Free Internet Press

Uncensored News For Real People This is a mirror site for our daily newsletter. You may visit our real site through the individual story links, or by visiting .

Friday, April 11, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Friday April 11 2008 - (813)

Friday April 11 2008 edition
Free Internet Press is operated on your donations.
Donate Today

World Finance Ministers Meet Amid Multiple Crises
2008-04-11 03:24:25

Financial markets are tumbling. The world economy is starting to sputter. Food prices have shot up so far, so fast, that there are riots in the streets of many poor nations.

It's a hard time to be one of the masters of the global economy.

Those leaders - finance ministers from all over the world - are gathering in Washington, D.C., this weekend to sort out their reactions to the most profound global economic crises in at least a decade. The situation could reveal the limitations that international economic institutions face in dealing with the risks inherent to global capitalism.

"There's got to be something coming out of the weekend, a way to visibly assume public responsibility for trying to limit the damage that financial markets can do to our society," said Colin Bradford, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. "The pressure is on politicians this weekend to come up with an answer. .. What is the power structure going to do about this?"

The Group of Seven finance ministers of major industrialized countries meet today, and the governing boards of the International Monetary Fund and World Bankwill meet Saturday and Sunday. Their agendas: in the case of the G-7 and IMF, countering the breakdown in financial markets; in the case of the World Bank, food inflation that threatens to drive more of the world's poorest people into starvation.

Read The Full Story

Oil Prices Defy Gravity
2008-04-11 03:23:23

Is there a fair price for oil?

It doesn't seem that way. Over the past year, the price of crude oil has nearly doubled even though oil inventories are ample, there has been no disruption in supplies, and petroleum demand in the United States, the world's biggest consumer, has leveled off in recent weeks as the economy has slowed.

"There may be [a fair price] but it would be difficult to get consumers and producers to ever agree on it," said Guy F. Caruso, administrator of the U.S. Energy Department's Energy Information Administration (EIA). "Ideally, if there was a more competitive market, we might find out. But it's not the world we're living in today."

That's been evident this week. On the eve of the summer driving season, crude prices defy gravity, hovering around $110 a barrel, keeping gasoline prices at record levels and sapping money from cash-strapped consumers. Thursday, the AAA auto club said prices at the pump set records of $3.357 a gallon for regular unleaded gasoline and $4.045 for diesel, even though U.S. gasoline consumption fell 0.6 percent in the first quarter.

Read The Full Story

Children Removed From Polygamist Sect Tell Of Girls Forced Into Sex With Older Men
2008-04-11 03:22:20

Interviews with hundreds of children removed from a polygamist sect in Texas have revealed that several underage girls were forced into "spiritual marriage" with much older men as soon as they reached puberty and were then made pregnant, according to investigators.

A total of 416 children, mainly girls, have now been taken into state custody after five days of raids on the Yearn for Zion compound in Eldorado, west Texas. Court documents reveal the children were removed for fear they were at risk of "emotional, physical and/or sexual abuse".

A further 139 women left the ranch voluntarily to accompany the girls, and are being held with them. A local court has granted state custody of all the children until a hearing later this month.

The 1,700-acre ranch is the retreat of a group from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a 10,000-strong splinter sect that broke with the main Mormon church when it denounced polygamy in the 1890s. The compound was built in 2004 in a remote location in the prairies by Warren Jeffs, the then "prophet" of the sect who is currently in jail in Arizona awaiting trial over charges relating to the arranged marriages of three teenage girls. He has already been sentenced to 10 years to life imprisonment in the state of Utah.

Read The Full Story

China Outraged By U.S.-Tibet Resolution
2008-04-11 03:21:10
China expressed indignation Friday over a U.S. Congressional resolution calling on Beijing to stop cracking down on Tibetan dissent and talk to the Dalai Lama.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu labeled the resolution anti-Chinese, saying it "twisted Tibet's history and modern reality .. seriously hurting the feelings of the Chinese people".

