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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Wednesday June 4 2008 - (813)

Wednesday June 4 2008 edition
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Obama Wins Historic Presidential Nomination
2008-06-04 03:26:17

With a split decision in the final two primaries and a flurry of superdelegate endorsements, Sen. Barack Obama sealed the Democratic presidential nomination last night after a grueling and history-making campaign against Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton that will make him the first African American to head a major-party ticket.

Before a chanting and cheering audience in St. Paul, Minnesota, the first-term senator from Illinois savored what once seemed an unlikely outcome to the Democratic race with a nod to the marathon that was ending and to what will be another hard-fought battle, against Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee.

"Tonight we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another - a journey that will bring a new and better day to America," he said, as the emotion of the moment showed on his face. "Because of you, tonight I can stand before you and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for president of the United States of America."

Obama's success marked a major milestone for the nation - a sign of the racial progress that has taken place during the span of the senator's lifetime. But the nomination battle also revealed a racial schism within the Democratic Party,  and potential resistance to a black candidate in some parts of the country that will play out in the general-election campaign.

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Rising Prices, Falling Dollar Stoke Inflation Fears
2008-06-04 03:25:52

Prices have been soaring long enough and fast enough, economists say, that the nation is at risk of a self-reinforcing cycle of inflation like that experienced in the 1970s.

It is a risk Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke highlighted in a speech yesterday, saying that the falling value of the dollar can feed into inflation expectations, and that rapid price escalation, if sustained, "might lead the public to expect higher long-term inflation rates, an expectation that ultimately could become self-confirming."

For some businesses that already is the reality. Many companies making long-term investments are assuming that prices will rise at a pace well above that of the past 20 years, as they pencil in larger price increases for the supplies they buy and the prices they charge. Consumers are coming to take rapidly escalating food and energy prices for granted. And labor unions are starting to push harder for across-the-board wage increases, though overall wages are still climbing slowly.

U.S. consumers expect prices to rise 7.7 percent in the coming year, according to the Conference Board, a research company. Investors expect inflation over the coming decade to average 3.4 percent based on bond market data analyzed by the Cleveland Fed. That is well above the Fed's unofficial target of about 2 percent.

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Bush Administration Files Nuclear Dump Application
2008-06-04 03:24:58
Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said Tuesday he's confident the government's license application to build a nuclear waste dump in Nevada will "stand up to any challenge anywhere."

Bodman spoke at a news conference hours after the Bush administration submitted the formal application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a license to build the underground storage facility at Yucca Mountain more than 80 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

Nevada officials, who have fought the waste dump for years, vowed to launch hundreds of specific challenges to the proposed design of the facility, arguing the Energy Department has not proven it will protect public health, safety and the environment from radiation up to a million years.

Responding to the filing, Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons reiterated his promise to fight the waste dump which he said "threatens the life and safety of the people of Nevada."

"As long as I am governor, the state will continue to do everything it can to stop Yucca Mountain from becoming reality," he said in a statement. Bodman called the application submission "a big day" for moving the stalled project forward and said he's confident the scientific assessments demonstrate the 77,000 tons of highly radioactive waste from the country's nuclear power plants can be stored there safely.

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Commentary: Only Stiff Rules Will Drive Car Makers To See Past The Petrol
2008-06-04 03:24:22
Intellpuke: This commentary was written by Iain Carson, a business writer for the Economist and author of "Zoom: The Global Race to Fuel the Car of the Future". His commentary, which appeared in the Guardian edition for Wednesday, June 3, 2008, follows:

The British government is in a deep hole over cars and carbon emissions. The doubling of the oil price in the past year has seen petrol prices soar to around £1.20 a liter (about $2.40 a quart). Ministers are fretting about a planned 2 pound increase in fuel duty this autumn and about their earlier decision to impose big increases in car tax for gas guzzlers. The scope of the latter is so draconian that humble family cars will be caught in the net. Applying it to older vehicles seems clumsy - punishing past acts rather than trying to influence future behavior. On one hand, environmentalists are rightly calling for no let-up on taxes designed to cut emissions by making people drive less. On the other, road hauliers, motorists and sundry other interest groups are up in arms about the costs imposed on them. But it's only by piling on tax pressure that more efficient alternatives come about.

