Free Internet Press

Uncensored News For Real People This is a mirror site for our daily newsletter. You may visit our real site through the individual story links, or by visiting .

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Thursday August 14 2008 - (813)

Thursday August 14 2008 edition
Free Internet Press is operated on your donations.
Donate Today

U.S. Has Few Options After Warning To Moscow
2008-08-14 03:37:01

The Bush administration mixed strong rhetoric with modest action Wednesday in response to Russia's continued military incursion in Georgia, warning that Moscow's international aspirations are threatened if it does not honor a negotiated cease-fire in the conflict.

President Bush announced the start of a humanitarian aid program for Georgia using U.S. military airplanes and ships, although officials said the effort so far includes only two scheduled flights. One shipment arrived later Wednesday and another is to land Thursday. He also dispatched Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for a diplomatic trip that will take her to Paris and then to Georgia's capital of Tbilisi to show "America's unwavering support."

"The United States stands with the democratically elected government of Georgia," Bush said during an appearance at the White House. "We insist that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia be respected."

Yet Bush's statement, along with the moderate measures that came with it, served to underscore the limited options available to the United States, which has neither the wherewithal nor the willingness to enter into a military conflict with Russia on its territorial border.

The administration has proposed relatively little in the way of concrete consequences for Moscow if it does not comply with U.S. demands, focusing instead on Russia's standing in the world and its perceived desire to be accepted as a major player in international organizations. "Russia is putting its aspirations at risk by taking actions in Georgia that are inconsistent with the principles of those institutions," said Bush.

The remarks came amid reports from local officials and eyewitnesses that Russian troops and armor had moved deeper into Georgian territory Wednesday in apparent violation of a new cease-fire agreement. Russian officials said the movement of troops was aimed only at "demilitarizing" areas near the border with South Ossetia, the breakaway pro-Russia province at the heart of the conflict.

Read The Full Story

The Depleted Uranium Threat
2008-08-14 03:36:39
"The DoD, the nation's biggest polluter, is now cleaning up 29,500 currently or formerly contaminated sites in every state and territory. California alone has 3,912 contaminated sites on 441 current and former DoD installations. Many of DoD's facilities have already contaminated groundwater sources of drinking water.... The cost to clean up toxic munitions contamination and unexploded ordnance at active and former military installations around the country may reach $200 billion." - The National Resources Defense Council, April 21, 2004.

"The Defense Department is refusing to comply with orders or sign contracts to clean up 11 hazardous waste sites, including one in Hawaii, and has asked the White House and Justice Department to intervene on its behalf." - The Associated Press, July 1, 2008

While attempting to act as the planet's nuclear watchdogs, the United States and Great Britain have become two of the world's largest, cancer-causing radiated dust and rusty depleted uranium projectile polluters.

Using tanks and planes, the U.S. and British military have fired hundreds of tons of radioactive depleted uranium munitions (DU) while fighting the first Gulf War, the Balkans War, and the more recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. For two decades, successive US and British government leadership has done little overall to clean up the hazardous war waste. And, when repeatedly asked questions about it, spokespersons for Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown and U.S. President George W. Bush, as well as the two presidential candidates, Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois) and Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), didn't respond to a large number of e-mails and telephone calls over a month's time.

Ironically, while firing this nuclear by-product all over Iraq, Afghanistan and the former Yugoslavia, both Britain and the U.S. regularly criticized and put financial or political pressure on Iran, Syria, North Korea and Pakistan for developing nuclear weapons. Of those four countries, only Pakistan is said to possess depleted uranium munitions, but their military forces have not been notorious for using them.

Depleted uranium is a by-product of the enrichment of natural uranium for nuclear reactor-grade or nuclear weapons-grade uranium. It is additionally used as an armor to protect tanks. Its metallic density is ideal for manufacturing munitions that readily pierce tank and other armor by burning and burrowing through it but, while doing so, the munition creates large quantities of radioactive dust that the wind can carry for 20 to 30 miles. Sometimes the projectiles didn't explode. Instead, they buried themselves and degraded. Now they pollute or threaten water supplies, soil, plants, birds and animals in war-torn regions.

