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Saturday, August 02, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Saturday August 2 2008 - (813)

Saturday August 2 2008 edition
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Total Solar Eclipse Provides Rare Delight
2008-08-01 14:40:36
A total solar eclipse was sweeping across Earth Friday, providing a rare sight for people in the upper Northern Hemisphere.

The eclipse will be visible in parts of Canada, northern Greenland, the Arctic, central Russia, Mongolia, and China. It will move across the planet in a narrow path that begins in Canada's northern territory of Nunavut and ends in northern China's Silk Road region at sunset, according to NASA.

A solar eclipse happens when the moon passes directly between Earth and the sun. When the moon's shadow falls on Earth, people within that shadow see the moon block a portion of the sun's light.

The moon's shadow has two parts, an umbra and a penumbra. The umbra is the main part of the shadow which appears to black out the sun. The umbra is the moon's faint "outer" shadow - the outer ring of the main shadow.

During a total solar eclipse, the moon appears to cover all of the sun for observers located in the moon's umbral shadow. Those viewing the eclipse from the moon's penumbral shadow see the moon cover only a portion of the sun.

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51,000 U.S. Jobs Lost In June, Unemployment At Highest Level Since 2004
2008-08-01 14:16:30
The U.S. unemployment rate leaped to its highest level in more than four years last month as companies slashed 51,000 jobs amid the slowdown in the U.S. economy, the government reported Friday.

The unemployment rate popped up to 5.7% in July from 5.5% in June, as joblessness climbed for the seventh straight month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unemployment is now at its highest point since March 2004.

Although employers eliminated fewer positions than had been expected, the steady monthly erosion of jobs continued and even flashed signs that cutbacks may be widening beyond long-suffering sectors such as manufacturing and retail.

"We've lost jobs yet again and that's seven months in a row," said Robert MacIntosh, chief economist for money-management firm Eaton Vance Corp. "That's pretty darn close to a recession. I know they're not huge but they are losses and they're symptomatic of what's happening out there."

The stock market pulled back on the latest economic news and another report of massive quarterly losses at General Motors Corp.
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Natural Gas Find In Louisiana Makes Jed Clampetts Of Property Owners
2008-08-01 14:15:47
Chris Moreno lost his job managing a print shop two years ago, just after his wife became pregnant and they'd started building a house on 40 acres near the shores of Louisiana's Caddo Lake.

He fretted he'd have to relinquish his humble piece of paradise, where he indulged his country boy's passion for hunting raccoons and catching catfish.

Now, fortune has smiled on Moreno: He's poised to become a millionaire, all because of that 40 acres he bought eight years ago for $45,000.

Landowners here in the piney three-state junction known as Ark-La-Tex recently learned that in this energy-starved era, they may be sitting on the largest natural gas field ever found in the continental U.S. The discovery of the Haynesville Shale, which lies mainly beneath Louisiana but branches into Texas and Arkansas, was disclosed in March by energy companies, which had been quietly buying up drilling rights for months before telling the public.

The news has triggered a flurry of speculation as frantic as anything seen here since a gusher on a Texas hill named Spindletop in 1901 ushered in the modern oil industry. Hordes of landmen, leasing agents for the energy companies, have descended on Shreveport, the unofficial capital of Ark-La-Tex, dangling gaudy sums before landowners in hopes of getting permission to drill beneath their properties. Firms that earlier this year were leasing land for $200 an acre are now paying upward of $20,000 an acre, leaving thousands of homeowners dreaming of plasma TVs and sports cars.
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IndyMac Bancorp Files For Bankruptcy
2008-08-01 14:15:17
IndyMac Bancorp, the parent of the giant mortgage lender that was taken over by the federal government last month, has filed for bankruptcy protection while it liquidates its remaining assets.

In a Chapter 7 petition filed Thursday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Los Angeles, IndyMac Bancorp listed assets of $50 million to $100 million and liabilities of $100 million to $500 million.

IndyMac said it has fewer than 50 creditors, including professional firms and other banks. It didn't include amounts of their claims.

Regulators seized IndyMac Bank, the operating subsidiary, on July 11. The bank, a specialist in home loans to borrowers who didn't document their incomes, racked up huge losses when defaults rose and mortgage investors would no longer buy its loans.

