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Friday, August 22, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Friday August 22 2008 - (813)

Friday August 22 2008 edition
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Britain's High Court Critical Of MI5 Role In Case Of Torture, Rendition And Secrecy
2008-08-22 03:23:33
Britain's MI5 participated in the unlawful interrogation of a British resident now held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the country's high court found Thursday in a judgment raising serious questions about the conduct of Britain's security and intelligence agencies.

One MI5 officer was so concerned about incriminating himself that he initially declined to answer questions from the judges even in private, the judgment reveals. Though the judges say "no adverse conclusions" should be drawn by the MI5 officer's plea against self-incrimination, they disclose that the officer, Witness B, was questioned about alleged war crimes under the international criminal court act, including torture. The full evidence surrounding Witness B's evidence, and the judges' findings, remain secret.

The MI5 officer interrogated the British resident, Binyam Mohamed, while he was being held in Pakistan in 2002. Mohamed, 30, an Ethiopian national, was later secretly rendered to Morocco, where he says was tortured by having his penis cut with a razor blade. The U.S. subsequently flew him to Afghanistan and he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay in September 2004 where he remains.

In a passage which appears to contradict previous assurances by MI5, Lord Justice Thomas and Justice Lloyd Jones concluded: "The conduct of the security service facilitated interviews by or on behalf of the United States when [Mohamed] was being detained by the United States incommunicado and without access to a lawyer." They added: "Under the law of Pakistan, that detention was unlawful."

Asked last month about unrelated allegations involving detainees held in Pakistan, the Home Office said on behalf of MI5: "All security service staff have an awareness of the Human Rights Act 1998, and are fully committed to complying with the requirements of the law when working in the U.K. and overseas."

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A Few Speculators Dominate Vast Market For Oil Trading
2008-08-21 16:36:13

Regulators had long classified a private Swiss energy conglomerate called Vitol as a trader that primarily helped industrial firms that needed oil to run their businesses.

Yet, when the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) examined Vitol's books last month, it found that the firm was in fact more of a speculator, holding oil contracts as a profit-making investment rather than a means of lining up the actual delivery of fuel. Even more surprising to the commodities markets was the massive size of Vitol's portfolio - at one point in July, the firm held 11 percent of all the oil contracts on the regulated New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX). 

The discovery revealed how an individual financial player had gained enormous sway over the oil market without the knowledge of regulators. Other CFTC data showed that a significant amount of trading activity was concentrated in the hands of just a few speculators.

The CFTC, which learned about the nature of Vitol's activities only after making an unusual request for data from the firm, now reports that financial firms speculating for their clients or for themselves account for about 81 percent of the oil contracts on NYMEX, a far bigger share than had previously been stated by the agency. That figure may rise in coming weeks as the CFTC checks the status of other big traders.

Some lawmakers have blamed these firms for the volatility of oil prices, including the tremendous run-up that peaked earlier in the summer.

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Number Of Victims Rises To 153, As Investigation Of Air Crash In Spain Proceeds
2008-08-21 16:35:45
On Thursday, investigators in Madrid continued to investigate the cause of Spain's worst jet crash since 1983. Meanwhile, forensics experts began the difficult work of determining the identities of badly burned bodies. So far, 153 deaths have been confirmed. Many will have to be identified through DNA tests.

As darkness fell on Madrid on Wednesday, the first bodies began to arrive in hearses at the entrance to convention hall No. 6. It's not the first time that a part of the Ifema, the Spanish capital city's trade fair center, has been transformed into a morgue. The dead were also brought here after the terrorist attacks on Madrid on March 11, 2004.

So far, 153 passengers flying on Spanair Flight JK 5022 have been confirmed dead, with many bodies charred to the point they are unrecognizable. The flight was cross-listed as Lufthansa LH 2554. Only 19 passengers survived, according to doctors. The plane carried 162 passengers, six working crew members and four nonworking staff.

The Spanish newspaper El Mundo described how family members arrived at the convention center on Wednesday. They were there to say goodbye and to help identify deceased passengers. Families of survivors arrived in private cars and taxis and also in two chartered buses. In Hall Eight, close to 200 mothers, fathers, sons and daughters waited for news. Families were asked to name a representative who could be assigned as a point person for social workers and who could help identify the bodies. According to the report, 80 rescue workers, including 14 psychologists, were on hand to provide support to the families.

