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 .

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Wednesday May 21 2008 - (813)

Wednesday May 21 2008 edition
Free Internet Press is operated on your donations.
Donate Today

Obama Wins Oregon, Clinton Takes Kentucky
2008-05-21 02:08:43

Sen. Barack Obama crossed another threshold Tuesday night in his march toward the Democratic presidential nomination, splitting a pair of primaries with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and claiming a majority of the pledged delegates at stake in the long nomination battle.

Obama scored an easy victory in Oregon after being trounced by Clinton in Kentucky. The results left him fewer than 100 delegates short of the 2,026 currently required to win the party's nomination after one of the closest contests that Democrats have staged in a generation.

The senator from Illinois stopped short of claiming the nomination, a milestone he may not be able to reach until the end of the primaries on June 3. But he staged a victory rally in Iowa, the site of his first big win of the year, to highlight his near-lock on the nomination and to continue to shift his focus to a general-election campaign against Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee.

Recalling the lengthy road he has traveled, Obama told a boisterous crowd gathered near the Iowa State Capitol:  "Tonight, Iowa, in the fullness of spring, with the help of those who stood up from Portland to Louisville, we have returned to Iowa with a majority of delegates elected by the American people, and you have put us within reach of the Democratic nomination for president of the United States."

Read The Full Story

New Biofuels Trend Comes With New Risks
2008-05-21 02:08:13
In the past year, as the diversion of food crops like corn and palm to make biofuels has helped to drive up food prices, investors and politicians have begun promoting newer, so-called second-generation biofuels as the next wave of green energy. These, made from non-food crops like reeds and wild grasses, would offer fuel without the risk of taking food off the table, they said.

Now, biologists and botanists are warning that they, too, may bring serious unintended consequences. Most of these newer crops are what scientists label invasive species - that is, weeds - that have an extraordinarily high potential to escape biofuel plantations, overrun adjacent farms and natural land, and create economic and ecological havoc in the process, they say.

At a United Nations meeting in Bonn, Germany, on Tuesday, scientists from the Global Invasive Species Program, the Nature Conservancy and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, as well as other groups, presented a paper with a warning about invasive species.

“Some of the most commonly recommended species for biofuels production are also major invasive alien species,” the paper says, adding that these crops should be studied more thoroughly before being cultivated in new areas.

Controlling the spread of such plants could prove difficult, the experts said, producing “greater financial losses than gains.” The International Union for Conservation of Nature encapsulated the message like this: “Don’t let invasive biofuel crops attack your country.”

Read The Full Story

Arjun N. Murti - The Cassandra Of Oil Prices
2008-05-21 02:07:19

Arjun N. Murti remembers the pain of the oil shocks of the 1970s, but he is bracing for something far worse now: He foresees a “super spike” - a price surge that will soon drive crude oil to $200 a barrel.

Murti, who has a bit of a green streak, is not bothered much by the prospect of even higher oil prices, figuring it might finally prompt America to become more energy efficient.

An analyst at Goldman Sachs, Murti has become the talk of the oil market by issuing one sensational forecast after another. A few years ago, rivals scoffed when he predicted oil would breach $100 a barrel. Few are laughing now. Oil shattered yet another record on Tuesday, touching $129.60 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gas at $4 a gallon is arriving just in time for those long summer drives.

Murti, 39, argues that the world’s seemingly unquenchable thirst for oil means prices will keep rising from here and stay above $100 into 2011. Others disagree, arguing that prices could abruptly tumble if speculators in the market rush for the exits. The grim calculus of Murti’s prediction, issued in March and reconfirmed two weeks ago, is enough to give anyone pause: in an America of $200 oil, gasoline could cost more than $6 a gallon.

That would be fine with Murti, who owns not one but two hybrid cars. “I’m actually fairly anti-oil,” says Murti, who grew up in New Jersey. “One of the biggest challenges our country faces is our addiction to oil.”

