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Monday, May 12, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Monday May 12 2008 - (813)

Monday May 12 2008 edition
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Problems At Free Internet Press
2008-05-12 02:57:03

  I'd like to apologize for recent problems we've been having here at Free Internet Press. 

  Recently many of you have noticed that the web site disappeared; reappeared; the newsletter disappeared; and the news aggregator stalled. 

  It's a fairly long story, but it has a happy ending.

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U.S. Finally Allowed To Fly Cyclone Aid Into Myanmar
2008-05-12 02:28:41
The United States launched its first relief airlift to Myanmar today, after prolonged negotiations with the isolated country's military rulers, who have been accused of restricting international efforts to help as many as 1.5 million cyclone survivors at risk of disease and starvation.

The flight took off from a base in Thailand a day after the monumental task of feeding and sheltering the survivors suffered yet another blow when a boat laden with relief supplies â€" one of the first international shipments â€" sank on its way to the disaster zone.

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More Than 20 Are Killed in Storms
2008-05-12 02:17:18

Emergency crews searched through wreckage on Sunday from violent storms that left a path of destruction from the Midwest to the South and killed more than 20 people in Missouri, Oklahoma and Georgia.

In Missouri, tornadoes tore through small towns in the southwestern section of the state, near the border with Oklahoma, just after 6:30 p.m. Saturday, overturning cars and smashing buildings.

The superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, James F. Keathley, said the tornadoes killed at least 15 people and injured hundreds. A family was killed when its vehicle was hit by a tornado, Superintendent Keathley said.

Capt. Tim Hull of the Highway Patrol said 12 of the deaths occurred in Newton County. “It’s a rural area,” Captain Hull said. “There are some small towns that were hit hard.”

The storm inflicted the most damage in Racine, a town about 170 miles south of Kansas City.

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Obama And McCain Map Fall Strategies
2008-05-11 03:58:24

Senators John McCain and Barack Obama are already drawing up strategies for taking each other on in the general election, focusing on the same groups - including independent voters and Latinos - and about a dozen states where they think the contest is likely to be decided this fall, said campaign aides.

In a sign of what could be an extremely unusual fall campaign, the two sides said Saturday that they would be open to holding joint forums or unmoderated debates across the country in front of voters through the summer. Obama, campaigning in Oregon, said that the proposal, floated by McCain’s advisers, was “a great idea.”

Even before Obama fully wraps up the Democratic presidential nomination, he and McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, are starting to assemble teams in the key battlegrounds, develop negative advertising and engage each other in earnest on the issues and a combustible mix of other topics, including age and patriotism.

McCain, of Arizona, will spend the next week delivering a series of speeches on global warming, evidence of his intention to battle Obama for independent voters, a group the two men have laid claim to. Those voters tend to recoil from hard-edged partisan politics, and presumably would be receptive to the kind of bipartisan forum that  McCain and Obama seemed open to on Saturday.

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'What Is Normal And What Is Perfect?'
2008-05-11 03:57:46
The results of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's prenatal testing were in, and the doctor's tone was ominous: "You need to come to the office so we can talk about it."

Palin responded, "No, go ahead and tell me over the phone."

The physician replied, "Down syndrome," stunning the Republican governor who had just completed what many political analysts regarded as a startling first year in office. Now, said Palin, she is trying to balance caring for her son with special needs and running the nation's largest state.

Palin had reached the Alaska statehouse after riding an ethics reform platform to victory over an incumbent Republican in the primary and a former two-term Democratic governor in the general election. Her growing reputation as a maverick, for bucking her party's establishment and Alaska's powerful oil industry, quickly gained her a national reputation.

All that seemed put into question after the doctor's call in December, when Palin was four months pregnant.

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Citigroup to shed nearly $500B in assets
2008-05-12 02:56:45
Citigroup Inc. said Friday it aims to shed about $500 billion in assets and grow revenue by 9 percent over the next few years, as it tries to rebound from massive losses tied to deterioration in the mortgage and credit markets.

The plans are the most concrete yet by Vikram Pandit, nearing his five-month anniversary as the bank's CEO, to prove himself a capable turnaround specialist at a company that many claim was struggling long before the housing market collapse.

The bank's plans to wind down its $2.2 trillion in assets to approximately $1.7 trillion were part of an investor day presentation at one of Citigroup's Manhattan offices.

These so-called "legacy assets" included yet-to-be-named noncore businesses, as well as assets in Citigroup's securities and consumer banking segments, including mortgages and other real estate-related holdings.

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Wizard Puts School District Back 300 Years
2008-05-12 02:17:30
A former substitute teacher in Land O' Lakes, Fla., claims he was fired by the school district because he was "accused of wizardry."

Jim Piculas said Pat Sinclair, who is in charge of substitute teachers for the Pasco County School District, called him to say the district would no longer be using his services after he performed a disappearing-toothpick magic trick while teaching at Rushe Middle School, the Tampa (Fla.) Tribune reported Tuesday.

"She said, 'You've been accused of wizardry,'" Piculas said.

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Al Gore On Cyclones And Global Warming
2008-05-12 01:54:37
One week ago, Tropical Cyclone Nargis struck Burma, tracing an unprecedented path of devastation across this poor nation of 55 million, called Myanmar by its military dictatorship. On May 6, Jeff Poor wrote for the Business & Media Institute (BMI) a story entitled, "Al Gore Calls Myanmar Cyclone a 'Consequence' of Global Warming," which was subsequently linked on the Drudge Report.

Poor wrote that Gore said in an interview on National Public Radio, "The year before, the strongest cyclone in more than 50 years hit China -- and we're seeing consequences that scientists have long predicted might be associated with continued global warming."

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In U.S., Growing Deficits Threaten Pensions
2008-05-11 03:58:08

The funds that pay pension and health benefits to police officers, teachers and millions of other public employees across the country are facing a shortfall that could soon run into trillions of dollars.

But the accounting techniques used by state and local governments to balance their pension books disguise the extent of the crisis facing these retirees and the taxpayers who may ultimately be called on to pay the freight, according to a growing number of leading financial analysts.

State governments alone have reported they are already confronting a deficit of at least $750 billion to cover the cost of the retirement benefits they have promised, but that figure likely underestimates the actual shortfall because of the range of methods they use to make their calculations, including practices that have been barred in the private sector for decades.

Local governments use these same techniques for their pension funds and face deficits that further contribute to what some investors and analysts say may be shaping up to be a massive breach of faith with a generation of public employees.

This gap is growing more yawning with the years. It has already presented taxpayers with a whopping bill that is eating up a vast portion of government budgets at the cost of other services. In Montgomery County, for instance, pension and retiree health care costs are already higher than the combined budgets for the departments of transportation and health and human services. Eventually, officials responsible for the funds will have to choose whether to continue paying out or renege on benefits promised to retirees.

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18 Dead In Missouri, Oklahoma After New Round Of Tornadoes
2008-05-11 03:57:31
Tornadoes that spun across the Oklahoma-Missouri border killed at least 18 people as severe storms raked the nation's heart Saturday, injuring many and mangling buildings in the storm-weary region.

At least 12 people were killed after severe storms spawned tornadoes and high winds across sections of southwestern Missouri, the State Emergency Management Agency said. Ten of the dead were killed when a twister struck near Seneca, near the Oklahoma border.

"There may be more - I hope not," said SEMA spokeswoman Susie Stonner late Saturday night.

At least six people were killed earlier in the day as the tornado flattened the northeastern Oklahoma town of Picher, said authorities.

"They're going over the hard-hit area and turning over everything and looking," Stonner said of emergency workers' search for victims and assessment of damage. "It's hard to do in the dark."

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