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U.S. FDA Approves Irradiating Spinach, Lettuce To Kill Germs
2008-08-21 16:33:53
The government will allow food producers to start zapping fresh spinach and iceberg lettuce with just enough radiation to kill E. coli and other dangerous germs, a key safety move amid increasing outbreaks from raw produce.

Irradiated meat has been around for years, particularly ground beef that is a favorite hiding spot for E. coli. Spices also can be irradiated.

There had long been concern that zapping leafy greens with X-rays or other means of radiation would leave them limp. Not so with today's modern techniques.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined that irradiation indeed can kill food-poisoning germs and even lengthen the greens' shelf life without compromising the safety or nutrient value of raw spinach and lettuce. The new regulation goes into effect Friday.

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On Slow Campaign Day, Obama And McCain Jab Each Other On Wealth
2008-08-21 16:32:12
By any measure, neither of the major presidential candidates is poor. But today, they sniped at each other over who was too rich to understand the economic hardships of average voters.

When it comes to politics, "rich" can be a four-letter word.

At a campaign stop in Chester, Virginia, Democrat Barack Obama broke into his standard economic stump speech to castigate Republican John McCain for being too wealthy to grasp how tough it has become for most people in the current downward economic spiral.

Referring to report posted by Politico on its website, Obama said: "Somebody asked John McCain, 'How many houses do you have?' And he said, 'I'm not sure, I'll have to check with my staff.' "

"True quote," Obama insisted, as the crowd laughed. " 'I'm not sure, I'll have to check with my staff.' So they asked his staff and he said, 'At least four. At least four'."

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U.S. Justice Dept. Plan Would Give F.B.I. Broader Investigative Powers
2008-08-21 01:02:36
A Justice Department plan would loosen restrictions on the Federal Bureau of Investigation to allow agents to open a national security or criminal investigation against someone without any clear basis for suspicion, Democratic lawmakers briefed on the details said Wednesday.

The plan, which could be made public next month, has already generated intense interest and speculation. Little is known about its precise language, but civil liberties advocates say they fear it could give the government even broader license to open terrorism investigations.

Congressional staff members got a glimpse of some of the details in closed briefings this month, and four Democratic senators told Attorney General Michael B.Mukasey in a letter on Wednesday that they were troubled by what they heard.

The senators said the new guidelines would allow the F.B.I. to open an investigation of an American, conduct surveillance, pry into private records and take other investigative steps “without any basis for suspicion.” The plan “might permit an innocent American to be subjected to such intrusive surveillance based in part on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, or on protected First Amendment activities,” the letter said. It was signed by Russ Feingold, of Wisconsin, Richard J. Durbin, of Illinois, Edward M. Kennedy, of Massachusetts, and Sheldon Whitehouse, of Rhode Island.

As the end of the Bush administration nears, the White House has been seeking to formalize in law and regulation some of the aggressive counterterrorism steps it has already taken in practice since the Sept. 11 attacks.

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White House Is Missing As Many As 225 Days Of Email
2008-08-21 01:02:15
The White House is missing as many as 225 days of e-mail dating back to 2003 and there is little if any likelihood a recovery effort will be completed by the time the Bush administration leaves office, according to an internal White House draft document obtained by the Associated Press.

The nine-page outline of the White House's e-mail problems invites companies to bid on a project to recover the missing electronic messages.

The work would be carried out through April 19, 2009, according to the Office of Administration request for contractors' proposals, which was dated June 20.

Last week, the White House declined to comment on the document.

On Wednesday, the White House refused to talk about internal White House contracting procedures, but said the information is "outdated and seriously inaccurate." It would not elaborate. The White House also declined to say whether it has hired a contractor for the work yet.

"With an eye on the clock, the White House continues to drag its feet and do everything possible to postpone public access to the records of this presidency," said Anne Weismann, chief counsel to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, D.C., a private watchdog group.

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Gen. Petraeus, Readying To Exit Iraq, Says Gains Are Fragile
2008-08-21 01:01:49
In the final days of his campaign to bring Iraq under control, Gen. David H. Petraeus sat in his office at the American Embassy here looking drawn, exhausted, and more than a few years older than when he took command 18 months ago.