Read The Full Story

Arkansas' Democratic Party Chairman Gunned Down
2008-08-14 03:36:08
The chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party was shot and killed Wednesday by a man who barged into his Little Rock office.

The suspect fled, apparently to the Arkansas Baptist State Convention about six blocks down the street, where he threatened a security guard. When he left there, sheriff's deputies gave chase and shot him after a 30-minute pursuit, said authorities. He later died.

Police identified the gunman as Timothy Dale Johnson, 50, of Searcy, the Associated Press reported. Johnson's motive remained a mystery.

The state Democratic chairman, Bill Gwatney, was in his office shortly before noon when a man walked into the party's Capitol Avenue headquarters and demanded to see him, said authorities. Gwatney's secretary refused to let him through, but he pushed past her.

He introduced himself to Gwatney, a well-known former state legislator and a superdelegate to the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Denver. Then he pulled out a handgun and shot Gwatney several times in the upper body, police said. Gwatney died about four hours later at a hospital.

"We do not have any indication that he knew Chairman Gwatney," Little Rock Police Lt. Terry Hastings said at a news conference. "There were no heated words."
Read The Full Story

Hair Samples In Anthrax Case Don't Match Ivins
2008-08-14 03:35:03

Federal investigators probing the deadly 2001 anthrax attacks recovered samples of human hair from a mailbox in Princeton, New Jersey, but the strands did not match the lead suspect in the case, according to sources briefed on the probe.

FBI agents and U.S. Postal Service inspectors analyzed the data in an effort to place Fort Detrick, Maryland, scientist Bruce E. Ivins at the mailbox from which bacteria-laden letters were sent to Senate offices and media organizations, the sources said.

The hair sample is one of many pieces of evidence over which researchers continue to puzzle in the case, which ended after Ivins committed suicide July 29 as prosecutors prepared to seek his indictment.

Authorities released sworn statements and search warrants last week at a news conference in which they asserted that Ivins was their sole suspect; but the materials have not dampened speculation about the merits of the investigative findings and the government's aggressive pursuit of Ivins, a 62-year-old anthrax vaccine researcher. Conspiracy theories have flourished since the 2001 attacks, which killed five people and sickened 17 others.

Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee announced it will call FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III to appear at an oversight hearing Sept. 17, when he is likely to be asked about the strength of the government's case against Ivins. A spokeswoman for Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), a vocal FBI critic, said he would demand more information about how authorities narrowed their search.

Read The Full Story

Former Gov. Mark Warner To Give Keynote Speech At Democratic Convention
2008-08-14 03:34:13
Wednesday's announcement that former Virginia governor Mark R. Warner will deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention this month thrusts him and the battleground state of Virginia further into the national spotlight.

The high-profile speech broadcast to millions has in recent years been given by up-and-coming national figures, including this year's presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, in 2004, former U.S. representative Harold E. Ford, Jr., of Tennessee in 2000 and Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, a possible vice presidential candidate this year, in 1996.

Warner, a popular former governor who flirted with running for president, is widely considered the front-runner to replace retiring Sen. John W. Warner (R) in a race that Democratic Party officials are hoping could help further solidify Virginia's gradual blue shift.

"Like Barack Obama, Mark Warner is not afraid to challenge the status quo to bring people together and get things moving," said Obama's campaign manager, David Plouffe. "It's that kind of spirit and innovation that resulted in his selection as keynote speaker on a night when we will be discussing how to renew America's promise."

Read The Full Story

Federal Overseer Asks Court To Seize $8 Billion In California Treasury For Prison Healthcare
2008-08-14 03:33:27
The court-appointed overseer for health care in state prisons moved Wednesday to seize $8 billion from the California treasury, asking a federal judge to hold Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and California Controller John Chiang in contempt of court.