This is the right time to be taxing to encourage cleaner fuels, because the industry is at last bringing out cleaner cars, after a century addicted to gasoline. One hundred years ago this October Henry Ford's Model T launched the mass motor industry. Simple and rugged enough for country tracks, it was also the world's first flex-fuel vehicle. Its engine could run on petrol or ethanol; Ford thought that farmers might prefer to make their own fuel from corn. In fact it was already as economical with either fuel as the average American car today. Although engines have become more efficient, cars have become heavier and made to go faster - wasting the improvements solely on speed.

Until the Model T, nine out of 10 cars were electric. Gasoline-powered vehicles came to dominate as oil was found in Texas, and the battery-powered starter motor made internal combustion cars easier and safer to start, without dangerous backfires. Now the car industry looks set for another revolution.

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Parts Of Jakarta Swamped By Tidal Wave
2008-06-04 03:23:17
A 2.2-meter (7-feet) high tidal wave inundated parts of Jakarta overnight as the city government and citizens tried to hold the water back with emergency embankments, a government official said on Wednesday.

The height of the water was far greater than earlier predictions. The World Bank, which has been monitoring flooding and tidal waves in Jakarta, warned last week of a 1.2 meter tidal surge in parts of the city.

Authorities in the capital, home to more than 10 million people, had been bracing for high tides with sand bags and wire netting filled with stones.

The tidal wave swamped areas near the coast for a few hours, leaving hundreds of people stranded in their homes, but the main highway leading to the airport was not affected.

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You are, are not, are, are not allowed to take photos in Union Station!
2008-06-03 20:18:26

Tourists are being harassed by security at Union Station for taking photographs.

Amtrak says there is absolutely no problem with taking photographs in the building.

During the interview with the Amtrak spokesman, security comes over and tells the TV news crew they are not allowed to film in the building, even ignoring the Amtrak spokesman.

Watch the video to see footage of  the incident.

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U.S. House Whip Urges Superdelegates To Join Him In Backing Obama
2008-06-03 14:32:16
House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina endorsed Democrat Barack Obama Tuesday and encouraged other superdelegates to rally behind the Illinois senator, who is poised to clinch the presidential nomination tonight after the primary season's last contests in Montana and South Dakota.

"I believe the nomination of Sen. Obama is our party's best chance for victory in November, and our nation's best hope for much needed change," Clyburn said in a statement. "I believe the time has come for all unpledged delegates to make their choices known, and I believe our best choice against a George Bush third term is Sen. Barack Obama."

Rival Hillary Rodham Clinton has been arguing that her victories in recent state primaries show that she is the best candidate to beat Republican John McCain in the general election. Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe said Tuesday that if Obama "gets the number, I think Hillary Clinton will congratulate him and call him the nominee."

Predicting that the New York senator will not take a fight over delegates to the credentials committee, McAuliffe told the "Today Show" that "we're not going to have a fight over four delegates." He added that after 17 months of running for president, "we're still fighting and still going forward until someone gets the number" of delegates that would guarantee victory.
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GM Closing 4 Truck, SUV Plants In North America
2008-06-03 14:31:54
General Motors is closing four truck and SUV plants in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, affecting 10,000 workers, as surging fuel prices hasten a dramatic shift to smaller vehicles.

CEO Rick Wagoner said today before the auto maker's annual meeting in Delaware the plants to be idled are in Oshawa, Ontario; Moraine, Ohio; Janesville, Wisconsin; and Toluca, Mexico. He also said the iconic Hummer brand will be reviewed and potentially sold or revamped.

Wagoner said the GM board has approved production of a new small Chevrolet car at a plant in Lordstown, Ohio, in mid-2010 and production of the Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle in Detroit.