Read The Full Story

Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Virginia's Abortion Ban Law
2008-05-21 02:06:17

A federal appeals court panel in Richmond, Virginia, on Tuesday struck down a Virginia state law that made it a crime for doctors to perform what the law called “partial birth infanticide.”

In a 2-to-1 decision, a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that the law was more restrictive than the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, which the United States Supreme Court upheld last year in Gonzales v. Carhart. 

Both laws prohibited the procedure known medically as intact dilation and extraction. It involves removing an intact fetus and, typically, piercing or crushing its skull. The more common second-trimester abortion procedure, dilation and evacuation, involves dismembering the fetus in the uterus.

The key difference between the two laws, Judge M. Blane Michael wrote for the majority, was that the federal law imposes criminal charges only when doctors intend at the outset to perform the procedure, while Virginia law also made it a crime for doctors to perform the prohibited procedure by mistake.

“Unlike the federal act,” Judge Michael wrote, “the Virginia act subjects all doctors who perform” the more common procedure “to potential criminal liability, thereby imposing an unconstitutional burden on a woman’s right to choose.”

Read The Full Story

Democrats Vote In Kentucky, Oregon
2008-05-20 14:13:57

Democrats in Kentucky and Oregon added their choices today to the presidential nominating contest between Sen. Barack Obama (Illinois) and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (New York), a race the Obama campaign says is practically won but that Clinton's supporters insist is not yet over.

With Obama closing in on the number of delegates he needs to secure the Democratic nomination, his campaign was increasingly turning its attention to the fall campaign against Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), the presumptive Republican nominee.

Former senator Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota), co-chairman of Obama's national campaign, noted today that his candidate is within reach of a majority of pledged delegates, a milestone that he suggested could make Obama unbeatable.

"Not so fast," warned a newly formed women's political organization that backs Clinton. "We want Hillary to stay in this race until every vote is cast, every vote is counted, and we know that our voices are heard," the WomenCount Political Action Committee said in its latest full-page newspaper advertisement, published in today's editions of the New York Times.

Read The Full Story

Stocks Tumble Over Record Oil Prices, Inflation Worries
2008-05-20 14:13:22
Wall Street tumbled Tuesday after oil prices spiked to a new record above $129 a barrel and a government report raised investors' concerns about the impact of inflation on consumer spending. The Dow Jones industrials fell more than 200 points.

Crude jumped after OPEC's president was quoted as saying his organization won't raise its output before its next meeting in September. That sent a barrel of light, sweet crude to a trading high of $129.58 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department's producer price report, which indicated higher energy and food prices might be seeping into other parts of the economy, compounded the concerns raised by higher oil. The department said wholesale inflation edged up by 0.2 percent in April following a 1.1 percent jump in March, but outside of food and energy, prices rose by a faster 0.4 percent - double what analysts expected.

Wall Street is worried that a drop-off in consumer spending could ensue if wholesale price increases are passed along; consumer spending is critical because it accounts for more than two-thirds of the U.S. economy.

Analyst Stephen Leeb believes escalating oil prices have now replaced the health of the financial sector as the market's biggest worry. He said rising energy creates a "very vicious circle" through the economy, and thinks the government must take some kind of action to bring down prices.

Read The Full Story

Federal Appeals Court: U.S. Paper Money Discriminates Against The Blind
2008-05-20 14:12:42

A federal appeals court Tuesday upheld a lower ruling that the U.S. currency system discriminates against blind people because bills of different denominations are the same size, shape and color and cannot be easily distinguished by the visually impaired.

In a 2-1 ruling issued Tuesday morning, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said the existing currency system violates the federal Rehabilitation Act and ruled that the Treasury Department must find a way to accommodate the needs of the visually impaired.

In finding for the American Council of the Blind, which first brought its lawsuit in 2002, the court said Treasury did not prove that changing the currency system would constitute an undue burden for the federal government. Instead, the court found that altering the size or shape of bills would not cost substantially more than other changes the government has made to bills in order to deter counterfeiting.

