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 .

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Sunday July 20 2008 - (813)

Sunday July 20 2008 edition
Free Internet Press is operated on your donations.
Donate Today

Obama Gets First Look At War Zone In Afghanistan
2008-07-20 03:42:56
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama got his first look at deteriorating conditions in war-torn Afghanistan on Saturday, meeting with U.S. military commanders and local officials and touring part of the country by helicopter on the first day of a highly anticipated visit abroad that drew a fresh rebuke from Republican rival John McCain.

Obama, traveling as part of an official congressional delegation, landed in the Afghan capital on Saturday morning under tight security amid a surge of Taliban activity in recent weeks. After a briefing at Bagram air base, he flew by helicopter to the northeastern city of Jalalabad in Nangahar province, where he met with U.S. soldiers and local leaders. From there, according to a U.S.-based aide, Obama set out by helicopter for a look at parts of eastern Afghanistan before returning to Kabul for a dinner with senior Afghan officials.

The presumptive Democratic nominee shied away from public comments as his trip began, belying the intense interest in the trip and its political ramifications. McCain used his new weekly radio address on Saturday to attack Obama's foreign policy credentials and judgment. But as McCain sparred with his rival, the Illinois senator received an unexpected boost from Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki, who told the German magazine Der Spiegel that he looked favorably on Obama's call for a 16-month timetable for withdrawing most U.S. forces from Iraq.

Maliki's interview was published a day after White House officials announced that President Bush and the Iraqi leader had reached agreement on the need to set a "time horizon" for withdrawing U.S. troops, a significant shift in position by a president who long had resisted applying any semblance of a timeline on U.S. military involvement.

Iraq is expected to be part of the itinerary of Obama's trip, which also includes stops in Jordan, Israel, Germany, France and Britain. The long-planned journey is designed to enhance Obama's foreign policy credentials and allay the concerns of some voters that he lacks the experience to serve as commander in chief while the country is engaged in two wars and a global campaign against terrorism.

Read The Full Story

Iran Given Two-Week Deadline To End Nuclear Impasse
2008-07-20 03:42:28

Iran was given a fortnight (two weeks) to agree to freeze its uranium enrichment program Saturday or face further international isolation.

After a day of inconclusive talks in Geneva, Switzerland, a six-nation negotiating team warned the Iranian delegation that it had run out of patience and demanded a "yes or no" answer to a proposal it put forward five weeks ago.

Under that offer, sponsored jointly by the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, Iran would not expand its uranium enrichment program, while the international community refrained from imposing further sanctions. This phase would last six weeks, possibly paving the way for suspension of enrichment and more comprehensive talks.

The failure to reach agreement appeared likely to trigger new European and U.N. sanctions and to raise tensions in the Gulf. An Iranian rejection would also represent a rebuff to conciliatory moves from Washington, including the dispatch of a senior diplomat to Geneva to attend high-level talks with the Iranians for the first time in nearly three decades. The diplomat, William Burns, left Geneva without making any public comments.

Javier Solana, the European Union foreign policy chief leading the international negotiating team, said the talks were "constructive", but admitted: "We didn't get the answer we were hoping for. I hope very much we will get an answer to our question presented five weeks ago and we hope we will get it in two weeks."

Read The Full Story

Most California Wildfires Contained; Stubborn Blazes Left
2008-07-20 03:41:48
Cooler weather has allowed fire crews to corral most of the wildfires across California, but a handful of stubborn, hard-to-reach mountain blazes Saturday were still keeping residents from their homes.

Firefighters were trying to stop a fire in the Shasta Trinity National Forest from spreading to the rural town of Junction City, where an evacuation order was issued for some residents on Friday.

"Overall we're seeing the conditions stabilize," said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Jason Kirchner. "The only problem with that in Northern California is, it's stabilized into hot, dry conditions."

Mandatory evacuations remained Saturday for areas of Junction City because of a wildfire that has charred nearly 82 square miles in the far northern part of the state. The blaze was 45 percent contained.

All but 38 of the more than 2,000 fires sparked after a lighting storm on June 20 have been extinguished around the state, leaving nearly 1,413 square miles of destruction in what officials say is the largest fire event in California history.

Read The Full Story

Citigroup Posts $2.5 Billion Loss, But Beats Expectations
2008-07-19 00:31:19
Citigroup has become the latest big bank to quell Wall Street's worries about a financial sector implosion, posting a $2.5 billion second-quarter loss that was smaller than expected.

Citi rose nearly 9 percent Friday and helped lift other financial stocks, having joined JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. in convincing investors that the prognosis for the sector, while gloomy, may not be as dire as the market feared.

It's hard to get too enthusiastic about clearing a low bar. It was Citi's third straight quarterly loss and neither JPMorgan nor Wells Fargo managed to notch a profit gain compared to last year. Meanwhile, the brokerage Merrill Lynch & Co. reported a wider-than-expected quarterly loss and, next week, Wachovia Corp. and Washington Mutual Inc. are anticipated to reveal losses, too, with Bank of America Corp. expected to report a steep profit decline.

