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Monday, April 07, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Monday April 7 2008 - (813)

Monday April 7 2008 edition
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Clinton's Chief Strategist Resigns Over Trade Flap
2008-04-06 23:38:47
Mark J. Penn quit his role as chief strategist for the Clinton campaign on Sunday after months of dissatisfaction with his performance and a recent conflict of interest involving his corporate work. Although rumors of his firing had circulated for months, it was another stunning upheaval in a struggling campaign that has already had one staff shakeup.

The immediate trigger for Penn's departure was a meeting he held last week with the Colombian ambassador to the United States to advocate for a free trade agreement that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton opposes. Penn held the meeting in his capacity as chief executive officer for the public relations giant Burson-Marsteller - and it underscored the tricky nature of his effort to play both corporate executive and a political adviser over the last year.

Senator Clinton was "disappointed that the meeting had occurred," a senior Clinton adviser said, reiterating the candidate's opposition to the deal.

There were underlying tensions between Penn and other Clinton advisers from the outset, and they escalated with each of her defeats. Critics complained that Penn was too data-driven and obstinate, blaming him for the failure to "humanize" Clinton in the early days of the race. Although he wrote the "3 a.m." advertisement, arguably the most renowned ad of the campaign to date and one that helped propel her to victory in the Ohio and Texas primaries, Penn faced overwhelming opposition from senior Clinton advisers, particularly Harold Ickes and Howard Wolfson.

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At Least 3 U.S. Soldiers Killed, 31 Wounded Battling Baghdad Militias
2008-04-06 23:38:08
Sharp fighting broke out in the Sadr City district of Baghdad on Sunday as American and Iraqi troops sought to control neighborhoods used by Shiite militias to fire rockets and mortars into the nearby Green Zone.

The operation failed to stop the attacks on the heavily fortified zone, headquarters for Iraq's central government and the American Embassy in Baghdad. By day’s end, at least two American soldiers had been killed and 17 wounded in the zone, one of the worst daily tolls for the American military in the most heavily protected part of Baghdad. Altogether, at least three American soldiers were killed and 31 wounded in attacks in Baghdad on Sunday, and at least 20 Iraqis were killed, mostly in Sadr City.

The heightened violence came on the eve of Congressional testimony in Washington, D.C., by Gen. David H. Petraeus, the senior American commander in Iraq, and Ryan C. Crocker, the American ambassador here, to defend their strategy for political reconciliation and improved security in the country.

The Green Zone attacks were, symbolically at least, a sign that forces hostile to the United States are still able to strike at the American nerve center and seat of government power in the capital of Iraq.

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Blast's Hit Foreigners' Complex In San'a, Yemen
2008-04-06 23:37:29
A housing complex used by foreigners in Yemen's capital came under attack late Sunday, with explosions shattering windows and prompting residents to evacuate with suitcases and boxes.

Nobody was injured in the attack on the upscale Haddah neighborhood. The U.S. Embassy said "three explosive rounds" hit the compound, with two blowing up inside and the third outside.

"The Embassy advises all U.S. citizens to exercise caution in this area of the city," said the statement.

After the blasts, Westerners were seen evacuating the compound. Some rolled suitcases and carried boxes to vehicles with diplomatic plates. Women huddled in idling cars, while children lugged backpacks.

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As Shares Drop In Value, Executive Pay Goes Up - Way Up
2008-04-06 16:45:15
Wasn't 2008 supposed to be the year of shareholder victory on the executive compensation front?

After all, tighter disclosure rules kicked in last year, and - the theory went - once companies had to shine a spotlight on their compensation practices, they were bound to make them better. Politicians, never loath to acknowledge the national mood - particularly in an election year - held several hearings about excessive pay.

Yet signs of sweeping change remain few. Once again, many - perhaps most - companies filled their proxies with a blizzard of words and numbers that did more to obscure their processes than to illuminate them. And most irksome of all, true links between pay and performance remained scarce.

Shareholders were mad about excessive compensation last year, when the economy was booming. This year, governance experts say, they are livid. “They are furious about the dichotomy of experiences - their shares fall, yet C.E.O. pay still rises,” said Paul Hodgson, a senior research associate at the Corporate Library, a governance research group.

The compensation research firm Equilar recently compiled data about chief executive pay at 200 companies that filed their proxies by March 28 and had revenues of at least $6.5 billion. The data illustrates Hodgson’s point. It shows that average compensation for chief executives who had held the job at least two years rose 5 percent in 2007, to $11.2 million (If new C.E.O.’s are counted, that number is $11.7 million). Even though performance-based bonuses were down last year, the value and prevalence of discretionary bonuses -  ones not linked to performance - were up. A result is that C.E.O.’s who have held their jobs for two years received an average total bonus payout of $2.8 million, up 1.1 percent from 2006.

