You could smoke in your seat on an airplane - a little ashtray was provided right there in the armrest - and nobody was allowed to complain about it. Every middle-class household had ashtrays deployed on the coffee table, even if the members were themselves nonsmokers.

In those days, smoking was more central to socializing than sharing food. TV broadcasting was largely supported by tobacco advertising. Smoking denied the character of movie stars: Humphrey Bogart expressed the entire range of human emotions in the way he handled his beloved Chesterfields, and eventually they killed him. In the middle of Times Square, a mechanized billboard with a hole in it blew "smoke rings" of steam out over the masses on the sidewalk. The adult population had plumes of smoke coming out of its collective mouth and nostrils the way that our society had smoke coming out of its cities and mill valleys. Notice how cigarette smoking has waned in lockstep with the decline of American smokestack industry.

Along similar lines today, it's compelling to see how NASCAR auto racing has risen to the level of a mania in early 21st century America, as the nation has reached its absolute zenith of automobile use. Even as the world approached the all-time global oil production peak - with its ominous portents for social relations in this country - Americans rallied obliviously to the weekend proving grounds of the stock-car gods. NASCAR has eclipsed baseball, football and basketball in popularity among spectator sports. Of course, in real life, such as it was in America, driving automobiles had come to occupy a huge amount of the public's time, day in and day out. Many adults were spending a good two hours a day commuting to work and back.

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FBI Previously Surveilled Spitzer
2008-03-12 03:03:57
Weeks before a hotel meeting with a prostitute that threatens to derail his career, the FBI staked out New York Gov. Eliot L. Spitzerat the same hotel in an unsuccessful effort to catch him with a high-priced call girl, according to a person with knowledge of the investigation.

The FBI placed a surveillance team on Spitzer at the Mayflower Hotel for the first time on Jan. 26, after concluding from a wiretapped conversation that he might try to meet with a prostitute when he traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend a black-tie dinner, the source said Tuesday.

As new details emerged about the extent of the FBI's surveillance of Spitzer, the embattled governor spent the day secluded with his family and also met with a few close aides and his lawyers in his Fifth Avenue apartment, weighing whether to resign and facing calls for his impeachment if he does not.

Spitzer, a Democratic rising star and married father of three girls, was identified by a law enforcement source as the anonymous "Client-9" in court papers who paid for a prostitute to travel from New York to Washington, D.C., on Feb. 13 to meet him at a hotel. It was later identified as the Mayflower, the same hotel the FBI had staked out in January.

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Palestinian Twins Under Rocket Fire From Gaza
2008-03-12 03:02:17
When a Palestinian woman gave birth to twins in an Israeli hospital she experienced what it is like to be the target of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

The humming noise in the sky over Beit Lahia grows slowly louder. It sounds as if the buzzing of a hornet were being amplified by loud speakers in a football stadium. Residents of the Gaza Strip call them "Sannana," or the humming ones, the small unmanned drones that the Israelis use to scan the border region for rocket commandos - and then to liquidate them with precisely targeted missiles.

Ashraf Shafii has climbed onto the roof his house and is looking across strawberry fields toward the border wall. The smoke-belching towers of the power plant in the Israeli city of Ashkelon jut into the sky along the horizon. His wife is over there in Ashkelon today.

Shafii, a 34-year-old lab technician at the Islamic University of Gaza, glances at his six-year-old daughter. "We were so desperate to have more children," he says. For years, he waited in vain for his wife to bear a son. When she turned 30, the couple decided to get fertility treatment.

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Spitzer May Have Spent Big On Call Girls
2008-03-11 20:32:27
With pressure mounting on Gov. Eliot Spitzer to resign over a call-girl scandal, investigators said Tuesday he was clearly a repeat customer who spent tens of thousands of dollars - perhaps as much as $80,000 - with the high-priced prostitution service over an extended period of time.

Spitzer and his family, meanwhile, remained secluded in their Fifth Avenue apartment, while Republicans began talking impeachment, and few if any fellow Democrats came forward to defend him. A death watch of sorts began at the state Capitol, in Albany, where whispers of "What have you heard?" echoed through nearly every hallway of the ornate, 109-year-old building.