"I don't think anyone's breathing too easily right now," said Prakash Shimpi, who works in the risk management practice at Towers Perrin. Determining the dollar value of certain assets backed by debt is still a tricky process, he said, even a year after the crisis began.

Citigroup, the nation's largest banking company by assets, lost the equivalent of 54 cents per share in the April-June period. In the same timeframe last year, the bank earned $6.23 billion, or $1.24 per share.
Read The Full Story

California's Jobless Rate Hits 6.9 Percent
2008-07-19 00:30:40
California's jobless rate crept ahead Friday as experts saw weakness spreading into new areas of the economy.

For months, job losses were concentrated in the state's housing industry. But with June's increase of one-tenth of a percentage point to 6.9%, it was evident that a broader downturn is underway.

In all, the state lost 12,800 jobs in June compared with May
. The number of government workers fell 6%,while professional and business positions declined 5.2%, manufacturing 4.4% and the information sector, which includes television and film production, 2.6%. Retail trade dropped 2.5%, according to an analysis of state figures by Beacon Economics, a Los Angeles consulting firm.

Construction, which led the decline in previous months, dropped 2.1% in June.

"The June data give the first indication that job losses are now more and more being caused by consumers slowing down their spending and not just the sharp housing losses," said Stephen Levy, director and senior economist at the Center for the Continuing Study of the California Economy in Palo Alto.
Read The Full Story

U.S., Iraq Agree To Set Withdrawal Timeframe
2008-07-19 00:30:05
President Bush and Iraq's prime minister have agreed to set a "time horizon" for the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq as part of a long-term security accord they are trying to negotiate by the end of the month, White House  officials said Friday.

The decision, reached during a video conference Thursday between Bush and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, marks the culmination of a gradual but significant shift for the president, who has adamantly fought - and even ridiculed - efforts by congressional Democrats to impose what he described as artificial timetables for withdrawing U.S. forces.

In recent weeks, Bush and senior officials have hinted that they would be open to "aspirational" goals for removing U.S. troops, as Maliki and other Iraqi politicians have voiced increasing discontent with the idea of an open-ended U.S. troop presence in their country.

The White House has also been under pressure from top military officers to make more U.S. forces available for the war in Afghanistan, and that would be possible only by reducing the number of troops in Iraq, said administration officials.  U.S. troop levels there have been decreasing in recent months, as they return to the 15 combat brigades present before Bush ordered a troop increase last year.

Senior military officials have made clear that they expect troop levels in Iraq to drop even further this fall, following a 45-day period of assessment by Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq. In a statement issued yesterday, after the conversation between Bush and Maliki, the White House went further than it has in previous official statements to indicate that it shares that expectation.

Read The Full Story

4 Killed In Crane Collapse At Houston Refinery
2008-07-19 00:28:10
One of the nation's largest mobile cranes collapsed at a Houston, Texas, oil refinery Friday, killing four workers and injuring seven others in the latest of several fatal accidents that have raised concerns about the safety of construction cranes.

The 30-story-tall crane, capable of lifting 1 million pounds, fell over at a LyondellBasell refinery in southeast Houston about 2 p.m., said Jim Roecker, the company's vice president for refining.

The massive, deep red crane lay on top of a smaller, bright yellow crane on the grounds of the refinery. Ambulances and fire trucks were lined up outside.

The casualties were in the area of the crane, but officials still aren't certain whether they were on the crane or under it, said Roecker.

Three of the injured were treated and released at the scene, said Houston Fire Department Assistant Chief Omero Longoria. Two severely injured workers were taken by helicopter to Memorial Hermann- Texas Medical Center hospital and the other two injured workers was taken to a hospital by ambulance.
Read The Full Story

Women Hard Hit By Food Crisis
2008-07-20 03:42:42

After she woke in the dark to sweep city streets, after she walked an hour to buy less than $2 worth of food, after she cooked for two hours in the searing noon heat, Fanta Lingani served her family's only meal of the day.

First she set out a bowl of corn mush, seasoned with tree leaves, dried fish and wood ashes, for the 11 smallest children, who tore into it with bare hands.

Then she set out a bowl for her husband. Then two bowls for a dozen older children. Then finally, after everyone else had finished, a bowl for herself. She always eats last.

A year ago, before food prices nearly doubled, Lingani would have had three meals a day of meat, rice and vegetables. Now two mouthfuls of bland mush would have to do her until tomorrow.

Rubbing her red-rimmed eyes, chewing lightly on a twig she picked off the ground, Lingani gave the last of her food to the children.

"I'm not hungry," she said.

Read The Full Story

Search For Alien Life Gains New Impetus
2008-07-20 03:42:07

When Paul Butler began hunting for planets beyond our solar system, few people took him seriously, and some, he says, questioned his credentials as a scientist.

That was a decade ago, before Butler helped find some of the first extra-solar planets, and before he and his team identified about half of the 300 discovered since.

Biogeologist Lisa M. Pratt, of Indiana University, had a similar experience with her early research on "extremophiles," bizarre microbes found in very harsh Earth environments. She and colleagues explored the depths of South African gold mines and, to their great surprise, found bacteria sustained only by the radioactive decay of nearby rocks.

