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, July 23, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Wednesday July 23 2008 - (813)

Wednesday July 23 2008 edition
Free Internet Press is operated on your donations.
Donate Today

Officials Fear Hurricane Dolly Could Break Rio Grande Levees
2008-07-22 18:42:30
Coastal officials worried Tuesday that Tropical Storm Dolly may bring so much rain that flooding could break through the levees holding back the Rio Grande River.

Officials urged residents to move away from the levees because if Dolly continues to follow the same path as 1967's Hurricane Beulah, "the levees are not going to hold that much water," said Cameron County Emergency Management Coordinator Johnny Cavazos.

Forecasters say Dolly was expected to dump 15 to 20 inches of rain and bring coastal storm surge flooding of 4 to 6 feet above normal high tide levels.

Hurricane warnings were in effect from Brownsville, Texas, north to Corpus Christi, and in Mexico, from Rio San Fernando north to the U.S. border. Tropical storm warnings were issued for surrounding areas and the governor has declared 14 counties disaster areas, allowing state resources to be used to send equipment and emergency workers needed to the areas in the storm's path.

Forecasters said Dolly was expected to make land late Tuesday or early Wednesday as a hurricane with sustained winds of 74 to 95 mph. The storm combined with levees that have deteriorated in the 41 years since Beulah swept up the Rio Grande pose a major flooding threat to low-lying counties along the border. Beulah spawned more than 100 tornadoes across Texas and dumped 36 inches of rain in some parts of South Texas, killing 58 people and causing more than $1 billion damage.

Read The Full Story

Rescue Of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Could Cost Taxpayers $25 Billion
2008-07-22 18:42:06
A federal rescue of troubled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could cost taxpayers as much as $25 billion, Congress' top budget analyst said Tuesday.

Peter R. Orszag, director of the Congressional Budget Office, predicted in a letter to lawmakers that there's a better than 50 percent chance the government will not have to step in to prop up the companies by lending them money or buying stock.

Congress is expected to vote this week on a housing measure that would give the Treasury Department authority to throw Fannie and Freddie a temporary lifeline.

Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, who has been pressing for the power, says it's intended as a backup plan to help calm investors and stabilize financial markets.

Paulson said in a New York speech Tuesday that Congress needs to quickly approve a support package for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - which guarantee or own almost half of the home mortgages in the country - to make sure they maintain their critically important role in housing finance. He said their continued operations were "central to the speed with which we emerge from this housing correction."

Read The Full Story

Analysis: Why The Oil Crunch May Grow Worse
2008-07-22 18:41:40
With gasoline and oil costing once-unthinkable barrels of cash, the notion that things in our petroleum-addicted world soon will get worse - maybe much, much worse - is spreading fast.

Fear pushed oil to $131.04 a barrel in New York futures trading Monday, closing $2.16 higher after tumbling more than $16 last week. Supply concerns drove the increase as the market fretted about the potential for Tropical Storm Dolly to harm Gulf of Mexico oil operations.

Behind today's oil mania lies a deeper dread: that the world has found all the easy-to-reach oil, and the daily supply of the essential black goo will fall further and further behind escalating global demand.

"As much as you're uncomfortable with today's oil prices, these are going to be the good old days," oil expert Robert L. Hirsch told a recent Santa Barbara gathering of policymakers and environmentalists. "We're talking about pain here that is unimaginable."

The day-to-day cost of oil reflects a sharply weaker dollar, market speculation and geopolitical events such as unrest in Nigeria and other oil-exporting countries. At the same time, producers are barely slaking the world's energy thirst, and the market increasingly is fixated on the long-term supply picture.
Read The Full Story

Rules Still Unclear For Guantanamo Bay Proceedings
2008-07-22 18:40:34
More than six years after the Bush administration sent hundreds of foreign prisoners to Guantanamo Bay, the rules for deciding just who can be held and for how long remain unclear.

Comments Monday by the attorney general and congressional Democrats suggest such issues will not be resolved soon - and not before a new administration takes power.