"The Chinese side expresses its strong indignation and resolute opposition toward this," Jiang said in a statement posted on the ministry's Web site.

The resolution sponsored by Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on Beijing to "end its crackdown on nonviolent Tibetan protesters," along with cultural, religious, economic linguistic "repression".

While noting reports of deadly rioting in Lhasa and other Tibetan areas, the resolution called China's response "disproportionate and extreme". It said hundreds of Tibetans had been killed and thousands detained, but did not cite the source of its information.

Read The Full Story

FBI Arrests Suspect In Slaying Of Pregnant U.S. Marine
2008-04-11 03:20:10
A Marine wanted in the brutal slaying of a pregnant colleague who had accused him of rape was arrested Thursday night in Mexico after a three-month international manhunt, said authorities.

FBI agents and Mexican authorities arrested Marine Cpl. Cesar Laurean around 7 p.m. EDT. He is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, whose burned remains were found in January in the backyard of his home near Camp Lejeune.

"You know my name. You know who I am," Laurean told the Associated Press while being held at the Michoacan state Attorney General's Office in Morelia, the state capital.

Asked if he wanted to say anything, Laurean simply said, "Proof," but wouldn't explain.

Read The Full Story

Storms Pound U.S. Midwest With Rain, Snow
2008-04-11 03:18:07
A line of severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and even snow pounded the nation's heartland on Thursday, flooding nearly 200 roads in Missouri, closing schools in Arkansas and ripping the roofs of dozens of houses in Texas.

The band of storms stretched from Colorado and Nebraska, which was expected to get up to 10 inches of snow, to Texas, where high winds and driving rain at one point quarter of a million people were left without power.

In Missouri, 3-4 inches of rain fell in just a few hours, unleashing flash floods that swamped parts of 180 roads across the state.

Rescuers using ropes and life jackets pulled nine people from the offices of the Monett Times newspaper after the Kelly Creek burst its banks and surrounded the building. Police said the creek also threatened other businesses in downtown Monett and forced the evacuation of a nearby trailer park with about 10 to 12 homes.

Read The Full Story

Senate Passes Housing Bill, Critics Say It Favors Businesses Not Homeowners
2008-04-10 15:32:24
The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed a bipartisan package of tax breaks and other steps designed to help businesses and homeowners weather the housing crisis. The measure passed by an impressive 84-12 vote, but even its supporters acknowledge it's tilted too much in favor of businesses such as home builders and does little to help borrowers at risk of losing their homes.

The plan combines large tax breaks for homebuilders and a $7,000 tax credit for people who buy foreclosed properties, as well as $4 billion in grants for communities to buy and fix up abandoned homes.

The measure, titled the Foreclosure Prevention Act, will be significantly redrawn by House critics who say it favors businesses such as home builders instead of borrowers.

"Quite candidly, what we've done does not quite live up to the title," said Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Connecticut,  chairman of the Senate Banking Committee and the measure's top sponsor. "We have more work to do. We do not do enough in preventing more foreclosures in the country."

Read The Full Story

World Bank: Rocketing Food Prices Set Fight Against Poverty Back 7 Years
2008-04-10 15:31:49

Rocketing global food prices are causing acute problems of hunger in poor countries and have put back the fight against poverty by seven years, the World Bank said Thursday.

Robert Zoellick, the Bank's president, said that while consumers in rich countries were worried about the cost of filling the fuel tanks in their cars, people in poor countries were "struggling to fill their stomachs. And it's getting more and more difficult every day."

Zoellick said the price of wheat has risen by 120% in the past year, more than doubling the cost of a loaf of bread. Rice prices were up by 75%.

"In Bangladesh a two kilogram bag of rice now consumes almost half of the daily income of a poor family. With little margin for survival, rising prices too often means fewer meals."

Poor people in Yemen, he said, were now spending more than a quarter of their income on bread.