"Until several years ago, absolutely nobody thought this kind of life was possible - it hadn't even made it into science fiction," she said. "Now it's quite possible to imagine a microbe like that living deep beneath the surface of Mars."

The experiences of these two researchers reflect the scientific explosion taking place in astrobiology, the multi-disciplined search for extreme forms of life on Earth and for possibly similar, or more advanced, life elsewhere in the solar system and in distant galaxies.

Read The Full Story

Cubans Heading To U.S. -- Via Mexico
2008-07-19 00:31:33
In the face of a U.S. crackdown on illegal immigration in the waters between Cuba and Florida, Mexican authorities have reported a surge in detentions of Cubans as quick-moving smugglers shift their routes westward.

Under a 1995 proviso of U.S. immigration law known as the "wet foot, dry foot" policy, Cubans who reach U.S. territory are entitled to legal residency. With the Florida Straits under the gun, much of the traffic has been rerouted to bring migrants to Mexico's Yucatan peninsula and then guide them overland to the U.S. border - where they are detained on illegal entry charges for just a few days.

Even before summer's high season of human trafficking, more than 1,000 Cubans had been detained in Mexico by late June, compared with 1,359 in all of 2007. More than 11,500 made it to the U.S. border last year, 33% more than the previous year and almost double the number who arrived via Mexico in 2004.

The number of Cubans detained in Mexico has grown 500% over the last five years, a politician from Mexico's traditionally center-left Institutional Revolutionary Party told parliament last month. The lawmaker, Edmundo Ramirez, pointed to a recent bus hijacking as evidence that the smugglers have huge economic heft and firepower at their command.

In the June 11 incident in southern Mexico, armed men seized a bus carrying 33 Cubans who had been intercepted off the Yucatan peninsula and were being taken to a detention facility in Chiapas state. The Chiapas prosecutor, Amador Rodriguez, blamed the incident on Miami-based smugglers determined to retrieve their cargo for payment on delivery to U.S. soil.
Read The Full Story

Fears That Fish Virus Will Spread To Mississippi River
2008-07-19 00:31:04
A deadly fish virus has been found for the first time in southern Lake Michigan and an inland Ohio reservoir, spurring fears of major fish kills and the virus's possible migration to the Mississippi River.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources invoked emergency fishing regulations June 30 to stop the spread of viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS), often described as "fish Ebola," which was found in round gobies and rock bass tested at a marina near the Wisconsin border in early June.

A few days earlier, the virus was detected in round gobies and yellow perch just outside Milwaukee. And weeks earlier, muskellunge in the Clear Fork Reservoir north of Columbus, Ohio, tested positive for the virus. That was the first time the virus was found in a waterway outside of the Great Lakes basin.

The virus attacks saltwater fish off the coasts of Europe, Japan and North America. It was first found in the Great Lakes in 2005. Officials say it was probably transported in the ballast water of the oceangoing freighters that enter the lakes through the St. Lawrence Seaway.

In 2005 and 2006, VHS caused major fish kills in Lake Ontario, Lake Huron, Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair, and it was found in northern Lake Michigan. State and federal officials, however, took immediate steps - such as banning the transporting of fish and bait among lakes, and requiring the cleaning of boats and fishing equipment - that limited the spread of the virus in 2007.

Read The Full Story

Politics Blog: Gramm Departs McCain Campaign
2008-07-19 00:30:20

Add former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm's name to an ignominious list - Samantha Power, Billy Shaheen, Geraldine Ferraro to name just a few - of campaign surrogates forced to step aside after making an impolitic comment.

John McCain's campaign just released the following statement from Gramm:

"It is clear to me that Democrats want to attack me rather than debate Senator McCain on important economic issues facing the country. That kind of distraction hurts not only Senator McCain's ability to present concrete programs to deal with the country's problems, it hurts the country. To end this distraction and get on with the real debate, I hereby step down as Co-Chair of the McCain Campaign and join the growing number of rank-and-file McCain supporters."

Gramm's resignation as co-chair comes nine days after Gramm told the Washington Times that the country was in a "mental recession" and went on to describe the United States as a "nation of whiners."

Democrats immediately seized on the comments as evidence that McCain and his campaign were out of touch with the average voter and weren't likely to let the issue go any time soon.

Read The Full Story

4 In California Ill With West Nile Virus
2008-07-19 00:29:46
Two Orange County residents are sick with West Nile virus, the first illnesses known to have been caused by the virus in Southern California this year, health officials said Friday. Two other residents also have been infected by the virus but have not shown symptoms.

An 80-year-old Anaheim man who fell ill in early July and a 49-year-old central Orange County woman who became sick in late June remain hospitalized, said Orange County Health Care Agency spokesman Howard Sutter. The woman's infection may have been acquired outside the county, he said.

The announcement brings the number of Orange County residents infected with the virus to four.

On Thursday, Orange County health officials reported that two central Orange County men had tested positive for the virus. Those men, ages 23 and 41, recently donated blood and were identified through screening tests, said Sutter.  Neither man has symptoms, so they were not considered to have the disease, he said.

So far this year, the state Department of Public Health has reported six human cases of the virus in California. The first was reported last month when a Tulare County woman was hospitalized.
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