Wagoner announced the moves in response to slumping sales of pickups and SUVs brought on by high oil prices. He said a market shift to smaller vehicles is permanent.
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End Of Primary Season Spells 'Relief' For Superdelegates
2008-06-03 14:31:21

The novelty of famous suitors and media interviews long ago eroded into exhaustion, and now state Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, of South Carolina, is just plain sick of all this. An undecided superdelegate to the Democratic National Convention in August, she opens her e-mail inbox each morning and deletes a handful of threatening notes sent by strangers. Campaign followers call her incessantly. She struggles to find time to run her own campaign for reelection.

Like many of the other 150 or so superdelegates who remain uncommitted, Cobb-Hunter vowed early on to decide between Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (New York) and Barack Obama (Illinois)only after every state had its chance to vote. Her wait ends tonight, after Montana and South Dakota hold the final Democratic primaries.

"Honestly, it's going to be over with and it's going to be a huge relief," said Cobb-Hunter. "The candidate is going to be such an obvious choice after the end of the primaries that nobody will care one way or another if I commit or not, and that's just great."

The party will send 796 superdelegates to the convention in Denver, Colorado, and most of them have already committed to Obama. The ones who haven't committed to him or to Clinton have various reasons.

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Ukraine No Longer Silent About 'Holodomor' - Death By Hunger Under Soviets
2008-06-03 14:30:20
Hryhory Haraschenko tells the stories feverishly, in a voice that brooks no interruption, gesticulating wildly with veined hands. He hauls out his stash of carefully bundled newspaper clippings, witness' tales and pencil-drawn maps. He speaks like a man possessed, and in a sense he is - haunted by memories and by decades of forced silence.

At 89, Haraschenko is among a dwindling number of Ukrainians who survived the Soviet-era famine of the early 1930s. Like other survivors and some historians, he regards the starvation - known here as the Holodomor, or "death by hunger" - as an act of genocide engineered to wipe out the Ukrainians.

He wants it discussed, and he wants it recognized by the world.

"Russia is afraid we'll accuse Moscow of creating this genocide and eliminating Ukrainian villages," he says. "They try to say that Russians were killed in this famine, but don't listen to them."

After decades spent buried in Soviet silence and smothered in official denials, the Stalin-era famine has emerged as a passionate, painful topic that festers at the heart of tensions between Russia and Ukraine. This spring, presidents, talk show hosts and a Nobel laureate have trumpeted their opinions on whether the starvation of millions of peasants qualifies as genocide.
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Canada's Parliament May End War-Resister Deportations
2008-06-03 14:28:51
Canada's Parliament is expected to pass a motion this afternoon calling on the government to stop deportation proceedings against war resisters who have sought refuge in Canada.

The measure, though non-binding, could lead the Canadian government to offer a last-minute reprieve for Corey Glass, 25, a U.S. soldier who deserted to Canada in 2006 and has been ordered to leave the country by June 12. Glass and a busload of resisters have come to Ottawa to watch the pivotal hearing.

Despite Canada's history as a haven for up to 50,000 Vietnam War draft resisters, the new conservative government has stood firm with the Bush administration in supporting the Iraq war and detentions of militants at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. But the pending change of U.S. political leadership gives hope to resisters for a change in Canadian policy as well.

Glass joined the National Guard in 2002 after assurances he would not see combat. But he was later deployed to Iraq, where he served as a military intelligence officer. He said that witnessing the killing of civilians by U.S. troops made him want to quit after his first tour of duty.
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Investigation: NASA's Climate Findings Were Distorted
2008-06-03 03:12:33

An investigation by the NASA inspector general found that political appointees in the space agency's public affairs office worked to control and distort public accounts of its researchers' findings about climate change for at least two years, the inspector general's office said Monday.

The probe came at the request of 14 senators after the Washington Post and other news outlets reported in 2006 that Bush administration officials had monitored and impeded communications between NASA climate scientists and reporters.

James E. Hansen, who directs NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and has campaigned publicly for more stringent limits on greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming, told the Washington Post and the New York Times in September 2006 that he had been censored by NASA press officers, and several other agency climate scientists reported similar experiences. NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are two of the government's lead agencies on climate change issues.

From the fall of 2004 through 2006, the report said, NASA's public affairs office "managed the topic of climate change in a manner that reduced, marginalized, or mischaracterized climate change science made available to the general public." It noted elsewhere that "news releases in the areas of climate change suffered from inaccuracy, factual insufficiency, and scientific dilution."