With the state mired in fiscal crisis, J. Clark Kelso, the federal receiver, asked U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson to force officials to turn over the money he says he needs to raise health care in the state's prisons to constitutional standards after years of neglect.

Henderson, who appointed Kelso as part of an inmate lawsuit, has previously ordered the state to cooperate with the receiver.

Kelso also seeks $2 million in daily fines against the state for refusing to fund thousands of needed medical beds. He told reporters Wednesday that he went to court "with great reluctance and yet a sense of firm conviction."

"We have fully explored and exhausted every avenue for securing this funding in a manner that least affects California's budget and immediate cash needs," said Kelso. "But the state's leaders have failed to act."

Read The Full Story

Critics Say U.S. Banks Not Failing Fast Enough
2008-08-13 03:09:14

First the borrowers. Now the banks.

Federal and state regulators have closed eight banks this year, four since the start of July, as rising borrower defaults on residential and commercial real estate loans start to push some lenders into default, too.

There were no bank failures in 2005 or 2006 and only three in 2007. Now, some analysts expect a few hundred banks to fail over the next several years - the most since the savings-and-loan crisis two decades ago.

And some critics say the failures aren't happening fast enough. They say regulators are keeping some troubled banks on life support by allowing them to spend money to stay in business that should be reserved to cover loan losses after the bank has failed.

"They are dragging their feet in forcing these banks to reserve realistically," said Bert Ely of Ely & Co., a bank consulting firm in Alexandria. "Some of these banks could have been closed two or three quarters earlier."

Read The Full Story

Russia To Georgia, Surrender Or Else
2008-08-13 03:08:52

The Kremlin Tuesday night dictated humiliating peace terms to Georgia as the price for halting the Russian invasion of the small Black Sea country and its four-day rout of Georgian forces.

Faced with strong western denunciation, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev called a halt to the Russian offensive and negotiated terms for a truce and a broader settlement with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who, as chair of the European Union, rushed to the region to try to strike a deal on a ceasefire.

Early this morning in Tbilisi, Georgia's president, Mikheil Saakashvili, signaled his partial assent to the terms, announcing with Sarkozy that he accepted the ceasefire; but Saakashvili raised questions about a continuing Russian military presence in Georgia and the prospects for any durable settlement looked  uncertain.

"We do not yet have a peace deal, we have a provisional cessation of hostilities; but this is significant progress," Sarkozy said after talks with Medvedev in Moscow and before taking the terms to Tbilisi. This morning Sarkozy predicted Saakashvili would accept Russian terms on the broader settlement.

Medvedev branded Saakashvili a "lunatic" as he outlined tough terms to the French leader, in effect demanding Georgian capitulation to vastly superior Russian forces.

Read The Full Story

Audit: Firms Redirected Money Meant For Native Alaskans
2008-08-13 03:08:17

Two government contractors designated as small, Alaska-Native-owned firms directed millions of dollars in fees to other companies owned by managers who were not Alaska Natives and should not have received the payments, according to an audit report by the Office of Inspector General at the Small Business Administration.

The findings are part of an ongoing review by the inspector general's office of the status of Alaska Native corporations, or ANCs, which are eligible to receive sole-source contracts of any size from federal agencies. Congress three decades ago permitted the creation of ANCs as a means to settle land claims and to spur economic development.

In this case, the firms, established by ANC parents, hired managers who soon gained ownership in the companies. These managers then hired other companies they personally owned and paid them with money from the set-aside contracts, according to the report. The financial arrangements allowed those other companies to take advantage of the set-aside programs without the SBA's approval, auditors found.

The audit report recommended that the two companies - APM, a construction management company from Yorba Linda, California, and Goldbelt Raven, a Chantilly firm that provides acquisitions support, program management and technology services - be terminated from the agency's 8(a) small business set-aside program.

From 2003 to 2006, the firms secured federal contracts worth up to $833 million.

Read The Full Story

UBS TAkes More Hits In Subprime Crisis
2008-08-13 03:07:50
UBS, one of the hardest-hit banks in the subprime mortgage crisis, said Tuesday that it lost $331 million in the second quarter as it took another $5.1 billion hit in write-downs on bad assets.

