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 .

Friday, July 04, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Friday July 4 2008 - (813)

Friday July 4 2008 edition
Free Internet Press is operated on your donations.
Donate Today

'Recession Of Uncertain Depth And Duration' Seen In Grim Job Figures
2008-07-03 17:35:46
The U.S. economy, hamstrung by a collapsing housing market, shed jobs for the sixth consecutive month in June, and the unemployment rate remained at 5.5%, the Department of Labor reported Thursday, intensifying fears that the current downturn will last into next year.

Since the beginning of the year, the economy has lost 438,000 jobs and the number of unemployed workers reached 8.5 million, said the department.

"Six straight months of job losses are the strongest evidence yet that the economy has slipped into a recession of uncertain depth and duration," said Peter Morici, an economist at the University of Maryland.

Joshua Shapiro, U.S. economist at the New York forecasting firm MFR Inc., noted that the report also revised downward the payroll losses of the previous two months, indicating that the trend has been worse than initially recorded in April and May.

The construction sector was among the hardest-hit parts of the economy, losing 43,000 jobs, while manufacturing lost 33,000.
Read The Full Story

Federal Judge Orders Google To Turn Over YouTube Records - Could Expose Viewing Records Of Tens Of Millions
2008-07-03 17:35:22
A federal judge in New York has ordered Google to turn over to Viacom a database linking users of YouTube, the Web’s largest video site by far, with every clip they have watched there.

The order raised concerns among users and privacy advocates that the online video viewing habits of tens of millions of people could be exposed; but Google and Viacom said they were hoping to come up with a way to protect the anonymity of YouTube viewers.

Viacom said that the information would be safeguarded by a protective order restricting access to the data to outside advisers, who will use it solely to press Viacom’s $1 billion copyright suit against Google.

Still, the judge’s order, which was made public late Wednesday, renewed concerns among privacy advocates that Internet companies like Google are collecting unprecedented amounts of private information that could be misused or could unexpectedly fall into the hands of third parties.

Read The Full Story

Pentagon Extends Tour In Afghanistan For 2,200 Marines
2008-07-03 17:34:48
The Pentagon has extended the tour of 2,200 Marines in Afghanistan, after insisting for months the unit would come home on time.

The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which is doing combat operations in the volatile south, will stay an extra 30 days and come home in early November rather than October, Marine Col. David Lapan confirmed Thursday.

Military leaders as recently as Wednesday stressed the need for additional troops in Afghanistan. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has often praised the work of the 24th MEU in fighting Taliban militants in Helmand Province.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, however, has repeatedly said he did not intend to extend or replace the U.S. Marines in Afghanistan, calling their deployment there an extraordinary, one-time effort to help tamp down the increasing violence in the south.

Asked about the possibility of an extension in early May, Gates said he would "be loathe to do that." He added that "no one has suggested even the possibility of extending that rotation."

Lapan said Thursday that commanders in Afghanistan asked that the Marines stay longer.

Read The Full Story

U.S. Stocks End Mixed Following Jobs, Services Data
2008-07-03 17:34:09
Wall Street capped a shortened trading week with a mixed finish Thursday after some uneven economic data: news of a contraction in the nation's services sector and a tame reading on employment.

The Dow Jones industrial average showed a sizable advance, while the broader indexes ended mixed. The stock market closed early ahead of the Fourth of July holiday.

The Institute for Supply Management said its index of service sector activity fell to 48.2 from 51.7 in May. That news touched off more misgivings about the well-being of the economy.

The look at the service sector follows a largely as-expected report from the Labor Department, which said the nation's unemployment rate held steady at 5.5% last month. The government also reported that 62,000 jobs were lost in June, but that number was close to economists' forecasts. (Intellpuke: You can read a separate article on U.S. employment, or lack thereof, elsewhere on today's Free Internet Press mainpage.)

The jobs report appeared to assuage some worries that the snapshot of the labor market would be more grim. Employment numbers are critical because consumers who are out of work or are nervous about losing their job are likely to cut their spending. They've already become cautious because of higher food and energy prices.
Read The Full Story

One Of 2 French Students Found Dead In London Was Stabbed 196 Times
2008-07-03 16:07:41

Two French exchange students found dead after a fire in southeast London were the victims of a ''frenzied, horrible and horrific attack'' having been bound and stabbed repeatedly in the head, neck and torso before the house was set alight.

