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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Sunday August 3 2008 - (813)

Sunday August 3 2008 edition
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Shipping Costs Start To Crimp Globalization
2008-08-02 16:14:59

When Tesla Motors, a pioneer in electric-powered cars, set out to make a luxury roadster for the American market, it had the global supply chain in mind. Tesla planned to manufacture 1,000-pound battery packs in Thailand, ship them to Britain for installation, then bring the mostly assembled cars back to the United States.

When it began production this spring, the company decided to make the batteries and assemble the cars near its home base in California, cutting more than 5,000 miles from the shipping bill for each vehicle.

“It was kind of a no-brain decision for us,” said Darryl Siry, the company’s senior vice president of global sales, marketing and service. “A major reason was to avoid the transportation costs, which are terrible.”

The world economy has become so integrated that shoppers find relatively few T-shirts and sneakers in Wal-Mart and Target carrying a “Made in the U.S.A.” label; but globalization may be losing some of the inexorable economic power it had for much of the past quarter-century, even as it faces fresh challenges as a political ideology.

Cheap oil, the lubricant of quick, inexpensive transportation links across the world, may not return anytime soon, upsetting the logic of diffuse global supply chains that treat geography as a footnote in the pursuit of lower wages. Rising concern about global warming, the reaction against lost jobs in rich countries, worries about food safety and security, and the collapse of world trade talks in Geneva last week also signal that political and environmental concerns may make the calculus of globalization far more complex.

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Increase In Jellyfish Offer Hint Of Oceans Decline
2008-08-02 16:14:35
Blue patrol boats crisscross the swimming areas of beaches here with their huge nets skimming the water’s surface. The yellow flags that urge caution and the red flags that prohibit swimming because of risky currents are sometimes topped now with blue ones warning of a new danger: swarms of jellyfish.

In a period of hours during a day a couple of weeks ago, 300 people on Barcelona’s bustling beaches were treated for stings, and 11 were taken to hospitals.

From Spain to New York, to Australia, Japan and Hawaii, jellyfish are becoming more numerous and more widespread, and they are showing up in places where they have rarely been seen before, scientists say. The faceless marauders are stinging children blithely bathing on summer vacations, forcing beaches to close and clogging fishing nets.

While jellyfish invasions are a nuisance to tourists and a hardship to fishermen, for scientists they are a source of more profound alarm, a signal of the declining health of the world’s oceans.

“These jellyfish near shore are a message the sea is sending us saying, ‘Look how badly you are treating me’,” said Dr. Josep-Maria Gili, a leading jellyfish expert, who has studied them at the Institute of Marine Sciences of the Spanish National Research Council in Barcelona for more than 20 years.

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U.S. Bioterrorism Efforts Reignite Debate
2008-08-02 16:14:01
Until the anthrax attacks of 2001, Bruce E. Ivins was one of just a few dozen American bioterrorism researchers working with the most lethal biological pathogens, almost all at high-security military laboratories.

Today, there are hundreds of such researchers in scores of laboratories at universities and other institutions around the United States, preparing for the next bioattack.

The revelation that F.B.I. investigators believe that the anthrax attacks were carried out by Dr. Ivins, an Army biodefense scientist who committed suicide last week after he learned that he was about to be indicted for murder, has already re-ignited a debate: Has the unprecedented boom in biodefense research made the country less secure by multiplying the places and people with access to dangerous germs?

“We are putting America at more risk, not less risk,” said Representative Bart Stupak, Democrat of Michigan, chairman of a House panel that has investigated recent safety lapses at biolabs.

F.B.I. investigators have long speculated that the motive for the attacks, if carried out by a biodefense insider like Dr. Ivins, might have been to draw public attention to a dire threat, attracting money and prestige to a once-obscure field.

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Washington Post Co. Reports First Operating Loss In 37 Years
2008-08-02 16:12:14
The Washington Post Co., Friday reported its first operating loss in 37 years as a publicly traded company, as deteriorating conditions at the company's flagship newspaper combined with the cost of payroll reductions to drag down second-quarter earnings.

Although company revenue rose 6 percent in the quarter, the gain was not enough to offset the $87.4 million cost of early-retirement packages offered to employees across the company in an effort to slash payroll costs. As a result, the company suffered an operating loss of $2.7 million for the quarter.

The red ink flowed largely from The Post Co.'s newspaper division - the flagship Post, the suburban Gazettes, the Express, El Tiempo Latino and other papers - which reported an operating loss of $96.7 million for the quarter, compared to $17.8 million in operating income in the same quarter of 2007.

It was only the second time in decades that the newspaper division dipped into the red.

"We're troubled by the results of the last six months but, as our shareholders know, we are focused on the long-term," said Katharine Weymouth, Post publisher and chief executive of Washington Post Media. "To that end, we've already made significant cuts in our expenses through a voluntary buyout and the closure of one of our printing plants.

