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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Sunday August 17 2008 - (813)

Sunday August 17 2008 edition
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Georgians Doing Forced Labor In South Ossetia
2008-08-16 22:07:03
Teams of ethnic Georgians, some under armed guard, were being forced to clean the streets of Tskhinvali,  South Ossetia’s capital, Saturday. It was the first apparent evidence of humiliation or abuse of Georgians in the Russian-controlled breakaway republic.

Three teams of ethnic Georgians, men in their 40s and 50s, were seen cleaning the streets of Tskhinvali, which was badly damaged in the fighting. When approached, one worker confirmed that he was being forced to work.

One group of about two dozen men was escorted through the streets by armed Ossetians and a Russian officer. “Labor turns even monkeys into humans,” said the Russian officer. He threatened to arrest an Associated Press photographer when he attempted to take pictures.

The city was bombed and hit by heavy rocket fire when Georgia launched an offensive on Aug. 7 to retake the separatist republic, and it saw fierce street battles after Russia responded to the Georgian attack by sending in hundreds of tanks.

About 80 percent of the city’s 30,000 residents fled the fighting, said Mikhail Mindzayev, the interior minister for South Ossetia.

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Rising Ocean Acidity Imperils More Than Shells
2008-08-16 22:06:40
Rising ocean acidity could reduce fertilization of marine invertebrates and might eventually wipe out colonies of sea urchins, lobsters, mussels and oysters, according to a study.

Scientists knew that ocean acidification was eating away at the shells of marine animals, but the new study has found that rising acidity hindered marine sperm from swimming to and fertilizing eggs in the ocean.

Climate change and the subsequent acidification of the world's oceans will significantly reduce the successful fertilization of certain marine species by the year 2100, said the report by Australian and Swedish scientists.

"If you look at projected rates (of acidity) for the year 2100, we are finding a 25-per-cent reduction in fertilization,"  lead-scientist Jane Williamson from Macquarie University told Reuters on Friday.

"We were completely surprised, because people had been looking at the effect of acidification on calcified structures of marine animals, but there was no evidence to suggest it was affecting non-calcified structures, like a sperm or an egg," she said.

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Pakistan's Top Law Official: Courts Won't Interfere In Impeachment Process
2008-08-16 22:06:07
Pakistan’s top law official Saturday ruled out courts interfering in a possible impeachment of President Pervez Musharraf. “It (the impeachment) is a political issue and not a legal one,” Attorney General Malik Qayyum told Arab News. “Now decisions will be made by Parliament and not the courts. Parliament makes laws; courts simply interpret them.”

Qayyum, who was appointed by Musharraf, was responding to reports that Sharifuddin Pirzada, a legal luminary and constitutional expert, had advised Musharraf to move the Supreme Court to block impeachment proceedings. All judges in the current Supreme Court have pledged loyalty to a constitution rewritten by Musharraf and hence are considered biased in favor of the president by his critics.

Musharraf also received a setback Saturday when a key ruling party held firm against any deal that would protect him from criminal charges. Sadiqul Farooq, a spokesman for the party of ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whom Musharraf ousted in a 1999 coup, said legal guarantees were out of the question.

Sharif’s party is the second largest in the coalition, and has said Musharraf should be tried for treason, which carries a maximum punishment of death.

“It will be in the interest of the country and the nation to make him an example in accordance with the constitution and the law,” said Farooq.

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Russia Signs Georgia Truce, Resists Quick Pullout
2008-08-16 18:07:47
Russian President Dmitri A. Medvedev on Saturday signed a revised framework for a deal to halt the fighting in neighboring Georgia, which has stirred some of the deepest divisions between world powers since the cold war; but the Kremlin then indicated that despite the accord’s approval, it would not immediately pull its troops from the country.

The Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, told reporters that Russian forces would stay in Georgia as long as they were needed. He said their withdrawal would depend on the introduction of what he called additional security measures, without explaining what those were.

“The basic agreements do not determine the ceiling for the peacekeeping contingents,” said Lavrov. “How long it will take, I have already emphasized that it depends not only on us. We are constantly facing problems created by the Georgian side.”

