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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

[Spam (4) ssss] [Disarmed] Free Internet Press Newsletter - Wednesday March 5 2008 - (813)

Wednesday March 5 2008 edition
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Newsblog: Clinton Wins Ohio, Texas Primaries
2008-03-05 03:42:51

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton defeated Sen. Barack Obama in Ohio Tuesday and, according to television network projections,  also claimed a primary victory in Texas.

CBS, CNN and NBC called the race for Clinton in Texas shortly before 1 a.m. Eastern time. With 76 percent of precincts reporting, Clinton led Obama, 51 percent to 47 percent.

In Ohio, Clinton led Obama 55 percent to 43 percent, with 88 percent of the precincts reporting. Clinton, taking the stage in Columbus to chants of "Hill-a-ry", acknowledged Tuesday night that many had counted her out before Tuesday night.

"For anyone in Ohio or America who's ever been counted out but refused to be knocked out, for everyone who has stumbled but stood right back up, for everyone who worked hard and never gives up, this one is for you," Clinton said to massive applause.

Putting to rest rumors that she might end her campaign depending on the results of yesterday's vote, Clinton offered an affirmative assertion she would continue on. "We're going on, we're going strong and we're going all the way," Clinton said.

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'Flushing' A Natural Wonder
2008-03-05 03:42:20
Water releases meant to renew the Grand Canyon's river bottom are ill-timed and serve hydropower firms, say park officials.

The Grand Canyon is about to take a bath, and National Park Service officials who oversee the natural wonder are worried.

Federal flood control managers, led by Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, this week plan to unleash millions of cubic feet of water from behind Glen Canyon Dam to "flush" the huge canyon bottom with a simulated springtime flood.

Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Geological Survey specialists say the 60-hour "blowout," followed by a series of smaller flows this fall, are needed to scour accumulated sand off the Colorado River bottom, then gradually restore sandy beaches and side pools for endangered species and campers.
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U.N. Warns Drug Cartels Running Rampant
2008-03-05 03:41:43

The United Nation will issue a warning Wednesday that major drug traffickers are operating with virtual impunity because governments across the world are failing to target cartels. Instead, they are concentrating on small-time users, a strategy the U.N. says has led to the "rampant flow" of drugs into fresh markets through new international trade routes.

According to the 127-page annual report from the U.N.'s International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), governments need to make greater efforts to freeze traffickers' assets, improve access to drug treatment programs and expand the range of non-custodial sentences available for convicted users.

The main findings were:

-- The emergence of new smuggling routes, in particular cocaine from South America being stockpiled and repackaged in west Africa before entering Europe.

-- Increased cultivation of coca bushes - from which cocaine is derived - in Peru and Bolivia as crop eradication programs reduce production in Colombia.

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Climate Scientist James Lovelock: 'Enjoy Life While You Can'
2008-03-05 03:40:58
Climate science maverick James Lovelock believes catastrophe is inevitable, carbon offsetting is a joke and ethical living a scam. So what would he do?

In 1965 executives at Shell wanted to know what the world would look like in the year 2000. They consulted a range of experts, who speculated about fusion-powered hovercrafts and "all sorts of fanciful technological stuff". When the oil company asked the scientist James Lovelock, he predicted that the main problem in 2000 would be the environment. "It will be worsening then to such an extent that it will seriously affect their business," he said.

"And of course," Lovelock says, with a smile 43 years later, "that's almost exactly what's happened."

Lovelock has been dispensing predictions from his one-man laboratory in an old mill in Cornwall since the mid-1960s, the consistent accuracy of which have earned him a reputation as one of Britain's most respected - if maverick - independent scientists. Working alone since the age of 40, he invented a device that detected CFCs, which helped detect the growing hole in the ozone layer, and introduced the Gaia hypothesis, a revolutionary theory that the Earth is a self-regulating super-organism. Initially ridiculed by many scientists as new age nonsense, today that theory forms the basis of almost all climate science.

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Surprise - NOT! U.K. Energy Firms Launch Pre-Emptive Strike Against Windfall Profits Tax
2008-03-05 03:40:23

Britain's energy companies launched a pre-emptive strike Tuesday night on the government ahead of next week's budget, warning that any windfall tax on the industry would undermine investment in green power projects and other measures to combat climate change.

The companies fear ministers are considering a windfall tax on the industry after a public outcry greeted moves to raise household bills by as much as 15% in recent weeks.