More than once as he spoke of his tenure, the general stopped to cough. An intensely energetic man who prides himself on besting young recruits in tests of strength and endurance, General Petraeus, 55, said Monday that he had been forced to scale back his punishing daily workouts to three a week.

“There is not much in the tank at the end of the day,” he said.

Yet for all the signs of fatigue, General Petraeus is preparing to leave Iraq a remarkably safer place than it was when he arrived. Violence has plummeted from its apocalyptic peaks, Iraqi leaders are asserting themselves, and streets that once seemed dead are flourishing with life. The worst, for now, has been averted.

And so in the general’s exhaustion comes the glimmer of hope, and also a caveat: Iraq has indeed stepped back from self-destruction, General Petraeus said, but the gains are tenuous and unlikely to survive without an American effort that outlasts his tenure. By the time he leaves for the United States next month to assume overall command of American forces in the Middle East and Afghanistan, he will have spent a total of 48 months in Iraq since the war began.

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Bush Vows To Back Georgia, Decries Russia
2008-08-21 01:01:26
President Bush reiterated his demand that Russia remove its forces from Georgia in a speech here Wednesday, stating that the breakaway provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia are part of the former Soviet republic and that "the United States will work with our allies to ensure Georgia's independence and territorial integrity."

Condemning Russia for its "disproportionate response to a long-simmering conflict," Bush reiterated his call for all forces to return to their Aug. 6 positions. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev has said most of the troops would leave by Friday, although Russian authorities have said their peacekeepers must remain because of prior commitments.

Speaking to a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Orlando, Florida, Bush praised Georgia's Rose Revolution of 2003, when the former government was deposed peacefully and President Mikheil Saakashvilitook power, as "one of the most inspiring chapters in history."

Bush emphasized Georgia's role in the campaign against terrorism, reminding the audience that the East European nation sent troops to Afghanistan and Iraq. "Georgia stood for freedom around the world," he said. "Now the world must stand for freedom in Georgia."

Bush's comments underscored the continuing difficulty the United States has had in compelling Russia to withdraw forces from Georgia. Bush did not specify what Washington and its allies would do to uphold Georgian sovereignty over the breakaway regions, both of which are controlled by Moscow-backed separatists with the support of Russian peacekeeping troops.

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Update: Problems Reported Before Deadly Plane Crash In Spain
2008-08-21 01:00:48
It was a troubled flight from the beginning. One attempt at takeoff was aborted. Departure was delayed by more than an hour. Passengers, many of them parents traveling with their young children, were grumpy and hot, eager to get on with it, to start their holidays in the alluring Canary Islands.

Several used their cellphones to call relatives and report the problems. Finally, they said by phone, the flight was going to take off.

It tried - but seconds after Spanair Flight JK5022 barreled down a new runway at Madrid's Barajas airport and began to lift off, the jet jerked to the right and plowed into a tree-covered ravine. The fuselage broke into two pieces, maybe more, witnesses at the airport say, and burst into flames.

At least 153 people were killed in the deadliest accident at the ultramodern airport in a quarter-century. Nineteen people, including two children, survived.

"I pulled out about seven people alive," said Francisco Cruz, a private pilot who was among the people pressed into rescue service. "And then it was all dead bodies."

The accident was also the latest in mounting woes for Spanair, the Spanish unit of Stockholm-based SAS and Spain's second-largest carrier.
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In Nevada Desert There's Something Out There - The Black Mailbox
2008-08-21 01:00:12
Near Area 51, a solitary mailbox - white - is the only landmark for miles around. It has become the subject of UFO lore and a magnet for true believers on the state-christened Extraterrestrial Highway.

The only landmark for about 40 miles on a barren stretch of highway is a mailbox battered by time and desert gusts. It's known as the Black Mailbox, though it's actually a faded white.

Over the years, hundreds of people have converged here in south-central Nevada to photograph the box - the size of a small television, held up by a chipped metal pole. They camp next to it. They try to break into it. They debate its significance, or simply huddle by it for hours, staring into the night.

Some think the mailbox is linked to nearby Area 51, a military installation and purported hotbed of extraterrestrial activity. At the very least, they consider the box a prime magnet for flying saucers.