Speaking at his ranch in Texas, President Bush described the Russian endorsement of the cease-fire as a “hopeful step.”

“Now Russia needs to honor the agreement and withdraw its forces, and, of course, end military operations,” said Bush.

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Methadone Fastest-Growing Cause Of Narcotic Deaths In U.S.
2008-08-16 18:07:24

Suffering from excruciating spinal deterioration, Robby Garvin, 24, of South Carolina, tried many painkillers before his doctor prescribed methadone in June 2006, just before Garvin and his friend Joey Sutton set off for a weekend at an amusement park.

On Saturday night Garvin called his mother to say, “Mama, this is the first time I have been pain free, this medicine just might really help me.” The next day, though, he felt bad. As directed, he took two more tablets and then he lay down for a nap. It was after 2 p.m. that Joey said he heard a strange sound that must have been Robby’s last breath.

Methadone, once used mainly in addiction treatment centers to replace heroin, is today being given out by family doctors, osteopaths and nurse practitioners for throbbing backs, joint injuries and a host of other severe pains.

A synthetic form of opium, it is cheap and long lasting, a powerful pain reliever that has helped millions. Because it is also abused by thrill seekers and badly prescribed by doctors unfamiliar with its risks, methadone is now the fastest growing cause of narcotic deaths. It is implicated in more than twice as many deaths as heroin, and is rivaling or surpassing the tolls of painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin.

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U.S. Justice Dept. Proposal Would Allow State, Local Police To Collect Intelligence On Americans
2008-08-16 03:48:56

The Justice Department has proposed a new domestic spying measure that would make it easier for state and local police to collect intelligence about Americans, share the sensitive data with federal agencies and retain it for at least 10 years.

The proposed changes would revise the federal government's rules for police intelligence-gathering for the first time since 1993 and would apply to any of the nation's 18,000 state and local police agencies that receive roughly $1.6 billion each year in federal grants.

Quietly unveiled late last month, the proposal is part of a flurry of domestic intelligence changes issued and planned by the Bush administration in its waning months. They include a recent executive order that guides the reorganization of federal spy agencies and a pending Justice Department overhaul of FBI procedures for gathering intelligence and investigating terrorism cases within U.S. borders.

Taken together, critics in Congress and elsewhere say, the moves are intended to lock in policies for Bush's successor and to enshrine controversial post-Sept. 11 approaches that some say have fed the greatest expansion of executive authority since the Watergate era.

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Moscow Warns It Could Strike Poland Over U.S. Missile Shield
2008-08-16 03:48:30

The risk of a new era of east-west confrontation triggered by Russia's invasion of Georgia heightened Friday when Moscow reserved the right to launch a nuclear attack on Poland because it agreed to host U.S. rockets as part of the Pentagon's missile shield.

As Washington accused Russia of "bullying and intimidation" in Georgia and demanded an immediate withdrawal of Russian forces from the small Black Sea neighbor, Russia's deputy chief of staff turned on Warsaw and said it was vulnerable to a Russian rocket attack because of Thursday's pact with the U.S. on the missile defense project.

"By deploying, Poland is exposing itself to a strike - 100%," warned Colonel General Anatoly Nogovitsyn. He added that Russia's security doctrine allowed it to use nuclear weapons against an active ally of a nuclear power such as America.

The warning worsened the already dismal mood in relations between Moscow and the west caused by the shock of post-Soviet Russia's first invasion of a foreign country.

There were scant signs of military activity on the ground in Georgia, nor were there any signs of the Russian withdrawal pledged on Tuesday under ceasefire terms mediated by the European Union.

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Britain's Health Chief Attacks Pharmaceutical Giants Over Huge Profits
2008-08-16 22:06:53
The pharmaceutical industry is overpricing vital new medicines to boost its profits, the chair of Britain's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) warned Sunday in an explosive intervention into the debate over National Health Service (NHS) rationing.

Professor Sir Michael Rawlins spoke out after critics last week accused NICE of  "barbarism" for refusing to approve expensive new kidney drugs for NHS use, on the grounds that they were not cost-effective.