British Gas, whose Centrica parent group is behind a number of wind farm and other renewable schemes, said it was vital companies had a "stable, predictable investment climate" in Britain if they were to deliver the billions of pounds of funding needed for green power generation.

Drax, the owner of the country's biggest single coal-fired power station, also issued a clear warning to ministers. "A surprise or shock tax is very destabilizing for the industry when making long-term investments," said Dorothy Thompson, the chief executive of the company.

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MailScanner has detected a possible fraud attempt from "" claiming to be Unlike Consumers, U.S. Companies Are Piling Up Cash
2008-03-05 03:39:32

At least someone knows how to fill a piggy bank.

Unlike most American consumers, whose failure to save has exasperated economists for years, the typical American corporation has increased its savings so sharply that it probably has enough cash on hand to completely pay off its debts.

That should be good news in an economy unsettled by rising energy prices, tightening credit, gyrating stock prices and declining values for the dollar and the family homestead. Indeed, the Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, cited strong corporate balance sheets as a bright spot in the darkening forecast he presented to Congress last week.

Some analysts also speculate that these cash-rich companies may start sharing their wealth with investors through special dividends, providing welcome stimulus for the economy.

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Editorial: Priced Out Of The Market
2008-03-05 03:39:02
Intellpuke: The following editorial appeared in the New York Times edition for Monday, March 3, 2008.

The world’s food situation is bleak, and shortsighted policies in the United States and other wealthy countries - which are diverting crops to environmentally dubious biofuels - bear much of the blame.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the price of wheat is more than 80 percent higher than a year ago, and corn prices are up by a quarter. Global cereal stocks have fallen to their lowest level since 1982.

As usual, the brunt is falling disproportionately on the poor. The F.A.O. estimates that the cereal import bill of the neediest countries will increase by a third for the second year in a row. Prices have gone so high that the World Food Program, which aims to feed 73 million people this year, said it might have to reduce rations or the number of people it will help.

The world has faced periodic bouts when it looked as if population growth would outstrip the food supply. Each time, food production has grown to meet demand. This time it might not be so easy.

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China's Military Spending Dramatically Increasing
2008-03-05 03:38:20
China announced a further sharp increase in military spending on Tuesday, a day after the United States renewed its warning that a lack of openness surrounding the rapid buildup of the Chinese armed forces posed a threat to stability in Asia.

China’s military budget for 2008 will increase by 17.6 percent to 417.77 billion yuan, or about $58.8 billion, Jiang Enzhu, spokesman for the National People’s Congress, China’s legislature, told a news conference.

This follows a 17.8 percent increase in 2007.

Before the annual legislative session, which begins Wednesday, Jiang also said the situation in the Taiwan Strait was “grim and complex” and called on the Taiwanese president, Chen Shui-bian, to halt what Beijing described as unacceptable moves toward independence. China considers the island of Taiwan a breakaway province.

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Train Derails In Mecca, California, Spilling Toxic Acid
2008-03-05 03:36:56
About 60 residents were evacuated Monday night after a Union Pacific freight train derailed in the Riverside County town of Mecca, California, spilling toxic acid as flames spread.

No one was injured during or after the derailment, about 140 miles southeast of Los Angeles, said authorities. As of Tuesday morning, investigators had not determined the cause.

The 65-car train was traveling from West Colton to El Centro at about 8:45 p.m. Monday when it derailed, spilling phosphoric acid from at least one car and possibly hydrochloric acid from another, according to Union Pacific spokesman James Barnes, who was at the scene this morning.

Hydrochloric acid, used to manufacture fertilizers and dyes, can damage the eyes, skin and mucous membranes, and short-term inhalation can cause fluid buildup in the lungs, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Phosphoric acid is milder, often used to remove rust and prepare steel for painting.
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Rice, Abbas Differ On Peace Talks
2008-03-05 03:36:14
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Israel must "halt its aggression" toward Gaza in order for peace negotiations to proceed, a stark contrast with the U.S. government's call for Hamas militants to stop firing rockets into southern Israel.

Appearing before reporters with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Abbas said he wanted to resume peace talks, but could not do while an Israeli offensive into Gaza continued.

Rice called on Israel to "make a very strong effort to spare innocent life" in Gaza, but did not rescind her earlier position that walking away from negotiations would be a victory for those who oppose peace.

"First and foremost, Hamas needs to stop firing rockets into Israeli cities," Rice said Monday.