The net loss for Switzerland's largest bank in the April to June period compared with a profit of $5 billion a year earlier, while the write-offs on dwindled holdings brought the total for the past year to $42.5 billion.

The bank proposed four new board members as part of its plan to strengthen oversight of management and warned that the early impression that the worst of the subprime crisis was over turned out to be illusory.

"The positive sentiment seen at the end of first quarter 2008 that the credit crisis may be easing was short-lived as trading conditions deteriorated significantly in the second half of May, in particular for assets related to U.S. residential real estate as well as other structured credit positions," a bank statement said.

The new results come on top of write-downs totaling $37.4 billion over the previous nine months.

Read The Full Story

Analysis: Peace Plan Offers Russia A Rationale To Advance
2008-08-14 03:36:51
It was nearly 2 a.m. on Wednesday when France's President Nicolas Sarkozy announced he had accomplished what seemed virtually impossible: Persuading the leaders of Georgia and Russia to agree to a set of principles that would stop the war.

Handshakes and congratulations were offered all around. Yet, by the time the sun was up, Russian tanks were advancing again, this time taking positions around the strategically important city of Gori, in central Georgia.

It soon became clear that the six-point deal not only failed to slow the Russian advance, but it also allowed Russia to claim that it could push deeper into Georgia as part of so-called additional security measures it was granted in the agreement. Sarkozy, according to a senior Georgian official who witnessed the negotiations, also failed to persuade the Russians to agree to any time limit on their military action.

By mid-morning, European officials were warning of the risks of appeasing Russian aggression, while Georgian officials lamented the West’s weak leverage.

“I’m talking about the impotence and inability of both Europe and the United States to be unified and to exert leverage, and to comprehend the level of the threat,” said the senior Georgian official, who had sat in on the talks between  Sarkozy and Georgia’s president, Mikheil Saakashvili.

The senior Georgian official later made a copy of the deal available to the New York Times with what he said were notes marking changes the Georgians had asked for but failed to attain.

Read The Full Story

Commentary: Our Own Worst Bioenemy
2008-08-14 03:36:25
Intellpuke: This commentary was written by Wendy Orent and appeared in the Los Angles Times edition for Wednesday, August 13, 2008. Ms. Orent is the author of "Plague: The Mysterious Past and Terrrify Future of the World's Most Dangerous Disease". Her commentary follows:

"Whatever you can say about the Soviet bioweapons scientists," a Bush administration official once told me, "they never killed anyone."

We can't say the same about our bioweapons scientists. Someone, most likely Bruce Ivins, at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Ft. Detrick, Maryland, turned powdered anthrax spores into a deadly weapon. It's ironic that the Soviet scientists were making offensive weapons. Our people, since 1969, have worked strictly to defend us.

One of those defenders killed five people, sickened 17 others and plunged the nation into hysteria for weeks in the fall of 2001. After a seven-year investigation by the FBI, the source of the deadly anthrax strain has been identified - our own biodefense program at Ft. Detrick. That is the real legacy of the FBI investigation.

Since the anthrax-laced letters were mailed in September and October of 2001, U.S. biodefense has blown up out of all proportion to any rational assessment of the bioweapons threat. Earlier this year, an article in the journal Biosecurity and Bioterrorism, analyzing government biodefense spending from 2001 to 2008, stated that $49.66 billion has been allocated for civilian biodefense. According to microbiologist and longtime biodefense critic Richard Ebright of Rutgers University, actual spending is even higher, amounting to $57 billion.

Read The Full Story

U.S. Mortgage Insurers' Losses Mount
2008-08-14 03:35:54

Large mortgage insurers have reported $2.6 billion in losses so far this year, sparking concerns that rising foreclosure rates could force the industry into a money crunch and ultimately make the home-buying process even more difficult.