The U.S. Office of Thrift Supervision shut down IndyMac Bank after customers spooked by reports of the bank's shaky condition withdrew $1.3 billion. The bank reopened under the control of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which has been trying to find a buyer for it.
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In Turkey, 17 Students Dead In Girls Dormitory Collapse
2008-08-01 14:14:47
A three-story girls dormitory collapsed in central Turkey Friday, killing at least 17 students and setting off a search for a half dozen people believed to be under the rubble, said authorities.

Frantic rescue workers removed debris with shovels, pickaxes and their bare hands in search of any survivors. The girls, between ages of 8 and 16, were attending Quran courses during the school summer break.

"We are hearing voices. I believe those inside the rubble will be saved," Balcilar Mayor Melmut Demirgul told reporters hours after the collapse.

Hopes of finding any more survivors began to fade later Friday. Rescue teams pulled out the body of one girl in the afternoon, raising the death toll to 17, Anatolia reported.

Demirgul initially told reporters a large gas canister explosion was believed to have caused the collapse. However, the state-run Anatolia news agency and other reports later said the explosion was most likely caused by a leak from a gas installation there.

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France's EDF Abandons British Nuclear Energy Deal
2008-08-01 04:01:06

The French power giant EDF has backed out of an anticipated £12 billion ($24 billion) deal to take over British Energy.

The state-controlled electricity company had been expected to announce details of the bid at a press conference this morning. However, in the early hours EDF released a statement saying that the conditions were not right for a big U.K.  deal.

"After in-depth discussions, EDF considers that the conditions for a major development in Great Britain are not met to date," EDF said. The company added that it would still hold Friday's news conference in Paris as planned, but the subject would instead be its half-year results.

The British government had hoped the landmark deal would signal the start of construction work on a new generation of nuclear power stations. British Energy, which is 35% owned by the government, operates one coal-fired and eight ageing nuclear power stations, including Hinkley Point, Torness and Dungeness. Together, they produce one sixth of Britain's electricity.

The takeover, worth 765p per British Energy share, had been central to plans to replace the current reactors, which are due to be retired from service over the next few years. Most, if not all, of the new stations are due to be built on sites of, or next to, existing nuclear stations.

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Judge Orders Former White House Counsel Miers To Testify
2008-08-01 04:00:50

A federal judge Thursday ordered a former White House counsel to testify before a U.S. House committee, rejecting the Bush administration's broad claims of executive privilege in its fight with Congress over the role politics played in the firing of nine federal prosecutors.

Wading into a landmark legal battle between Congress and President Bush, U.S. District Judge John D. Bates sided firmly with lawmakers. Bates ordered former White House counsel Harriet E. Miers to appear before the House Judiciary Committee, which had filed suit after being rebuffed by the administration, to answer questions about the dismissals.

He also ruled that White House chief of staff Joshua B. Bolten must turn over documents to the committee or explain in detail why records are being withheld.

The Bush administration has increasingly invoked executive privilege in its battles with Congress over documents and testimony related to issues as diverse as greenhouse gas emissions and FBI interviews of Vice President Cheney about the controversial leak of a CIA officer's identity.

Bates, who was appointed by Bush, seemed particularly concerned with White House assertions that Miers and other close presidential advisers had immunity from ever appearing before congressional committees.

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Commentary: Harvesting Money In A Hungry World
2008-08-01 04:00:28
Intellpuke: This commentary was written by Victor Davis Hanson, a former raisin farmer and a fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and author of "Fields Without Dreams" and "The Land Was Everything". It appeared in the New York Times edition for Friday, August 1, 2008. Mr. Hanson's commentary follows:

The latest round of global agricultural trade negotiations that began seven years ago in Doha, Qatar, collapsed in acrimony this week in Geneva. While India and China are getting the blame for refusing to reduce import tariffs and farm subsidies, you can assume that trade officials in Europe and the United States are breathing a sigh of relief that they aren’t going to have to limit their own protectionism.

Nothing new here. Nor is it a staggering blow to world trade: the aggregate loss caused by the trade barriers in question is probably no more than $70 billion in a global imported food market of more than a trillion dollars. But what is different this time is a backdrop of soaring food prices that makes all past assumptions seem ossified. It also makes the world’s poorest people even more vulnerable when trade bureaucrats in both the wealthy West and rising East make vapid arguments.

