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Monday, October 27, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Monday October 27 2008 - (813)

Monday October 27 2008 edition
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America Joins Britain On Cusp Of Recession
2008-10-26 17:43:48

Federal reserve chairman Ben Bernanke is poised to slash American interest rates to just 1 per cent this week, the lowest level since the depths of the dotcom crash, as government figures reveal the U.S. has joined Britain on the cusp of recession.

World investors were focused on Britain last week after Bank of England governor Mervyn King and Prime Minister Gordon Brown confirmed recession was looming, and it emerged that the economy had shrunk by a worse-than-expected 0.5 per cent in the third quarter of the year. But all eyes will now turn to the U.S., as the Fed meets to set borrowing costs and government figures reveal the full scale of the deterioration in the economy over the past three months.

The White House bought a short-lived economic boost in the second quarter of 2008 by sending out $150 billion in tax rebate checks to voters and businesses. But the money was quickly spent, and analysts believe the economy then declined rapidly even before the global financial system was pushed to the brink by the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy last month.

Robert DiClemente, of Citigroup, predicted that the Fed would take "bold action" in the face of "rapidly accumulating signs that recession was intensifying before the latest shockwave".

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U.S. Considers Using Special Ops Troops In Afghanistan
2008-10-26 15:17:36
In a sign that the U.S. military is scaling back its goals in Afghanistan, senior Pentagon officials are weighing controversial proposals to send additional teams of highly trained special operations forces to narrowly target the most violent insurgent bands in the country.

The proposals are part of an acknowledgment among senior brass that a large-scale influx of conventional forces is unlikely in the near future because of troop commitments in Iraq. It also reflects the urgency to take some action to reverse recent setbacks in Afghanistan.

The idea of sending more special forces has intensified the debate over the best way to fight the war in Afghanistan. As security worsens in the country, many military leaders are increasingly arguing that an Iraq-style troop "surge" and counterinsurgency plan would not work because of the country's rugged geography and a history of resistance to rule from Kabul.

Unlike Iraq, where large portions of the population are urbanized in the wide, flat plains of the Tigris and Euphrates river valleys, much of Afghanistan is mountainous and dotted with remote villages that are hard to reach with large bodies of conventional forces, said several Pentagon officials involved in the Afghanistan strategy review.

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Full Listings of Newspaper Endorsements - Obama Leads 160 - 59
2008-10-26 15:17:10
Intellpuke: The following report was written by Greg Mitchell and Dexter Hill, reporting from New York City, N.Y. for Editor & Publisher, a magazine that focuses on the news business, and appeared in that publication's online edition for Sunday, October 26, 2008.

The Obama-Biden ticket maintains its strong lead in the race for daily newspaper endorsements, by 160 to 59, an almost 3-1 margin and an even wider spread in the circulation of those papers (see full tally below).

Obama's lopsided margin, including most of the major papers that have decided so far, is in stark contrast to John Kerry barely edging George W. Bush in endorsements in 2004 by 213 to 205.

Note: We are updating this story and list often so return for additions. We will not be providing a full update below until Monday, but we are updating the total tally for the two candidates, above. Not included in the complete, for example, are Friday's major endorsements for Obama from the Hartford Courant and St. Petersburg Times, and his Saturday or Sunday nods from the Providence Journal, Anchorage Daily News, Des Moines Register, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Baltimore Sun, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Albany Times-Union and others. McCain picked up the Cincinnati Enquirer and Arizona Republic on Saturday.

Here is our weekend roundup:

Weekend Tally

At least 35 papers have now switched to Obama from Bush in 2004, with just four flipping to McCain. The latest majors to flipflop to Obama: the papers in Providence, Rhode Island, and Fort Worth, Texas.

Please send any endorsements you see or make (that are not listed below) to:

Here is the latest chart of dailies which we have updated on Friday. As always, we include in brackets who the paper went with in 2004 with B=Bush and K=Kerry.

We are just now adding some weeklies (such as the New York Observer) and college papers at the bottom plus a list of papers choosing NOT to endorse - but we are behind on this so watch for updates.