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Water Is The New Battleground For Spain
2008-06-03 03:12:01
Lush fields of lettuce and hothouses of tomatoes line the roads. Verdant new developments of plush pastel vacation homes beckon buyers from Britain and Germany. Golf courses - dozens of them, all recently built - give way to the beach. At last, this hardscrabble corner of southeast Spain is thriving.

There is only one problem with the picture of bounty: this province, Murcia, is running out of water. Swaths of southeast Spain are steadily turning into desert, a process spurred on by global warming and poorly planned development.

Murcia, traditionally a poor farming region, has undergone a resort-building boom in recent years, even as many of its farmers have switched to more thirsty crops, encouraged by water transfer plans, which have become increasingly untenable. The combination has put new pressures on the land and its dwindling supply of water.

This year, farmers are fighting developers over water rights. They are fighting one another over who gets to water their crops. In a sign of their mounting desperation, they are buying and selling water like gold on a rapidly growing black market, mostly from illegal wells.

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Commentary: 'War Criminals Must Fear Punishment. That's Why I Went For John Bolton'
2008-06-03 03:11:25
Intellpuke: This commentary was written by Prof. George Monbiot and appeared in the Guardian edition for Tuesday, June 3, 2008. Prof. Monbiot is visiting professor of planning at Oxford Brookes University. He has held visiting fellowships or professorships at the universities of Oxford (environmental policy), Bristol (philosophy), Keele (politics) and East London (environmental science). His commentary follows:

I realize now that I didn't have a hope. I had almost reached the stage when two of the biggest gorillas I have ever seen swept me up and carried me out of the tent. It was humiliating, but it could have been worse. The guard on the other side of the stage, half hidden in the curtains, had spent the lecture touching something under his left armpit. Perhaps he had bubos.

I had no intention of arresting John Bolton, the former under-secretary of state at the U.S. State Department, when I arrived at the Hay festival. But during a panel discussion about the Iraq war, I remarked that the greatest crime of the 21st century had become so normalized that one of its authors was due to visit the festival to promote his book. I proposed that someone should attempt a citizens' arrest, in the hope of instilling a fear of punishment among those who plan illegal wars. After the session I realized that I couldn't call on other people to do something I wasn't prepared to do myself.

I knew that I was more likely to be arrested and charged than Mr. Bolton. I had no intention of harming him, or of acting in any way that could be interpreted as aggressive, but had I sought only to steer him gently towards the police I might have faced a range of exotic charges, from false imprisonment to aggravated assault. I was prepared to take this risk. It is not enough to demand that other people act, knowing that they will not. If the police, the courts and the state fail to prosecute what the Nuremberg tribunal described as "the supreme international crime", I believe we have a duty to seek to advance the process.

The Nuremberg principles, which arose from the prosecution of Nazi war criminals, define as an international crime the "planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances". Bolton appears to have "participated in a common plan" to prepare for the war (also defined by the principles as a crime) by inserting the false claim that Iraq was seeking to procure uranium from Niger into a state department fact sheet. He also organized the sacking of Jose Bustani, the head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, accusing him of bad management. Bustani had tried to broker a peaceful resolution of the dispute over Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction.

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Former Republican Staff Member Pleads Guilty To Fraud Charge
2008-06-03 03:10:40

The chief of staff to a former senior member of the House Appropriations Committee pleaded guilty Monday to conspiring to commit fraud, becoming the latest casualty of the scandal centered on disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

John C. Albaugh admitted to accepting gifts - including tickets to sporting events, concerts by groups such as the Wiggles and a Disney on Ice show - in exchange for helping lobbyists and their clients, according to prosecutors.

Albaugh is scheduled to be sentenced in September. He faces as much as two years in prison and has agreed to become a cooperating witness under an agreement with the Justice Department.

He is the latest former official caught in the investigation of Abramoff and his illicit dealings with some members of Congress and Bush administration officials. Fourteen lobbyists and public officials have either pleaded guilty to, or been convicted of, charges as a result of the investigation into Abramoff's activities, the Justice Department said Monday.