Usually trade in agricultural produce involves governments’ efforts to prop up farmers who claim they will go broke without subsidies and tariffs. Constant improvements in technology, mechanization, plant breeding and farm chemicals have steadily increased food production per acre, and for the last 30 years led to a world that we assumed would be awash in cheap food.

Yet world prices for wheat, corn, rice, soy, coffee, cotton, dairy products, meats, fruits and vegetables have suddenly reached record levels. Why now?

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Report: Anthrax Scientist Kills Himself As FBI Closes In
2008-08-01 04:00:12
A top U.S. biodefense researcher apparently committed suicide just as the Justice Department was about to file criminal charges against him in the anthrax mailings that traumatized the nation in the weeks following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to a published report.

The scientist, Bruce E. Ivins, 62, who worked for the past 18 years at the government's biodefense labs at Fort Detrick, Maryland, had been told about the impending prosecution, the Los Angeles Times reported for Friday editions. The laboratory has been at the center of the FBI's investigation of the anthrax attacks, which killed five people.

Ivins died Tuesday at Frederick Memorial Hospital in Maryland. The Los Angeles Times, quoting an unidentified colleague, said the scientist had taken a massive dose of a prescription Tylenol mixed with codeine.

Tom Ivins, a brother of the scientist, told the Associated Press that another of his brothers, Charles, told him Bruce had committed suicide.

A woman who answered the phone at Charles Ivins' home in Etowah, North Carolina, refused to wake him and declined to comment on his death. "This is a grieving time," she said.

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Commentary: Time Running Out To Stop Irreversible Climate Change
2008-08-01 03:59:51
Intellpuke: This commentary was written by Andrew Simms, policy director of Britain's New Economics Foundation (NEF) and head of the foundation's Climate Change Program. His commentary appeared in the Guardian edition for Friday, August 1, 2008, and explains why humans must act now to mitigate global warming.

If you shout "fire" in a crowded theater, when there is none, you understand that you might be arrested for irresponsible behavior and breach of the peace. But from today, I smell smoke, I see flames and I think it is time to shout. I don't want you to panic, but I do think it would be a good idea to form an orderly queue to leave the building.

Because in just 100 months' time, if we are lucky, and based on a quite conservative estimate, we could reach a tipping point for the beginnings of runaway climate change. That said, among people working on global warming, there are countless models, scenarios, and different iterations of all those models and scenarios. So, let us be clear from the outset about exactly what we mean.

The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere today, the most prevalent greenhouse gas, is the highest it has been for the past 650,000 years. In the space of just 250 years, as a result of the coal-fired Industrial Revolution, and changes to land use such as the growth of cities and the felling of forests, we have released, cumulatively, more than 1,800 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. Currently, approximately 1,000 tons of CO2 are released into the Earth's atmosphere every second, due to human activity. Greenhouse gases trap incoming solar radiation, warming the atmosphere. When these gases accumulate beyond a certain level - often termed a "tipping point" - global warming will accelerate, potentially beyond control.

Faced with circumstances that clearly threaten human civilization, scientists at least have the sense of humor to term what drives this process as "positive feedback". But if translated into an office workplace environment, it's the sort of "positive feedback" from a manager that would run along the lines of: "You're fired, you were rubbish anyway, you have no future, your home has been demolished and I've killed your dog."

In climate change, a number of feedback loops amplify warming through physical processes that are either triggered by the initial warming itself, or the increase in greenhouse gases. One example is the melting of ice sheets. The loss of ice cover reduces the ability of the Earth's surface to reflect heat and, by revealing darker surfaces, increases the amount of heat absorbed. Other dynamics include the decreasing ability of oceans to absorb CO2 due to higher wind strengths linked to climate change. This has already been observed in the Southern Ocean and North Atlantic, increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, and adding to climate change.

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British Airways Posts 88 Percent Drop In 1st-Quarter Profits
2008-08-01 03:59:21
British Airways posted a fall of 88 percent in first quarter profit and said the trading environment was the worst the industry has ever faced as high oil prices, the economic slowdown and weak consumer confidence hit.

The British carrier reduced its annual revenue target to 3 percent from 4 percent previously and said it would raise ticket prices during the year to recoup losses from a planned 3 percent reduction in winter capacity.