These insurers make up a critical part of the mortgage industry, taking on the risk when borrowers make small down payments. They are facing record delinquency rates that have sent them scrambling to stem losses and to improve their capital reserves. Those losses have also dinged their relationships with mortgage-financing giants Fannie Mae and  Freddie Mac, which the insurers depend on for business.

"What they're battling is a lack of public confidence," said Guy Cecala, publisher of trade journal Inside Mortgage Finance. "They feel like they have enough capital, but nobody really knows."

The mortgage insurance industry is dominated by a half-dozen large firms that insure loans when a buyer makes a down payment of less than 20 percent of a home's purchase price. If the borrower defaults, the insurers pay the lender a portion of the loss. The industry has already paid more than $6 billion to cover claims on foreclosed homes this year, including $3.8 billion during the second quarter, said Cecala. This year's $2.6 billion in losses includes $1.7 billion during the past three months, he said.

Read The Full Story

Downtowns Across The U.S. See Streetcars In Their Future
2008-08-14 03:34:41
From his months-old French bistro, Jean-Robert de Cavel sees restored Italianate row houses against a backdrop of rundown tenements in Cincinnati, Ohio's, long-struggling Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.

He also sees a turnaround for the district, thanks to plans to revive a transit system that was dismantled in the 1950s: the humble streetcar line.

“Human beings can be silly because we move away from things too quickly in this country,” said de Cavel. “Streetcar is definitely going to create a reason for young people to come downtown.”

Cincinnati officials are assembling financing for a $132 million system that would connect the city’s riverfront stadiums, downtown business district and Uptown neighborhoods, which include six hospitals and the University of Cincinnati, in a six- to eight-mile loop. Depending on the final financing package, fares may be free, 50 cents or $1.

The city plans to pay for the system with existing tax revenue and $30 million in private investment. The plan requires the approval of Mayor Mark Mallory, a proponent, and the City Council.

Read The Full Story

Bigger, Tougher Wildfires Bring California To Budget Brink
2008-08-14 03:33:42
Faced with hundreds of big, hard-to-control blazes, California is struggling with what could be its most expensive firefighting season ever, burning through $285 million in the last six weeks alone and up to $13 million a day.

With the worst of the fire season still ahead, lawmakers are scrambling to find a way to pay for it all and are considering slapping homeowners with a disaster surcharge that asks those in fire-prone areas to pay the most.

On Wednesday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger asked President Bush to amend a June disaster declaration and declare the state a disaster area, in part because of firefighting costs. Since mid-May, 2,096 wildfires have burned more than 1.3 million acres and destroyed 306 homes, said Schwarzenegger.

"The response to these fires has severely taxed California's resources," Schwarzenegger wrote.

The crisis comes as California deals with a $15.2 billion budget deficit, and Schwarzenegger cited firefighting costs as a major factor when he ordered wages deferred for state workers and laid off others recently to cut costs.

Read The Full Story

New Books Aim To Unweave Obama Narrative
2008-08-14 03:33:05
In two autobiographies and dozens of speeches, Barack Obama has weaved the narrative that defines his campaign: An introspective boy gradually comes to terms with his mixed-race heritage and emerges with an "unprejudiced" worldview. He enters politics because of his "love of country" and succeeds by staying faithful to his morals and "transcending the partisan divide."

Two weeks before Obama accepts the Democratic nomination for president, conservative author Jerome R. Corsi has attacked his story with a narrative of his own: The son of an "alcoholic polygamist," Obama deals with his abandonment issues and "black rage" by experimenting with drugs and radical thought. He makes a calculated entrance into politics despite having accomplished little and having developed some "anti-American" sentiments. Once in office, he regularly manipulates the political machine and becomes a liberal who will "divide America."

Corsi's "The Obama Nation" lacks major revelations and has been dismissed by Obama's campaign as a series of lies from a serial liar. Parts of the book have also been disproved by the mainstream media. In 2004, Corsi co-wrote "Unfit for Command," in which Swift boat veterans criticized Sen. John F. Kerry's Vietnam War record. That book was also widely disproved.

Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, has started a Web site to help discredit these tactics on Obama's behalf.

Read The Full Story

Editorial: Mr. Mukasey In Denial
2008-08-13 03:09:03
Intellpuke: This editorial appeared in the New York Times edition for Tuesday, August 12, 2008.

Conservatives like to talk about personal responsibility, but Attorney General Michael Mukasey does not seem to think it applies to the Bush administration. In a speech on Tuesday, he described the shameful politicization of the Justice Department as a “painful” episode in which “the system failed”.

Mr. Mukasey made no mention of the role played by his predecessor, Alberto Gonzales, and other members of President Bush’s inner circle. There is by now strong reason to believe that they were involved in plans to fire United States attorneys for political reasons, fill other important positions on the basis of partisanship rather than competence and order prosecutions designed to help Republicans win elections.

The department has never properly pursued the bad actors. It has shown no real concern for the victims. Mr. Mukasey’s cynical remarks shrugging off the whole scandal should prod Congress to pursue it even more vigorously.

The Justice Department’s inspector general and its ethics office have issued a pair of reports confirming that top aides to Mr. Gonzales improperly used political litmus tests to fill nonpolitical positions. The politics was remarkably crude. One example: a career terrorism prosecutor was turned down for a counterterrorism position because his wife was an active Democrat.

Mr. Mukasey told the American Bar Association that he did not see any crimes to prosecute. “Not every wrong, or even every violation of the law, is a crime,” he said. In any case, the wrongdoers have been punished, he claimed, by “substantial negative publicity.”

Read The Full Story

Analysis: Georgian Conflict Leaves West Reeling And Russia Walking Tall
2008-08-13 03:08:38

The Kremlin's decision Tuesday to call a halt to its five-day assault on Georgia leaves Russia calling the shots in the energy-rich Black Sea littoral and Caspian basin. The quick and easy victory exposes the west's lack of leverage over a resurgent Russia despite years of heavy American political investment in Georgia.

In the tussle for supremacy in a vital strategic region, the balance has tilted. Russia has successfully deployed its firepower in another country with impunity for the first time since communism's collapse.

"This is not the Russia of '93 or '94, a terribly weakened Russia," said a European official. "The Russians are now negotiating from a position of strength."

The impact of Mikheil Saakashvili's rash gamble storming South Ossetia last week and of Vladimir Putin's comprehensive rout of the Georgians will ripple in many directions.

In less than a week, Putin has redrawn the geopolitical map of the contested region between Russia, Turkey, and Iran.

Read The Full Story

Honeybee Deaths Reach Crisis Point In Britain
2008-08-13 03:08:03
Britain's honeybees have suffered catastrophic losses this year, according to a survey of the nation's beekeepers, contributing to a shortage of honey and putting at risk the pollination of fruits and vegetables.

The survey by the British Beekeepers' Association (BBKA) revealed that nearly one in three of the U.K.'s 240,000 honeybee hives did not survive this winter and spring.

The losses are higher than the one in five colonies reported dead earlier this year by the government after 10% of hives had been inspected.

The BBKA president, Tim Lovett, said he was very concerned about the findings: "Average winter bee losses due to poor weather and disease vary from between 5% and 10%, so a 30% loss is deeply worrying. This spells serious trouble for pollination services and honey producers."

The National Bee Unit has attributed high bee mortality to the wet summer in 2007 and in the early part of this spring that confined bees to their hives. This meant they were unable to forage for nectar and pollen and this stress provided the opportunity for pathogens to build up and spread.

Read The Full Story
Original materials on this site © Free Internet Press.

Any mirrored or quoted materials © their respective authors, publications, or outlets, as shown on their publication, indicated by the link in the news story.

Original Free Internet Press materials may be copied and/or republished without modification, provided a link to is given in the story, or proper credit is given.

Newsletter options may be changed in your preferences on

Please email there are any questions.

XML/RSS/RDF Newsfeed Syndication:


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home