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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Wednesday May 14 2008 - (813)

Wednesday May 14 2008 edition
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U.S. Senate Rejects Bush Policy Of Boosting Oil Reserve
2008-05-13 23:17:01
The U.S. Senate voted on Tuesday to suspend oil deliveries to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve until crude prices fall below $75 a barrel, repudiating the Bush administration's policy of boosting the stockpile at a time of record oil and gasoline prices.

U.S. lawmakers have been bombarded with complaints from their constituents about soaring gasoline costs, which hit a record-high $3.72 a gallon this week. They want to divert the reserve's oil shipments to the market in an attempt to give some short-term relief to consumers at the pump.

The proposal to halt shipments to the emergency oil reserve, which overwhelmingly cleared the Senate in a 97 to 1 vote after most Republicans abandoned the president on the issue, was tacked on to a flood insurance reform bill that also passed.

The House of Representatives was expected later on Tuesday to vote on a similar measure that supporters believed would put more oil supplies in the market and help lower energy prices.

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Free Internet Press on Wikipedia
2008-05-13 23:10:49

  As some of you have mentioned, the "About Us" link on our left menu doesn't show a Wikipedia article. 

  I have been told that we are not considered "noteworthy".   In reviewing our stats, we have been read by approximately 350,000 viewers in the last year, in all but a handful of countries.  That is apparent by viewing the maps on the lower part of the left menu.

  The last article on there about us was rather complete, including who we are; what we do; our history; why we do it; and even how FIP operates.  (hmmm, I seem to remember those questions from a basic journalism class).

  If any of you with a bit of clout with Wikipedia would be so kind, would you please help us put up a nice informative page about Free Internet Press? 

  As we shouldn't be writing our own autobiography, this can be your opportunity to interview the journalists.  Just drop us a line at editor@freeintern! , and we'll be happy to answer your questions for an accurate and complete article.

  JW Smythe
  Free Internet Press

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Clinton Looks For Win In West Virginia
2008-05-13 15:04:19

With time running out in the presidential primary season, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton Tuesday looked for a decisive victory in West Virginia in the hope of keeping her campaign for the Democratic nomination alive.

The second-term senator from New York held a big lead in opinion polls in the state heading into Tuesday's primary but, with only 28 pledged delegates at stake, even an overwhelming victory would leave her well behind Sen. Barack Obama (Illinois) in the race for the nomination.

Polls opened in the Mountain State at 6:30 a.m. and were scheduled to close at 7:30 p.m. EDT. Local election officials reported that the voting was proceeding smoothly.

In the days leading up to the primary, Clinton campaigned hard in the state while Obama began turning his attention to the general election battle against Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), who has wrapped up the Republican nomination.

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45 Dead As Blasts Rock Indian City Of Rajasthan
2008-05-13 15:03:41
Bombs ripped through crowded parts of an ancient city in western India on Tuesday, killing at least 45 people and wounding 100 others, police and hospital officials said.

The six explosions in Jaipur took place in markets and several other areas of the city in Rajasthan, a region dotted with palaces and temples that draws hundreds of thousands of Indian and foreign tourists every year, said A.S. Gill, the state's police chief. A seventh bomb was defused before it exploded, he said.

"Obviously, it's a terrorist plot," he told reporters. "The way it has been done, the attempt was to cause the maximum damage to human life."

He added bicycles may have been used in the bombings, but he did not say if the explosives were detonated by suicide bombers riding through the crowds or if the bombs had simply been planted on parked bicycles.

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Aid Experts Concerned Over Myanmar Junta's Role
2008-05-13 15:03:00
Further deliveries of small-scale aid arrived in Myanmar on Tuesday - a darkly clouded and rainy day in Yangon and in the south - but international aid experts and diplomats in the capital expressed concern that the Burmese government may not be up to delivering it, a task it has claimed almost exclusively as its own.

In Brussels on Tuesday, the foreign policy chief of the European Union, Javier Solana, said that if the Myanmar government continued to bar large-scale aid, outside donors should find a way to deliver it anyway.

“We have to use all the means to help those people,” he said. “The United Nations charter opens some avenues if things cannot be resolved in order to get the humanitarian aid to arrive.”

Ten days after the devastating cyclone struck, the isolationist military government has slightly eased its restrictions on aid but is still blocking most large-scale deliveries of relief supplies, aid officials said. Adding to the difficulties, the hundreds of thousands of people who most need help are largely in remote and inaccessible coastal and delta regions.

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'No Hope' For Children Buried In Earthquake
2008-05-13 04:38:06
The children who were considered fortunate escaped with a broken bone or a severed limb. The others, hundreds of them, were carried out to be buried, and their remaining classmates lay crushed beneath the rubble of the schoolhouse.

“There’s no hope for them,” said Lu Zhiqing, 58, as she watched uniformed rescue workers trudge through mud and rain toward the mound of bricks and concrete that had once been a school. “There’s no way anyone’s still alive in there.”