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Complaint Over British Role In Extraordinary Renditions
2008-06-03 03:09:11

A complaint was made Monday to Britain's information commissioner about the government's behavior over the use of the British island of Diego Garcia for the rendition of U.S. prisoners.

Andrew Tyrie, the Conservative Party member of Parliament who chairs the all-party group on extraordinary rendition - the secret inter-state transfer of prisoners - said he had made the complaint to discover whether the U.K. was in breach of its obligations under the United Nations convention against torture.

The moves come after the Guardian Monday highlighted human rights lawyers' claims that the United States is operating prison ships to house those arrested in its "war on terror".

"The foreign secretary has been forced to admit that two rendition planes refueled at Diego Garcia, despite explicit U.S. assurances to the U.K. government that no such flights had taken place," said Tyrie. "Clearly people will conclude that these assurances are worthless ... But in response to requests by me the government has twice refused to release the terms of these assurances. Their disclosure will allow for a legal assessment of whether or not the U.K.  has breached its obligations under the convention against torture, both with respect to Diego Garcia and to rendition generally."

He added: "It is important to be confident that U.K. officials do not find themselves complicit in kidnap and torture. That is why I have complained to the information commissioner about the government's refusal to release this information."

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McCain Immediately Attacks Obama's Record
2008-06-04 03:26:05
Republican Sen. John McCain wasted no time Tuesday night in launching his first general-election broadside against Sen. Barack Obama, casting the Democrat as an out-of-touch liberal who offers a false promise of change.

In a prime-time speech designed to upstage Obama on the night he claimed the Democratic nomination, McCain began what top aides and other Republicans promise will be an aggressive effort to claim the mantles of reform, experience and mainstream values. Obama, he said, is an "impressive man" but one with a thin record.

"For all his fine words and all his promise, he has never taken the hard but right course of risking his own interests for yours, of standing against the partisan rancor on his side to stand up for our country," McCain said less than two hours before Obama spoke in the same arena in St. Paul, Minnesota, where McCain will claim the Republican nomination in September.

McCain began his speech by praising Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who in the Democratic primary race won over many rural and working-class voters that McCain hopes to capture in November. "As the father of three daughters, I owe her a debt for inspiring millions of women to believe there is no opportunity in this great country beyond their reach," said McCain. "I am proud to call her my friend."

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In South Florida, Eviction Spares Few
2008-06-04 03:25:39
In a decade handling evictions for the Miami-Dade County Police Department, Albert Fernandez has run across a middle-class father bankrupted by his daughter’s cancer treatment; an old woman scammed by a gambling husband; and countless families perpetually on the edge of poverty.

But he has never turned out as many people as he does now.

It used to take a day or two for officers to get to an address after tenants received a notice to leave. Now, with evictions up by roughly a third over last year, Miami-Dade’s backlog is around two weeks, sometimes longer.

“It is what it is,” said Officer Fernandez, looking at a list of addresses about to be emptied. “People of all walks of life are getting evicted.”

If South Florida is a barometer for the housing crisis and the economy, the forecast does not look good. Like other areas nationwide, evictions are rising throughout the state, clogging county courts and spawning a boom in companies that specialize in “eviction services” like moving furniture to the curb.

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U.N. Says Food Plan Could Cost $30 Billion A Year
2008-06-04 03:24:42
Faced with an immediate hunger crisis and the need to double food production in the next 30 years, world leaders meeting Tuesday to discuss soaring food prices were mostly in agreement on how the problem could be resolved. The questions were how to get there and who was going to pay for it.

The steps needed? Immediately deliver more food aid to the world’s hungry. Provide small farmers with seeds and fertilizer. Scrap export bans and restrictions. And vastly increase agriculture research and outreach programs to improve crop production.

The cost? Jacques Diouf, director general of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the host of the meeting, estimated it could run to $30 billion a year.

“The problem of food insecurity is a political one,” he said. “It is a question of priorities in the face of the most fundamental of human needs. And it is those choices made by governments that determine the allocation of resources.”