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In London, Thousands Protest China's Human Rights Record
2008-04-06 16:44:33
Protesters objecting to China’s human rights record clashed with the British police on Sunday as the Olympic torch was carried through London on its way to the summer Olympic Games in Beijing.

Thousands of demonstrators crowded the streets of central London, and the police that at least 30 people were arrested.

Carried by a chain of British sporting stars and entertainment celebrities, the torch completed its eight-hour, 31-mile journey from the new soccer stadium at Wembley in west London to the principal site for the 2010 summer Olympics at Stratford in east London but, along the way, numerous protesters who broke through police barriers were wrestled to the ground as they sought to grab the torch, and the police said one man was beaten off as he ran toward the flame with a fire extinguisher.

What had been billed by the organizers as an occasion to celebrate Olympic sporting ideals turned instead into a day-long contest between China’s supporters - many of them Chinese students and people of Chinese origin living in Britain - and groups and individuals who gathered to protest China’s recent crackdown in Tibet and its wider human rights record, including its labor camps. To get the torch safely to its destination, more than 2,000 police were deployed along the route.

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Wall Street 'Hooked On Emergency Funds Scheme'
2008-04-06 03:15:14

Fears are mounting that Wall Street banks are relying too heavily on tens of billions of dollars in loans made available by the U.S. Federal Reserve. Their borrowing levels have rocketed by almost 200 per cent to $38 billion (£19 billion) a day in just three weeks.

The latest loan data released by the Fed shows that Wall Street banks and investment firms borrowed an average of $38.4 billion every day last week, a big jump from the $32.9 billion borrowed the week before, but almost three times the $13.4 billion borrowed when the emergency scheme was launched on March 17.

The loan program was part of a wider Wall Street rescue package ushered in to stave off the imminent collapse of Bear Stearns, the troubled investment bank being bought by JP Morgan.

The scheme, called the Primary Dealer Credit Facility, is made available through the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and is designed to help big investment banks oil the wheels of the credit market so they can continue with business as usual, even though the credit crunch shows no signs of abating.

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Flood Season Begins Unusually Early In America's Heartland
2008-04-06 03:14:28
The flood season in the nation's midsection started early this year, and there's no letup in sight, spurring federal, state and local officials to brace for what looks likely to be an unusually watery spring.

At least 16 deaths were linked to heavy flooding across Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma and other states in March; another was tied to flooding Friday in Kentucky. Last week, snow that could set off more flooding blanketed parts of the Midwest. And Kentucky and parts of Arkansas and Missouri that are struggling to recover from previous deluges remained vulnerable to the threat of weekend rain.

State and local agencies and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have been ramping up their readiness efforts: stocking up sandbags and other emergency supplies; inspecting levees for groundhog holes and errant trees that can take root and weaken them; and holding regular multi-agency meetings.

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Environment: Britain's Biofuel Needs 'Threaten Delta' In Kenya
2008-04-06 03:13:56
Hundreds of bird species are in danger from plans to plant sugar cane and build a refinery in Kenya.

The lush, muddy wetlands of the Tana river delta, teeming with birds and home to hippos and crocodiles, lions and elephants, are more than 4,000 miles from Britain, but this patchwork of savannah and mangrove swamp on the east coast of Africa is the latest victim of the British thirst for biofuels.

To meet the worldwide demand and the regulation that, from next week, petrol and diesel sold in Britain must be mixed with bioethanol or biodiesel as part of a drive to cut the carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels, the Mumias Sugar Company in Kenya is planning to plant 20,000 hectares of the Tana delta to grow sugar cane for biofuels and food. The £165 million ($330 million) project, including an ethanol refinery and food-processing plant, promises to create thousands of jobs in an area dominated by traditional cattle herding, small-scale rice and subsistence farming.

Environmentalists claim that the scheme would destroy the wetlands - home to 345 species of birds, including the threatened Basra reed warbler, the Tana river cisticola, and 22 species of waterbirds such as slender-billed gulls and Caspian terns, which are so numerous there they are considered "internationally important" to the global populations. Globally the boom in this and other projects is causing growing concern about environmental damage and the part played by biofuels in pushing up food prices.

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Mugabe 'Prepares For War' Over Zimbabwe Election Results
2008-04-06 03:13:16

Robert Mugabe was accused last night of preparing a war against Zimbabwe's people, in an attempt to overturn the opposition's presidential election victory.

Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, who has already claimed outright victory in last Saturday's election, even though the official count has yet to be released, said the government was reviving the war veterans and party militias to bludgeon the opposition into submission and terrorize voters before a run-off ballot.

"Violence will be the new weapon to reverse the people's will," said Tsvangirai. "Militants are being prepared. War vets are on the warpath."