In Cairo early Tuesday, she added that Israel must avoid civilian casualties and ensure that the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip is eased. Most important, she said, peace talks should go on.

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U.N. Security Council Adds Sanctions Against Iran
2008-03-05 03:35:37
The Security Council on Monday adopted its third resolution imposing sanctions on Iran for its refusal to cease enriching uranium, an activity that the West suspects Iran may be using to create fuel for a nuclear weapon.

The previous two measures gained unanimous support of the 15-member panel, but in balloting on Monday, Indonesia abstained, saying it “remained to be convinced of the efficacy of adopting additional sanctions at this juncture.” Fourteen countries voted in favor.

The resolution authorizes inspections of cargo to and from Iran that is suspected of carrying prohibited equipment, tightens the monitoring of Iranian financial institutions and extends travel bans and asset freezes against persons and companies involved in the nuclear program.

It adds 13 names to the existing list of 5 individuals and 12 companies subject to travel and asset restrictions. The new names include people with direct responsibility for building fast-spinning centrifuges that enrich uranium ore and a brigadier general engaged in “efforts to get around the sanctions” in the two earlier resolutions.

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U.S. Plotted To Overthrow Hamas After Its Election Victory
2008-03-05 03:34:40

The Bush administration, caught out by the rise of Hamas, embarked on a secret project for the armed overthrow of the Islamist government in Gaza, it emerged Monday.

Vanity Fair reports in its April edition that President George Bush and the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, signed off on a plan for the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, to remove the Hamas authorities in Gaza. The plan called for Washington's allies in the region to funnel arms and salaries to Fatah fighters who would lead a rising against Hamas.

But the project was controversial even within the administration, the magazine reports. "There were severe fissures among neoconservatives over this," David Wurmser, a former Middle East adviser to the vice-president, Dick Cheney, told the magazine. "We were ripping each other to pieces."

Wurmser resigned his post in the vice-president's office in July 2007, only weeks after bloody clashes in Gaza between Hamas and Fatah that led to the Islamist organisation taking total control of the territory. "It looks to me that what happened wasn't so much a coup by Hamas but an attempted coup by Fatah that was pre-empted before it could happen," he said.

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Human Immune Systems Increasingly Under Attack
2008-03-05 03:42:34

First, asthma cases shot up, along with hay fever and other common allergic reactions, such as eczema. Then, pediatricians started seeing more children with food allergies. Now, experts are increasingly convinced that a suspected jump in lupus, multiple sclerosis and other afflictions caused by misfiring immune systems is real.

Though the data are stronger for some diseases than others, and part of the increase may reflect better diagnoses, experts estimate that many allergies and immune-system diseases have doubled, tripled or even quadrupled in the last few decades, depending on the ailment and country. Some studies now indicate that more than half of the U.S. population has at least one allergy.

The cause remains the focus of intense debate and study, but some researchers suspect the concurrent trends all may have a common explanation rooted in aspects of modern living - including the "hygiene hypothesis" that blames growing up in increasingly sterile homes, changes in diet, air pollution, and possibly even obesity and increasingly sedentary lifestyles.

"We have dramatically changed our lives in the last 50 years," said Fernando Martinez, who studies allergies at the University of Arizona. "We are exposed to more products. We have people with different backgrounds being exposed to different environments. We have made our lives more antiseptic, especially early in life. Our immune systems may grow differently as a result. And we may be paying a price for that."

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Oil Money Is Coming And There Is Little The West Can Do About It
2008-03-05 03:42:07
Energy producing countries are buying global power after decades of subjugation.

Larry Summers was in full flow. Addressing a packed meeting on sovereign wealth funds (SWF) at the Davos gathering of the World Economic Forum in January, the former U.S. Treasury Secretary told the investment arms of foreign governments they should sign up to a code of conduct and be more transparent.

In a telling sign of the shift in the balance of global economic power, the sovereign wealth funds told Summers to get lost.

The Saudis accused him of double standards: hedge funds were not being regulated despite causing mayhem in the financial markets, so why pick on SWFs? The Russians - reveling in Washington's discomfort - said American attempts to restrict investment were "not helpful".

This week the fears resurfaced. Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, said Brussels could not allow non-European funds "to be run in an opaque manner or used as an implement of geopolitical strategy".

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Editorial: Border Insecurity
2008-03-05 03:41:25
Intellpuke: The following editorial appeared in the New York Times edition for Tuesday, March 4, 2008.