As expected, biofuels emerged as the most contentious issue of the conference, and several speakers criticized government policies that diverted food crops to energy use, particularly at a time of increasing hunger.

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Extension Of Benefits For U.S. Jobless At Risk
2008-06-04 03:23:52

House Democrats are likely to drop a 13-week extension of unemployment insurance benefits from a major spending package that includes continued funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and that would create a new education benefit for military veterans returning from the battlefields.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Maryland) said Tuesday that the unemployment insurance provision would "probably not" be part of the final package of war and domestic spending, which has become the most important legislative battle this spring between congressional Democrats and President Bush. 

After huddling in the offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) for more than two hours Tuesday, House Democrats emerged to say they were still undecided about how to pare down the overall cost of the supplemental spending bill.

"I'll do what I do when I do it, but I don't telegraph it ahead of time," said House Appropriations Chairman David R. Obey (D-Wisonsin),after a meeting of the Democratic leadership of both chambers.

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1985 Search For Titanic Was A Cover Up For A Top Secret Mission
2008-06-03 20:28:06
The 1985 discovery of the Titanic stemmed from a secret United States Navy investigation of two wrecked nuclear submarines, according to the oceanographer who found the infamous ocean liner. Pieces of this Cold War tale have been known since the mid-1990s, but more complete details are now coming to light, said Titanic's discoverer, Robert Ballard.

"The Navy is finally discussing it," said Ballard, an oceanographer at the University of Rhode Island in Narragansett and the Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration in Connecticut.

Ballard met with the Navy in 1982 to request funding to develop the robotic submersible technology he needed to find the Titanic.

Ballard is also a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence. 

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FBI Seeks Spys To Spy On Anti-Republican Americans
2008-06-03 20:17:53
In preparation for the Republican National Convention, the FBI is soliciting informants to keep tabs on local protest groups.

Paul Carroll was riding his bike when his cell phone vibrated. Once he arrived home from the Hennepin County Courthouse, where he’d been served a gross misdemeanor for spray-painting the interior of a campus elevator, the lanky, wavy-haired University of Minnesota sophomore flipped open his phone and checked his messages. He was greeted by a voice he recognized immediately. It belonged to U of M Police Sgt. Erik Swanson, the officer to whom Carroll had turned himself in just three weeks earlier. When Carroll called back, Swanson asked him to meet at a coffee shop later that day, going on to assure a wary Carroll that he wasn’t in trouble.

Carroll, who requested that his real name not be used, showed up early and waited anxiously for Swanson’s arrival. Ten minutes later, he says, a casually dressed Swanson showed up, flanked by a woman whom he introduced as FBI Special Agent Maureen E. Mazzola. For the next 20 minutes, Mazzola would do most of the talking.

“She told me that I had the perfect ‘look,’” recalls Carroll. “And that I had the perfect personalityâ€"they kept saying I was friendly and personableâ€"for what they were looking for.”

What they were looking for, Carroll says, was an informantâ€"someone to show up at “vegan potlucks” throughout the Twin Cities and rub shoulders with RNC protestors, schmoozing his way into their inner circles, then reporting back to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, a partnership between multiple federal agencies and state and local law enforcement. The effort’s primary mission, according to the Minneapolis division’s website, is to “investigate terrorist acts carried out by groups or organizations which fall within the definition of terrorist groups as set forth in the current United States Attorney General Guidelines.” 
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U.S. Rep. Waxman Wants FBI Documents About CIA Leak Investigation
2008-06-03 14:32:06
A U.S. House committee chairman said Tuesday he is seeking more documents from the CIA leak probe because Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff made a significant disclosure to the FBI that warrants further congressional follow-up.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California, said I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby told the FBI that it's possible he was instructed by Cheney to disseminate information to the press about the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, covert CIA operative Valerie Plame.

Plame's CIA identity was leaked to the news media by several top Bush administration officials in 2003, including Libby and former top White House political adviser Karl Rove.

"This is a significant revelation and, if true, a serious matter," Waxman wrote Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

Waxman said the disclosure cannot be responsibly investigated without access to the FBI's interview of Cheney.