Tsvangirai called Mugabe a lame-duck President and said he "must concede to allow us to move on with the business of rebuilding and reconstructing the country".

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Texas Officials Remove 183 People From Polygamist Compound
2008-04-06 03:12:43
Among them are 137 children. Authorities seek a 16-year-old girl and the 50-year-old man said to have abused her.

Texas child welfare officials said Saturday that they had removed 183 people - including 137 children - from an isolated polygamist compound in southwestern Texas after allegations that a 16-year-old girl there had been sexually abused.

Investigators from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services were still inside the YFZ Ranch - a guarded, self-sufficient compound of large dormitories built around an imposing white temple - on Saturday evening, two days after they began examining allegations that scores of girls may have been abused.

The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a 10,000-member sect that broke away from the Mormon Church in the 1930s, began building the compound on the former exotic game preserve four years ago. YFZ stands for "Yearning for Zion."

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America For Sale: When Foreigners Buy U.S. Factories
2008-04-06 23:38:28
Four years ago, a low-slung factory on the fringes of town in Holland, Michigan, was stagnating and shedding workers. Then Siemens, the German industrial giant, bought the plant and folded it into a global enterprise. Today, the factory is shipping wastewater treatment equipment to Asia and the Middle East and employing twice as many workers.

“Globalization has been good for Holland,” said David J. Spyker, once the plant manager and now vice president of a Siemens unit with operations around the world.

About 60 miles to the northeast, such talk provokes contemptuous snickers. Two years have passed since a Swedish multinational shut down what had been the largest refrigerator factory in the country, a sprawling complex along the Flat River in Greenville.

The company, Electrolux, sent production to Mexico, eliminating 2,700 jobs from a town of 8,000 people.

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Update: Tensions Calmed At West Texas Polygamist Compound
2008-04-06 23:37:45
Texas child welfare workers said Sunday they have now removed 219 women and children from a West Texas polygamous compound, but still have no positive identification of the 16-year-old girl whose abuse complaint led to the sweep.

“We didn’t know there would be this many [children], and we don’t know how many more there are,” said Marleigh Meisner, a spokeswoman for Child Protective Services.

On Saturday, officials had removed 183 women and children. So far, 18 juveniles are in state custody, meaning there was sufficient evidence of abuse or an immanent danger. The rest are being questioned to determine whether they will be placed in state care.

Tensions at a West Texas polygamous compound where investigators remain were calmed Sunday morning after law enforcement officials searched the retreat’s massive temple.

Authorities first entered the retreat, built by followers of polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, on Thursday night after a 16-year-old girl called to report that she had a child with a 50-year-old husband.

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85 Additional Children Removed From Polygamists Compound In Texas
2008-04-06 16:45:32
Authorities removed an additional 85 children from a polygamist compound on Saturday, bringing the total to 137, said Texas officials, as a confrontation appeared to be developing over law enforcement access to parts of the facility in Eldorado, in West Texas.

Randy Mankin, the editor of The Eldorado Success, said on Saturday night that state ambulances were heading into the remote compound, the Yearning for Zion Ranch of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a breakaway Mormon sect. Its leader, Warren S. Jeffs, 51, was convicted last year of forcing a 14-year-old girl into marriage and sexual relations.

Mankin said police reports he was monitoring suggested that church officials were refusing access to the authorities and that the officers were preparing to force their way in.

The Texas Department of Public Safety refused to comment, citing a judge’s gag order.

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Bush, Putin Still At Odds On Missile Defense
2008-04-06 16:44:57
Meeting for probably the last time as heads of state, the two said experts would keep working on ways to assure Russia that the U.S. system is no threat.

President Bush and Russian President Vladimir V. Putin failed Sunday to overcome their differences on a missile defense system the United States wants to build in the Czech Republic and Poland.

Completing the business side of a hastily scheduled summit meeting, they said experts would continue to work on measures intended to assure Russia that the system was not a threat to the value of the Russian missile network.

The United States and Russia, meanwhile, issued an eight-page "U.S.-Russia Strategic Framework Declaration" outlining their differences on the missile defense system and areas in which Bush and Putin have been able to make progress in the evolving relationship between Washington and Moscow.

On missile defense, the document says both countries had expressed an interest in creating a system in which Russia, the United States and Europe "will participate as equal partners."

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Fighting Erupts In Baghdad's Sadr City
2008-04-06 16:43:09
Iraqi troops backed by U.S. forces battled gunmen in Baghdad's Sadr City today in the heaviest fighting in the capital since Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr pulled his militiamen off the streets a week ago.

Police said at least 22 people were killed in the clashes. Officials at Sadr City's two hospitals said at least 16 bodies had been brought in while 78 wounded people were treated.