On Monday, when the scandal broke, prosecutors said in court papers that Spitzer had been caught on a wiretap spending $4,300 with the Emperors Club VIP call-girl service, with some of the money going toward a night with a prostitute named Kristen, and the rest to be used as credit toward future trysts. The papers also suggested that Spitzer had done this before.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a law enforcement official said Tuesday that Spitzer, in fact, had spent tens of thousands of dollars with the Emperors Club. Another official said the amount could be as high as $80,000, but it was not clear over what period of time that was spent.

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Stocks Jump 415 Points After Fed Reserve Credit Plan
2008-03-11 20:31:17

The U.S stock market jumped today as the Federal Reserve took new actions - for the second time in five days - to try to get markets for mortgages and other securities functioning again.

At the close of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average of 30 blue-chip stocks was up over 415 points, to 12,156.81. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index, a broader market measure, rose more almost 47 points, to 1,320.56. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index was higher by more than 86 points, to 2,255,76.

The central bank will auction off up to $200 billion in Treasury bonds, which large financial institutions can obtain by putting up highly rated mortgage-backed securities as collateral. The idea is to let Wall Street firms temporarily trade sound mortgage investments, which have created problems for the markets in the past two weeks, for ultra-safe Treasury bonds.

That, senior Fed staffers said in a conference call with reporters this morning, should help the markets return to more normal functioning.

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Obama Adviser Calls For Clinton Fundraiser, Ferraro, To Be Fired
2008-03-11 20:29:56

Former vice-presidential candidate and Hillary Clinton fundraiser Geraldine Ferraro sparked the latest storm in the Democratic presidential race today when she raised questions about Barack Obama's race, saying he has only been successful because he is a black man.

Obama's senior strategist David Axelrod called on the Clinton organization to fire Ferraro from her position, saying Clinton should better "police the tone of this campaign".

"Leadership in campaigns comes from the very top," he said. "The signals that have been sent from the Clinton campaign have been really unfortunate."

Ferraro, who ran for vice-president on Walter Mondale's ill-fated 1984 ticket, told a California newspaper, "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position". She continued, "And if he was a woman ... he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept". Ferraro implied that a woman of any racial background would face similar problems as Clinton has.

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Oil Hits Record $109 A Barrel, Deficit Widens
2008-03-11 15:28:35
Fuel prices siphoning money from U.S. economy.

Crude oil prices continued a record-breaking climb today that pushed it past $109 a barrel, while the price of regular unleaded gasoline at the pump came within half a cent of its all-time high.

A White House announcement that Vice President Cheney would probably ask Saudi Arabia to boost oil output during a trip to the Middle East next week did nothing to blunt a run-up in prices that yesterday added $3 to the cost of a barrel.

As the rising cost of crude oil trickles down to the gasoline pump, fuel prices are siphoning cash away from other consumer spending, making it harder to revive the flagging U.S. economy and putting pressure on the Bush administration. It also siphoned more money out of the country: The Commerce Department reported today that the U.S. trade deficit jumped in January to $58.2 billion, compared to $57.9 billion in December, as a record, $27.1 billion monthly bill for imported crude helped offset an increase in U.S. exports.

According to the auto club AAA, the price of gasoline climbed to $3.222 a gallon Monday, just shy of the $3.227 record set May 24.

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Federal Reserve To Lend $200 Billion To Ease Market Strain
2008-03-11 15:27:43

Scrambling to ease the strain on the credit market, the Federal Reserve announced a $200 billion program on Tuesday that would allow financial institutions, including the nation’s major investment banks, to borrow ultra-safe Treasury money by using some of their riskiest investments as collateral. Wall Street responded with a rally, with the Dow Jones  industrials surging more than 200 points.

This was the central bank’s second effort in a week to unfreeze the nation’s panicky credit markets, where investors have become too frightened to finance even conservative debt offerings, which in turn has caused a cash squeeze at seemingly solid financial institutions.

Stock markets soared after the announcement, fell back in midday trading and then regained momentum in the afternoon. At 2 p.m., the Dow industrials were at 11,986.09, a gain of 245.94, or 2.1 percent. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index was up 2 percent, and the Nasdaq composite index gained 2.2 percent.