In addition, the appeals court said, the government could have avoided some of the cost of changing its currency if it had included accommodations for the visually impaired while adding anti-counterfeiting measures in 1996 and 2004.

Read The Full Story

U.S. House Passes Bill To Sue OPEC Over Oil Prices
2008-05-20 14:12:02
The House of Representatives approved legislation on Tuesday allowing the Justice Department to sue OPEC members for limiting oil supplies and working to set crude prices, but the White House has threatened to veto the measure.

The bill would subject OPEC oil producers, including Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela, to the same antitrust laws that U.S. companies must follow. The legislation also creates a Justice Department task force to aggressively investigate gasoline price gouging and energy market manipulation.

Read The Full Story

U.S. Agriculture Dept. Proposes Ban On All 'Downer' Cattle
2008-05-20 14:11:35
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Tuesday that it wants to ban all "downer" cattle from the food supply, a step that consumer advocates say would promote food safety but which federal officials say is chiefly an attempt to allay consumer fears.

The proposal, which could take effect within a few months, follows the largest beef recall in U.S. history earlier this year after secretly recorded videotape showed California meat plant workers using forklifts and electric prods on immobile animals in an effort to get them to the slaughterhouse.

"There should be no longer even a slim possibility of transporting a cow to market that is too weak to rise or to walk on its own," Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer told reporters. "This action sends a clear message to consumers in both domestic and in international markets that we will continue to uphold the highest standards to protect our food supply and deliver the highest quality products."

Schafer also said that "by reducing the incentive to send weak and marginal cattle to slaughter, it will reduce the likelihood that those animals will be subjected to inhumane handling at processing plants."
Read The Full Story

McCain Finds A Thorny Path In Ethics Effort
2008-05-20 02:12:41

Sorting out the lobbying entanglements of his campaign advisers is proving to be a messy business for Senator John McCain.

On Monday, just days after it issued new rules to address conflicts of interest, the McCain campaign was furiously sifting through the business records of aides and advisers. The new rules were prompted by disclosures that led to the abrupt departure from the campaign of a number of aides who worked as lobbyists, including some with ties to foreign governments.

McCain’s political identity has long been defined by his calls for reducing the influence of special interests in Washington. As he heads toward the general election as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, he has increasingly confronted criticism that his campaign staff is stocked with people who have made their living as lobbyists or in similar jobs, leaving his credentials as a reformer open to attack.

The process of trying to purge the campaign of conflicts that in appearance or reality might violate McCain’s stated principles or cause him political trouble has so far focused only more attention on the backgrounds of his aides and advisers.

Read The Full Story

38 Charged In International Phishing Scheme
2008-05-20 02:12:13
Thirty-eight people were charged Monday with stealing names, Social Security numbers, credit card data and other personal information from unsuspecting Internet users as part of a global crime ring.

The Romanian-based phishing scams sought to rip off thousands of consumers and hundreds of financial institutions, according to indictments unsealed in Los Angeles and New Haven, Connecticut.

The two related cases marked the latest example of what the Justice Department describes as a growing worldwide threat posed by organized crime.

"International organized crime poses a serious threat not only to the United States and Romania, but to all nations," said Deputy Attorney General Mark R. Filip in a statement from Bucharest, where he announced the charges. "Criminals who exploit the power and convenience of the Internet do not recognize national borders; therefore our efforts to prevent their attacks cannot end at our borders either."

Read The Full Story

U.S. Rep. Fossella Won't Seek Re-Election
2008-05-20 02:11:36
U.S. Rep. Vito J. Fossella (R-New York) will not seek reelection in November after admitting to an extramarital affair with a former Air Force official, which came after a drunken-driving arrest in Alexandria, Virginia, three weeks ago, said Republican Party sources.

Fossella is not resigning immediately, saving House Republicans from having to defend another seat in what would have been an expensive special election had he left Congress altogether. The party has lost three seats through such elections since March.

The Staten Island Advocate, Fossella's hometown newspaper, reported last night that he is to release a letter to constituents Tuesday.