A few visitors have claimed they saw celestial oddities. But most enjoy even uneventful nights at the mailbox, about midway between the towns of Alamo and Rachel. Alien hunters here are surrounded by like-minded - meaning open-minded - company. In a place where the welcome sign to Rachel reads, Humans: 98, Aliens: ?, few roll their eyes at tales of spaceships, military conspiracies and extraterrestrials that abduct and impregnate tourists.

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Friction With Russia May Spell Trouble For U.S.
2008-08-21 16:36:23

The president of Syria spent two days this week in Russia, with a shopping list of sophisticated weapons he wants to buy. The visit may prove a harbinger of things to come.

If Russia’s invasion of Georgia ushers in a sustained period of renewed animosity with the West, Washington fears that a newly emboldened but estranged Moscow could use its influence, money, energy resources, United Nations Security Council veto veto and, yes, its arms industry to undermine American interests around the world.

Although Russia has long supplied arms to Syria, it has held back until now on providing the next generation of ballistic missiles. The Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, made clear that he was hoping to capitalize on rising tensions between Moscow and the West when he rushed to the resort city of Sochi to meet with his Russian counterpart, Dmitri A. Medvedev. 

The list of ways a more hostile Russia could cause problems for the United States extends far beyond Syria and the mountains of Georgia. In addition to escalated arms sales to other anti-American states such as Iran and Venezuela, policymakers and specialists here envision a freeze on counterterrorism and nuclear nonproliferation cooperation, manipulation of oil and natural gas supplies, pressure against United States military bases in Central Asia and the collapse of efforts to extend cold war-era arms control treaties.

“It’s Iran, it’s the U.N., it’s all the counterterrorism and counternarcotics programs, Syria, Venezuela, Hamas - there are any number of issues over which they can be less cooperative than they’ve been,” said Angela E. Stent, who served as the top Russia officer at the U.S. government’s National Intelligence Council until 2006 and now directs Russian studies at Georgetown University. “And of course, energy.”

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Poland Risks Serious Confrontation With Russia
2008-08-21 16:36:00
The Cold War is returning to Poland. Warsaw wants to tighten ties with Washington and it has used the U.S. missile defense system to do so - against massive opposition from Moscow. In return, the Poles will now be given Patriot missiles to protect themselves.

Lech Kaczynski, Poland's president, is mighty proud these days - of himself and of his country. As United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice took her place at the breakfast table in his Warsaw palace, the president served dishes in white and red, his country's national colors. Mozzarella with tomatoes.

Rice had traveled to Warsaw to sign a treaty for the stationing of interceptor missiles in Poland, a deal that had been in the works for years. In the future, they could be used to intercept warheads launched against the US by rogue states in the Middle East. Of course, Moscow has argued that the missile shield could also be used against Russia. "Poland is now a target of our missiles," one Russian general hissed not long ago after the Polish and Americans reached an agreement. But the country, a young member of the European Union, is determined to remain undeterred. "No one can dictate to Poland what it should do," Kaczynski told his people on Tuesday evening. "That's in the past."

For Poland, nestled as it is between the Oder and Bug rivers, the missile shield has far more than just military significance. Even 19 years after the disappearance of the Iron Curtain, 11 years after it became a member of NATO and four years after its European Union accession, Warsaw still feels the need to demonstrate its independence against the old hegemony of Moscow. Russia's invasion of Georgia in recent days, following Georgia's strike on its breakaway province of South Ossetia, has only served to strengthen Polish fears. Prior to the war, a steady majority of up to 80 percent of Poles opposed the missile shield according to public opinion polls. In the past week, however, the polls have swung the other way, with 50 to 65 percent now expressing their support for the shield. Polls show that 65 percent of Poles are afraid of Russia, whereas barely 20 percent are worried about Iran and North Korea.

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Taliban Claim Credit For Suicide Bombing That Killed 50 In Pakistan
2008-08-21 16:34:28
Suicide bombers struck the country's biggest munitions complex Thursday, killing more than 50 people, injuring at least 70 others and underscoring the lethal urgency of the threat posed by Islamic militants.