In an outspoken interview with The Observer, Rawlins warned of "perverse incentives" to hike the prices of new drugs - including linking the pay of pharmaceutical company executives to their firm's share price, which in turn relied on keeping profits healthy. Traditionally some companies charged what they thought they could get away with, he said. "We are told we are being mean all the time, but what nobody mentions is why the drugs are so expensive."

Kidney cancer drugs could be produced for about a tenth of their current cost, said Rawlins. While developing such medicines from scratch added to these costs, as did some "unnecessary" bureaucracy around clinical trials which should be scrapped, he said that was not the whole story. "Part of the problem is that the pharmaceutical industry is looking at a very bad period in the future because a lot of their big earners are going off patent [allowing rivals to make cheaper versions], and many companies are looking at a 30 or 40 per cent reduction in the next five years unless they come up with new drugs," he said. "And so part of the cost is cushioning against that. The other thing, of course, is that the share price is very important to a pharmaceutical company."

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Tropical Storm Fay Leaves 4 Dead In Haiti, Dominican Republic
2008-08-16 22:06:25
Flooding from Tropical Storm Fay killed four people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and authorities warned Saturday that the storm could reach hurricane strength as it barrels toward Cuba.

Florida's Gov. Charlie Crist declared a state of emergency and said Fay threatened the state with a "major disaster". Forecasters said Fay could bring hurricane-force winds to the Florida Keys as soon as Monday.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, said that on Saturday night the storm was located about 60 miles (100 kilometers) southwest of Guantanamo, Cuba. It was heading west at about 14 mph (22 kph), with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (70 kph).

A man died Saturday in Haiti while trying to cross a river in Leogane, south of Port-au-Prince, said Marie Alta Jean-Baptiste, head of Haiti's civil protection department. No further information was immediately available.

Rice fields in the Artibonite Valley, Haiti's most fertile region, were flooded, according to reports from Radio Ginen; and Fay's heavy winds destroyed banana crops in Arcahaie, north of the capital, although it is unclear how many acres were affected, said Jean-Baptiste.

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Commentary: Give Me A Randy Politician Anytime, As Long As He Cuts Inflation
2008-08-16 22:05:47
Intellpuke: This commentary was written by Lionel Shriver and appeared in The Observer edition for Sunday, August 17, 2008. Ms. Shriver's commentary follows:

Last weekend in New York, my husband coyly announced that a big story had just broken that would destroy former presidential hopeful John Edwards' career. He wouldn't say what had happened (getting scoops before I do always makes him feel superior), but I guessed the bare bones. What would be more ruinous for a politician whose hugely popular wife has terminal cancer than an affair?

So, in defiance of a long-standing ban on eating dinner in front of the TV, we curled up on the couch with our calamari. At 11:30 p.m., John Edwards gave a one-off interview on ABC's Nightline about his "very serious mistake" with campaign aide Rielle Hunter in 2006. However sentimental, maudlin, bathetic and fake, it was great entertainment, although my recurring nausea didn't do justice to the squid.

John Edwards' televised self-flagellation followed established form for sexually outed public servants. Humiliating confessional drivel about his having suffered from "a self-focus, an egotism, a narcissism" confuses politics with psychotherapy. In fact, the 2008 campaign coverage is awash in the language of psychiatry (after Hillary's defeat, her supporters needed to "heal" and "find closure" and her name should be submitted in nomination at the convention for the sake of "catharsis"), as if politicians don't run a country but a support group.

The U.S. has a history of priapic politicians whose shenanigans provide the public with voyeuristic evenings like last weekend's. Front-runner Gary Hart bowed out of the 1988 presidential race after being photographed with an extramarital young woman on his knee. Bill Clinton managed to stage the forgive-me-but-I-have-sinned number not once but twice, first with Gennifer Flowers, then with Monica Lewinsky. New York governor Eliot Spitzer resigned in disgrace after being caught using an escort agency.

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Candidates Subtly Seek Centrist Votes On Abortion
2008-08-16 18:07:34
When Republican John McCain suggested his running mate could support abortion rights and Democrat Barack Obama  gave an anti-abortion senator a prime convention role, both were sending a subtle message to centrist voters.