Iraqi soldiers were moving through two southern sectors of the Shiite slum and stronghold of Sadr's Mahdi Army militia, said U.S. military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Steven Stover.

U.S. helicopters fired at least two Hellfire missiles, killing nine fighters, he said.

The fighting follows a week of relative calm after a crackdown by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Sadr followers led to battles across the capital and the south late last month.

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Solzhenitsyn Battles Illness To Finish Literary Projects
2008-04-06 03:15:01
Russia's Nobel-winning novelist is now nearly 90, still hard at work - and still outspoken, his wife tells correspondent Luke Harding in a rare interview.

Russia's greatest living novelist, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, is working feverishly to complete his collected works and is writing every day despite failing health, a missing vertebra and being unable to walk, his wife, Natalia, revealed Saturday.

In a rare interview, Natalia Solzhenitsyn told The Observer that her Nobel prize-winning husband - who turns 90 in December - is still working on several major literary projects in his west Moscow dacha, and is determined to oversee the publication of a 30-volume edition of his selected works.

"He hasn't left the house for five years. He has several serious problems, including with his spine - he's missing a vertebra - and he practically can't walk. Physically it's very difficult for him. His health is weak. But every day he sits and works," she said.
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Commentary: The Already Big Thing On The Internet - Spying On Users
2008-04-06 03:14:15
Intellpuke: This commentary was written by Adam Cohen and appeared in the New York Times edition for Saturday, April 5, 2008.

In 1993, the dawn of the Internet age, the liberating anonymity of the online world was captured in a well-known New Yorker cartoon. One dog, sitting at a computer, tells another: “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” Fifteen years later, that anonymity is gone.

It’s not paranoia: they really are spying on you.

Technology companies have long used “cookies,” little bits of tracking software slipped onto your computer, and other means, to record the Web sites you visit, the ads you click on, even the words you enter in search engines â€" information that some hold onto forever. They’re not telling you they’re doing it, and they’re not asking permission. Internet service providers are now getting into the act. Because they control your connection, they can keep track of everything you do online, and there have been reports that I.S.P.’s may have started to sell the information they collect.

The driving force behind this prying is commerce. The big growth area in online advertising right now is “behavioral targeting.” Web sites can charge a premium if they are able to tell the maker of an expensive sports car that its ads will appear on Web pages clicked on by upper-income, middle-aged men.

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Tibetan Unrest Puts China In A Tight Spot
2008-04-06 03:13:33
China's classic tactics - restricting the press and blaming the Dalai Lama - sit poorly with the outside world and a more informed citizenry.

As unrest has spread among China's ethnic Tibetan population, Beijing has found itself caught between its desire to appear reasonable to the outside world and its tendency to come down hard when feeling threatened.

In recent days, the government's propaganda has grown shriller and its security tighter: The London-based Free Tibet Campaign, an activist group, reported late Friday that police in Sichuan province had fired on hundreds of Buddhist monks and residents, resulting in eight deaths. The Chinese government acknowledged unrest in the area and said police had fired warning shots, but reported no deaths.

Yet too much has changed for the emerging world power and soon-to-be Olympic Games host to completely revert to the Communist Party playbook of old, say analysts.
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Sri Lankan Official, 11 Others, Killed In Suicide Bombing
2008-04-06 03:13:02
A suicide bomber attacked the opening ceremony of a marathon outside Sri Lanka's capital Sunday, killing a government minister and 11 other people, said authorities. Dozens were wounded.

Officials blamed the bombing, the second this year resulting in the death of a government minister, on Tamil Tiger  rebels.

Minister of Highways and Road Development Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, who was opening the race 12 miles outside Colombo, was among those killed by the suicide bomber, government spokesman Anusha Paltipa said.

Eleven other people died and more than 90 were wounded, Sri Lanka's Defense Ministry said in a statement posted on its Web site.

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Charlton Heston Dies At 83
2008-04-06 03:12:23
Charlton Heston, who appeared in some 100 films in his 60-year acting career but who is remembered chiefly for his monumental, jut-jawed portrayals of Moses, Ben-Hur and Michelangelo, died Saturday night at his home in Beverly Hills. He was 83.

His death was confirmed by a spokesman for the family, Bill Powers, who declined to discuss the cause.

In August 2002, Mr. Heston announced that he had been diagnosed with neurological symptoms “consistent with Alzheimer’s disease.”

“I’m neither giving up nor giving in,” he said.

Every actor dreams of a breakthrough role, the part that stamps him in the public memory, and Mr. Heston’s life changed forever when he caught the eye of the director Cecil B. De Mille. De Mille, who was planning his next biblical spectacular, "The Ten Commandments", looked at the young, physically imposing Mr. Heston and saw his Moses.

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