Roughly 270 prisoners remain at Guantanamo, of whom about 20 are slated to be tried as war criminals. No one is sure what will happen to the rest of them, even if the prison itself is closed.

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court said judges could hear appeals from the detainees and, in theory, order some of them released.

Yet the justices did not spell out who would qualify as an "unlawful enemy combatant," as the prisoners at Guantanamo are designated, nor did they say what proof would be needed to show that someone captured years ago remained a danger today.
Read The Full Story

Union Pacific To Pay $102 Million For 2000 Fire North Of Sacramento
2008-07-22 18:39:40
In the largest civil settlement of its kind, Union Pacific Railroad Co. has agreed to pay $102 million for damage caused by a wildfire north of Sacramento in 2000 that burned 52,000 acres, officials announced Tuesday.

The blaze was started by a Union Pacific railway repair crew that was accused of failing to block sparks and failing to clear flammable materials from the area, said John Heil, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service.

The fire burned parts of the Lassen and Plumas national forests for three weeks.

Heil said a first payment of $35 million was received July 2. A second payment of $35 million is scheduled for Aug. 15. A final payment of $32 million is set for Oct. 15.

"The money received will go directly to remedy and heal the harm to these forests," said Heil.
Read The Full Story

India Vote Clears Way For U.S. Nuclear Deal
2008-07-22 18:38:53
The Indian government survived a crucial vote of confidence on Tuesday, clearing the way for the contentious nuclear energy deal with the United States, after a debate peppered with dramatic allegations of backroom lobbying and bribery.

The vote concluded a bitter nine-month battle in support of the deal by the now-beleaguered coalition government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The agreement, which would give India access to the world market for nuclear fuel and technology, must now be approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which governs the trade of nuclear materials. The U.S. Congress would then vote on the accord.

"This vote gives a clear message to the world that India's head and heart are sound and India is prepared to take its rightful place in the comity of nations," said a beaming Singh, whose supporters burst firecrackers and beat celebratory drums in the streets of New Delhi. "I have always said the deal was important and now we know it."

But the victory was not without cost for Singh. On a day of intense political drama in Parliament, he faced a chorus of calls for his resignation after opposition members carried two duffel bags full of cash into the assembly building, alleging that the prime minister's allies had used the money to try to buy votes.

When Singh rose to address the members, he was shouted down by opponents chanting, "Be Ashamed, Be Ashamed" and "Thief." The prime minister, in his trademark blue turban, sat nonplussed, shuffling through his files. His government secured 275 votes in the 541-member lower chamber of Parliament; his opponents secured 256 votes; 10 members abstained from voting.

Read The Full Story

Analysis: Obama Makes War Gains
2008-07-22 02:12:14
When Sen. Barack Obama left Washington last week, he was under pressure to defend what Republican critics called an arbitrary deadline for withdrawing U.S. combat forces from Iraq. By Monday, the White House and rival Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign were at pains to explain why the Iraqi prime minister had seemingly all but endorsed Obama's relatively rapid timeline for getting out.

Obama has certainly not won the argument over Iraq policy. Far from it. His proposal to withdraw U.S. combat forces over a 16-month period still faces serious questions, including from some of the commanders who might be asked to implement it if he is elected.

The curious turn of events made for an unexpected opening act for the Democrat's week-long tour of seven countries, demonstrating anew the combination of agility and good fortune that has marked his campaign.

Whether Obama can count on Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in the days ahead is another matter. The Iraqi government does not speak with one voice on this matter, and it is not yet clear how current negotiations with the administration will conclude and how much emphasis will be placed on making a withdrawal timetable or "time horizon" conditions-based.

Beyond that, Obama's opposition to the troop "surge" that has helped quell violence and U.S. casualties - and that McCain vociferously supported - leaves plenty of room for further questions about his judgment at that moment. McCain's advisers were quick to suggest Monday that it was only because of the success of the increase that Obama can project the drawdown of troops over a 16-month period.