Read The Full Story

Severe Storms Moving Across Central U.S.
2008-04-10 15:31:05

Severe storms, including tornadoes and flash flooding, moved across the lower midsection of the country on Thursday, after striking overnight in northern Texas, where mobile homes were destroyed, trees flattened and power interrupted.

One death was attributed to the weather in Oklahoma, when a woman died Wednesday as her car skidded off a road during a downpour.

The National Weather Service posted tornado warnings for parts of north central Texas, saying that intense thunderstorms moving through the area could develop into tornadoes “at any time.”

The storms were expected to move northeast during the day into areas of southern Missouri and Arkansas that are already sodden from previous rainfall. Flash flood warnings were issued for 23 counties in southwestern Missouri.

Read The Full Story

Olympic President Calls On China To Improve Human Rights
2008-04-10 15:30:37
The president of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, offered a rare rebuke to the Chinese government on Thursday, calling on authorities to respect its “moral engagement” to improve human rights and to provide the media with greater access to the country ahead of the Beijing games.

Rogge’s comments on China, made at a news conference here during which he described the protests that have dogged the torch relay as a “crisis” for the organization, were a departure from his previous statements that strenuously avoided any mention of politics.

The Chinese government immediately rejected Rogge’s remarks, saying they amounted to an unwelcome meddling in the country’s domestic affairs. “I believe I.O.C. officials support the Beijing Olympics and adherence to the Olympic charter of not bringing in any irrelevant political factors,” Jiang Yu, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, told reporters.

Despite the crisis, Rogge insisted that the skirmishes in London, Paris and San Francisco would not derail the six-continent pageant leading up to the Beijing games in August.

Read The Full Story

Fewer American Workers Confident They Will Retire Comfortably
2008-04-10 03:34:53

Fewer American workers are confident that they will have enough money to retire comfortably, according to a survey released Wednesday.

The percentage of workers who said they were very confident about having enough money for retirement decreased from 27 percent last year to 18 percent this year, the sharpest one-year drop since the Employee Benefit Research Institute, a private nonprofit group that focuses on retirement and economic security issues, began the survey 18 years ago.

Current retirees were also less confident about their prospects for financial security. Last year, 41 percent of retirees surveyed were confident about their retirement, compared with 29 percent this year.

Researchers attributed the growing pessimism to concerns about rising health-care costs, a flagging economy and declining home values. The sentiment was spread across all age groups and income levels but was particularly strong among younger workers and those with lower incomes, the researchers said. The Retirement Confidence Survey was conducted in January through telephone interviews with 1,322 people nationwide, both workers and retirees, ages 25 and over.

Read The Full Story

Chaos At Airports Could Go On For Weeks
2008-04-10 03:34:11
Air travelers, whose plans have already been disrupted by thousands of canceled flights recently, may face continued chaos in coming weeks as the Federal Aviation Administration and the airlines expand their scrutiny of passenger planes.

The groundings at airlines like American, Alaska, Delta and Southwest resulted from a broader round of inspections, ordered by the F.A.A., to determine whether the airlines have complied with past directives to check airplane structures, wires, electronics and other components.

A second wave of audits began on March 30 and will continue through June 30. Laura J. Brown, a spokeswoman for the F.A.A., said it could not rule out further groundings. “We don’t know,” she said. “We find what we find.”

That will do little to reassure travelers, who face difficulties switching to other flights because planes are generally flying full on popular routes.

Read The Full Story

Oil Near $111 A Barrel After Hitting Record
2008-04-10 03:33:29
Oil prices steadied near $111 a barrel Thursday after jumping to a new record in the previous session on an unexpected drop in U.S. crude inventories.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration's (EIA) inventory report, closely watched by the market, showed Wednesday that crude stocks fell 3.2 million barrels last week.

''The crude inventory draw was a big surprise to the market, which had actually expected an increase of 2 to 3 million barrels. It was a substantial drawdown,'' said Victor Shum, an energy analyst with Purvin & Gertz in Singapore.

Analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had expected, on average, an increase of 2.4 million barrels.

The decline in crude stockpiles pushed light, sweet crude for May delivery up $2.37 to settle at a record $110.87 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Wednesday. It rose as high as $112.21 a barrel during the floor session, surpassing the previous trading record of $111.80 set last month.

Read The Full Story

Blood Thinner Heparin Suspected Of 62 Deaths Across U.S.
2008-04-10 03:32:33
The number of suspicious deaths in the United States linked to the blood thinner heparin has risen to 62 from 19, with most of them reported this past December, January and February, according to the first detailed analyses of heparin fatalities by the Food and Drug Administration.

The F.D.A. is still investigating whether those deaths and hundreds of allergic reactions were caused by a heparinlike contaminant made in China that was added to the drug somewhere during the manufacturing process.

The drug agency defined suspicious deaths as those involving one or more allergic reactions or a drop in blood pressure. There have been no reports of deaths since the end of February, after Baxter International recalled heparin made with ingredients from a Chinese supplier.

The agency’s Web site reported Tuesday that the 62 deaths covered a 14-month period that began in January 2007. In comparison, the agency said, there were three suspicious deaths involving heparin in all of 2006.

Read The Full Story

British Ministers Under Pressure To Reopen BAE Corruption Probe
2008-04-11 03:24:06
Landmark high court ruling says decision to drop inquiry unlawful.

Pressure was mounting last night on the government to allow the reopening of the criminal investigation into secret payments by arms company BAE to Saudi Arabia following a high court judgment that made clear the inquiry should never have been dropped.

Government ministers have to decide in the next two weeks over what to do about the ruling from Lord Justice Moses, who with Lord Justice Sullivan, delivered a damning verdict on the behavior of the former prime minister, Tony Blair, and his government in forcing a halt to the long-running investigation.

The judges rejected claims that the inquiry had to be closed down for security reasons because "lives were at risk", and said the success of Saudi blackmail attempts had been unlawful. The judgment named Saudi Prince Bandar as the man behind what they characterized as an attempt to pervert the course of justice.

The judges said: "We fear for the reputation of the administration of justice if it can be perverted by a threat ... No one, whether within this country or outside, is entitled to interfere with the course of our justice. The rule of law is nothing if it fails to constrain overweening power."

Read The Full Story

Commentary: Losing The War For Reality
2008-04-11 03:22:45
Intellpuke: This commentary was written by journalist and author Robert Parry; it appeared on the Consortium News website edition for Tuesday, April 8, 2008. Mr. Parry's commentary follows:

When future historians look back at the sharp decline of the United States in the early 21st Century, they might identify the Achilles heel of this seemingly omnipotent nation as its lost ability to recognize reality and to fashion policies to face the real world.

Like the legendary Greek warrior - whose sea-nymph mother dipped him in protective waters except for his heel - the United States was blessed with institutional safeguards devised by wise Founders who translated lessons from the Age of Reason into a brilliant constitutional framework of checks and balances.

What the Founders did not anticipate, however, was how fragile truth could become in a modern age of excessive government secrecy, hired-gun public relations and big-money media. Sophisticated manipulation of information is what would do the Republic in.

That is the crucial lesson for understanding the arc of U.S. history over the past three decades. It is a central theme of a new book by former CIA analyst Melvin A. Goodman, "Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA".

As a senior Kremlinologist in the CIA's office of Soviet analysis, Goodman was on the front lines of the information war in the early 1980s when ideological right-wingers took control of the U.S. government under Ronald Reagan and began to gut the key institutions for assessing reality.

Read The Full Story

March U.S. Retail Sales Figures Decline
2008-04-11 03:21:59

U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr., said Thursday that the U.S. economy has "turned down sharply" and may weaken further.