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Chinese Police Drag Grieving Parents Away At Protest Of Poor School Construction
2008-06-03 14:31:37
Police officers surrounded more than 100 parents protesting shoddy school construction and mourning the deaths of thousands of children during the recent earthquake, dragged away several crying mothers and harassed journalists, according to witnesses and photographs of the protest.

The standoff between the parents, many carrying framed photos of their dead children, and the policemen, dressed in black uniforms, lasted for several hours. In the end, the parents walked away. Some said they felt both intimidated and frustrated.

“Because so many police surrounded us, we couldn’t do anything, so we went home,” said a protester who gave her name as Ms. Li, who had lost a teenage daughter.

The confrontation in the town of Dujiangyan, the scene of several major school collapses when the earthquake struck on May 12, is the strongest sign so far of the government’s growing impatience with any public airing of grievances over unsafe school construction. Across the hardest hit areas of Sichuan Province, in southwest China, parents have been demanding investigations into why so many schools collapsed across the region even as, in many cases, surrounding buildings remained standing.

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Death Toll Mounts In Mexico's Drug War
2008-06-03 14:30:39
Mexico is at war.

Helmeted army troops steer Humvees passed strip malls in the border city of Nuevo Laredo, some of the 40,000 soldiers and 5,000 federal police officers President Felipe Calderon has deployed to secure large swaths of the country against entrenched drug traffickers.

The No. 2 police officer from Ciudad Juarez dies in a hail of bullets, and his boss resigns after receiving threats over the police force's own radio frequency.

Criminals unleash machine guns and grenades in urban battles that the State Department describes as "equivalent to military small-unit combat."

In the year and a half since Calderon launched a crackdown against drug gangs, about 4,100 people have died, the government says.At least 1,400 have been killed so far this year, including 170 in Tijuana, about 400 in Ciudad Juarez and 270 more in the western state of Sinaloa.
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Ford Motor Co.'s U.S. Sales Fell 15% In May
2008-06-03 14:30:00
The Ford Motor Company said Tuesday that its American sales fell 15 percent in May as as consumers continued to abandon pickups and sport utility vehicles in favor of smaller cars, an industry-wide shift that has forced the company to cut production.

Ford said that its car sales were up 3 percent compared with last May. The company says it sold more than 30,000 Ford Focus small cars for only the second time in the car’s nine-year history.

Ford says pickup and S.U.V. sales dropped 24 percent, part of a larger trend in the industry. No truck was immune: Ford’s F-series trucks, the best-selling vehicles in the United States for 31 years, plummeted 31 percent.

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Zimbabwe Suspends Humanitarian Aid Of CARE
2008-06-03 14:28:25
The Zimbabwean government has suspended all the humanitarian work of CARE, one of the largest nonprofit groups working in the country, because of allegations that it sided with the political opposition party in the current election season.

CARE provides assistance to 500,000 of Zimbabwe's most vulnerable people, including orphans, the sick and the elderly. This month, it would have fed more than 110,000 people in schools, orphanages, old age homes and through other programs.

Speaking at a United Nations food conference in Rome, Italy, President Robert Mugabe attacked the activities of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and accused the West of conspiring “to cripple Zimbabwe’s economy” and bring about “illegal regime change.”

“Funds are being channeled through nongovernmental organizations to opposition political parties, which are a creation of the West,” said Mugabe. “These Western-funded NGOs also use food as a political weapon with which to campaign against government, especially in the rural areas.”

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Obama Poised For Victory On Eve Of Last Primaries
2008-06-03 03:12:18
On the eve of the final two primaries of a five-month marathon, Sen. Barack Obama stood poised to wrap up the Democratic presidential nomination, while Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton weighed whether to stay in the race in hopes of delaying what appears to be an inevitable outcome.

Obama is optimistic that he will be able to claim victory Tuesday evening at a gathering in St. Paul, Minnesota, with superdelegates preparing to rally to his candidacy on the eve of the day's contests in South Dakota and Montana and push him past the threshold of 2,118 delegates needed to clinch the nomination.