"This is the worst trading environment the industry has ever faced and fares are likely to go up as we reduce some winter capacity and cope with unprecedented oil prices but we won't be grounding any aircraft," CEO Willie Walsh told reporters on a conference call.

Profit before tax for the three months to end-June fell to 37 million pounds ($74 million) from 298 million pounds ($596 million) in the 1st quarter last year, missing an average forecast of 49 million pounds ($98 million) supplied by British Airways.

Analysts' forecasts for pretax profit ranged from 16 million pounds to 87 million.

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UPDATE: Decapitation Suspect Appears In Canadian Court
2008-08-01 14:40:28
A 40-year-old man was charged with second-degree murder Friday in connection with the stabbing and beheading death of his seatmate on a Greyhound Canada bus, said authorities.

Vince Weiguang Li of Edmonton, Alberta, stood silent before a judge Friday in the Provincial Court of Manitoba in Portage la Prairie, the Associated Press reported.

A prosecutor sought a psychiatric evaluation of the defendant, but the judge said he'd wait until Li had obtained an attorney, A.P. reported. Li is due back in court Tuesday.

The body of the 22-year-old male victim is to be autopsied Friday, police said. The victim's name was not released.

However, the Canadian Press named the dead man as Tim McLean, 22, of Winnipeg, Manitoba.

McLean was repeatedly stabbed and then decapitated by the man sitting next to him on a Greyhound Canada bus Thursday west of Portage la Prairie in Manitoba.

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GM Reports Huge $15.5 Billion Loss In 2nd Quarter
2008-08-01 14:16:20
Hit by tumbling U.S. auto sales and turmoil in its financing business, General Motors Corp. reported a $15.5-billion second-quarter loss Friday, the latest detour in the auto giant's turnaround effort.

The loss - $27.33 on a per-share basis - was the third-largest in GM's history and far exceeded Wall Street's forecasts. The company's stock was down about 2% to $10.85 in early trading.

A year ago, GM posted a second-quarter net profit of $891 million, or $1.56 a share.

GM said total revenue slid by 18% in the three months ended June 30, falling to $38.2 billion from $46.7 billion in the second quarter of 2007. North American revenue fell by almost $10 billion to $19.8 billion.

The loss was the latest setback in GM's efforts to turn around its struggling auto operations. High gas prices and low consumer confidence have hammered U.S. auto sales this year.
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Gov. Schwarzenegger Makes Layoffs, Orders Pay Cuts For California State Employees
2008-08-01 14:15:30
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, expressing frustration with lawmakers' failure to approve a state budget, ordered his administration Thursday to lay off thousands of part-time employees and moved to temporarily slash the pay of most full-time staff.

The governor, a Republican, apologized to state employees, many of whom, he acknowledged, are already struggling in a difficult economy. But he said he had no choice in the absence of a budget one month into the fiscal year.

"Our state faces a looming cash crisis," said Schwarzenegger.

Nearly 200,000 employees could have their pay cut to the federal minimum wage of $6.55 an hour, with full salary reimbursed once a budget is signed. More than 10,000 lost their jobs Thursday. Exceptions were made for those deemed too critical to let go for purposes of law enforcement, public health and safety or other crucial services.

Schwarzenegger also limited overtime and imposed a hiring freeze.
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Man Arrested In Lakeside Ambush That Killed Three Swimmers In Wisconsin
2008-08-01 14:14:59
A dragnet ended Friday with the arrest of a man accused of emerging from woods in camouflage and opening fire with an assault rifle on a group of young swimmers who had gathered at a lake. Three were killed and another wounded.

Marinette County Sheriff Jim Kanikula did not immediately release the suspect's name, motive or details of the arrest.

More than 100 law enforcement officers from at least 10 agencies were called in to hunt for the middle-age gunman in Thursday's attack. Authorities had set up roadblocks and evacuated some homes in the northern Wisconsin area just across the state line from Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Kanikula said there was no communication between the gunman and his victims. The shooter was only 7 to 10 feet away from one victim when he fired on the group of nine young people who had gathered near a railroad bridge on the Menominee River, he said.
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Commentary: America's Cracked Code
2008-08-01 04:01:14
Intellpuke: This commentary was written by Duncan Campbell and appeared in the Guardian edition for Friday, Aug. 1, 2008. In his commentary, Mr. Campbell writes: "U.S. courts can guarantee little justice for a curious British hacker who now faces trial as a terrorist." His commentary follows:

So Gary McKinnon, the hacker who cracked the computer systems of the Pentagon and NAS from his bedroom in north London more than seven years ago, is to be extradited to stand trial in the U.S. That was the ruling this week of the law lords as they departed on their summer holidays.