(B) = Bush; (K) = Kerry; (N) = No Endorsement

134 daily newspapers total (not updated this weekend). More than 15 million daily circulation total

Tuscaloosa News (K): 32,768

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Despite Palin On Ticket, Anchorage Newspaper Endorses Obama
2008-10-26 14:54:32
Intellpuke: This editorial appeared in the Anchorage Daily News edition for Sunday, October 26, 2008. The Anchorage Daily News is Alaska's largest newspaper.

Palin's rise captivates us, but nation needs a steady hand.

Alaska enters its 50th-anniversary year in the glow of an improbable and highly memorable event: the nomination of Gov. Sarah Palin as the Republican vice presidential candidate. For the first time ever, an Alaskan is making a serious bid for national office, and in doing so she brings broad attention and recognition not only to herself, but also to the state she leads.

Alaska's founders were optimistic people, but even the most farsighted might have been stretched to imagine this scenario. No matter the outcome in November, this election will mark a signal moment in the history of the 49th state. Many Alaskans are proud to see their governor, and their state, so prominent on the national stage.

Gov. Palin's nomination clearly alters the landscape for Alaskans as we survey this race for the presidency - but it does not overwhelm all other judgment. The election, after all is said and done, is not about Sarah Palin, and our sober view is that her running mate, Sen. John McCain, is the wrong choice for president at this critical time for our nation.

Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee, brings far more promise to the office. In a time of grave economic crisis, he displays thoughtful analysis, enlists wise counsel and operates with a cool, steady hand. The same cannot be said of Sen. McCain.

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Financial Meltdown Worsens Food Crisis
2008-10-26 03:04:28
As shock waves from the credit crisis began to spread around the world last month, China scrambled to protect itself. Among the most extreme measures it took was to impose new export taxes to keep critical supplies such as grains and fertilizer from leaving the country.

About 5,700 miles away, in Nairobi, farmer Stephen Muchiri is suffering the consequences.

It's planting season now, but he can afford to sow amaranthus and haricot beans on only half of the 10 acres he owns because the cost of the fertilizer he needs has shot up nearly $50 a bag in a matter of weeks. Muchiri said nearly everyone he knows is cutting back on planting, which means even less food for a continent where the supply has already been weakened by drought, political unrest and rising prices.

While the world's attention has been focused on rescuing investment banks and stock markets from collapse, the global food crisis has worsened, a casualty of the growing financial tumult.

Oxfam, the Britain-based aid group, estimates that economic chaos this year has pulled the incomes of an additional 119 million people below the poverty line. Richer countries from the United States to the Persian Gulf are busy helping themselves and have been slow to lend a hand.

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Plan To Monitor Global Warming From Space In Jeopardy
2008-10-26 03:03:58

A major program to monitor climate change from space could be in jeopardy after it emerged that the British government is poised to slash funding for the project.

Climate scientists and campaigners have expressed deep concerns over the likely cut to the £128 million (about $220 million) promised to the Kopernikus program, which came to light just days after the government stepped up its commitment to reducing carbon emissions.

"The worry from the scientists is that it is essential to understand and monitor this change globally and it's not clear at this stage whether we're going to have the essential measurements to do that," said Paul Monks, an atmospheric chemist at the University of Leicester.

Kopernikus is the world's most ambitious environmental monitoring project. Led by the European Space Agency (ESA) and funded by European member states to the tune of more than €1 billion, it features satellites and a network of ground stations to monitor the effects of climate change, such as deforestation and coastal erosion. It has the specific purpose of providing accurate data for policymakers around the world.
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British Businesses Batten Down For Deep Recession
2008-10-26 03:02:54

Almost four in five British businesses are cutting back on everything from hiring new staff to paying for the office Christmas party, as they batten down the hatches for a deep recession.

Even before Friday's official figures revealed that the economy had swung into reverse for the first time since 1992, bosses had begun a series of austerity measures, according to a survey of more than 1,000 firms by the Institute of Directors.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Bank of England governor Mervyn King both conceded last week that a recession is in store.

"After 15 years of economic growth the party is over," said Graeme Leach, the IoD's chief economist. "The pressure on the corporate sector to do something to cut costs is now really starting to come through - but I think people need to be prepared for a lot more bad news over the next 12 to 18 months."