His gloomy comments were reflected in new retail sales figures that were released at nearly the same time as a speech he delivered in Washington. March sales at stores open at least a year were down half a percentage point from the comparable period last year for about 40 chain retailers reporting results yesterday, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. It was the biggest drop in March since 1995.

Department stores were particularly hard hit. Dillard's, J.C. Penney and Kohl's all posted double-digit declines. Upscale retailers were not immune: Nordstrom fell by 9 percent, and Saks dipped nearly 3 percent.

"The reality is that shoppers are stepping up their plans to cut back spending," said Frank Badillo, senior economist at consulting firm TNS Retail Forward. "So we'll likely see more of these weak retail numbers in the coming months."

Read The Full Story

Conservative Bias Alleged In High School Text Book
2008-04-11 03:20:45
Talk about a civics lesson: A high-school senior has raised questions about political bias in a popular textbook on U.S. government, and legal scholars and top scientists say the teen's criticism is well-founded.

They say "American Government" by conservatives James Wilson and John Dilulio presents a skewed view of topics from global warming to separation of church and state. The publisher now says it will review the book, as will the College Board, which oversees college-level Advanced Placement (A.P.) courses used in high schools.

Matthew LaClair, of Kearny, New Jersey, recently brought his concerns to the attention of the Center for Inquiry, an Amherst, New York, think tank that promotes science and has issued a scathing report about the textbook.

"I just realized from my own knowledge that some of this stuff in the book is just plain wrong," said LaClair, who is using the book as part of an A.P. government class at Kearny High School.
Read The Full Story

Westinghouse Wins First U.S. Nuclear Plant Contract In 30 Years
2008-04-11 03:18:39
Toshiba-owned firm will build two reactors.

Westinghouse Electric, the nuclear design and build firm sold by the British government two years ago, has won its first contracts in America for 30 years.

The move underlines the worldwide renaissance of atomic power generation as a source of low-carbon energy. The Pittsburgh-based group, which has sought approval for its reactor design to be accepted in Britain, has won a deal from Georgia Power to build two AP1000 nuclear reactors at the Alvin W. Vogtle site near Waynesboro, Georgia, for an estimated $13 billion (£7 billion).

Westinghouse, which won the contract with its partner, the Shaw Group, said the project moves the country's nuclear revival "beyond the planning stage" and into a new era.

Read The Full Story

54 Burmese Migrants Suffocate In Packed Truck
2008-04-11 03:17:03

Fifty-four illegal Burmese migrants being smuggled by traffickers in southern Thailand suffocated in the sweltering confines of a tiny seafood container truck Thursday after the air-conditioning system failed.

Some of the 67 survivors told how they were 30 minutes into the journey to the resort island of Phuket, where they hoped to find work, when conditions became unbearably stifling.

The driver warned those trying to alert him by banging on the container's walls and calling on mobile phones to be quiet for fear of tipping off police as they passed through checkpoints along the route. He turned on the air-conditioning, but it failed after a few minutes. When the driver finally stopped on a quiet road running along the Andaman Sea 90 minutes later many, mostly women, had already collapsed. After discovering the horrific scene, he fled.

"I thought everyone was going to die," said a survivor, Saw Win, 30. "I thought I was going to die. If the truck had driven for 30 minutes more, I would have died for sure."

Read The Full Story

Britain's High Court Says Fraud Office Acted Unlawfully In Dropping Investigation On BAE, Saudi Arms Deal
2008-04-10 15:32:04
Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) acted unlawfully in dropping an investigation into alleged bribery in an arms deal between BAE Systems and Saudi Arabia, Britain's high court ruled Thursday.

In a stunning victory for the activist groups that launched the legal challenge, the two judges said Tony Blair's government and the SFO caved in too readily to threats by Saudi Arabia over intelligence sharing and trade.

Lord Justice Moses and Justice Sullivan, using some scathing language, rejected the SFO's argument that it was powerless to resist the Saudi threats.