"I have made the decision not to seek re-election to the United States House of Representatives this November. This choice was an extremely difficult one, balanced between my dedication to service to our great nation and the need to concentrate on healing the wounds that I have caused to my wife and family," Fossella wrote, according to the paper.

Read The Full Story

Elderly Chinese Cling To Ruins, Resist Going To Camps
2008-05-21 02:08:27
To reach the shattered, deserted mountain town of Chaping, China, Chen Tong Quan hiked for six hours the other day, his third trip back since the earthquake to convince his mother-in-law that it was time to go.

Chen's only way here is on foot, over a 5,900-foot mountain, an arduous climb made treacherous by frequent aftershocks and rock slides.

Despite his efforts, Chen's 73-year-old mother-in-law still did not want to leave. "I'm too old! I'm afraid I won't make it," she pleaded, standing near a wooden crate covered with a strip of cardboard where she had collected whatever she could salvage from her ravaged home: a few articles of clothing, some tissue paper, an umbrella, a scythe.

"She wants us to leave enough food and drink and then come back every two months to check on her," said her son, Ye Ning Gui, 40. "She hasn't left these mountains in 10 years."

Scenes like this are playing out in dozens of remote mountain towns like Chaping, which lies 70 miles north of Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province. Those able to walk streamed out first, after last week's rains stopped and the mud began to dry on narrow paths. Now, villagers are joining army and police units trudging back into the mountains to bring out the injured and elderly, many of whom are refusing to budge.

Read The Full Story

Almost 30 U.S. Cities Saw Scheduled Airline Service Disappear Last Year
2008-05-21 02:07:42

Earlier this decade, city officials in Hagerstown, Maryland, started making the case to build a longer runway at their airport to lure service by regional jets, instead of the turboprop planes that provided its only flights.

Several years and $61.4 million later, the city opened its concrete welcome mat, a new 7,000 foot runway, last November - two months after the airport lost scheduled air service altogether.

Despite its costly investment, a dogged marketing effort by local officials and even help from Congress, the airport has had no luck attracting a new carrier, as the industry struggles under soaring fuel prices.

“Could we pick a worse time to go out and get commercial service? Probably not,” said Carolyn Motz, director of the Hagerstown Regional Airport, which had 10 daily flights a decade ago.

The airports have grown quiet in many other communities, too.

Read The Full Story

Clinton Sees Many Reasons To Stay In The Hunt
2008-05-21 02:06:53

Rebuffing associates who have suggested that she end her candidacy, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has made it clear to her camp in recent days that she will stay in the race until June because she believes she can still be the nominee - and, barring that, so she can depart with some final goals accomplished.

Clinton has disagreed with suggestions, made directly to her by a few friends recently, that her continued candidacy was deepening splits within the Democratic Party and damaging Senator Barack Obama's chances of emerging as a formidable nominee. She has also disputed the notion that, by staying in, she was unintentionally fostering a racial divide with white voters in some states overwhelmingly supporting her.

Rather, in private conversations and in interviews, Clinton has begun asserting that she believes sexism, rather than racism, has cast a shadow over the primary fight, a point some of her supporters have made for months. Advisers say that continuing her candidacy is partly a means to show her supporters - especially young women - that she is not a quitter and will not be pushed around.

Campaigning in New Hampshire and Indiana this year, Clinton endured taunts from passers-by who questioned her abilities because she is a woman and mocked her husband’s affair with a White House intern. Yet Clinton has also benefited from the strong support of white voters in many states, including some who have said that race was a factor in their support.

Read The Full Story

Military Rejects Wider Antiterrorism Role For Elite Forces
2008-05-21 02:05:57
The military’s elite Special Operations Command has quietly stepped back from a controversial plan that gave it the authority to carry out secret counterterrorism missions on its own around the world.

The decision culminates four years of misgivings within the military that the command, with its expertise in commando missions and unconventional war, would use its broader mandate too aggressively, by carrying out operations that had not been reviewed or approved by the regional commanders.