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Study: U.S. AIDS Epidemic 40 Percent Worse Than Government Stated
2008-08-02 16:14:47
The United States has significantly under reported the number of new H.I.V. infections occurring nationally each year, with a study released here on Saturday showing that the annual infection rate is 40 percent higher than previously estimated.

The study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that 56,300 people became newly infected with H.I.V in 2006, compared with the 40,000 figure the agency has cited as the recent annual incidence of the disease.

The findings confirm that H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS, has its greatest effect among gay and bisexual men of all races (53 percent of all new infections) and among African-American men and women.

The new figures are likely to strongly influence a number of decisions about efforts to control the epidemic, said the disease centers’ director, Dr. Julie L. Gerberding, and other AIDS experts. Timely data about trends in H.I.V. transmission, they said, is essential for planning and evaluating prevention efforts and the money spent on them.

“C.D.C.’s new incidence estimates reveal that the H.I.V. epidemic is and has been worse than previously known,” Dr. Kevin A. Fenton, who directs H.I.V. prevention efforts at the agency, said on Saturday.

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A Scientist's Quiet Life Took A Darker Turn
2008-08-02 16:14:14

For most of his career, he was a casting agent's vision of a bench scientist: shy, eccentric, nerdy, soft-spoken. But sometime this spring, with the FBI closing in on him, Bruce E. Ivins's life took a dark turn that frightened his closest friends.

In March, police officers summoned to a quiet Frederick, Maryland, neighborhood found the 62-year-old microbiologist unconscious in his home. Four months later, he was admitted to a psychiatric clinic after making wild threats against co-workers at the Army research institute where he kept his lab. Then, a week ago, his therapist urgently petitioned a judge for protection from Ivins. She described a man spiraling out of control, making "homicidal threats, actions, plans."

His death Tuesday from a drug overdose was followed by a revelation even more jarring to those who knew him: a report that Ivins had been implicated in the 2001 anthrax attacks, one of the FBI's biggest unsolved mysteries and most baffling technical cases. Ivins, a leading expert on anthrax vaccines, was on the verge of being indicted in the case, according to officials familiar with the investigation, and took his life by swallowing a large quantity of acetaminophen.

The allegations of a possible link to the case known as "Amerithrax" dumbfounded friends and co-workers who knew Ivins as a gentle, big-hearted family man who raised two children in Frederick, volunteered for community charities and played keyboards for the local Catholic church. His work with the deadly anthrax bacteria was devoted to developing more effective vaccines that could save lives in a future biological attack.

"He was passionate about it - he really cared," said a fellow scientist who co-authored studies with Ivins.

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Bin Laden's Driver Seen As 'Not Fit For Terror'
2008-08-02 16:12:41
Osama bin Laden's former driver was a "primitive" chauffeur and mechanic who "was not fit to plan or execute" terrorist attacks, the self-described mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks told jurors in writing Friday at the driver's military trial.

Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the alleged Sept. 11 architect, wrote that Salim Ahmed Hamdan was a low-level support staffer who never joined al-Qaeda and did not share bin Laden's ideology. Hamdan is on trial in the first U.S. military commission since World War II. His lawyers rested their case Friday, and closing arguments are scheduled for Monday.

"He did not play any role. He was not a soldier, he was a driver," Mohammed said in answers to written questions from Hamdan's lawyers that were relayed to the six military jurors. "His nature was more primitive (Bedouin) person and far from civilization. He was not fit to plan or execute."

The testimony provided another tantalizing glimpse inside the mind of Mohammed, who has been charged in the most devastating terrorist attack in U.S. history and has been a figure of intrigue since his arrest in 2003. He sketched out a vision of al-Qaeda as a group whose members also have "wives and children and schools" and said that anyone who thinks a mere driver would be involved in attacks "is a fool".

Attorneys for Hamdan, who is charged with ferrying weapons for al-Qaeda as part of a terrorism conspiracy, had wanted Mohammed to testify live in court at the U.S. detention facility here. They had told jurors there was "a significant chance" they would hear from the perpetrators of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

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U.S. Submarine May Have Leaked Radiation In Japan
2008-08-02 16:11:48
An American nuclear-powered submarine may have leaked a small amount of radiation as it stopped by Japan in the spring and was then deployed throughout the Pacific Ocean, the Japanese government said Saturday.

The Japanese government said that it was informed Friday by the United States Navy that the submarine, the Houston, might have discharged an amount of radiation that was too small to be considered harmful.

The chief government spokesman, Nobutaka Machimura, said in a news conference that the radioactive amount -  estimated at less than half a microcurie - was too insignificant to “affect the human body or the environment.”

The submarine spent a week in March in Sasebo, in western Japan, before cruising to Guam and then Hawaii, where the leak was discovered during an inspection late last month, said the Japanese government.

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