Little remained of the original structure of the school. No standing beams, no fragments of walls. The rubble lay low against the wet earth. Dozens of people gathered around in the schoolyard, clawing at the debris, kicking it, screaming at it. Soldiers kept others from entering.

A man and woman walked away from the rubble together. He sheltered her under an umbrella as she wailed, “My child is dead! Dead!”

As dawn crept across this shattered town on Tuesday, it illuminated rows and rows of apartment blocks collapsed into piles, bodies wedged among the debris, homeless families and their neighbors clustered on the roadside, shielding themselves from the downpour with plastic tarps.

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This bud's for you, and you, and you too
2008-05-13 01:11:02
"I always wondered what would happen if marijuana were legalized for anyone over 18. It seems it already has been, and nothing happened."

Sometimes I can't believe how Californian California is. Women walk around half-naked, waiters call patrons "dude," and medical marijuana is legal. But I wondered just how legal. Could anyone buy it? Even me, who doesn't have cancer, AIDS, arthritis, glaucoma or even any previous pot-smoking experience?

Medical marijuana isn't really legal -- in 2005, the Supreme Court said federal anti-drug laws trump state laws -- but California and 11 other hippie states have been flipping off Washington for years.

Finding a medical marijuana distributor is shockingly easy, as Times columnist Sandy Banks noted in her recent columns on getting pot to treat arthritis. Sprinkled innocuously around L.A. County are more than 200 dispensaries that look like health food stores or pharmacies -- including three just at the intersection of Fairfax and Santa Monica. To shop at these places, though, you need a doctor's recommendation on an official form. Once you have that, no California cop can arrest you for holding up to eight ounces. That amount, I'm guessing, was based on conservative medical estimates of how much Snoop Dogg would need if he came down with glaucoma at the same time Animal Planet aired a "Meerkat Manor" marathon.

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US Military Deaths In Iraq War At 4,076
2008-05-13 01:10:27

As of Monday, May 12, 2008, at least 4,076 members of the U.S. military have died in the Iraq war since it began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

The figure includes eight military civilians. At least 3,324 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.

The AP count is one lower than the Defense Department's tally, last updated Monday at 10 a.m. EDT.

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Clinton Wins W. Virginia
2008-05-13 23:15:59
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton won most of the delegates in West Virginia's Democratic primary Tuesday.

Clinton added at least 16 delegates, but still trails Sen. Barack Obama by a large margin in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Obama won at least seven delegates, with five still to be awarded, according to an analysis of election returns by The Associated Press.

Obama leads the overall race for the nomination with 1,882.5 delegates, including endorsements from party and elected officials known as superdelegates. Clinton has 1,713, according to the latest AP tally.

It will take 2,025 delegates to claim the Democratic nomination at the party's national convention this summer.

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Death Toll Exceeds 12,000 From China Earthquake, Toll Expected To Rise
2008-05-13 15:04:34
Soldiers, paramilitary police and civilian rescue workers struggled against rainstorms and fog Tuesday to reach thousands of people trapped under the rubble of schools, hospitals and residences collapsed by Monday's deadly earthquake in central China.

The death toll exceeded 12,000 and was expected to rise as rescue efforts continued and the scope of the damage became clearer, particularly in hard-hit Sichuan province. The official New China News Agency reported that more than 18,000 were trapped under debris in Mianyang City. Another 2,000 people were found dead and 4,800 were missing in the little town of Mianzhu, near the quake's epicenter in Wenchuan county, the news agency reported.

The quake measured 7.9 on the Richter scale as it rolled through a half-dozen Chinese provinces and rattled buildings as far away as Vietnam.

Several mid-afternoon aftershocks jarred Chengdu, the Sichuan provincial capital, sending thousands of office workers and residents into the streets in a repeat of Monday's panic. Dozens of families were seen camping under red, white and blue tarps beside the Funan River in the city center.

More than 1,000 rescuers reached Wenchuan county, about 60 miles north of Chengdu, after battling their way over fallen trees and buckled roads for about 24 hours, the official agency said. Once in the worst-damaged area, they fanned out to villages and towns trying to assess the scope of the damage and calculate a death toll that officials feared could rise in the days ahead.

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Racist Incidents Worry Obama Backers
2008-05-13 15:04:05

Danielle Ross was alone in an empty room at the Obama campaign headquarters in Kokomo, Indiana, a cellphone in one hand, a voter call list in the other. She was stretched out on the carpeted floor wearing laceless sky-blue Converses, stories from the trail on her mind. It was the day before Indiana's primary, and she had just been chased by dogs while canvassing in a Kokomo suburb. But that was not the worst thing to occur since she postponed her sophomore year at Middle Tennessee State University, in part to hopscotch America stumping for Barack Obama. 

Here's the worst: In Muncie, a factory town in the east-central part of Indiana, Ross and her cohorts were soliciting support for Obama at malls, on street corners and in a Wal-Mart parking lot, and they ran into "a horrible response," as Ross put it, a level of anti-black sentiment that none of them had anticipated.

