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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Saturday August 30 2008 - (813)

Saturday August 30 2008 edition
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Sea-Ice Melt Imperils Walruses, And Native Economies Based On Them
2008-08-29 11:51:38
Hubert Kokuluk squints with his one good eye to examine the tiny polar bear he has just carved from a fragment of walrus tusk. He isn't happy with the yellowish hue, but good ivory is hard to come by these days, since quickly melting sea ice has made it extremely difficult for his Inupiaq Eskimo community to carry out the traditional annual spring walrus hunt.

Though walruses are federally protected, Alaska Natives have subsistence rights to hunt them and rely on the meat, skin, intestines and tusks - for food, clothing and boat coverings, and to carve the ivory jewelry and souvenirs that are a significant source of income.

Over the past few decades, Kokuluk and the other residents of King Island, a steep rocky knoll poking out of the Bering Sea, have left the island for a more hospitable existence in Nome. They return to the waters of King Island each spring to hunt walruses, which are moving north as the sea ice they depend on melts and recedes.

But, in the past few years, their economic circumstances have worsened. A warming climate melts the sea ice more rapidly, thinning the walrus herds and forcing native hunters to travel greater distances to track their prey.

As the ice has melted, the window of time in which the hunters can pursue the walrus is much shorter - about three weeks, compared with two months in better years. This past year, the King Islanders of Nome did not get a single walrus, meaning they will have to do without walrus meat this winter and will have to buy ivory to carve, for about $50 a pound.

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McCain Chooses Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin As Running Mate
2008-08-29 11:28:40
Republican presumptive presidential nominee John McCain has chosen first-term Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, according to a senior McCain adviser.

Palin, 44, will be the first woman nominated to the ticket by the Republican Party, and is a surprise choice after McCain considered more experienced politicians, including several of his former rivals for the GOP nomination. Palin was elected in 2006, and before that was mayor of tiny Wasilla, population 6,715.

She is a favorite of conservatives, who say she brings a reform-minded agenda and is what one called a "feminist for life.'' She is the mother of five; her youngest child, born in April, has Down's syndrome.

Palin had been before mentioned as a dark-horse candidate for the pick, but speculation in recent days had focused on McCain's primary rival Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, and on Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The choice - to be announced at a noon rally here in Dayton, Ohio - was kept secret by the McCain campaign despite a frenzy of speculation from the 24/7 world of cable news and political blogs.

Early Friday, three senior Republican sources said they had been told Palin was McCain's choice. That came after a morning in which the names on McCain's publicly talked-about short list appeared to quickly drop off. Romney has told others he will not be in Dayton for the rally at Wright State University where McCain is expected to announce his running mate.

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Transcript Of Sen. Barack Obama's Acceptance Speech
2008-08-29 00:11:50
Intellpuke: Following is the transcript of Senator Barack Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, as recorded by CQ Transcriptions.

OBAMA: Thank you so much.


Thank you very much.


Thank you, everybody.

To -- to Chairman Dean and my great friend Dick Durbin, and to all my fellow citizens of this great nation, with profound gratitude and great humility, I accept your nomination for presidency of the United States.


Let me -- let me express -- let me express my thanks to the historic slate of candidates who accompanied me on this journey, and especially the one who traveled the farthest, a champion for working Americans and an inspiration to my daughters and to yours, Hillary Rodham Clinton.


To President Clinton, to President Bill Clinton, who made last night the case for change as only he can make it...


... to Ted Kennedy, who embodies the spirit of service...


... and to the next vice president of the United States, Joe Biden, I thank you.


I am grateful to finish this journey with one of the finest statesmen of our time, a man at ease with everyone from world leaders to the conductors on the Amtrak train he still takes home every night.

To the love of my life, our next first lady, Michelle Obama...


... and to Malia and Sasha, I love you so much, and I am so proud of you.


Four years ago, I stood before you and told you my story, of the brief union between a young man from Kenya and a young woman from Kansas who weren't well-off or well-known, but shared a belief that in America their son could achieve whatever he put his mind to.