Laurent Bonomo, of Velaux, and Gabriel Ferez, of Prouzel, both 23, were found lying in the living area of the ground-floor bedsit (efficiency apartment). Bonomo had been stabbed 196 times with up to 100 injuries inflicted after he was already dead, said police. Ferez had 47 wounds.

Detective Chief Inspector Mick Duthie, of the Metropolitan police, Thursday described their injuries as the worst he had seen in his policing career. "These were two young French students who were visitors to our country and had been in London for only a matter of weeks. They were talented students working on a dream project.

"The level of violence used on these two victims was excessive - it was horrendous. The extent of the injuries are horrific. Everyone working on this case, including myself, has been deeply shocked by what we have seen. I have never seen injuries like this throughout my career.''

Read The Full Story

Bush Officials Condoned Regional Iraqi Oil Deal - Contract Contradicted State Dept.'s Public Stance
2008-07-03 03:40:12

Bush administration officials told Hunt Oil last summer that they did not object to its efforts to reach an oil deal with the Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq, even while the State Department was publicly expressing concern that such contracts could undermine a national Iraqi petroleum law, according to documents obtained by a House committee.

Last fall, after the deal was announced, the State Department said that it had tried to dissuade Hunt Oil from signing the contract with Kurdish regional authorities but that the company had proceeded "regardless of our advice." Although Hunt Oil's chief executive has been a major fundraiser for President Bush, the president said he knew nothing about the deal.

Wednesday, however, Henry A. Waxman (D-California), chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, released documents and e-mails showing that for nearly four months, State and Commerce department officials knew about Hunt Oil's negotiations and had told company officials that there were no objections. In one note, a Commerce Department official even wished them "a fruitful visit to Kurdistan" and invited them to contact him "in case you need any support."

That guidance contradicted the administration's public posture. The Bush administration made an Iraqi national petroleum law, which has still not been adopted, a top priority last year in the hope it would more tightly bind the country's regions together and open the way for international oil companies to invest in much larger oil fields south of Iraq's Kurdish region. The State Department said, and continues to assert, that it opposes any contract with a regional Iraqi authority in the absence of a national petroleum law.

The Hunt Oil deal was seen by Kurdish officials as a key victory because the company's chief executive, Ray L. Hunt, was not only a major backer of Bush but also a member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. After the deal was completed, a dozen other foreign firms signed oil contracts with Kurdish authorities.

Read The Full Story

Commentary: Not So Quiet On The Third (i.e. Iran) Front
2008-07-03 03:39:50
Intellpuke: This commentary was written by Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank, writing from Washington, D.C. It appeared in the Post's edition for Thursday, July 3, 2008.

At this rate, the October Surprise won't be very surprising.

The threats, counterthreats, and counter-counterthreats between Israel, Iran and the United States have reached new levels of hysteria in recent days. Israel openly threatens to attack Iran's nuclear program, Iran threatens to shut down oil-shipping lanes, and the commander of the U.S. fleet in the Persian Gulf, Vice Adm. Kevin Cosgriff, says this would be an "act of war" requiring an American military response.

That was the backdrop Wednesday as Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, faced the cameras in the Pentagon briefing room. Mullen, just back from a trip to Israel that further raised speculation about an Israeli attack, was asked whether Cosgriff's saber rattling would raise tensions with Iran.

"Actually," the chairman replied, "I think Admiral Cosgriff, who made that statement, is making an accurate statement."

Or, as John McCain might sing, "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran."

The doldrums of the Fourth of July recess have been enlivened by fresh talk of another war. Is it a diplomatic bluff or a serious possibility? Perhaps some of each: Iran's foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, told the Associated Press Wednesday that the possibility of an attack is "craziness" - but, just in case, he also made sure in the same interview to speak about progress in negotiations with the West.