Read The Full Story

Salmonella-Tainted Jalapeno Found In Texas
2008-07-22 02:11:35

Federal officials investigating a three-month-old salmonella outbreak have isolated the bacteria in a jalapeño pepper from a small distribution facility in McAllen, Texas, and Monday warned consumers nationwide to avoid eating raw jalapeños or products that contain them until more is known.

Investigators found the contaminated jalapeño at Agricola Zaragosa in McAllen, after tracing back jalapeños eaten by restaurant patrons who got sick. The company has stopped distributing jalapeño peppers and is recalling jalapeños sold since June 30 to customers in Georgia and Texas. The tainted pepper was grown in Mexico, but investigators don't know where the contamination occurred.

"All we know is a pepper in this facility is positive with this strain. We don't know if it became contaminated in this distribution facility or at some point leading up to this facility," said David Acheson, a top official with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

None of the other samples taken at the facility tested positive for the outbreak strain Salmonella saintpaul, and officials said the finding has not cleared the initial suspect - raw tomatoes - as a cause.

Agricola Zaragosa also handles tomatillas, FDA officials said. A voice mail message left at the company last night was not returned. According to business information firm Dun and Bradstreet, Agricola Zaragosa had sales of $600,000 in 2007 and has fewer than 10 employees.

Read The Full Story

Commentary: This Muddled Terror Law Limits Free Speech And Wrecks Lives
2008-07-22 02:10:54
Intellpuke: This commentary was written by British playwright and Writers' Guild president David Edgar and appeared in the Guardian edition for Tuesday, July 22, 2008. Mr. Edgar writes: "The glorification clause of the Terrorism Act has created a climate where artists and academics must watch their words." His commentary follows:

A student downloads an al-Qaeda document from a U.S. government website and is held in custody for six days. A shop assistant writes poems about cutting people's heads off and is tried for being a terrorist. An opera composer is accused of promoting terrorism, objects, and is bankrupted by a national newspaper.

What do these cases have in common? First, none of these people was successfully convicted of any crime. Second, none of them faced charges under the glorification clause of the Terrorism Act 2006. Third, they would not have been arrested and/or tried and/or bankrupted had it not been a climate of opinion created by that clause.

During the long battle between the Lords and Commons over its wording, ministers pooh-poohed critics' concerns that works of fact or fiction might be vulnerable to prosecution, assuring them that the good sense of British juries would prevent prosecutions of histories of the Stern gang, biographies of Nelson Mandela or novels, plays or poems about terrorists today.

Those of us who expressed such concerns pointed out that we had been here before. No one was prosecuted under the Conservative government's criminalization of the promotion of homosexuality by local authorities. But that kneejerk legislation undoubtedly had results: it contributed to growing homophobia, it created a climate in which teachers were nervous about combating it, and it made local authorities jumpy about (for example) allowing theater shows with gay themes or characters into schools .

Read The Full Story

Russian Bombers Could Be Deployed To Cuba
2008-07-22 18:42:19
Russian bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons could be deployed to Cuba in response to U.S. plans to install a missile defense system in Eastern Europe, a Russian newspaper reported Monday, citing an unnamed senior Russian air force official.

The report in Izvestia, which could not be confirmed, prompted memories of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, when the United States and the Soviet Union came to the brink of nuclear war after Nikita Khrushchev put nuclear missiles on the Caribbean island. The weapons were eventually withdrawn in an apparent Soviet climb-down, but President John F. Kennedy also secretly agreed to remove U.S. missiles from Turkey.

A spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry declined to comment on the report Monday, but did not deny it. Izvestia is often a forum for strategic leaks by Kremlin and other officials.

"While they are deploying the missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, our strategic bombers will already be landing in Cuba," Izvestia quoted the source as saying.

It was unclear if the source was suggesting that Russia would reopen a base in Cuba or merely use an airfield there for stopovers by the bombers, Tu-160s and Tu-95s, which are already capable of reaching the United States from bases in Russia.