A new Special Operations commander, Adm. Eric T. Olson of the Navy Seals, has now said publicly that he intends to play a different role, and will instead continue the command’s new mission as coordinator of the military’s counterterrorism efforts around the world.

The shift reverses what Donald H. Rumsfeld put in place as defense secretary in 2004, when he said he wanted the Special Operations Command, based in Tampa, Florida, to operate unilaterally; he believed that it would be more aggressive in hunting down terrorists than the regional commanders, who are tied most closely to conventional forces.

Read The Full Story

Sen. Edward Kennedy Diagnosed With Malignant Brain Tumor
2008-05-20 14:13:44
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy has a malignant brain tumor, according to his doctors.

Doctors for the Massachusetts Democrat said tests conducted after Kennedy suffered a seizure this weekend show a tumor in his left parietal lobe. His treatment will be decided after more tests but the usual course includes combinations of radiation and chemotherapy.

The senator, 76, has been hospitalized in Boston since Saturday, when he was airlifted from Cape Cod after a seizure at his home.

His wife and children have been with him each day but have made no public statements.

Read The Full Story

After 8 Days, Earthquake Survivors Rescued In China
2008-05-20 14:12:58
Eight days after a massive earthquake struck southwest China, 129 students and 10 teachers were rescued in an isolated small town in Wenchuan County, Chinese state media reported Tuesday.

Early reports about the rescue in the town of Yinxing, carried by the official Xinhua news agency, provided few details about the condition of the students or the circumstances of their rescue, except to say that they were ferried to Chengdu, Sichuan’s provincial capital, aboard eight military helicopters, and taken immediately for medical care.

Later reports said that 1,100 troops had been dispatched to the 60-mile-long valley surrounding Yinxing village, and were proceeding from hamlet to hamlet, intensifying search and rescue efforts in an area that appears to have been largely overlooked in the initial emergency response to the earthquake.

The discovery of such a large number of survivors in an area where little effort had previously been made to look for people who might still be alive raises questions about the statistics commonly employed by the government and the media in establishing a tally throughout the crisis.

Read The Full Story

Inspector General: FBI Slow In Reporting Detainee Abuse
2008-05-20 14:12:30

FBI officials should have moved more quickly to sound alarms about abusive interrogation practices its agents witnessed in Cuba, Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a report by an agency watchdog released Tuesday morning.

The lengthy study by the Justice Department's inspector general clears the FBI of engaging in coercive questioning of terrorism suspects, concluding that "the vast majority of FBI agents deployed in the military zones" adhered to bureau policies and balked at more aggressive tactics used by Defense Department and CIA employees and contractors.

Inspector General Glenn A. Fine faulted bureau leaders, however, for waiting until May 2004 - a month after abuses at the Guantanamo Bay military prison became public and nearly three years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks - to issue a policy making clear that FBI workers were obliged to report abuse or mistreatment of detainees even if it fell short of criminal violations. The FBI was "too slow to provide guidance," said Fine's report.

"The FBI could have provided clearer guidance earlier and pressed harder its concerns about detainee abuse by other agencies," said Fine. "But we believe the FBI should be credited for its conduct and professionalism in detainee interrogations in the military zones and in generally avoiding participation in detainee abuse."

Read The Full Story

Merck To Pay New York State $58 Million To Settle Vioxx Investigation
2008-05-20 14:11:50
Merck & Company Inc. said on Tuesday it will pay $58 million to settle state investigations into its withdrawn pain drug Vioxx. 

The payment, to be shared by 29 states and the District of Columbia, resolves previously disclosed probes under state consumer protection laws related to past activities involving Vioxx marketing, said the drug maker.

Merck last month announced it had taken a pretax charge of $55 million in the first quarter in anticipation of the settlement with state attorneys general.

"Today's agreement enables Merck to put this matter behind us and focus on what Merck does best, developing new medicines," Bruce Kuhlik, Merck's general counsel, said in a statement.