From San Diego on the Pacific to Brownsville on the Rio Grande, a steel curtain is descending across the continent. Behind it lies a nation so confused and conflicted by its immigration problems that it has decided to wall itself off and wait for things to fix themselves. This country once was a confident global magnet for an invigorating flow of immigrant workers and citizens-to-be. Now it is just hunkering.

The evidence of this neurosis is visible at the border with Mexico, where the Department of Homeland Security has been rushing to reinforce an ineffective system of fencing and sensors, trucks and boots on the ground. The mission, imposed upon it by Congress after a wearying stalemate on immigration reform, is a mandate to do the impossible, at record speed and at record expense.

This commitment to enforcement alone, without fixing legal immigration, was always Plan B. Even President Bush, the master of the botched federal initiative, predicted it would fail. He is looking unusually prescient.

In Arizona, a 28-mile pilot project to build a “virtual fence” of sensors and cameras has fallen short of expectations. The problem, according to the Government Accountability Office, was too much haste and too little consultation with the Border Patrol. The main contractor, Boeing, rushed into the project with the wrong software. Its cameras couldn’t focus on targets, and systems were confounded by innocuous things like rain. The Bush administration has confused things further by saying the system is working as planned - but won’t be expanded.

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European Homes, Property Losing Value
2008-03-05 03:40:42

Britons and others with second homes abroad are facing a grim year, with the value of property across Europe likely to fall as the long-running continental housing boom finally runs out of steam, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) warned Wednesday.

The RICS annual survey of European housing markets found that almost all countries suffered either a sharp drop in house price inflation or actual falls as a result of a rise in interest rates in the eurozone and elsewhere in Europe.

"The knock-on effect of European Central Bank interest rate policies and general rises in interest rates have led to the noticeable slowing of Europe's housing markets," said the report.

The ECB raised rates to 4% last year from 2% at the end of 2005, leading to a sharp rise in mortgage rates for holiday homeowners who had taken out variable-rate mortgages. About 300,000 Britons have a second home abroad.

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Venezuela, Ecuador Order Troops To Columbia Border
2008-03-05 03:39:54
Bogota ratchets up tension with call for Chavez to face genocide charges.

Venezuelan and Ecuadorean troops deployed on Colombia's frontier Tuesday night as South America's military and diplomatic crisis escalated into a dangerous showdown between President Hugo Chavez and Colombia's U.S.-backed government.

Venezuela started shutting crossing points on the 1,400-mile border to try to isolate its neighbor after Bogota made a series of extraordinary allegations about the Venezuelan leader funding Marxist guerrillas intent on building a uranium-enriched "dirty" bomb.

"Colombia proposes to denounce Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, in the international criminal court for sponsoring and financing genocide," said President Alvaro Uribe.

The Organization of American States, a pan-regional body, held an emergency meeting in Washington, D.C., to seek a diplomatic solution after President George Bush sided with Colombia, his administration's key ally in Latin America. The U.S. president accused Venezuela of "provocative manoeuvres" and said he stood by Bogota and its fight against terrorism. He also urged Congress to approve a free-trade agreement with Colombia.

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U.S. Construction Drop Hits 14-Year High
2008-03-05 03:39:16
Confirming for many that the economy will get worse before it gets better, construction spending in January recorded its sharpest decline in 14 years while a closely watched indicator of manufacturing activity dropped last month to its lowest level in five years.

The Commerce Department reported Monday that spending on residential and nonresidential construction projects declined 1.7% in January from December on a seasonally adjusted basis. Spending was down 3.3% from a year earlier. The downturn affected commercial and government projects as well as housing.

Until January, spending on nonresidential construction had been strong enough to compensate for a rapid decline in home building, keeping the construction sector roughly flat for the last year.

A decline in the availability of commercial loans combined with slowing demand throughout the economy has widened the hit to the construction industry, economists said.
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Hamas Rockets Bring Israeli City Into Range
2008-03-05 03:38:46

It was a few minutes after 5 a.m. on Saturday when Silvio Grinberg, half asleep, heard the warning on the neighborhood loudspeakers: "Color Red, Color Red."

He and his wife Alba would normally wake and prepare breakfast at that time and sit at their table with its view over the Israeli city of Ashkelon and the Mediterranean. But on that day they stayed in bed, a decision that almost certainly saved their lives. Moments later a 122mm Grad rocket, fired by Palestinian militants in Gaza, crashed through the ceiling of their sixth-floor apartment and into their kitchen.