Read The Full Story

Federal Judge Rejects Bush's Justification For Wiretaps
2008-07-03 03:39:11
A federal judge in California said Wednesday that the wiretapping law established by Congress was the “exclusive” means for the president to eavesdrop on Americans, and he rejected the government’s claim that the president’s constitutional authority as commander in chief trumped that law.

The judge, Vaughan R. Walker, the chief judge for the Northern District of California, made his findings in a ruling on a lawsuit brought by an Oregon charity. The group says it has evidence of an illegal wiretap used against it by the National Security Agency (N.S.A.) under the secret surveillance program established by President Bush after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The Justice Department has tried for more than two years to kill the lawsuit, saying any surveillance of the charity or other entities was a “state secret” and citing the president’s constitutional power as commander in chief to order wiretaps without a warrant from a court under the agency’s program.

Read The Full Story

Fund Manager Who Faked His Suicide Surrenders
2008-07-03 03:38:04
Samuel Israel III, tricked his investors, lied to his lawyers and misled the police but, in the end, he listened to his mother.

The fugitive former manager of the Bayou Group hedge fund, whose faked suicide on a Hudson River bridge and subsequent disappearance last month set off an international manhunt, turned himself in Wednesday morning in Southwick, Massachusetts, just after speaking to his mother by phone.

Unlike some other notable fugitives, Israel, did not make it very far. He apparently spent the last four weeks living in a recreational vehicle at a Massachusetts campground, picking up supplies at the camp’s small store.

Shortly before he walked into the Southwick police station at 9:15 a.m., Ann R. Israel informed United States marshals that her 48-year-old son planned to surrender. A spokesman for the marshals, Dave Turner, said “it appears Mrs. Israel and other family members played an important role in Mr. Israel’s decision to face justice.”

Read The Full Story

In California, Goleta Wildfire Doubles Overnight To 2,400 Acres
2008-07-03 17:35:36
The Gap fire looming over the town of Goleta, California, has grown to more than 2,400 acres this morning, doubling in size overnight as it burned for its third day.

Farther north, a dogged wildfire is bearing down on the storied seaside haven of Big Sur, and firefighters are gearing up this morning for a last stand against the flames while authorities prepare to order more evacuations. The blaze had swept within a half mile of at least one major resort - the Ventana Inn and Spa - by mid-morning, as winds whipped the coast, humidity dropped and the fire grew by more than 8,000 acres overnight.

The fires are among more than 1,000 that have burned in the state, largely in the north, for more than a week, stretching firefighting resources thin.

On Wednesday night, the Gap fire knocked out electricity for as long as four hours in a large swath of Santa Barbara County, but most of it was restored by midnight, said John Jaysinghe, a Santa Barbara County spokesman.

Burning acreage that has been untouched by flame since 1954, the fire has grown, coming within a mile of residences, but so far has not burned any homes. About 40 homes in two rural canyons remain evacuated Thursday and another 300 are in an area that has been warned that evacuation orders may come.
Read The Full Story

NASA: Planet Mercury Is Shrinking
2008-07-03 17:35:06
Mercury is not just the solar system's shrimpy kid brother, at least since Pluto was kicked out of the planetary club two years ago. It's shrinking.

New measurements taken by NASA's Messenger spacecraft earlier this year show that the innermost planet has shrunk by more than a mile in diameter over its history. Scientists attribute that to the gradual cooling of the planet's core.

Messenger, which stands for MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging, is the first spacecraft to study Mercury up close since Mariner 10 in 1975. It made its first close flyby in January, whisking to within 125 miles of the surface before cruising off on a highly elliptical orbit. It will swing back for a second encounter in October before settling into a final close orbit in 2011.

The first comprehensive results from the January flyby are being published in today's issue of the journal Science.
Read The Full Story

Joint Chiefs Chairman: Risk To U.S. Troops Seen If Israel Attacks Iran
2008-07-03 17:34:34
The U.S. military's top officer warned Wednesday that an Israeli airstrike against Iran would make the Middle East more unstable and could add to the stress on overworked American forces in the region.