The Fed normally lends Treasury securities to banks for just a few hours. Under the new program, money will be lent for 28 days and the central bank will accept non-government mortgage-backed securities - the source of the current crisis in the credit markets - as collateral. The Fed will require that the assets, which are linked to soured home loans, have a premium credit rating.

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Sovereign Funds May Surpass Global Foreign Reserves
2008-03-11 15:26:00
Sovereign wealth fund assets may soon surpass total official foreign reserves held by central banks and become the main vehicle for capital investment, a Morgan Stanley economist said on Tuesday.

The investment funds - large pools of capital controlled by a government and invested in private markets abroad - altogether control more than $2.8 trillion, but could reach $12 trillion in total assets by 2015, Morgan Stanley managing director Stephen Jen said in a conference call.

"The rate of growth is impressive. We are talking here of about $1 trillion per year in their asset pool, generated mainly by a boom in oil prices and other commodities," he said.

Most of the growth in the funds will come from Asia, although assets in Russia's National Wealth Fund could jump to as much as $619 billion by 2019 from about $32 billion at its inception in 2003, according to Jen.

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Belgium Government To Pay Holocaust Survivors
2008-03-11 15:25:00
The Belgian government and banks agreed on Tuesday to pay $170 million to Holocaust survivors, families of victims and the Jewish community for their material losses during Word War II.

Campaigners welcomed the decision to compensate those whose property and goods in Belgium had been looted by Nazi occupiers.

"In a certain way, justice has been done. Unfortunately there are people who never came back" from the Nazi death camps, said Eli Ringer, the co-chair of the committee on the restitution of Jewish assets.

Overall, $54 million will be paid to individual claimants with the rest going to a Jewish trust that will help the poor and keep the memory of the horrors of the Holocaust alive.

"So this money will be for the Jewish community and will help us to bring people to Auschwitz, (pay for) education, etc. This is very, very important to us," Ringer told Associated Press Television News.

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U.S. Agency Faces Court Action For Delay In Protecting Polar Bears
2008-03-11 03:44:02
Critics say delay is to allow oil and gas lease sales to go forward in Arctic.

The U.S. government agency responsible for including the polar bear on its list of endangered species faced a new legal challenge Monday over its failure to protect the supreme Arctic predator. Environmental groups are ready to sue the Bush administration in federal court in California, claiming the Fish and Wildlife Service was in breach of its own mandate.

A decision on classifying the polar bear as threatened due to global warming was to have been made by January 9, a year after consultations began on the issue. Officially, the service says it is still reviewing technical data and more than 670,000 comments on the issue but its own inspector general has announced a preliminary investigation into the delay to determine whether a full investigation is warranted.

Environmental campaigners widely believe the decision is being held up by the administration so it can complete sales of valuable oil and gas leases in coastal waters in Alaska that are considered prime bear habitat.

"The Bush administration seems intent on slamming shut the narrow window of opportunity we have to save polar bears," said Kassie Siegel, the climate program director at the Center for Biological Diversity, which - along with Greenpeace and the National Resource Defense Council - is involved in the court action.

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Gulf War Syndrome's Chemical-Origin Theory Upheld
2008-03-11 03:43:01
A review of medical studies on Gulf War syndrome supports the theory that the still-hazy disorder was caused by a group of related chemicals found in pesticides used around military facilities and anti-nerve-gas pills given to soldiers, according to a study released Monday.

A similar chemical was also found in nerve gas that was inadvertently released when U.S. soldiers destroyed a munitions depot just after the 1991 war, according to the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The group of chemicals, known as acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, has long been discussed as a possible cause of Gulf War syndrome.

The review "thoroughly, conclusively shows that this class of chemicals actually are a cause of illness in Gulf War veterans," said Dr. Beatrice Golomb, an associate professor of medicine at University of Californiat at San Diego and the author of the latest paper.
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Britain's Leading Homebuilder Sees Sales Plunge 20%
2008-03-11 03:41:42

Bovis Homes delivered the most gloomy assessment yet about the state of Britain's housing market Monday as it urged the Bank of England to cut interest rates after suffering a 20% fall in sales so far this year.

Malcolm Harris, chief executive of Bovis, said it is only a matter of time before the company had to start cutting jobs if conditions did not improve, adding that mortgage lenders should also do their bit to make it easier for homeowners to borrow money.