They brushed aside the arguments of McKinnon's distinguished legal team that he could not be guaranteed a fair trial there. "The difference between the American system and our own is not perhaps so stark as the appellant's argument suggests," said Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood in his ruling. "It is difficult to think of anything other than the threat of unlawful action which could fairly be said so to imperil the integrity of the extradition process as to require the accused to be discharged irrespective of the case against him."

Well, who knows what news gets through to Eaton-under-Haywood these days, but if Lord Brown and his four colleagues had done some cursory research on the current state of the U.S. criminal justice system, they would know there is a very stark difference between the way he could be treated by the U.S. courts and how he would be treated here in Britain.

There may be much wrong with the British criminal justice system but, compared to the lottery that is the American judicial process, there are a number of sober differences. For a start, here you would not find yourself in jail for 50 years for stealing $160 worth of videotapes, or for 25 years for smoking marijuana. Nor does the U.K. operate a Guantanamo Bay where the most basic legal principles have been abandoned as part of a post-9/11 panic. And there is no guarantee that, if tried in the U.S., McKinnon would not be confronted by some grandstanding, publicity-seeking judge deeply offended that a chap in a flat in north London can leave a message saying "your security is really crap" on the Pentagon computer, as McKinnon did. After all, one American official in this case has already said that he would like to see him "fry".

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Editorial: 'The Jungle,' Again
2008-08-01 04:00:58
Intellpuke: This editorial appeared in the New York Times edition for Friday, August 1, 2008.

A story from the upside-down world of immigration and labor:

A slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa, develops an ugly reputation for abusing animals and workers. Reports of dirty, dangerous conditions at the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant accumulate for years, told by workers, union organizers, immigrant advocates and government investigators. A videotape by an animal-rights group shows workers pulling the windpipes out of living cows. A woman with a deformed hand tells a reporter of cutting meat for 12 hours a day, six days a week, for wages that labor experts call the lowest in the industry. This year, federal investigators amass evidence of rampant illegal hiring at the plant, which has been called “a kosher ‘Jungle.’ ”

The conditions at the Agriprocessors plant cry out for the cautious and deliberative application of justice.

In May, the government swoops in and arrests ... the workers, hundreds of them, for having false identity papers. The raid’s catch is so huge that the detainees are bused from little Postville to the National Cattle Congress fairgrounds in Waterloo. The defendants, mostly immigrants from Guatemala, are not charged with the usual administrative violations, but with “aggravated identity theft,” a serious crime.

They are offered a deal: They can admit their guilt to lesser charges, waive their rights, including the right to a hearing before an immigration judge, spend five months in prison, then be deported. Or, they can spend six months or more in jail without bail while awaiting a trial date, face a minimum two-year prison sentence and be deported anyway.

Nearly 300 people agree to the five months, after being hustled through mass hearings, with one lawyer for 17 people, each having about 30 minutes of consultation per client. The plea deal is a brutal legal vise, but the immigrants accept it as the quickest way back to their spouses and children, hundreds of whom are cowering in a Catholic church, afraid to leave and not knowing how they will survive. The workers are scattered to federal lockups around the country. Many families still do not know where they are. The plant’s owners walk freely.

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More Indicators Point To U.S. Recession
2008-08-01 04:00:39
The American economy expanded more slowly than expected from April to June, the government reported Thursday, while numbers for the last three months of 2007 were revised downward to show a contraction - the first official slide backward since the last recession in 2001.

Economists construed the tepid growth in the second quarter, combined with a surge in claims for unemployment benefits, as a clear indication that the economy remains mired in the weeds of a downturn. Many said the data increased the likelihood that a recession began late last year.

The next major piece of data comes Friday, when the government is to release its monthly snapshot of the job market. Analysts expect the report to show a loss of 75,000 jobs, signifying the seventh straight month of declines.