"So bleak a picture of the impotence of the law invites at least dismay, if not outrage," they said.

"Had such a threat been made by one who was subject to the criminal law of this country, he would risk being charged with an attempt to pervert the course of justice."

Read The Full Story

U.S. Trade Deficit Grows Unexpectedly
2008-04-10 15:31:23
The gap between what Americans import and export unexpectedly widened in February as domestic demand rose for automobiles and fell back for crude oil.

The trade deficit grew 5.7 percent, to $62.3 billion, its highest reading since November and the second consecutive month of increases. The estimate for January was revised up to $59 billion from $58.2 billion, the Commerce Department said on Thursday.

The increase came as a surprise to economists who had expected the economic downturn to suppress domestic demand for foreign goods. Instead, import sales jumped 3.1 percent, the biggest gain in almost a year, to $213.7 billion from a revised $207.3 billion in January.

Americans bought up more foreign motor vehicles, pharmaceutical products and computer equipment in February. The appetite for foreign goods even outpaced the first decline in oil imports in nearly a year. Foreign petroleum sales dipped 1.6 percent in February, though the figure will probably climb back in March, when the price of crude oil reached a record high.

Read The Full Story

China's Yuan Hits Milestone Against U.S. Dollar
2008-04-10 15:30:49
China’s currency, the yuan, rose against the dollar on Thursday, reaching a milestone that is just the latest sign of China's growing economic power.

For the first time in more than a decade, the dollar bought less than 7 yuan, ending the day close to 6.9920, a situation that specialists say will probably make Chinese-made goods more expensive for American consumers and possibly contribute to inflation in the United States.

The gains for the Chinese currency have come after Beijing’s decision to end a longstanding peg to the dollar in July 2005, when a single dollar bought about 8.3 yuan or renminbi.

Beijing lifted the peg after American and European officials had complained for years that the yuan was set artificially low, making Chinese goods cheaper than they would normally be and giving China an unfair trade advantage.

The result, many officials said, was massive trade surpluses for China and job losses for Americans and Europeans who could not compete.

Read The Full Story

American Airlines Cancels 900 More Flights
2008-04-10 15:29:52
American Airlines canceled another 900 flights on Thursday, or about 40 percent of its daily total of 2,300, after making only slight progress in getting its 300 MD-80 jetliners flying again.

The MD-80s, used mainly on domestic routes, account for nearly half of American’s total fleet of full-size passenger jets. They were grounded Tuesday afternoon for re-inspection of the wiring bundles in their wheel wells, after the Federal Aviation Administration said that some bundles were not secured properly.

The airline canceled 460 flights on Tuesday and 1,094 flights on Wednesday, stranding thousands of travelers and affecting the plans of more than 100,000 people.

As of late Wednesday, American said it had inspected 179 of the 300 planes but that just 60 of those had been returned to service. The other 119 that were inspected were still being worked on, and the remaining 121 MD-80s in its fleet had yet to be inspected. The airline dispatched teams of mechanics to eight airports around the country to check out the planes.

Read The Full Story

Environment: Global Warming Brings Health Risks
2008-04-10 03:34:40
A top government health official said Wednesday that global warming is expected to have a significant impact on health in the next few decades, with certain regions of the country - and the elderly and children - most vulnerable to increased health problems.

Howard Frumkin, a senior official of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gave a detailed summary on the likely health impacts of global warming at a congressional hearing, but he refrained from giving an opinion on whether carbon dioxide, a leading greenhouse gas, should be regulated as a danger to public health.

"The CDC doesn't have a position on ... EPA's regulatory decisions," said Frumkin, determined to avoid getting embroiled in the contentious issue over whether the Environmental Protection Agency should regulate CO2 under the federal Clean Air Act.

The Supreme Court a year ago declared CO2 a pollutant under the federal air quality law and told the EPA it must determine whether CO2's link to climate change endangers public health or welfare. If it does, it must be regulated, said the court. Yet the EPA has been slow to respond to the court directive, saying it must review such a regulation's broad impact on emissions from everything from cars and power plants to schools.

