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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Saturday May 17 2008 - (813)

Saturday May 17 2008 edition
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Saudi Arabia Snubs Bush's Request To Pump More Oil
2008-05-17 03:23:44
Saudi Arabia Friday rebuffed President Bush's request to immediately pump more oil to lower record prices, saying it does not see enough demand to increase production.

The Saudis said they would increase production if customers demanded it, said Steven Hadley, Bush's national security adviser.

Ali al-Naimi, the Saudi oil minister, on Friday said the country had increased its production by 300,000 barrels a day on May 10 in response to customer requests.

Al-Naimi said the increased production would bring Saudi Arabia's daily production to 9.45 million barrels per day by June.

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V.A. Official Urged Fewer Diagnoses Of PTSD
2008-05-17 03:23:08

A psychologist who helps lead the post-traumatic stress disorder program at a medical facility for veterans in Texas told staff members to refrain from diagnosing PTSD because so many veterans were seeking government disability payments for the condition.

"Given that we are having more and more compensation seeking veterans, I'd like to suggest that you refrain from giving a diagnosis of PTSD straight out," Norma Perez wrote in a March 20 e-mail to mental-health specialists and social workers at the Department of Veterans Affairs' Olin E. Teague Veterans' Center in Temple, Texas. Instead, she recommended that they "consider a diagnosis of Adjustment Disorder."

V.A. staff members "really don't ... have time to do the extensive testing that should be done to determine PTSD," Perez wrote.

Adjustment disorder is a less severe reaction to stress than PTSD and has a shorter duration, usually no longer than six months, said Anthony T. Ng, a psychiatrist and member of Mental Health America, a nonprofit professional association.

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U.K. Demands Repayment Of Climate Aid To Poor Nations
2008-05-17 03:20:35

Britain's £800 million ($1.6 billion) international project to help the poorest countries in the world adapt to climate change was under fire last night after it emerged that almost all the money offered by Prime Minister Gordon Brown will have to be repaid with interest.

The U.K. environmental transformation fund was announced by the prime minister to international acclaim in November 2007, and was widely expected to be made in direct grants to countries experiencing extreme droughts, storms and sea level rise associated with climate change.

The Guardian newspaper has learned that the money is not additional British aid and will be administered by the World Bank mainly in the form of concessionary loans which poor countries will have to pay back to Britain with interest.

A letter signed by two government ministers and seen by the Guardian shows that Britain has been pressing other G8 countries to also give money to the new fund, which will be launched in July in Japan at the G8's annual meeting.

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U.S. House Defeats $162.5 Billion War Budget
2008-05-16 10:12:34

An unusual coalition of antiwar Democrats and angry Republicans in the House Thursday torpedoed a $162.5 billion proposal to continue funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan into next year, eliminating, for now, the one part of the controversial bill that had seemed certain to pass.

Instead, House members voted to demand troop withdrawals from Iraq, force the Iraqi government to shoulder more war costs and greatly expand the education benefits for returning veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflict.

The surprise on war-funding left antiwar activists on and off Capitol Hill exultant and Democratic leaders baffled. House leaders had broken the war-funding bill into three separate measures, the first to fund the wars, the second to impose strict military policy measures opposed by President Bush, and the third to fund domestic priorities, including expanded education benefits and flood control work around New Orleans.

That legislative legerdemain became the plan's undoing. Democratic leaders knew that many members of their caucus, who have vowed not to approve another penny for the Iraq war, would reject the supplemental appropriation for the conflicts, but they expected Republicans to push it through. Instead, 131 House Republicans voted "present" on the measure, incensed that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and a few of her lieutenants had drafted the war bill largely in secret.

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U.K. Reveals Secret UFO Files
2008-05-16 10:11:59

Aliens from outer space have been visiting Britain for years and UFO sightings doubled after the film Close Encounters was released in 1977, according to secret files collating reports by members of the public.

The alien craft come in all shapes, sizes and colors but their occupants are uniformly green, the Ministry of Defence files show.

The archives (at are the first batch of a four-year release program of all the ministry's UFO files from 1978 to the present day.

The ministry dismisses 90 per cent of the reports as having mundane explanations and leave 10 per cent with a question mark and the assurance they are no defense threat.