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Israeli Party Leader Seeks Early Election
2008-10-26 03:02:00
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni ran out of options in her efforts to form a government and decided her only choice would be to press for early elections, now likely to be scheduled for February, party officials said Saturday night.

An associate of Livni’s, Otniel Schneller, a legislator from her party, Kadima, said by telephone that after the ultra-Orthodox party Shas turned her down on Friday, the hope was that another religious party, Yahadut Hatorah, would join in addition to the leftist Meretz party. While Meretz said yes, Yahadut Hatorah said no on Saturday, leaving her with too few votes in Parliament to govern comfortably.

The move to elections effectively ends any slim hope that existed for a peace deal with the Palestinians before President Bush leaves office in January. Israel’s elections were due to take place in 2010.

After consulting her closest aides at her home in Tel Aviv on Saturday night, Livni called the Labor Party leader, Defense Minister Ehud Barak,to inform him of the decision because he had agreed to join with her in a coalition. An associate of Barak’s said that he simply wished her luck.

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Syrian Blames U.S. In Deadly Attack Near Iraq Border
2008-10-26 17:43:37

American military helicopters have tonight attacked an area along Syria's border with Iraq, causing casualties, according to reports on Syrian state TV and from witnesses.

The Syrian foreign ministry has tonight summoned the US charge d'affaires in Damascus to protest at the raid, which took place near the Syrian border town of Abu Kamal.

Local residents told the Associated Press by telephone that two helicopters carrying U.S. soldiers raided a farm in Hwijeh village, 10 miles (17 kilometers) inside Syria's border.

An official Syrian spokesman confirmed eight people were killed in the attack.

Witnesses said five others were wounded; one of the witnesses said five of the dead were from a single family.

The residents refused to allow their names to be given because they feared they would be harassed by authorities.

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Judge Considers Delay Issue In Sen. Stevens' Trial
2008-10-26 15:17:23
U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) had hoped a speedy trial would vindicate him on corruption charges in time for the Nov. 4 election.

But U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan shut down deliberations after a juror's father died and she rushed to California on Friday morning, before jurors were to begin their third day of work. Sullivan scheduled a hearing late Sunday to decide how much longer the delay should last.

He planned to speak to the juror by telephone to see if she could return in time for deliberations Monday or Tuesday.

If the juror cannot return, an alternate has been prepped by Sullivan and lawyers in the case. If an alternate is picked, jurors would be ordered to start deliberating anew.

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Global Financial Crisis Puts Asarco Settlements In Doubt
2008-10-26 14:54:43
The global economic slowdown has threatened to unravel Asarco's plan to emerge from bankruptcy, and the century-old mining company's Mexican owners may yet reassert control.

Nine states, including Washington, along with the U.S. Department of Justice have sought to block Grupo Mexico S.A. de C.V. from reclaiming Asarco. In a filing before a federal bankruptcy judge in Texas, they said it would lead to "multiplicitous litigation" that could threaten already negotiated settlements of billions of dollars worth of environmental claims.

At stake for Washington is $122.6 million to clean up lead, arsenic and other heavy metals released from Asarco's former Ruston smelter. Officials have said the toxic plume settled over 1,000 square miles of Pierce, King and Thurston counties.

Three years after it sought protection in the biggest environmental-related bankruptcy ever, Asarco's reorganization plan to sell its major remaining mining and smelting assets to an Indian company for $2.6 billion is in danger of collapsing. The money raised from the sale to Sterlite Industries Ltd. would have allowed Asarco to pay off its major secured creditors and settle roughly $9 billion worth of environmental and asbestos claims.

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In U.S., Spending Stalls And Businesses Slash Jobs
2008-10-26 03:04:49

As the financial crisis crimps demand for American goods and services, the workers who produce them are losing their jobs by the tens of thousands.

Layoffs have arrived in force, like a wrenching second act in the unfolding crisis. In just the last two weeks, the list of companies announcing their intention to cut workers has read like a Who’s Who of corporate America: Merck, Yahoo, General Electric, Xerox, Pratt & Whitney, Goldman Sachs, Whirlpool, Bank of America, Alcoa, Coca-Cola,  the Detroit automakers and nearly all the airlines.