"The first person I encountered was like, 'I'll never vote for a black person'," recalled Ross, who is white and just turned 20. "People just weren't receptive."

For all the hope and excitement Obama's candidacy is generating, some of his field workers, phone-bank volunteers and campaign surrogates are encountering a raw racism and hostility that have gone largely unnoticed - and unreported - this election season. Doors have been slammed in their faces. They've been called racially derogatory names (including the white volunteers). And they've endured malicious rants and ugly stereotyping from people who can't fathom that the senator from Illinois could become the first African American president.

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Wildfires Force Evacuations In Central Florida
2008-05-13 15:03:23
Dry, windy weather fueled several wildfires on Florida's central Atlantic coast Monday, damaging more than 50 homes and driving hundreds of residents away as the governor declared a state of emergency.

Fires in Palm Bay in Brevard County damaged about 50 homes and scorched 3,500 acres, or about 5 1/2 square miles. Palm Bay spokeswoman Yvonne Martinez said all 18 schools in Palm Bay, including charter schools, would be closed Tuesday.

"Everytime I turn around another house is on fire. We don't have enough resources on our own to do a job like this," said Martinez.

In nearby Malabar, a 3,000-acre blaze destroyed at least four homes, including the house Butch Vanfleet built in 1980 and tried in vain to protect with a garden hose.

Vanfleet, 59, said the fire had reached his doorstep when he and his family fled Sunday evening. All that stood Monday was the chimney and a stone wall.

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Powerful Quake Ravages China, Killing Thousands
2008-05-13 04:39:47
A powerful 7.9-magnitude earthquake struck southwestern China on Monday, toppling thousands of homes, factories and offices, trapping students in schools, and killing at least 10,000 people, the country’s worst natural disaster in three decades.

The quake, which was estimated preliminarily to have had a magnitude of 7.9, ravaged a mountainous region outside Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province, just after lunchtime Monday, destroying 80 percent of structures in some of the towns and small cities near its epicenter, Chinese officials said. Its tremors were felt as far away as Vietnam and set off another, smaller quake in the outskirts of Beijing, 900 miles away.

Landslides, power failures and fallen mobile phone towers left much of the affected area cut off from the outside world and limited information about the damage. But snapshots of concentrated devastation suggested that the death toll that could rise significantly as rescue workers reached the most heavily damaged towns. State media reported at midday on Tuesday that 10,000 people remained buried in Mianzhu, one of the cities near the epicenter in Wenchuan.

At least two large schools, each with nearly 1,000 students, were reduced to piles of concrete dust and debris, setting off a frantic search for survivors that stretched through the night.

Two chemical factories in Shifang were destroyed, spilling 80 tons of toxic liquid ammonia, forcing 6,000 people to evacuate their homes. The destruction of a steam turbine factory in the city of Mianzhu killed at least 60 workers and left 500 others missing, officials said on Tuesday.

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McCain Differs With Bush On Global Warming
2008-05-13 04:37:42
Senator John McCain sought to distance himself from President Bush on Monday as he called for a mandatory limit on greenhouse gas emissions in the United States to combat climate change. 

McCain, in a speech at a wind power company, also pledged to work with the European Union to diplomatically engage China and India, two of the world’s biggest polluters, if they refuse to participate in an international agreement to slow global warming.

In the prepared text of his speech, e-mailed to reporters on Sunday night and Monday morning, McCain went so far as to call for punitive tariffs against China and India if they evaded international standards on emissions, but he omitted the threat in his delivered remarks. Aides said he had decided to soften his language because he thought he could be misinterpreted as being opposed to free trade, a central tenet of his campaign and Republican orthodoxy.

He took a shot at Bush.

“I will not shirk the mantle of leadership that the United States bears,” McCain said pointedly. “I will not permit eight long years to pass without serious action on serious challenges.”

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Mexico Police Say Drug Cartel Killed No. 2 Cop
2008-05-13 01:10:49

A police officer and four other people with suspected ties to a powerful drug cartel have been arrested in the assassination of Mexico's acting federal police chief, authorities said Monday.

The three men and two women belonged to a criminal cell believed to be acting on the orders of the Sinaloa drug cartel, said Gerardo Garay, the anti-drug coordinator for the federal police. The drug trafficking organization had been a key target of operations led by Edgar Millan Gomez, who was gunned down inside his Mexico City home last week.

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Second sect baby born in state custody
2008-05-13 01:10:07
A mother taken from a polygamist sect and being held as a minor in state custody gave birth Monday to a baby boy who was immediately taken into child-protective custody.

State officials acknowledged the mother may be an adult, and said they were trying to determine her true age. Since state officials raided the sect's West Texas ranch on April 3, child welfare officials have taken custody of all its children on the grounds that they were endangered by the sect's underage and polygamous spiritual marriages.

The boy is the second baby born in state custody since the raid.

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