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China Appeals For Rescue Equipment
2008-05-16 10:11:21

The Chinese government made an emergency appeal for cranes and heavy lifting equipment Thursday amid warnings that time is running out to rescue survivors from Monday's huge earthquake.

As the state media raised estimates of the final death toll to 50,000, troops, emergency personnel and volunteers continued to find people alive, trapped under collapsed buildings.

Dramatic footage broadcast by the state-run China Central Television network showed a young woman waving weakly from under slabs of concrete at the site of a devastated hospital in Dujiangyan. She was eventually freed by rescue workers - one of at least three people found alive three days after the 7.9 magnitude quake that churned up large swaths of Sichuan province in southwest China.

Far more bodies than survivors are being uncovered. The official death toll rose by almost a third Thursday to 19,509. About 30,000 others are believed to be buried under mountain landslides and collapsed structures.

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Bush May Have Lost Wealth During Presidency
2008-05-16 09:07:09

President Bush's financial fortunes appear to have declined over the past seven years, with his family assets dropping as low as $6.5 million, according to disclosure forms released yesterday.

Bush and his wife, Laura, were worth at least $9 million and as much as $24 million at the start of his term. The Bushes could still be worth as much as $20 million now, according to the financial documents filed with the Office of Government Ethics, which requires assets to be reported only within broad ranges
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Oil Above $127 For The First Time
2008-05-16 08:52:36

Oil prices have hit a record high above $127 a barrel on fresh worries about global supplies.

US light sweet crude jumped to $127.43 a barrel, ignoring a forecast from producers' cartel Opec this week that the world will need less oil in 2008.

London Brent crude also climbed, touching $125.82 a barrel.

Prices have surged about 25% since January, lifted by geopolitical worries and the weakening US dollar, which makes oil cheaper for foreign buyers.

The latest price rise comes as US President George W Bush flies into Saudi Arabia to urge the kingdom to pump more crude and help bring prices down.

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U.S. Bounties A Bust In Hunt For Al-Qaeda Leaders
2008-05-17 03:23:30
Jaber Elbaneh is one of the world's most-wanted terrorism suspects. In 2003, the U.S. government indicted him, posted a $5 million reward for his capture and distributed posters bearing photos of him around the globe.

None of it worked. Elbaneh remains at large, as wanted as ever. The al-Qaeda operative, however, isn't very hard to find.

One day last month, he shuffled down a busy street here in the Yemeni capital, past several indifferent policemen. Then he disappeared inside a building, though not before accidentally stepping on a reporter's toes.

Elbaneh, 41, is one of two dozen al-Qaeda members listed under a U.S. program that offers enormous sums of cash for information leading to their capture. For years, the Bush administration has touted the bounties as a powerful tool in its fight against terrorism but, in the hunt for al-Qaeda, it has proved a bust.

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Famine Looms As Wars Rend Horn Of Africa
2008-05-17 03:20:53
The global food crisis has arrived at Safia Ali’s hut.

She cannot afford rice or wheat or powdered milk anymore.

At the same time, a drought has decimated her family’s herd of goats, turning their sole livelihood into a pile of bleached bones and papery skin.

The result is that Ms. Safia, a 25-year-old mother of five, has not eaten in a week. Her 1-year-old son is starving too, an adorable, listless boy who doesn’t even respond to a pinch.

Somalia - and much of the volatile Horn of Africa, for that matter - was about the last place on earth that needed a food crisis. Even before commodity prices started shooting up around the globe, civil war, displacement and imperiled aid operations had pushed many people here to the brink of famine.

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U.S. Planning Big New Prison In Afghanistan
2008-05-17 03:20:05
The Pentagon is moving forward with plans to build a new, 40-acre detention complex on the main American military base in Afghanistan, said officials, in a stark acknowledgment that the United States is likely to continue to hold prisoners overseas for years to come.

The proposed detention center would replace the cavernous, makeshift American prison on the Bagram military base  north of Kabul, which is now typically packed with about 630 prisoners, compared with the 270 held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Until now, the Bush administration had signaled that it intended to scale back American involvement in detention operations in Afghanistan. It had planned to transfer a large majority of the prisoners to Afghan custody, in an American-financed, high-security prison outside Kabul to be guarded by Afghan soldiers.