The comments by Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, came days after he visited Israel and amid growing international concern that Jerusalem is actively considering such an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Mullen spoke at a Pentagon news briefing shortly after President Bush addressed the subject. Bush was asked at a Rose Garden news conference whether he would strongly discourage Israel from an attack, but he sidestepped the question, saying only that he believed the best way to deal with the Iranian nuclear program was through multilateral negotiations.

"I have made it very clear to all parties that the first option ought to be to solve this problem diplomatically," said Bush.

The comments appeared to reflect a strain within the administration as it grapples for a way to address Iran's nuclear program, which Tehran says is peaceful but Washington and its allies suspect is intended for developing atomic weapons.
Read The Full Story

Report: Biofuels Are Prime Cause Of Food Crisis
2008-07-03 16:07:52

Biofuels have forced global food prices up by 75% - far more than previously estimated - according to a confidential World Bank report obtained by Britain's Guardian newspaper. The damning unpublished assessment is based on the most detailed analysis of the crisis so far, carried out by an internationally-respected economist at the global financial body.

The figure emphatically contradicts the U.S. government's claims that plant-derived fuels contribute less than 3% to food-price rises. It will add to pressure on governments in Washington, D.C., and across Europe, which have turned to plant-derived fuels to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and reduce their dependence on imported oil.

Senior development sources believe the report, completed in April, has not been published to avoid embarrassing President George Bush. "It would put the World Bank in a political hot-spot with the White House," one source said Wednesday.

The news comes at a critical point in the world's negotiations on biofuels policy. Leaders of the G8 industrialized countries meet next week in Hokkaido, Japan, where they will discuss the food crisis and come under intense lobbying from campaigners calling for a moratorium on the use of plant-derived fuels.

It will also put pressure on the British government, which is due to release its own report on the impact of biofuels, the Gallagher Report. The Guardian has previously reported that the British study will state that plant fuels have played a "significant" part in pushing up food prices to record levels. Although it was expected last week, the report has still not been released.

Read The Full Story

Commentary: Paying The Price For Global Growth
2008-07-03 16:07:25
Intellpuke: This commentary was written by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, it appeared in the Guardian edition for Thursday, July 3, 2008. In his commentary, Ban Ki-moon writes: "The food and fuel crisis, and climate change, are the ties that bind us all. The leaders of the G8 must act at the Hokkaido Toyako summit and beyond." His commentary follows:

Global growth is the leitmotif of our era. The great economic expansion, now in its fifth decade, has raised living standards worldwide and lifted billions out of poverty.

Yet today, many wonder how long it can last. The reason: plenty comes at an increasingly high price. We see it daily in the rising cost of fuel, food and commodities. Consumers in developed countries fear the return of "stagflation" - inflation coupled with slowing growth or outright recession - while the poorest of the world's poor no longer can afford to eat.

Meanwhile, climate change and environmental degradation threaten the very future of our planet. Growing populations and rising wealth place unprecedented stress on the earth's resources. Malthus is back in vogue. Everything seems suddenly in short supply: energy, clean air and fresh water, all that nourishes us and supports our modern ways of life.

As the leaders of the Group of 8 gather in Hokkaido Toyako, we know that these issues affect us all: north and south, large nations and small, rich and poor. And we know we must find new ways to extend the benefits of the global boom to those who have been left behind, the so-called "bottom billion". In dealing with problems of such dimension and complexity, there is only one possible approach: to see them for what they are - as parts of a whole, susceptible to a comprehensive solution.

Read The Full Story

Entire Town Of Big Sur, California, Evacuated For Fire
2008-07-03 03:39:59
Authorities ordered the remaining residents of the scenic coastal community of Big Sur to leave Wednesday because an out-of-control wildfire, one of hundreds in California, had jumped a fire line and was threatening more homes.

Flames raged in the hills above and ash fell from orange skies as evacuees in packed cars streamed north along Highway 1, the only major road out of Big Sur. Sheriff's deputies told residents they needed to leave the area by late afternoon.

"The fire is just a big raging animal right now," said Darby Marshall, spokesman for the Monterey County Office of Emergency Services.