Rival housebuilders have reported a less steep downturn in orders and have given relatively upbeat messages about the future but Bovis bucked that trend, painting a bleak picture that sent its shares sliding 12.5% and dragged down others in the sector.

"I believe lower interest rates would benefit the economy and benefit the sector," said Harris. "If interest rates do not come down and if the spring selling season is not positive, then we could see volumes will be down in excess of 20% for the full year."

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Shuttle Endeavour Enroute To International Space Station
2008-03-11 03:40:46
Space shuttle Endeavour and a crew of seven blasted into orbit Tuesday on what was to be the longest space station mission ever, a 16-day voyage to build a gangly robot and add a new room that will serve as a closet for a future lab.

The space shuttle roared from its seaside pad at 2:28 a.m., lighting up the sky for miles around.

It was a rare treat: The last time NASA launched a shuttle at nighttime was in 2006. Only about a quarter of shuttle flights have begun in darkness.

"Good luck and Godspeed, and we'll see you back here in 16 days," launch director Mike Leinbach radioed to the astronauts right before liftoff.
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Scientists Spot White Orca Off Alaska
2008-03-11 01:27:48
A white killer whale (Orca) spotted in Alaska's Aleutian Islands sent researchers and the ship's crew scrambling for their cameras.

The nearly mythic creature was real after all.

"I had heard about this whale, but we had never been able to find it," said Holly Fearnbach, a research biologist with the National Marine Mammal Laboratory in Seattle who photographed the rarity. "It was quite neat to find it."

The whale was spotted last month while scientists aboard the Oscar Dyson, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research ship, were conducting an acoustic survey of pollock near Steller sea lion haulout sites.

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Obama Easily Wins Mississippi Primary
2008-03-12 03:05:45
Barack Obama rolled up a commanding victory Tuesday in the Mississippi primary, padding his delegate lead and gaining a psychological boost ahead of next month's big Democratic showdown in Pennsylvania.

The results reflected a stark racial divide - more than nine in 10 African Americans voted for Obama, while seven in 10 whites backed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, according to exit polls. Overall, black voters accounted for roughly half the vote.

The win was the second in four days for Obama, who also bested Clinton in Saturday's Wyoming caucuses. Although the victory was expected, given Mississippi's large black population and Obama's consistently strong support among African Americans, the win offered the Illinois senator a lift after several rough campaign days.

The Democratic race, which had seemed nearly settled, was thrown wide open last week when Clinton bounced back from an 11-contest losing streak to edge Obama in three of four states, including crucial victories in the Texas and Ohio primaries. Days later, an Obama advisor, Samantha Power, was forced to step aside after disparaging Clinton in an overseas newspaper interview.
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Hundreds Of Baby Seals Could Starve To Death
2008-03-12 03:04:35

Rising temperatures could spell disaster for seals living in the Baltic Sea in northern Europe. An environment group is warning that hundreds of baby seals are now facing a painful death.

For many, global warming hangs like an uncertain threat sometime far off in the future but, for hundreds of baby seals in the Baltic Sea, climate change is making itself felt this winter. And for many of them, the result could be death.

According to a Monday warning by the environmental lobbying group WWF, hundreds of baby ringed seals born this winter could die in coming weeks due to lack of food or from cold because there is not enough snow and ice in the Baltic Sea.

"The situation is dramatic," Cathrin Munster, of the WWF's Baltic office, warned Monday in a statement. "It could turn out that not one of the seal babies born in the last few weeks will survive."

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U.S. House Propses Relief For Phone Firms In Wiretapping Bill, But Not Immunity
2008-03-12 03:03:31

House Democratic leaders announced Tuesday their support for providing some relief to phone companies that have been sued for assisting the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program but reaffirmed their opposition to the legal immunity sought by the administration. The proposal would allow the companies, which face nearly 40 civil lawsuits in a federal court in San Francisco, California, to defend themselves in secret, in front of a judge but without the plaintiffs. Leaders intend to organize a floor vote on it Wednesday.

Allowing such "ex parte" review of classified evidence is meant to defuse the administration's argument that the companies cannot respond to the lawsuits now without disclosing classified information that would harm national security, and that the companies should, therefore, be immunized.