Merck pulled the once-$2.5 billion-a-year drug from the market in September 2004 after a study found it doubled the risk of heart attack and stroke in patients who took it for at least 18 months. By then the medicine had been used by some 20 million U.S. patients.

Read The Full Story

Iraqi Security Forces Begin Crackdown On Sadr City
2008-05-20 14:11:17
Iraqi security forces moved deep into Sadr City Tuesday to wrest control of the vast Baghdad district from militiamen loyal to radical Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada Sadr.

Columns of Iraqi armored Humvees and tanks, backed by helicopters, lumbered down the slum's main arteries, while soldiers fanned out over the rooftops and into narrow allies. Others set up checkpoints, searching vehicles for weapons and fighters.

Despite the heavy military presence, residents said the district remained calm and no shots were fired at the troops. Sadr's representatives in the neighborhood, which is named after the cleric's revered father, wandered the streets, welcoming the Iraqi soldiers and presenting them with Korans, the Muslim holy book.

"It's like a normal day here," said Ahmed Mohammed, a grocery store owner. "It's very calm so far … no fighting or firing of bullets."

Read The Full Story

White House Cited In EPA Reversal On California Law
2008-05-20 02:12:28
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Stephen L. Johnson favored giving California some authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks last year before he consulted with the White House and reversed course, congressional investigators said Monday.

The five-month probe by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee drew upon more than 27,000 pages of internal EPA documents and interviews with eight key agency officials, and it provides the most detailed look yet at the administration's mid-December decision.

California sought permission to implement rules aimed at cutting its vehicles' greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent between 2009 and 2016. A total of 18 states - representing 45 percent of the nation's auto market - have either adopted or pledged to implement California's proposed tailpipe emissions rules, but the administration's refusal to grant a waiver under the Clean Air Act has blocked the rules from taking effect.

According to the agency's documents and depositions by staff members, EPA officials unanimously endorsed granting California the waiver, and Johnson initially agreed. EPA Associate Deputy Administrator Jason Burnett testified under oath that Johnson "was very interested in a full grant of the waiver" in August and September of 2007 and later thought a partial grant of the waiver "was the best course of action."

Burnett told the panel he thought Johnson had told White House officials that he supported a partial waiver and said there was "White House input into the rationale" for the Dec. 19 letter announcing EPA's complete denial of the waiver.

Read The Full Story

U.S. Says It Is Holding 500 Youths In Iraq
2008-05-20 02:11:58

The American military is holding about 500 juveniles in detention centers in Iraq and has about 10 detained at the military base at Bagram, Afghanistan, the United States has told the United Nations. 

A total of 2,500 people under the age of 18, almost all in Iraq, have been detained for periods of up to a year or more since 2002, the United States reported last week to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. Most are believed to be 16 or 17.

Civil liberties groups like the International Justice Network and the American Civil Liberties Union denounced the detentions as a violation of treaty obligations.

The United States confirmed a periodic report on its compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child that “as of April 2008, the United States held about 500 juveniles in Iraq.”

Read The Full Story

Venezuela Denounces U.S. After Air Space Violation
2008-05-20 02:11:16
The defense minister said Monday that an American fighter plane violated Venezuelan airspace over the weekend, prompting the government here to summon the United States ambassador to explain the incident and other recent statements about Venezuela by senior American officials.

The denunciation, issued on state television Monday morning, suggests that political relations between Venezuela and the United States may be set to deteriorate further after Washington explicitly sided with Colombia in a dispute over a trove of computer files that tie Colombia’s largest guerrilla group to Venezuela’s government.

Gen. Gustavo Rangel, the Venezuelan defense minister, said the authorities on Saturday detected an S-3B Viking aircraft piloted by United States Navy personnel over La Orchila, a Caribbean island with a Venezuelan military base. An exchange of words ensued, said General Rangel, and the plane departed in the direction of Curacao, in the Dutch Antilles.

“We believe this action to be deliberate on the part of the North American Navy,” said General Rangel. “At this moment in time, it is nothing but another link in the chain of provocations in which they are trying to involve our country.”

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