The blaze near Big Sur is one of more than 1,100 wildfires, mostly ignited by lightning, that have scorched 680 square miles and destroyed 60 homes and buildings across northern and central California since June 20, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Read The Full Story

McCain Taps New Top Strategist - His Third
2008-07-03 03:39:36

Facing growing dissatisfaction both inside and outside his campaign, Sen. John McCain ordered a shake-up of his team yesterday, reducing the role of campaign manager Rick Davis and vesting political adviser Steve Schmidt with "full operational control" of his bid for the presidency.

Schmidt becomes the third political operative in the past year to take on the task of attempting to guide McCain to the  White House. A veteran of President Bush's political operation, Schmidt will be in charge of finding a more effective message in the Arizona Republican's race against Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, who leads in most polls.

In a telephone interview, Schmidt said that McCain faces a difficult challenge, given the overall mood of the country, but that he is encouraged by the race remaining relatively tight.

"There are 125 days left until the American people will decide the next president," he said. "Senator McCain is the underdog in the race. We suspect he is behind nationally five to eight points but well within striking distance. I will help run an organization that exists for the purpose of delivering John McCain's message to the American people." Schmidt is also expected to abandon Davis's plan to put roughly a dozen regional campaign managers in place around the country.

The abrupt shift in leadership, announced to McCain's staff yesterday morning, came after weeks of complaints from Republicans outside the campaign and growing concerns within it about the lack of a clear message, the cumbersome decision-making process, the sloppy staging of events, and a schedule driven largely by fundraising priorities rather than political necessity.

Read The Full Story

Editorial: A Supreme Court On The Brink
2008-07-03 03:38:36
Intellpuke: This editorial appeared in the New York Times edition for Thursday, July 3, 2008.

In some ways, the U.S. Supreme Court term that just ended seems muddled: disturbing, highly conservative rulings on subjects like voting rights and gun control, along with important defenses of basic liberties in other areas, including the rights of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The key to understanding the term lies in the fragility of the court’s center. Some of the most important decisions came on 5-to-4 votes - a stark reminder that the court is just one justice away from solidifying a far-right majority that would do great damage to the Constitution and the rights of ordinary Americans.

The Supreme Court abandoned its special role in protecting voting rights when it rejected a challenge to Indiana’s harshly anti-democratic voter I.D. law. Critics warned that the law, which bars anyone without a government-issued photo I.D.  from voting, would disenfranchise poor people, minorities and the elderly, all of whom disproportionately lack drivers’ licenses. The critics were right. In the Indiana presidential primary, shortly after the ruling, about 12 nuns in their 80s and 90s were turned away at the polls for not having acceptable I.D.

In another sharp break with its traditions, the court struck down parts of the District of Columbia’s gun-control law. After seven decades of holding that the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms is tied to raising a militia, the court reversed itself and ruled that it confers on individuals the right to keep guns in their homes for personal use. The decision will no doubt add significantly to the number of Americans killed by gun violence.

Corporations fared especially well in this term. The court reduced the punitive-damages award against Exxon Mobil for the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill from $2.5 billion to about $500 million, a pittance for the energy company. In the process, the court declared that in maritime cases, punitive damages should not exceed the actual damages in a case. It is a rule that foils the purposes of punitive damages: to punish and to deter bad conduct.

Read The Full Story

More Firms Pull Asian IPOs As Market Slides
2008-07-03 03:37:41
Two more firms shelved plans for initial public offerings (IPOs) in Asia, adding further gloom to a market which recently showed signs of a revival after a dismal start to the year.

On Thursday, Hong Kong-based bulk cargo shipping firm Maritime Capital Shipping withdrew a Singapore listing worth up to $300 million and Chinese sportswear retailer Xdlong International Co Ltd scrapped a $127 million Hong Kong IPO.

The withdrawals come amid a severe downturn in global equities, with MSCI's index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan falling 13 percent since the end of May.

The index has fallen 21 percent so far this year.

"Asian IPOs have almost reached a standstill," said Leslie Phang, the Singapore-based head of investments at private client unit of Schroders, which manages $260 billion globally.

"Issuers are unwilling to launch at lowered valuations and investors are more focused on reducing their equity positions."

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