The decision not to budge on the immunity issue reflects an apparent calculation by the Democrats that they can continue to defy the White House on a security concern in an election year.

"The Democrats always risk getting beaten up," said House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Maryland) at a news briefing yesterday. "But ... our citizens expect us to protect their private records while at the same time expecting us to facilitate the work of the intelligence community. I think that's what we've done."

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Angela Merkel Allowed To Address Israeli Knesset In German
2008-03-12 03:01:42
A legal controversy over German Chancellor Angela Merkel's request to speak to Israel's parliament during an upcoming state visit has been settled, but some Knesset members may still walk out.

A committee of Israeli lawmakers voted Tuesday to allow German Chancellor Angela Merkel to address the Knesset in German during her visit next week to mark Israel's 60th anniversary. The decision bends a rule which says only "presidents, heads of state, and kings" - but not explicitly chancellors - may speak to Israel's parliament.

The Knesset House Committee's 7-2 decision to let Merkel give a speech ends a legal squabble, but protests lodged by the two nay-voting members make the ruling more than just a technicality.

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Top U.S. Military Commander In Middle East Resigns
2008-03-11 20:31:57

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced Tuesday that the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, Adm. William J. "Fox" Fallon, is retiring at the end of the month because of perceptions that he is at odds with Bush administration policy on Iran.

Gates told a hastily arranged news conference at the Pentagon that these perceptions were false, but he said Fallon has "made the right decision".

Gates quoted Fallon as having told him early this morning that "the current embarrassing situation, public perception of differences between my views and administration policy, and the distraction this causes from the mission make this the right thing to do." Gates said he approved Fallon's request to retire "with reluctance and regret."

Contrary to a recent Esquire magazine article that described differences between Fallon and the White House, Gates said, the admiral's departure does not mean that the United States is heading toward war with Iran.

"That's just ridiculous," said Gates.

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Ashcroft Says 'No Conflict' In $50 Million No-Bid Contract
2008-03-11 20:30:44

Former U.S. attorney general John D. Ashcroft Tuesday strenuously defended a government-sanctioned contract that could earn his consulting firm more than $50 million, saying there is no conflict of interest in the appointment made by one of his former U.S. attorneys.

Ashcroft has come under scrutiny from Democratic lawmakers since he accepted a no-bid contract to oversee the operations of an Indiana medical equipment company which is accused of giving kickbacks to doctors. He was chosen by U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie, of New Jersey, a Republican who once worked for Ashcroft.

"There is not a conflict," said Ashcroft. "There is not an appearance of conflict."

Ashcroft's testimony to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law marked his first appearance before Congress since he left his post as head of the Justice Department in late 2004, officials said.

In addition to defending his current work, Ashcroft used the occasion to herald some of his accomplishments as attorney general, including generally declining crime rates and aggressive anti-terrorism programs.

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Televangelist's Husband Pleads Guilty To Assault
2008-03-11 20:29:31
The husband of televangelist Juanita Bynum pleaded guilty Tuesday to assaulting her, was sentenced to three years' probation and then turned to her and apologized.

Thomas W. Weeks III, a minister known to his followers as Bishop Weeks, turned after his sentencing to address Bynum, who sat in the second row of the Fulton County courtroom gallery.

"I want to apologize to my wife for all she's had to go through," he said.

Bynum nodded in response and quietly thanked him. The two later walked out of the courthouse together.

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Government Reports Warn Of Sea-Rise Threat To U.S. Coasts
2008-03-11 15:28:09

Sea level rise and other changes fueled by global warming threaten roads, rail lines, ports, airports and other important infrastructure, according to new government reports, and policy makers and planners should be acting now to avoid or mitigate their effects.

While increased heat and “intense precipitation events” threaten these structures, the greatest and most immediate potential impact is coastal flooding, according to one of the reports, by an expert panel convened by the National Research Council, the research arm of the National Academy of Sciences. Another study, a multiagency effort led by the Environmental Protection Agency, sounds a similar warning on coastal infrastructure but adds that natural features like beaches, wetlands and fresh water supplies are also threatened by encroaching salt water.