Neither presidential candidate was signaling a seismic shift in the nation's long-running if largely static debate over abortion rights. Still, their actions suggest that both political parties sense that a large, if vaguely defined, middle group of Americans would like to see abortion vanish, but not by legal decree.

Polls consistently show that most Americans strongly dislike abortion yet do not want it outlawed in the early stages of pregnancy.

Democrats had it both ways in revising their party platform ahead of this month's nominating convention in Denver. Platform-writers said the party ''unequivocally'' supports legalized abortion, a stronger phrase than the 2004 platform contained.

They also bolstered the section on reducing the need for abortions. The version awaiting approval in Denver, Colorado,  says the party ''strongly supports access to comprehensive affordable family planning services and age-appropriate sex education.'' It says the party ''strongly supports a woman's decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre- and postnatal health care, parenting skills, income support and caring adoption programs.''

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Forecasters: Floridians Should Prepare For Hurricane
2008-08-16 18:07:09
Florida's governor declared an emergency for the state Saturday due to the threat of Tropical Storm Fay, which forecasters say could bring hurricane-force winds to the Florida Keys as soon as Monday.

Fay could hit as a Category 1 or 2 hurricane, with winds perhaps reaching more than 100 mph, forecasters said, stressing that it was too early to tell how intense the storm would become.

In anticipation, Gov. Charlie Crist declared the emergency to help protect communities from the storm, which "threatens the state of Florida with a major disaster," said the executive order.

Flooding from Fay killed two people and left two children missing in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, authorities said Saturday. Forecasters said the storm could reach hurricane strength when it approaches central Cuba on Sunday, and the government there issued a hurricane watch for several provinces.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, reported that as of 2 p.m. EDT, the storm's center was about 50 miles southeast of Guantanamo, Cuba. It had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph. To become a hurricane, sustained winds must be at least 74 mph.

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Court Filings Reveal Evidence Against Sen. Ted Stevens
2008-08-16 03:48:44
Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) quickly turned a $5,000 Florida condo investment into a profit of more than $100,000 in a questionable transaction that federal prosecutors would like to introduce as evidence at his trial next month on charges that he lied on financial disclosure forms.

The investment and other details of investigators' case were disclosed late Thursday in a flurry of court papers filed by prosecutors and defense lawyers gearing up for the first trial of a sitting U.S. senator in more than two decades. The trial is tentatively scheduled to start Sept. 22.

Stevens was indicted last month by a federal grand jury on charges of not reporting on Senate financial disclosure forms that he accepted more than $250,000 in gifts and home renovations from executives of Veco, a now defunct oil services company in Alaska. Prosecutors allege that Stevens helped Veco and its executives on a variety of federal and state issues.

Veco's former chief executive, Bill Allen, pleaded guilty last year to bribing public officials and is expected to testify at Stevens' trial.

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Turkey's President: U.S. Must Share Power In New World Order
2008-08-16 03:48:17

Days after Russia scored a stunning geopolitical victory in the Caucasus, Turkey's President Abdullah Gul said he saw a new multi-polar world emerging from the wreckage of war.

The conflict in Georgia, Gul asserted, showed that the United States could no longer shape global politics on its own, and should begin sharing power with other countries.

"I don't think you can control all the world from one center," Gul told the Guardian. "There are big nations. There are huge populations. There is unbelievable economic development in some parts of the world. So what we have to do is, instead of unilateral actions, act all together, make common decisions and have consultations with the world. A new world order, if I can say it, should emerge."

Gul, relaxing in a hotel suite with a spectacular view of the glistening Bosphorus, spoke just hours before meeting with the visiting president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

He rejected the idea, promoted by the United States and Israel, that the best way to deal with Iran was to isolate, sanction and punish it. "There are so many important issues, like the nuclear issue, Iraq, the Caucasus, Afghanistan," he said. "Iran is definitely having some influence of these issues, so we are talking."

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Blogger David Gerard said...

Of course they can't give away expensive cancer drugs, there's too much demand for free NHS Viagra. My take:

8:25 AM  

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