It is that promise that's always set this country apart, that through hard work and sacrifice each of us can pursue our individual dreams, but still come together as one American family, to ensure that the next generation can pursue their dreams, as well. That's why I stand here tonight. Because for 232 years, at each moment when that promise was in jeopardy, ordinary men and women -- students and soldiers, farmers and teachers, nurses and janitors -- found the courage to keep it alive.

We meet at one of those defining moments, a moment when our nation is at war, our economy is in turmoil, and the American promise has been threatened once more.

Tonight, more Americans are out of work and more are working harder for less. More of you have lost your homes and even more are watching your home values plummet. More of you have cars you can't afford to drive, credit cards, bills you can't afford to pay, and tuition that's beyond your reach.

These challenges are not all of government's making. But the failure to respond is a direct result of a broken politics in Washington and the failed policies of George W. Bush.


America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this.


This country is more decent than one where a woman in Ohio, on the brink of retirement, finds herself one illness away from disaster after a lifetime of hard work.

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China, Iraq Sign $3 Billion Oil Contract
2008-08-29 00:11:10
Iraq and China signed a $3 billion deal this week to develop a large Iraqi oil field, the first major commercial oil contract here with a foreign company since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

The 20-year agreement calls for the state-owned China National Petroleum Corp. to begin producing 25,000 barrels of oil a day and gradually increase the output to 125,000 a day, said Asim Jihad, a spokesman for the Iraqi Oil Ministry. 

The contract revamps a deal the Chinese company had reached with Saddam Hussein in 1997 to develop the Ahdab oil field in Wasit province, south of Baghdad near the border with Iran. Unlike that deal, which called for China to share in the revenue, the current contract is based on a fixed-fee structure.

Western oil companies came close this summer to reaching agreements with the ministry to return to Iraq. Those smaller technical service contracts involved giving advice on how to boost production. The China deal is a service contract, which is more lucrative and involves large-scale development of the field.

Jihad said the technical service contracts, which were to be finalized June 30, have been delayed as negotiations continue with the Western concerns, including Shell, BP and Exxon Mobil. Most of the major oil contracts are to be awarded in the next 1 1/2 years through a process involving 35 companies identified by the Oil Ministry, he said.

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Gustav Makes GOP Consider Delaying Convention
2008-08-29 00:10:15

Republican officials said Thursday that they are considering delaying the start of the Republican Party convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul because of Tropical Storm Gustav, which is on track to hit the Gulf Coast, and possibly New Orleans, as a full-force hurricane early next week.

The threat is serious enough that White House officials are also debating whether President Bush should cancel his scheduled convention appearance on Monday, the first day of the convention, according to administration officials and others familiar with the discussion.

For Bush and Republican presidential candidate John McCain, Gustav threatens to provide an untimely reminder of Hurricane Katrina. A new major storm along the Gulf Coast would renew memories of one of the low points of the Bush administration, while pulling public attention away from McCain's formal coronation as the GOP presidential nominee.

Senior Republicans said images of political celebration in the Twin Cities while thousands of Americans flee a hurricane could be disastrous. "Senator McCain has always been sensitive to national crisis," said McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds, noting that the senator postponed announcing his presidential candidacy in 2000 because of the war in the Balkans. "We are monitoring the situation very closely."

Staging a convention during a major natural disaster would be a public relations challenge for either political party, but Republican officials say the damage could be especially heavy for their party, whose reputation was tarred by the Bush administration's bungling of Katrina and its aftermath in 2005.

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Jury Acquits Ex-Marine In Iraqis' Deaths
2008-08-29 11:51:29
A former Marine accused of killing unarmed Iraqi detainees was acquitted of voluntary manslaughter Thursday in a first-of-its-kind federal trial.

The jury took six hours to find Jose Luis Nazario, Jr., not guilty of charges that he killed or caused others to kill four unarmed detainees Nov. 9, 2004, in Fallujah, Iraq, during some of the fiercest fighting of the war.

The verdict left the 28-year-old defendant in tears. His mother, family members and friends cried so loudly that the judge smacked his gavel in a call for order.

This marks the first time a civilian jury has determined whether the alleged actions of a former military service member in combat violated the laws of war.