The reports are not the first to point out that rising seas, inevitable in a warming world, are a major threat. For example, in a report last September, the Miami-Dade County Climate Change Task Force noted that a two-foot rise by 2100, the prediction of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “would make life in South Florida very difficult for everyone.”

The new reports offer detailed assessments of vulnerability in the relatively near term. Both note that coastal areas are thickly populated, economically important and gaining people and investment by the day, even as scientific knowledge of the risks they face increases. Use of this knowledge by policy makers and planners is “inadequate,” said the academy panel.

“It’s time for the transportation people to put these things into their thought processes,” Henry G. Schwartz , Jr., a member of the National Academy of Engineering and chairman of the panel, said in an interview. The 218-page academy report, “Potential Impacts of Climate Change on U.S. Transportation,” was issued Tuesday and is available at . 

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Aides Expect New York Gov. Spitzer To Resign
2008-03-11 15:26:45

New York Lt. Gov. David A. Paterson said he was in limbo on Tuesday afternoon as he and the rest of the state awaited word on whether Gov. Eliot Spitzer would resign.

The governor remained in his Fifth Avenue apartment in Manhattan a day after law enforcement officials said he was a client of a high-priced prostitution ring broken up last week by federal authorities. Spitzer, 48, a first-term Democrat, was said by aides to be considering resigning, but no official announcement had been made Tuesday afternoon.

Paterson also said he had not heard from the governor on Tuesday.

“The governor called me yesterday, he said he didn’t resign for a number of reasons, and he didn’t go into the reasons, and that’s the last I’ve heard from him,” he said.

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At Least 24 Killed, 170 Wounded In Pakistan Bombings
2008-03-11 15:25:25
Government officials in Pakistan placed the country on high alert Tuesday after two powerful bomb blasts killed at least 24 people and injured 170 in coordinated attacks in the city of Lahore.

The first blast occurred at about 9:30 a.m. in the center of Lahore, inside the offices of the Pakistani Federal Investigation Agency as hundreds of agency staff arrived for work, according to government officials. The devastating explosion partially sheared off one side of the building, blew out dozens of windows and left a deep crater around the multi-story building.

The blast appeared to come from a bomb that was planted in a vehicle parked in a lot near the agency's office on Temple Road, said retired Brig. Javed Iqbal Cheema, a spokesman for Pakistan's Ministry of the Interior. Cheema said the explosion killed 12 agency workers almost instantly.

The second blast occurred several miles away when a suicide bomber drove a pick-up truck into a house in the residential area of Model Town. The explosion killed a man and two children who were playing nearby, said government officials and witnesses.

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U.S. Buyout Industry Staggers Under Weight Of Debt
2008-03-11 03:44:31
With their big paydays and bigger egos, private equity moguls came to symbolize an era of hyper-wealth on Wall Street.

Now their fortunes are plummeting.

Celebrated buyout firms like the Blackstone Group and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company, hailed only a year ago for their deal-making prowess, are seeing their profits collapse as the credit crisis spreads through the financial markets.

Investors fear that some of the companies that these firms bought on credit could, like millions of American homeowners, begin to buckle under their heavy debts now that a recession seems almost certain. The buyout lords themselves suddenly confront gaping multibillion-dollar losses on their investments.

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Liquidity Rumors Cause Bear Stearns Shares To Drop 14%
2008-03-11 03:43:32

Rumors of a liquidity crisis at Bear Stearns sent the Wall Street brokerage's shares diving by 14% to a five-year low Monday, prompting the chairman of its executive committee to hit out at "totally ridiculous" speculation.

Bear Stearns, which employs 14,000 people, has been among the financial institutions worst hit by the sub-prime home loans crisis. It lost more than $1.9 billion on mortgage-linked securities last year.

In a sign of a sudden weakening in confidence, the cost of insuring Bear Stearns' debt jumped by 1.5 percentage points to 5.9% during early trading for credit default swaps in New York.

The firm's shares opened at $70.28 and dropped to $60.26 at one point, before recovering to $63.94 by lunchtime on Wall Street. Alan Greenberg, who chairs the bank's executive committee, expressed frustration. "It's ridiculous, totally ridiculous," he told CNBC television. "They're rumors. What can I do about it?"