Read The Full Story

Editorial: The World Food Crisis
2008-04-10 03:33:53
Intellpuke: The following editorial appeared in the New York Times edition for Thursday, April 10, 2008.

Most Americans take food for granted. Even the poorest fifth of households in the United States spend only 16 percent of their budget on food. In many other countries, it is less of a given. Nigerian families spend 73 percent of their budgets to eat, Vietnamese 65 percent, Indonesians half. They are in trouble.

Last year, the food import bill of developing countries rose by 25 percent as food prices rose to levels not seen in a generation. Corn doubled in price over the last two years. Wheat reached its highest price in 28 years. The increases are already sparking unrest from Haiti to Egypt. Many countries have imposed price controls on food or taxes on agricultural exports.

Last week, the president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, warned that 33 nations are at risk of social unrest because of the rising prices of food. “For countries where food comprises from half to three-quarters of consumption, there is no margin for survival,” he said.

Prices are unlikely to drop soon. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization says world cereal stocks this year will be the lowest since 1982.

Read The Full Story

Bush To Cut Army Combat Tours From 15 Months To 12 Months
2008-04-10 03:33:06
President Bush plans to announce Thursday that he will cut Army combat tours in Iraq from 15 months to 12 months, returning rotations to where they were before last year's troop buildup in an effort to alleviate the tremendous stress on the military, said administration officials.

The move is in response to intense pressure from service commanders who have expressed anxiety about the toll of long deployments on their soldiers and, more broadly, about the U.S. military's ability to confront unanticipated threats. Bush will announce the decision during a national speech, in which aides said he will also embrace Army Gen. David H. Petraeus' plan to indefinitely suspend a drawdown of forces.

The twin decisions may set the course for U.S. policy in Iraq through the fall and perhaps for the rest of Bush's presidency. Frustrated by their inability to force Bush to shift direction since they took over Capitol Hill more than a year ago, congressional Democrats began coalescing behind a strategy of trying to force the Iraqis to shoulder more of the costs of the war and reconstruction. Key Republicans signaled support for the approach.

The political maneuvering came as Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker completed two days of lengthy congressional hearings in search of continued support for the war effort. Their conclusion that Iraq has begun making significant but fragile progress on both security and political fronts changed few minds and left lawmakers in both parties impatient for a clear path to resolution.

Read The Full Story

Gen. Petraeus: Iranian-Backed 'Special Groups' Greatest Threat In Iraq
2008-04-10 03:32:10
Some officials and experts disagree.

Ever since Army Gen. David H. Petraeus was appointed to oversee the U.S. military in Iraq more than a year ago, the primary enemy for his troops has been shifting. When Petraeus left for Baghdad, the Pentagon considered radical Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada Sadr the gravest threat. Once he arrived, it switched to Sunni Arab extremists claiming affiliation with al-Qaeda, an old foe.

This week, things changed again. In two days of Capitol Hill testimony, Petraeus declared Iranian-backed "special groups" - hardened fighters who are part of larger Shiite militias - to be the "greatest long-term threat to the viability of a democratic Iraq."

The shifting U.S. view of its top enemy reflects both the changing nature of the conflict and the complexity of Iraq's array of armed groups. As threats from Sadr and the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq receded, others were magnified.

Despite new intelligence, officials can't agree whether it shows Iran in control of Iraq's Shiite factions or merely as one key player.
Read The Full Story
Original materials on this site © Free Internet Press.

Any mirrored or quoted materials © their respective authors, publications, or outlets, as shown on their publication, indicated by the link in the news story.

Original Free Internet Press materials may be copied and/or republished without modification, provided a link to is given in the story, or proper credit is given.

Newsletter options may be changed in your preferences on

Please email there are any questions.

XML/RSS/RDF Newsfeed Syndication:


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home