Pakistan's Taliban movement claimed responsibility for the bombing, about 20 miles northwest of the capital, Islamabad. Workers leaving the weapons plant after their shifts accounted for nearly all the casualties, but the assailants may also have tried to penetrate the tightly guarded compound, said police.

The attack showed that even with the departure this week of President Pervez Musharraf, who resigned Monday rather than face impeachment, Pakistan's civilian government still confronts a determined insurgency.

And like militants across the border in Afghanistan, Pakistan's Taliban appear to be becoming better organized, better armed and capable of wreaking havoc with large-scale attacks on major government and military installations.

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FCC Orders Comcast To Stop Blocking Some Large Files
2008-08-21 16:33:40
Comcast is testing new technologies that would slow the transmission of Internet files for its biggest users by as much as 20 minutes during times of heavy network congestion. But the nation's largest cable provider has promised not to target specific content, such as video files that compete with its cable television business.

The tests come as the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Wednesday released an order that forces Comcast to stop its earlier efforts to block transmission of certain Internet files, a ruling that public interest groups hailed, saying it would prevent network operators from acting as gatekeepers of the Web.

Comcast didn't respond to details of the FCC's order, but spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice said, "We are examining the order and will evaluate our next step."

Comcast began testing its system of slowing certain traffic in March and has expanded the tests to Warrenton; Chambersburg, Pennsylvania; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Lakeview, Florida; and East Orange, Florida. It will adopt the new network management technology by the end of the year, said the company.

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European Heirs Demand New York Museums Return Picassos
2008-08-21 16:31:06
The heirs of German-Jewish banker Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy are demanding that New York's most important museums hand over two Picassos; but MOMA (the Museum of Modern Art) and the Guggenheim are fighting back, claiming they are now the rightful owners.

The house at Jagerstrasse 51 in central Berlin is a relic of a glorious past. The stairs glow in white marble, the doors have brass plates. Several generations of the descendants of Moses Mendelssohn, the Enlightenment philosopher, have lived and worked here, just a few steps from the elegant Gendarmenmarkt square. The private bank Mendelssohn & Co. was founded at this very address over 200 years ago.

The historian Julius Schoeps took John Byrne to see the house. "My great uncle Paul worked for the bank in this house," Schoeps explained to his guest from Washington, D.C.

Schoeps, 66, and his American lawyer are on the hunt for clues. They are not really interested in the career of Jewish banker Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, what concerns them is his passion for collecting art. Until 1935 he owned several paintings by Pablo Picasso, works that Schoeps and 26 other heirs would like to see returned to them. "We are concerned with justice," he says.

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Federal Report: Medicare Boast Of Reducing Fraud Is Dubious
2008-08-21 01:02:29
Medicare's top officials said in 2006 that they had reduced the number of fraudulent and improper claims paid by the agency, keeping billions of dollars out of the hands of people trying to game the system.

Yet, according to a confidential draft of a federal inspector general’s report, those claims of success, which earned Medicare wide praise from lawmakers, were misleading.

In calculating the agency’s rate of improper payments, Medicare officials told outside auditors to ignore government policies that would have accurately measured fraud, according to the report. For example, auditors were told not to compare invoices from salespeople against doctors’ records, as required by law, to make sure that medical equipment went to actual patients.

As a result, Medicare did not detect that more than one-third of spending for wheelchairs, oxygen supplies and other medical equipment in its 2006 fiscal year was improper, according to the report. Based on data in other Medicare reports, that would be about $2.8 billion in improper spending.

That same year, Medicare officials told Congress that they had succeeded in driving down the cost of fraud in medical equipment to $700 million.

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Skeptics Question U.S. Push To Expand India's Nuclear Trade
2008-08-21 01:02:01
A Bush administration proposal to exempt India from restriction on nuclear trade has aroused skepticism from several members of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, diplomats said Wednesday, making it increasingly unlikely that a deal will be reached in two-day meetings that begin today in Vienna.

Both India and the United States have lobbied the group for approval of a landmark civil nuclear deal. But the NSG, which governs trade in reactors and uranium, operates by consensus, allowing even small nations to block or significantly amend any agreement.

Indian officials have warned nations that a failure to support the nuclear deal could harm their ties with India. But U.S. officials said they increasingly believe an agreement will not be reached this week. Instead, they said, a second NSG meeting probably will need to be held next month, leaving little time for final approval by Congress this fall.