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Obama Takes Aim At Bush And McCain With A Forceful Call For Change
2008-08-29 00:12:07
Barack Obama accepted the Democratic Party presidential nomination tonight, declaring that the “American promise has been threatened” by eight years under President Bush and that John McCain represented a continuation of policies that undermined the nation’s economy and imperiled its standing around the world.

The speech by Senator Obama, of Illinois - in front of an audience of nearly 80,000 people on a warm night in a football stadium refashioned into a vast political stage for television viewers - left little doubt of how he intended to press his campaign against McCain this fall. He linked McCain to what he described as the “failed presidency of George W. Bush” in cutting language that seemed intended to reassure nervous Democrats that he had the spine to take on what has proven this summer to be a scrappy Republican opponent.

“The record’s clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush 90 percent of the time,” Obama said. “Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush was right more than 90 percent of the time? I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to take a 10 percent chance on change.”

“America, we are better than these last eight years,” he said. “We are a better country than this.”

The speech by Obama loomed as arguably the most important of his campaign to date. It was an opportunity to present himself to Americans who were just now beginning to tune in on this campaign, to make the case against McCain and to offer what many Democrat said he has failed to offer to date: a idea of what Obama stood for, beyond a promise of change.

With his speech, Obama closed out his party’s convention here and prepared for a quick shift of public attention to Republicans as McCain names his running-mate on Friday and his party begins its convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Monday.

He delivered it in a most unconventional setting, becoming the third nominee of a major party in the nation’s history to leave the site of his convention to give his acceptance speech at a stadium.

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Bassinet Sales Halted After Deaths Of Two Infants
2008-08-29 00:11:22

In the first test of its powers under a sweeping product-safety law, the Consumer Product Safety Commission Thursday  directed retailers to pull a bassinet linked to the deaths of two infants off store shelves and give customers a refund.

The directive came on the heels of a warning the CPSC issued to parents Wednesday night to stop using "close-sleeper/beside sleeper" bassinets made by Simplicity of Reading, Pennsylvania. The CPSC acted after a 6  1/2-month-old girl from Shawnee, Kansas, was strangled to death Aug. 21 when she got caught in the bassinet's metal bars. The agency said 900,000 of the bassinets are in circulation.

The CPSC said it issued the warning and turned to retailers to pull the bassinets because SFCA, the firm that bought Simplicity's assets in April, refused to cooperate and do a recall.

SFCA, which bought Simplicity's assets at auction, is an affiliate of Blackstreet Capital, a Bethesda, Maryland,  private-equity fund with $88 million dollars under management. SFCA is chaired by prominent Washington banker Robert Pincus and its board is studded with political luminaries such as James A. Baker IV, a son of the former secretary of State; uber-lobbyist Thomas Hale Boggs, Jr.; Ed Mathias, a partner and managing director of Carlyle Group; and Ed Rogers, a founder of the public affairs firm Barbour, Griffith & Rogers.

While the CPSC has the authority to mandate recalls, doing so takes time and as a result almost all recalls are voluntary.

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Bush Continues To Fight Congressional Authority
2008-08-29 00:10:54
The Bush administration is raising the stakes in a court fight that could change the balance of power between the White House and Congress.

Justice Department lawyers said Wednesday that they will soon ask a federal appeals court not to force the president's top advisers to comply with congressional subpoenas next month. President Bush argues Congress doesn't have the authority to demand information from his aides.

U.S. District Judge John Bates strongly rejected that stance last month, ordering former White House counsel Harriet Miers to testify and White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten to turn over documents related to the firing of federal prosecutors.

It was a historic loss for the Bush administration, a stinging ruling in the first such case ever to make it to the courts.

The House Judiciary Committee responded swiftly, demanding Miers appear Sept. 11 as it investigates whether federal prosecutors were inappropriately fired as part of a White House effort to politicize the Justice Department.

The Bush administration had already indicated it would appeal but Justice Department lawyers said Wednesday that they will ask the court to step in quickly and temporarily put Miers' appearance on hold while the appeal plays out. It's a risky move for an administration that has spent years trying to strengthen the power of the presidency.

If the appeals court refuses to temporarily block the testimony, it would essentially be endorsing Bates' ruling against the Bush administration. Miers likely would have to comply with the subpoena, setting a precedent that would give Congress new teeth in its investigations and weaken future presidents.

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