Clinton sent mixed signals about her plans throughout the day Monday. As her campaign recalled field staffers to New York, one adviser indicated that she would suspend, but not end, her campaign within days. The candidate said she will continue to argue to the group of party insiders who will hold sway over the final outcome that her strong showing in recent contests demonstrates that she would be the more electable candidate in November.

"Tomorrow is the last day of the primaries and the beginning of a new phase in the campaign," Clinton said in Yankton, South Dakota, before she prepared to depart for a Tuesday-night rally in New York. "After South Dakota and Montana vote, I will lead in the popular vote and Senator Obama will lead in the delegate count. The voters will have voted, and so the decision will fall to the delegates empowered to vote at the Democratic convention. I will be spending the coming days making my case to those delegates."

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Study: 3rd Largest Tropical Forest Could Be Halved By 2021
2008-06-03 03:11:48

The forests of Papua New Guinea are being chopped down so quickly that more than half its trees could be lost by 2021, according to a new satellite study of the region.

Papua New Guinea has the world's third largest tropical forest, but it was being cleared or degraded at a rate of 362,000 hectares (895,000 acres) a year in 2001, said the report.

Phil Shearman, lead author of the study by the University of Papua New Guinea and the Australian National University, said: "Forests are being logged repeatedly and wastefully with little regard for the environmental consequences, and with at least the passive complicity of government authorities."

The researchers compared satellite images taken over three decades from the early 1970s. In 1972 the country had 38 million hectares (94 million acres), of rainforest covering 82% of the country. About 15% of that was cleared by 2002.

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'This Is Like Inviting Pol Pot To A Human Rights Conference'
2008-06-03 03:11:06

Robert Mugabe made a surprise appearance Monday at a world food summit in Rome, Italy, drawing fierce criticism from the British government, which accused him of causing Zimbabwe's food crisis.

In his first official trip abroad since coming second in presidential elections in March, Mugabe attended the summit organized by the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to address the global crisis caused by dramatic increases in the prices of staple foods over the past year.

"This is like Pol Pot going to a human rights conference," Mark Malloch Brown, Britain's Foreign Office minister for Africa, Asia and the U.N., told the Guardian newspaper. "Zimbabwe is one of the few countries whose food crisis is not due to climate change or global prices, but due to the disastrous policies pursued by Mugabe."

Australia Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said Mugabe's attendance was obscene. "This is a person who has presided over the starvation of his people."

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Putin Opponents Are Made To Vanish From TV
2008-06-03 03:10:15
On a talk show last fall, a prominent political analyst named Mikhail G. Delyagin had some tart words about Vladimir V. Putin. When the program was later televised, Delyagin was not.

Not only were his remarks cut - he was also digitally erased from the show, like a disgraced comrade airbrushed from an old Soviet photo. (The technicians may have worked a bit hastily, leaving his disembodied legs in one shot.)

Delyagin, it turned out, has for some time resided on the so-called "stop list", a roster of political opponents and other critics of the government who have been barred from TV news and political talk shows by the Kremlin.

The stop list is, as Delyagin put it, “an excellent way to stifle dissent.”

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Mafia 'Super-Witness' Gunned Down In Italy
2008-06-03 03:08:46

A "super-witness" who was due to testify on the links between politicians and mafia mobsters in Naples was gunned down in the street Monday - the fourth victim in a month of shootings directed against witnesses who turn state's evidence.

The killing of Michele Orsi, the 47-year-old boss of a waste disposal firm, highlighted the Italian state's inability to protect people prepared to give evidence against organized crime.

As security officials Monday held crisis talks, Orsi's murder gave a new and sinister twist to the Naples garbage crisis, where rubbish is still piled high on streets and roads in Campania, the region that includes the city. Since the emergency began last December one of the worst-affected provinces has been Caserta, where Orsi was shot dead in a bar in the town of Casal di Principe Monday afternoon.

The Carabinieri, the military police, said Monday the killing was impossible to reconstruct because no one would admit to having seen it. However, after a search for bullets and casings, they concluded that at least 18 shots were fired from two 9mm-caliber automatics. Orsi was hit twice in the chest and once in the head, suggesting that, in classic mafia style, he was given a "coup de grace" by one of the killers as he lay dying.

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