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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Sunday September 7 2008 - (813)

Sunday September 7 2008 edition
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U.S. Treasury Plans To Rescue Plan Fannie And Freddie
2008-09-06 03:39:07

The government has formulated a plan to put troubled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac under federal control, dismiss their top executives and prop them up financially, federal officials told the two companies Friday, according to three sources familiar with the conversations.

Under the plan, which could prompt one of the most sweeping government interventions in financial markets in U.S. history, federal officials would place the firms under a conservatorship, a legal status giving the government the option and time to restructure and revive the companies, said the sources. The value of the companies' common stock would be diluted but not wiped out, while the holdings of other securities, including company debt and preferred shares might be protected by the government.

Instead of giving each company a big capital infusion upfront, the government could make quarterly injections as the companies' losses warrant, said the sources. This would be an attempt to minimize the initial cost of the rescue.

The timing of government action remained unclear last night, and the final details were still under discussion. But as the pace of discussions accelerated, Treasury officials contacted senior congressional leaders yesterday, telling them they might be briefed on the plan this weekend and asking for telephone numbers where they could be reached.

The action would represent a major escalation of the government's role in private lending. The government would be assuming vast obligations it has historically disavowed, potentially using taxpayer money to make up for private business decisions gone wrong.

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Commander: U.S. Needs More Troops In Afghanistan
2008-09-06 03:38:45
A top commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan said Friday that he needed thousands of additional troops to combat violence along the border with Pakistan, a requirement that appears to be at odds with recommendations from Army Gen. David H. Petraeus on future troop levels in Iraq.

Because of strains on the military, plans to boost the number of troops in Afghanistan depend on reducing the force in Iraq. Petraeus' plan, which President Bush is expected to approve Tuesday in an appearance at the National Defense University, would slow the reduction of combat troops in Iraq, freeing up only one full Army combat brigade for redeployment to Afghanistan. That move would not happen until early next year.

In addition to the combat brigade of about 3,500 to 4,000 troops, U.S. officials also plan to withdraw about 2,000 non-combat support personnel from Iraq and transfer about 1,300 Marines from Iraq's Anbar province to western Afghanistan.

Some in the Pentagon had been pushing for a faster and larger reduction of combat forces from Iraq and a more aggressive troop buildup in Afghanistan. They preferred withdrawing as many as three combat brigades so that additional forces could be sent to Afghanistan before the end of the year.

Pressure from U.S. commanders in Afghanistan for more troops has become the central point in a public debate among senior U.S. military officers and a source of tension among Pentagon planners, who are at odds over how quickly to shift forces from an increasingly stable Iraq to an increasingly violent Afghanistan.
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Machinists Union At Boeing Says It Will Strike
2008-09-06 03:38:18

The union that represents machinists at the Boeing Company said on Friday that it would go on strike early Saturday, potentially delaying the production of an important new aircraft, the Dreamliner.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers told 27,000 Boeing employees in an e-mail message on Friday afternoon that “the strike is on”. It said the strike would begin at 3:01 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, though a last-minute agreement could conceivably be reached.

The decision came after the two sides failed to reach agreement on a new three-year contract during negotiations in Orlando, Florida, that were supervised by a federal mediator.

The talks moved to Orlando, where the union was holding a national conference, from Seattle, Washington, the home of Boeing Commercial Airplanes and many of the company’s production sites. The union agreed to extend its contract for 48 hours late Wednesday, even though workers had voted overwhelmingly against Boeing’s offer and in favor of a strike.

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Palin Appears To Disagree With McCain On Sex Education
2008-09-06 03:38:56
Teen pregnancy and sex education were thrust into the spotlight this week when Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin revealed that her 17-year-old daughter is five months pregnant.

Palin's running mate, John McCain, and the Republican Party platform say children should be taught that abstinence until marriage is the only safe way to avoid pregnancy and disease. Palin's position is less clear.

In a widely quoted 2006 survey she answered during her gubernatorial campaign, Palin said she supported abstinence-until-marriage programs but, weeks later, she proclaimed herself "pro-contraception" and said condoms ought to be discussed in schools alongside abstinence.

"I'm pro-contraception, and I think kids who may not hear about it at home should hear about it in other avenues," she said during a debate in Juneau.

Such statements could raise concerns among social conservatives who have been some of Palin's most enthusiastic supporters since she was tapped for the No. 2 spot on the Republican ticket last week.

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Alaska Legislators To Seek Subpoenas In Palin Inquiry
2008-09-06 03:38:31
Senior lawmakers in the Alaska State Legislature said Friday that they would seek subpoenas to compel seven witnesses to answer questions in an ethics inquiry into whether Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican nominee for vice president, improperly put pressure on state officials to dismiss her former brother-in-law, a state trooper.

The lawmakers overseeing the inquiry said the investigator would deliver a final report by Oct. 10 to allow both sides ample time to respond before the presidential election. Palin, after pledging for weeks that she would cooperate with the investigation, has in recent days begun to challenge the Legislature’s jurisdiction in the inquiry.

The list of people the investigator is seeking to question - including a top Palin aide, the state personnel director and the cabinet-level commissioner of administration - indicates that the inquiry is focusing on accusations that the governor’s office unlawfully breached the personnel file of the trooper, Mike Wooten. He has had a particularly contentious divorce and custody battle with Palin’s sister.

Separately, the state troopers’ union lodged an ethics complaint this week against Palin and members of her administration, alleging that they had unlawfully gained access to Wooten’s personnel file.

The pursuit of the subpoenas, which are scheduled for a vote before a joint hearing of the Alaska House and Senate Judiciary Committees next Friday, increased tensions in the ethics controversy embroiling Palin as she seeks to become vice president.

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Interest Waived On Rangel's Loan For Villa
2008-09-06 03:36:47

U.S. Representative Charles B. Rangel paid no interest for more than a decade on a mortgage extended to him to buy a villa at a beachfront resort in the Dominican Republic,according to Rangel’s lawyer and records from the resort.

The loan was given to him by the resort development company, in which Theodore Kheel, a prominent New York labor lawyer, was a principal investor. Kheel, who has given tens of thousands of dollars to Rangel’s campaigns over the past decade, had encouraged the congressman to be one of the initial investors in the project.

The loan, which was extended to Rangel in 1988, was originally to be paid back over seven years at a rate of 10.5 percent but, within two years, interest on the loan was waived for Rangel and six other early investors because the resort was generating less income than projected, according to a statement released on Friday by Jose Oliva, director of the resort.

The loan remained interest-free and Rangel eventually paid it off in 2003.

As details about the financing of the villa emerged on Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, through her spokesman, expressed support for an ethics investigation into Rangel’s failure to report rental income from the vacation home on his federal and state income taxes and financial disclosure forms. On Friday, the New York Times reported that Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, had earned more than $75,000 in rent on the vacation home since 1988, and according to his lawyers probably owed back taxes to New York State and New York City.

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