Read The Full Story

Record Number Of Californians Default On Home Mortgages In 2nd Quarter
2008-07-22 18:41:54
A record number of California homeowners defaulted on mortgages last quarter, a real estate information service reported Tuesday.

Mortgage servicers recorded "notices of default" on 118,020 homes from April to June, up 125% from the same period in 2007, according to DataQuick Information Systems. That total was the highest since the firm began recording foreclosure statistics in 1992.

Most of those homeowners will likely have their homes repossessed, likely prolonging the current foreclosure crisis.

The pace of defaults slowed in the second quarter, however, with the total rising 6.6% from the first three months of the year. By contrast, first-quarter foreclosures had shot up 39% from the last quarter of 2007.

DataQuick president John Walsh said the relatively small quarterly increase may show "some lenders are starting to prioritize workouts with homeowners instead of grinding things through the foreclosure process," but also noted banks "may just be swamped and can't handle processing any paperwork."
Read The Full Story

Wachovia Loses $8.9 Billion In 2nd Quarter, To Slash 6,300 Jobs
2008-07-22 18:41:14
Wachovia Corp. lost a staggering $8.9 billion in the second quarter of this year, leading the nation's fourth-largest bank to cut its dividend and slash 6,350 jobs in response to mortgage-related losses.

Wachovia is being hurt by its $25 billion acquisition of California's Golden West Financial Corp. in 2006, a California lender known for novelty mortgages that are now defaulting at a higher rate than more traditional mortgages.

Shares of Charlotte-based Wachovia dropped at the market's opening today but later rose. The market as a whole mirrored Wachovia, diving at the opening bell on earnings from American Express Inc., Apple Inc. and Texas Instruments Inc., all of which failed to meet analysts' expectations.

A further drop in oil prices helped boost the market back into positive territory in late-morning trading and it moved sharply up shortly before the close. The Dow Jones industrial average ended the day up 135 points, about 1.2 percent, at 11,603. The Standard & Poor's 500 stock index rose nearly 1.4 percent with a 17 point increase to 1,277. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index climbed more than 24 points, or 1.1 percent, to 2,304.

Crude oil settled today down $3.09 at $127.95 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Wachovia stock gained $3.61 to close at $16.79, a 28 percent increase.

Read The Full Story

Stocks Surge As Oil's Drop Trumps Earnings
2008-07-22 18:40:03
Stocks rose more than 1 percent on Tuesday as oil prices slid over $3 a barrel, taking the edge off a raft of disappointing earnings from American Express and others as well as a weak outlook from iPod maker Apple. 

Oil, which last week had its biggest weekly decline ever, lost 2.4 percent in New York as the U.S. dollar rose, easing some worries about the impact of higher energy costs on consumers and businesses.

Consumer stocks like Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart and airlines - all sensitive to higher fuel costs - gained as oil prices tumbled. An index of airline stocks surged 22 percent.

The drop in oil prices dominated investor attention even as several big U.S. companies reported results that reflected
that consumers are struggling. Even companies more dependent on wealthier consumers, such as American Express,  suffered. The credit card company's stock, a Dow component, plunged 7.1 percent.

There were some bright spots on the earnings front: Catepillar shares rose 2.4 percent to $74.98 after the maker of heavy construction equipment posted a stronger-than-expected quarterly profit.

Read The Full Story

Memorial Service Drives Home Rising Violence In Afghanistan
2008-07-22 18:39:26
For Kurt Zwilling, the nine days since his son was killed in an assault on a U.S. military outpost in Afghanistan have been like living in a faded photograph. He stood near his son's coffin Tuesday and told mourners, "You know, right now the world looks a little bit off. The colors are not as bright."

Cpl. Gunnar W. Zwilling, 20, was one of nine U.S. soldiers to die in a June 13 attack that represented a dangerous new phase of a war that has received far less attention than the conflict in Iraq. Some call it the forgotten war.

