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Monday, August 18, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Monday August 18 2008 - (813)

Monday August 18 2008 edition
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Despite Pullout Pledge, Russian Troops Dig In
2008-08-18 01:51:41
Russia pledged Sunday to begin removing its troops from Georgia on Monday, but the streets of this occupied city reflected a broadening, not a waning, of Russia's military incursion.

President Dmitry Medvedev vowed to "begin the withdrawal of the military contingent" starting Monday. Russian leaders have made contradictory and at times clearly false statements about their troops' plans and positions ever since the Georgia operation began. On Saturday, a top Russian general told reporters that his country had no troops in Gori.

During a reporter's 24-hour stay in the city this weekend, Russian soldiers roamed the streets in armored personnel carriers and waved Kalashnikov rifles to prevent entry to a captured Georgian military base that is now the Russian headquarters. Russian soldiers dug fortified positions for tanks along highways east and west of Gori and trucked in television and radio equipment to begin broadcasting in their own language.

"We have stopped firing - be glad about that," a young Russian captain said when asked whether troops would soon withdraw.

Meanwhile, Gori's few remaining Georgians endured pat-downs and vehicle searches when moving around town. Some residents gave shelter to fellow Georgians who arrived from villages to the north with accounts of continuing ethnic violence there. At least 27 civilians have died here in Gori in scattered incidents of violence since the Russian troops arrived, medical officials said, including a doctor killed in front of a hospital by helicopter fire.

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Halliburton's Hidden Treuhand
2008-08-18 01:51:16
Halliburton takes advantage of a European loophole that lets corporations hide beneficiaries and assets.

Little is known of a customary European legal practice that offers corporations and individuals an opportunity to profit from assets while maintaining complete anonymity of the beneficiary's identity. This practice is referred to as "Hidden Treuhand" in the English language. The practice of Hidden Treuhand submits to legal local customs in Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg and Switzerland, but due to globalization, has moved beyond European borders via corporations and individuals, who put it to personal use.

The practice of Hidden Treuhand is relevant and unregulated. More and more, the relevant practice of Treuhand is used in hiding an asset owner's identity from the outside world. Assets, whether they are corporate shares or fixed assets, can be owned in secret. The personal income derived from these assets can also be kept secret from tax authorities. An example of how Hidden Treuhand facilitates tax evasion is part of the latest scandal where thousands of Germans evaded tax through the services of the LGT Treuhand Bank in Liechtenstein, using a combination of Treuhand and foundations to hide true owner identity of bank accounts.

Hidden Treuhands in Europe impact the lives of American citizens. Hidden Treuhands enable even American corporations to hide the identity of beneficiaries, assets and income. Halliburton has a Hidden Treuhand embedded in its Austrian subsidiary. It prevents transparency regarding corporate activities.

The lack of transparency creates special advantages for some, and consequences for others such as governments, competitors, stockholders and citizens. For example, a beneficiary can evade personal income tax, because the income derived from a hidden asset is not linked to the beneficiary. There is another advantage to Hidden Treuhands that borrows from the concept of a "trust." The "trust" concept allows for dividends to be removed. Money transferred to a subsidiary may be considered a dividend. By using a network of subsidiaries, favorable tax laws and banking secrecy, CEOs and insiders can profit without transparency. The Hidden Treuhand is an important aspect of what makes globalization so attractive to American and European corporations.

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Russia Says It Will Begin Withdrawal From Georgia On Monday
2008-08-17 15:02:42
The Kremlin said Sunday that Russia's military would begin withdrawing its forces from Georgia on Monday, though it was not immediately clear how far or how fast the troops would move.

Germany's leader, meanwhile, voiced strong support for this former Soviet republic's desire to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization NATO), a move Moscow opposes.

U.S. and European officials repeated calls for Russia to honor a cease-fire agreement it signed Saturday and pull troops out of Georgia proper but made no mention of leaving the breakaway Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, where it has long stationed peacekeepers. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicholas Sarkozy that Russian would begin to redeploy its troops.

Russia sent forces into its neighbor early this month after accusing Georgia of attacking civilians and its peacekeepers in South Ossetia.

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88 Killed In Afghan Violence, 7,000 Police Officer Ordered To Kabul
2008-08-17 15:02:09
Scores of police manned checkpoints around Afghanistan's capital today after authorities ordered more than 7,000 officers to secure Kabul ahead of the country's Independence Day, an indication of how militants pose a growing threat to the capital.

The rest of the country saw a surge in violence. Officials said several clashes in Afghanistan's south and east killed 73 Taliban fighters and five private security guards, while a roadside blast killed 10 policemen.