“We already knew the economy was weak, and now you have both a negative growth number coupled with job losses,” said Dean Baker, a director of the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research. “There’s a lot of real bad times to come.”

President Bush zeroed in on the positive growth in the second quarter - a 1.9 percent annual rate of expansion, compared with an anticipated 2.3 percent rate. That follows growth of 0.9 percent in the first quarter. He claimed success for the $100 billion in tax rebates sent out by the government this year in a bid to spur spending, along with $52 billion in tax cuts for businesses.

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Phoenix Sends Message To NASA: Water On Mars, I've Tasted It
2008-08-01 04:00:19

NASA scientists Thursday night confirmed that there is water on Mars. The space agency's Phoenix lander has identified ice in a soil sample analyzed by its on-board laboratory.

Previous orbiting missions had beamed data such as the view of the planet's surface, above. Others indicated there was ice on the red planet - but Phoenix's discovery is the first direct evidence. "I can now say I'm the first mission to Mars to touch and then taste the water," came the message from Phoenix's Twitter feed Thursday. 

NASA has extended the mission until September 30, adding five weeks to the scheduled 90 days of operations on the surface.

"Phoenix is healthy and the projections for solar power look good, so we want to take full advantage of having this resource in one of the most interesting locations on Mars," said Michael Meyer, chief scientist for the Mars exploration program at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The soil sample was scraped out of the roughly five-centimeter deep "Snow White" trench on Wednesday. Two previous attempts to deliver fresh material to the lander's on-board oven failed when the soil became stuck in the scoop. This time the scientists exposed most of the material in the sample to the air for two days, so some water vaporized, thus making the soil easier to handle. The find fulfills one of the Phoenix lander's two main objectives - to "study the history of water in the Martian arctic". The other is to study the potential for life in the ice-soil boundary.

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U.S. Officials: Pakistani Agents Helped Plan Kabul Bombing
2008-08-01 04:00:01

U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that elements of Pakistan's military intelligence service provided logistical support to militants who staged last month's deadly car bombing at the Indian Embassy in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, U.S. officials familiar with the evidence said Thursday.

The finding, based partly on communication intercepts, has dramatically heightened U.S. concerns about long-standing ties between Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, and Taliban-allied groups that are battling U.S. forces in Afghanistan, according to two U.S. government officials briefed on the matter.

The July 7 bombing at the Kabul embassy has been linked to fighters loyal to Jalaluddin Haqqani, an ethnic Pashtun militant who has led pro-Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan and has been associated with numerous suicide bombings in the region. More than 40 people were killed in one of the deadliest attacks on Afghan civilians since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.

"There continues to be evidence of Taliban and Haqqani network involvement in the Indian Embassy bombing as well as the attempted assassination of [Afghan President Hamid] Karzai," said a senior U.S. official briefed on the reports. He said there was "significant" evidence suggesting that individual ISI members provided logistical support to the embassy bombers. He declined to elaborate further.

CIA officials raised the issue of possible ISI support for the embassy bombers during a meeting last month between the newly elected Pakistani government and a delegation led by Stephen Kappes, the agency's director of clandestine operations, two officials said. The conclusion by U.S. intelligence and the visit were first reported by the New York Times.

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Homeland Security Says Travelers' Laptops May Be Detained At Border
2008-08-01 03:59:36

Federal agents may take a traveler's laptop computer or other electronic device to an off-site location for an unspecified period of time without any suspicion of wrongdoing, as part of border search policies the Department of Homeland Security recently disclosed.

Also, officials may share copies of the laptop's contents with other agencies and private entities for language translation, data decryption or other reasons, according to the policies, dated July 16 and issued by two DHS agencies, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). 

"The policies ... are truly alarming," said Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wisconsin), who is probing the government's border search practices. He said he intends to introduce legislation soon that would require reasonable suspicion for border searches, as well as prohibit profiling on race, religion or national origin.

DHS officials said the newly disclosed policies - which apply to anyone entering the country, including U.S. citizens - are reasonable and necessary to prevent terrorism. Officials said such procedures have long been in place but were disclosed last month because of public interest in the matter.

Civil liberties and business travel groups have pressed the government to disclose its procedures as an increasing number of international travelers have reported that their laptops, cellphones and other digital devices had been taken - for months, in at least one case - and their contents examined.

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