When insurgents attacked before dawn and nearly overran the outpost in remote Konar Province, the death toll in that single engagement exceeded the number of U.S. soldiers killed by enemy action in all of Iraq during the first three weeks of July.

The assault, which forced the Americans to abandon the outpost, reflected a recent trend: Fifty-two U.S. troops have been killed in action in Afghanistan since May 1, compared with 43 in a quieting Iraq.

The numbers are a sign of the resurgence of the Taliban and its allies nearly seven years into the Afghan war launched in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks - and a portent of changes to come.

Read The Full Story

Bush Prods Congress As Inspectors Look At Fannie's and Freddie's Books
2008-07-22 02:12:29

Bank examiners from the Federal Reserve and the Comptroller of the Currency are inspecting the books of the nation’s two largest mortgage finance companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as the Bush administration prods Congress to approve a plan that would enable it to inject billions of dollars into the companies.

Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr., in a meeting on Monday with reporters and editors of the New York Times, said the Fed and the comptroller’s office began combing the books of the two companies after their declining stock prices caused widespread anxiety in the market. The two companies guarantee or own almost half of the home mortgages in the United States. The Bush administration is hoping they can be the engine that pulls the housing market out of its yearlong slide.

Paulson emphasized that he still believed that the companies have an adequate cash cushion to withstand further declines in the housing market, and that he has no plans to use the new authority he seeks in the near term.

The financial condition of Fannie and Freddie is of keen interest to members of Congress, some of whom have expressed concern about approving a plan without a clearer understanding of the value of the possible losses from mortgage-related securities owned or guaranteed by the two companies.

Some lawmakers and critics are concerned that a further sharp erosion in housing prices could lead to more foreclosures than Fannie and Freddie could absorb without a large investment or loan from the government, which would involve committing taxpayer funds.

Read The Full Story

Hurricane Warning Issued For Texas, Mexico Coasts
2008-07-22 02:12:01
Residents along the Texas-Mexico border kept a watchful eye on Tropical Storm Dolly on Monday, stocking up on plywood, generators and flashlights as forecasters predicted the storm would strengthen into a hurricane later this week and make landfall.

Hurricane warnings were issued late Monday for parts of the Texas and Mexico coasts, meaning hurricane conditions were expected in those areas by the end of Tuesday.

The storm was expected to bring high winds and dump 10 to 20 inches of rain in coastal areas near the U.S.-Mexican border. Emergency officials feared major flooding problems and urged coastal residents to prepare.

Shell Oil said it was evacuating workers from oil rigs in the western Gulf Of Mexico, and the federal government was trying to decide whether they could begin construction on a new border fence, which was to be combined with levee improvements along the Rio Grande in Hidalgo County.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami issued a hurricane warning from Brownsville north to Port O'Connor. Meanwhile, a tropical storm warning was issued from Port O'Connor to the San Luis Pass, a strait south of Galveston.

Read The Full Story

War Crimes Fugitive Radovan Karadzic Arrested
2008-07-22 02:11:16

One of the world's most wanted men, the former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was arrested last night in Serbia after 12 years on the run from charges of genocide and war crimes.

The man indicted for the Srebrenica massacre and the Sarajevo siege, among other war crimes, was arrested by Serbian security officers and taken before a war crimes court in Belgrade, according to a statement from the office of the Serbian president, Boris Tadic.

Karadzic was said to have been under surveillance for weeks after a tip-off from an unnamed foreign intelligence agency, and had been picked up in Belgrade. The prosecutor's office at The Hague war crimes tribunal said it expected Karadzic to be handed over "in due course".

Last night he was undergoing formal identification, including DNA testing, and was scheduled to meet investigators. Heavily armed security forces took up position around the court, a precaution against a backlash from ultra-nationalists.

The arrest came on the eve of a European foreign ministers' meeting about Serbia's ties with the European Union, which has made action against Karadzic and his former military commander, Ratko Mladic, a condition of membership. It also came days after the formation of a pro-western coalition government pledged to pursue E.U. accession.

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