American officials now concede that the new Afghan-run prison cannot absorb all the Afghans now detained by the United States, much less the waves of new prisoners from the escalating fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban. 

The proposal for a new American prison at Bagram underscores the daunting scope and persistence of the United States military’s detention problem, at a time when Bush administration officials continue to say they want to close down the facility at Guantanamo Bay.

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Bush Administration's Air Quality Rules Make It Easier To Build Power Plants Near National Parks
2008-05-16 10:12:19

The Bush administration is on the verge of implementing new air quality rules that would make it easier to build power plants near national parks and wilderness areas, according to rank-and-file agency scientists and park managers who oppose the plan.

The new regulations, which are likely to be finalized sometime this summer, rewrite a provision of the Clean Air Act that applies to "Class 1 areas," federal lands that currently have the highest level of protection under the law. Opponents predict the changes will worsen visibility at many of the nation's most prized tourist destinations, including Virginia's Shenandoah, Colorado's Mesa Verde and North Dakota's Theodore Roosevelt national parks.

Nearly a year ago, with little fanfare, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed changing the way the government measures air pollution near Class 1 areas on the grounds that the nation needed a more uniform way of regulating emissions near protected areas.

Jeffrey R. Holmstead, who now heads the environmental strategies group at the law firm of Bracewelll & Giuliani, helped initiate the rule change while leading EPA's air and radiation office. He said agency officials became concerned that EPA's scientific staff was taking "the most conservative approach" in predicting how much pollution new power plants would produce.

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Documents Link Chavez To Guerrillas
2008-05-16 10:11:43

President Hugo Chavez was facing serious allegations over Venezuela's links to Colombian guerrillas last night after Interpol bolstered the credibility of intercepted rebel documents.

The international police organization announced that a two-month forensic investigation of laptops seized in a raid by Colombian security forces concluded they belonged to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Leaks from the trove of 16,000 files and photographs have suggested high-ranking Venezuelan officials plotted to help the Marxist group to obtain weapons and funding for its decades-long insurgency against the Colombian state.

Ronald Noble, Interpol secretary general, said his experts had found "no alteration of the data by Colombian officials". Internationally accepted methods for handling computers were not always followed, he said, but Bogota had not modified, altered or created files. Interpol said the amount of information - 37,872 word documents and 210,880 photographs - was much greater than previously thought.

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Burmese Junta Requests Aid To Rebuild Farms
2008-05-16 10:11:02
Burma's military rulers are appealing for international funding to get rice farmers in the cyclone-ravaged Irrawaddy Delta back to their paddy fields, amid concerns about future food shortages if cultivators miss the upcoming planting season.

The Burmese government's request for help in restoring farms in the disaster zone was made in closed-door meetings with relief officials in Burma, aid sources said Thursday.

The request came as Burma's state television claimed overwhelming public support for a controversial military-sponsored constitution in a May 10 referendum. It reported that 92.4 percent of voters endorsed the charter in areas that were not seriously affected by the storm. Polling in the cyclone-hit section of the country - including the Irrawaddy Delta and Rangoon, Burma's largest city - is scheduled for May 24.

The opposition National League for Democracy, the party of detained Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, promptly denounced the results as fraudulent.

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Official Urged Fewer Diagnoses of PTSD
2008-05-16 09:06:57

A psychologist who helps lead the post-traumatic stress disorder program at a medical facility for veterans in Texas told staff members to refrain from diagnosing PTSD because so many veterans were seeking government disability payments for the condition.

"Given that we are having more and more compensation seeking veterans, I'd like to suggest that you refrain from giving a diagnosis of PTSD straight out," Norma Perez wrote in a March 20 e-mail to mental-health specialists and social workers at the Department of Veterans Affairs' Olin E. Teague Veterans' Center in Temple, Tex. Instead, she recommended that they "consider a diagnosis of Adjustment Disorder."

VA staff members "really don't . . . have time to do the extensive testing that should be done to determine PTSD," Perez wrote.

Read The Full Story
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