"I didn't understand what was going on," said Grinberg, 61. "Then I heard a boom and the glass breaking. I was thrown into the air and onto the floor. For five hours I had no idea who or where I was."

He returned briefly to his apartment Tuesday to salvage what clothes and documents he could. The rocket had carved a hole in the kitchen ceiling, where twisted metal struts stuck out of the concrete.

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Tensions Intensify Between Columbia, Ecuador And Venezuela
2008-03-05 03:37:37
Intellpuke: President George W. Bush Tuesday said the United States would stand with Columbia in its dispute with Ecuador and Venezuela. In brief comments on the White Lawn early Tuesday afternoon, Bush said the U.S. will back its democratic ally.

More accusations of cross-border meddling intensified diplomatic tensions Monday between Colombia and its neighbors Ecuador and Venezuela, as other Latin American leaders tried to defuse a crisis they fear could threaten regional stability.

Venezuela and Ecuador deployed troops to their borders with Colombia, which on Saturday attacked a jungle encampment in Ecuadoran territory used by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia, or FARC. A senior leader of the Marxist insurgency, which has battled the Colombian government for more than four decades and profits from the drug trade, was killed in the raid.

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa formally cut diplomatic ties with Colombia and has joined Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in denouncing the attack as a violation of his country's sovereignty. Venezuela said later that it would expel the Colombian ambassador and other diplomatic personnel. Regional leaders, including officials in Brazil and Chile, strongly questioned Colombia's military incursion into Ecuador, but urged peaceful negotiations to avert a regional military conflict.

Colombian officials said Monday that they do not plan to send troops to the borders with Venezuela and Ecuador, but they contended that the raid proved their long-held suspicion that Colombian guerrillas have been using neighboring countries as havens from which to attack Colombian forces.

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U.S. Congress Irked By Decision On Air Force Tanker Contract
2008-03-05 03:36:34
A political backlash erupted on Monday over a decision by the U.S. Air Force to pass over U.S. aerospace giant Boeing Co and criticizing the Air Force for not considering U.S. jobs in its decision.

Gabriela Lemus, executive director of the AFL-CIO's Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, said EADS had received subsidies for years.

"If this is allowed to stand, the Department of Defense will have declared open season on American aerospace jobs," Lemus said.

EADS -- with major manufacturing facilities in France and Germany -- teamed up with U.S. aerospace group Northrop Grumman to outbid Boeing for the job, which will bring with it thousands of high-paying jobs over many years.

The Air Force plans to buy 179 aircraft over 15 years to replace aging KC-135 tankers, which were built by Boeing. Tankers refuel fighter jets and other warplanes in midair.

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Iran President Ahmadinejad, In Baghdad, Says U.S. Should Leave
2008-03-05 03:35:52
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, on the second day of his visit here in Baghdad, called on Monday for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraqi soil, saying their presence was the root of Iraq's instability and violence.

Ahmadinejad, the first Iranian president to come to Iraq since the two nations fought a brutal war in the 1980s, contended that Iraq was now ready to assume full control of its affairs and that the presence of the American military served its own interests, and not Iraqi goals.

“The people of this area get nothing from the occupation here except damage, sabotage, destruction, insults and degradation,” he said during a news conference in Baghdad on Monday. “All of the people here want those forces to go back home.”

Mr. Ahmadinejad added that the people of Iraq are “capable of managing their lives perfectly” without the presence of the American military.

But American officials countered that Iran has been a destabilizing factor, saying that it finances Shiite militias and allows Iranian-made weapons to be moved across the Iraq-Iran border.

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Columbia: Chavez Funding FARC Rebels
2008-03-05 03:35:12
Venezuela and Ecuador sought Monday to make Colombia pay a high diplomatic and economic price for killing a leftist rebel leader in the Ecuadorean jungle - expelling its diplomats, ordering troops to the border and largely halting trade at key points along the frontier.

Colombia quickly struck back, revealing what it said were incriminating documents seized from the rebel camp that suggest its neighbors have been secretly supporting the rebels' deadly insurgency.

In a tit-for-tat move, Venezuela later displayed the laptop of a slain drug trafficker, which it said contained information implicating Colombia's national police chief in the cocaine trade.

Colombia's national police chief said the documents show Venezuela recently paid $300 million to the rebels, among other financial and political ties that date back years, and that high-level meetings have been held between rebels and Ecuadorean officials.

And this shocker: Colombia says some documents suggest the rebels have bought and sold uranium.

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