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In U.S., Domestic Terror Groups In Disarray Since Sept. 11, 2001
2008-03-11 03:42:31
Three years after foreign terrorists killed nearly 3,000 Americans in the Sept. 11 attacks, Steve Holten left the San Francisco Bay Area, drove east through the Tahoe National Forest, skirted the Truckee River and settled himself in Reno, Nevada. Here he proclaimed himself a lieutenant colonel of the local chapter of Aryan Nations. He sent an e-mail to area newspapers declaring war on the federal government, the media and the Jews.

But no war came. Holten's career as a domestic terrorist was short and uneventful. FBI agents promptly arrested him, and a federal grand jury indicted him for transmitting a threatening e-mail. He pleaded guilty and served four months in prison. After getting out he contracted the AIDS virus, and he was rearrested, this time for soliciting a man for sex in a nearby city park.

With shaved head and Nazi lightning-bolt tattoos on his neck, Holten is emblematic of how far the anti-government terrorism movement has sunk in the years since the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center.

Richard Butler was a lion of the movement. He built the Church of Jesus Christ Christian/Aryan Nations from a barbed-wire-encircled compound in Hayden, Idaho, into a hate empire. But when he died in September 2004, at age 86, he left a depleted organization with two factions feuding over the detritus.
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High Winds, Rain And Snow Bring Parts Of U.K. To Standstill
2008-03-11 03:41:20

Planes, trains, ferries and hovercraft were canceled Monday as wind, rain and snow brought parts of the U.K. to a standstill.

In the end, the weather didn't quite justify the apocalyptic early morning predictions - or, arguably, Prime Minister Gordon Brown calling a crisis meeting - but the storm forced well over 200 cancellations in and out of Heathrow, and 10 inbound flights to Gatwick were diverted to other airports.

Train services were delayed by damaged power lines, and trees blocked many roads. The AA said it was anticipating 16,000 call-outs, compared with 9,500 on an average day.

It was a good day for Eurotunnel, when it became the only available option to reach France after the port of Dover closed for much of the morning. Ferries from Holyhead to Dublin and from Pembroke to Rosslare were also called off, as were hovercraft from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight. P&O Ferries has canceled Tuesday's sailing from Bilbao in northern Spain to Portsmouth.

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Iran Bars Contact With Its Nuclear Scientists
2008-03-11 03:40:26

Iranian nuclear engineer Mohsen Fakhrizadeh lectures weekly on physics at Tehran's Imam Hossein University. Yet for more than a decade, according to documents attracting interest among Western governments, he also ran secret programs aimed at acquiring sensitive nuclear technology for his government.

Experts at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have repeatedly invited Fakhrizadeh to tea and a chat about Iran's nuclear work but, for two years, the government in Tehran has barred any contact with the scientist, who U.S. officials say recently moved to a new lab in a heavily guarded compound also off-limits to U.N. inspectors.

The exact nature of his research - past and present - remains a mystery, as does the work of other key Iranian scientists whose names appear in documents detailing what U.N. officials say is a years-long, clandestine effort to expand the country's nuclear capability. The documents, which were provided to the IAEA, the U.N. nuclear agency, in recent months by two countries other than the United States, partly match information in a stolen Iranian laptop turned over by Washington.

IAEA officials say these documents identify Fakhrizadeh and other civilian scientists as central figures in a secret nuclear research program that operated as recently as 2003. So far, however, Iran is refusing to shed light on their work or allow U.N. officials to question them. After being presented with copies of some of the new documents, Tehran denied that some of the scientists exist.

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Blogger Jagmedic said...

Gulf War vets committee in limbo, Temple meetingcanceled
Sunday, March 08, 2009

I am sad to hear this information. I used attend every hearing on gulf war syndrome for the veterans of Massachusetts. This is the first committee which had a veterans as their PRIMARY source of health care. This veteran had fought Schedule appointments and to get the diagnostic testing he deserve. Thiis individual would write after meeting reports in a timely manner (48 hours). It gave me hope that the VA was working thru the learning curve on how our unsual sympthoms could be treating. This committee had used of telecoference phone service. I listen to the last meeting from my hospital bed. Will the last forum of Transparence disappear.
Venus Hammack

4:25 PM  

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