The Hyde Act, a 2006 bill that gave preliminary approval to the U.S.-India pact, officially requires that Congress be in 30 days of continuous session to consider the deal. But Congress cannot take up the agreement until the NSG blesses it, and lawmakers plan to adjourn for the year on Sept. 26.

India is among a handful of countries that have never signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. After India conducted a nuclear test in 1974, the United States had pushed to create the NSG to close loopholes that had allowed India to advance its weapons program through supposedly peaceful nuclear cooperation. The controls have been so effective that India's use of nuclear power has been severely limited, amounting to about 3 percent of the country's installed electricity capacity.

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U.S. And Poland Sign Missile Pact, Despite Russian Warnings
2008-08-21 01:01:35
The United States and Poland signed an agreement here in Warsaw Poland Wednesday to place parts of a U.S. missile defense system on Polish territory, finalizing a long-negotiated deal in the face of Russian warnings that Poland would become a potential target for attack.

At a signing ceremony with the Polish political leadership, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the system, which will place 10 missile interceptors and more than 100 U.S. troops here, will "help us to respond to the threats of the 21st century."

The agreement, suddenly concluded after 18 months of negotiations, came at a time of heightened tensions between Russia and the NATOalliance over the war in Georgia. NATO on Tuesday said it will suspend "business as usual" with Russia after its invasion of its southern neighbor.

Despite pledges from Moscow that it would withdraw its troops, Rice said there was little sign Wednesday that the Russians are ending what NATO has called their "occupation" of Georgia. German and French officials voiced similar charges Wednesday that there was no sign that a withdrawal had begun in earnest.

In a continuation of tit-for-tat rhetoric over Georgia, Moscow said Wednesday that it will "freeze all military cooperation with NATO and allied countries," according to a statement by the Norwegian Defense Ministry reported by the Associated Press. Norway, a NATO member, said it had received a telephone call from the Russian Defense Ministry.

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Judge Won't Move Trial For Sen. Ted Stevens
2008-08-21 01:01:06

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) will face trial in Washington, D.C., next month, denying the senator's request to have the case transferred to his home state.

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan sided with Justice Department lawyers in ruling that moving the trial to a federal court in Alaska would cause unneeded "delay and additional expense."

Stevens, 84, was indicted last month by a federal grand jury on charges that he failed to report on Senate financial disclosure forms his acceptance of more than $250,000 in gifts and home renovations from executives of Veco, a now defunct Alaska oil-services company.

His trial is set for Sept. 22. Stevens asked for the unusually early date in an effort to clear his name before the Nov. 4 general election. He faces a primary election Tuesday.

Stevens had hoped to have his trial before a jury in Alaska, which he has represented in the Senate for 40 years, making him the longest-serving Republican senator ever. A tenacious fighter for home-state projects, he enjoys considerable clout in Congress because of his tenure on the Appropriations Committee.

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Tropical Storm Fay Floods Hundreds Of Florida Homes
2008-08-21 01:00:38
Emergency crews launched airboats into submerged streets Wednesday to rescue central Florida residents trapped by rising floodwaters from a stalled Tropical Storm Fay, which soaked the state for a third consecutive day.

Calling the flooding ''catastrophic,'' Gov. Charlie Crist requested an emergency disaster declaration from the federal government to defray rising debris and response costs. The White House said the Federal Emergency Mangement Agency was reviewing the request.

Flooding was reported in hundreds of homes in Brevard and St. Lucie counties, some by up to 5 feet of standing water. In three towns, rising waters backed up sewage systems. It wasn't immediately clear how many residents had been displaced or were stranded, but county officials reported making dozens of rescues.

''We can't even get out of our house,'' said Billie Dayton, of Port St. Lucie, as waters lapped at her porch. ''We're just hoping that it doesn't rain anymore.''

The storm could dump 30 inches of rain in some areas of Florida and the National Hurricane Center said up to 22 inches had already fallen near Melbourne, just south of Cape Canaveral on the state's central Atlantic coast.

By Wednesday evening, the storm's center had moved over the Atlantic Ocean, and its winds had picked up speed.

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