When October’s job losses are announced on Nov. 7, three days after the presidential election, many economists expect the number to exceed 200,000. The current unemployment rate of 6.1 percent is likely to rise, perhaps significantly.

“My view is that it will be near 8 or 8.5 percent by the end of next year,” said Nigel Gault, chief domestic economist at Global Insight, offering a forecast others share. That would be the highest unemployment rate since the deep recession of the early 1980s.

Companies are laying off workers to cut production as consumers, struggling with their own finances, scale back spending. Employers had tried for months to cut expenses through hiring freezes and by cutting back hours. That has turned out not to be enough, and with earnings down sharply in the third quarter, corporate America has turned to layoffs.

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Commentary: For Whom The Bailout Tolls
2008-10-26 03:04:13
Intellpuke: This commentary was written by Michael Winship, senior writer of Bill Moyers' Journal, which airs on PBS. It appeared on's online edition for Saturday, October 25, 2008.

During the Stock Market Crash in 1929, that curtain-raising overture to the Great Depression, stories abounded of Wall Street brokers rushing to their office windows and leaping to their deaths. But according to the late John Kenneth Galbraith and other economic historians, those accounts of suicide were, by and large, fairy tales. Perhaps they were more dark-hearted, wishful thinking than reality - revenge fantasies on the part of those whose real life savings had been wiped out by ravenous speculators.

Nonetheless, the myth of those fatal plunges, like so many urban legends, is hard to shake. With more than a drop of cold blood, some have asked why, during this current fiscal crisis, we haven't seen similar tragedies in the ranks of high finance.

A close look at the recent government bailouts may explain why. The fat cats at the top had nothing to worry their pretty little whiskers about. Not only have most of their businesses been saved, for now at least, but they've already been pretty successful at protecting their high-rolling lifestyles, and finding bailout loopholes that allow them to keep hauling in the big bucks. To that ancient business axiom, "Buy low, sell high," add this amendment: When you get into trouble, beg for a bailout. Then, new money in hand, continue to act with the rapacious greed of Caligula or the Sun King.

You may already have heard how AIG, the insurance giant, after being saved to the tune of $85 billion, threw a $440,000 shindig at a California spa and then blew another $86,000 on a hunting trip to the English countryside, picking off partridges just as they were asking the Feds for an additional $38 billion. Bit of a sticky wicket, that.

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Poll Shows Obama Leading McCain
2008-10-26 03:03:32

Handling terrorism and the war in Iraq continue to be relative strengths for John McCain, but few voters cite either issue as their top concern, limiting the Republican nominee's options for reframing the debate to his advantage as Election Day approaches.

In the Washington Post-ABC News daily tracking poll on Saturday, Obama has an overall lead of 53 percent to 44 percent among likely voters, but McCain draws even with the Illinois senator on the question of who voters trust to deal with terrorism and Iraq policy.

A majority of independent voters side with McCain in these areas.

Both overall and among those crucial swing voters in the middle, McCain's positioning on Iraq and terrorism is significantly better than it is on the economy, where Obama continues to hold a double-digit advantage.

Fifty-one percent of all voters call the economy the No. 1 issue in deciding their presidential choice., and Obama is winning these voters handily, by a 62 to 35 percent margin.

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In Beijing, World Leaders Pledge Broad Reform Of Financial System
2008-10-26 03:02:34
Leaders from Asia and Europe on Saturday called for new rules for and stronger regulation of the global monetary and financial system at the close of a two-day summit in Beijing as China assumed a leadership role in the crisis.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said the world's economic problems had become so massive that measures beyond the many multibillion-dollar bailout packages announced might be necessary to avert further damage.

"We are very glad to see that many countries have taken measures that have initially proved effective. But this is not enough given the current situation, and more needs to be done," Wen said Saturday, a day after dire corporate earnings reports from all over the world pushed Wall Street to a five-year low.

Wen also said stricter regulation might be key to recovery. "Lessons should be learned from the financial crisis, and the responsibilities should be clarified for governments, companies and supervision, respectively," he said.

The Asia-Europe Meeting, last held in 2006, traditionally does not result in any policymaking. The gathering this year, however, took on a new urgency with the world teetering on the edge of a recession.

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