The Interior Ministry said the beefed-up police force in the capital would search buildings as well as cars to "create an environment of trust and prevent any disruptive actions by the enemy."

The security increase comes a day before the country celebrates the 89th anniversary of its independence from Britain. Any breach of security during the celebration would be an embarrassment for President Hamid Karzai's government.

In April, gunmen fired on Karzai at a military parade in Kabul, killing three people, including a lawmaker.

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Export Boom Helps Farmers, But Not U.S. Factories
2008-08-18 01:51:29

Exports are the bright spot this year in an otherwise bleak economy, but the world is not suddenly snapping up made-in-America goods like aircraft, machinery and staplers. The great attraction is decidedly low-luster commodities like corn, wheat, ore and scrap metal.

This helps explain why manufacturing jobs are continuing to disappear by the tens of thousands and factories are closing even during a mini-boom in exports. While the surge in commodities is a welcome relief, it is an unreliable prop for an industrial power.

“The historical data tell us clearly: don’t get too used to commodity export booms; as any third world country will tell you, they tend to go away pretty quickly,” said L. Josh Bivens, a trade expert at the labor-oriented Economic Policy Institute. 

His point was that while Boeing's aircraft or Caterpillar’s tractors are distinctive and sought after, corn grown in Iowa is virtually interchangeable with corn grown in Argentina or any other bread-basket country. “Over a long period,” said Bivens, “commodities contribute right around zero to export growth.”

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Obama, McCain Give Separate Interviews At Faith Forum
2008-08-17 15:02:54
Senators John McCain and Barack Obama shared the stage for only 36 seconds at a forum on Saturday, but in separate interviews gave a preview of the fall debates, offering sharply contrasting responses on social issues and personal world views .

On the stage at Saddleback Church, an evangelical mega-church here in Lake Forest, California, they briefly hugged each other and smiled, belying a nastier campaign between them that has taken place long-distance and over the airwaves.

The hug was preceded by an hourlong interview with Obama and followed by an hourlong interview with McCain in the vast, warehouse-like church before an attentive, enthusiastic audience of 2,200 people.

Asked what their biggest moral failings were, Obama referred to his “difficult youth” when, he said, he experimented with drugs and drank alcohol. “I trace this to a certain selfishness on my part,” he said. “I couldn’t focus on other people.”

McCain pointed to his first marriage, which he almost never does publicly.

“My greatest moral failing, and I have been a very imperfect person, is the failure of my first marriage,” he said gravely.

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6 Blackwater Security Guards May Face Charges In Iraq Shooting That Killed 17
2008-08-17 15:02:24

Federal prosecutors have sent target letters to six Blackwater Worldwide security guards involved in a September shooting that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead, indicating a high likelihood the Justice Department

will seek to indict at least some of the men, according to three sources close to the case.

The guards, all former U.S. military personnel, were working as security contractors for the State Department, assigned to protect U.S. diplomats and other non-military officials in Iraq. The shooting occurred when their convoy arrived at a busy square in central Baghdad and guards tried to stop traffic.

An Iraqi government investigation concluded that the security contractors fired without provocation. Blackwater has said its personnel acted in self-defense.

The sources said that any charges against the guards would likely be brought under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, which has previously been used to prosecute only the cases referred to the Justice Department by the Defense Department for crimes committed by military personnel and contractors overseas. Legal experts have questioned whether contractors working for the State Department can be prosecuted under its provisions.

The sources cautioned that prosecutors are still weighing evidence gathered in a 10-month investigation that began shortly after the shootings. A federal grand jury has heard testimony from about three dozen witnesses since November, including U.S. and Blackwater officials and Iraqis, according to two of the sources.

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Visitors Asked To Leave Key West, Florida, Before Fay Hits
2008-08-17 15:01:57
Officials asked visitors to leave the Florida Keys on Sunday ahead of Tropical Storm Fay, which forecasters said could strengthen to a hurricane.

Fay could start pelting parts of the Keys and south Florida as soon as Monday.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said a hurricane watch was in effect for the Florida Keys from south of Ocean Reef to Key West, and along the mainland from Card Sound Bridge west to Bonita Beach.

The sixth storm of the 2008 Atlantic season picked up some momentum early Sunday morning as it headed toward Cuba, and could be a hurricane by the time it reaches the island's center, forecasters said.

Officials issued a mandatory evacuation order for visitors starting at 8 a.m. Sunday, and asked tourists who had not yet arrived to postpone their trips.

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