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Saturday, October 04, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Saturday October 4 2008 - (813)

Saturday October 4 2008 edition
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U.S. House Approves Bailout Package, Bush Signs It Into Law
2008-10-03 16:50:48

In a dramatic reversal, the House Friday approved by a comfortable margin a $700 billion financial rescue package that will bring the greatest intervention of the federal government into the private marketplace since the Great Depression, attempting to prevent the economy from sliding into a deep recession.

Just four days after the bill's initial demise sparked a free fall on Wall Street, the House approved the legislation 263-171. At 1:23 p.m., the measure cleared a majority of votes, and the chamber broke out in applause.

After initially rejecting the bill by a 2-to-1 margin, House Republicans mustered 91 votes in favor of it on the second try, with 172 Democrats supporting its passage. One hundred eight Republicans and 63 Democrats voted against the bill. The Senate approved the package Wednesday.

"It is a difficult vote. It is a vote we must win for the American people," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), closing out 2 1/2 hours of debate.

President Bush signed the bill into law this afternoon shortly before heading to St. Louis for a political fundraising event, to be followed by a weekend stay at his Texas ranch, the White House said. The signing ended the bill's 15-day odyssey through the legislative process, a journey that roiled the financial markets and focused the presidential campaign debate on the economy.

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U.S. House Begins Debate On Bailout
2008-10-03 11:19:52
The U.S. House of Representatives began debate Friday morning on the $700 billion economic bailout package,  the second attempt by lawmakers to get the bill passed.

Friday’s debate represented a do-over for the House, which rejected the deal on Monday, triggering a 777 point decline in the Dow Jones industrial average. The Senate on Wednesday then passed a sweetened version of the bill, which the House was debating Friday.

The House convened shortly after 9 a.m. and a few members gave one-minute speeches before the motion to adopt the bailout package was read and formal debate began.

“If we don’t act today, credit markets will freeze,” Representative Frank J. Pallone, Democrat of New Jersey, said. “This is something, we simply can’t allow to happen.”

“This is only the first step,” said Rahm Emanuel, Democrat of Illinois. “The middle class is hurting and squeezing. The second economic program must put their needs at the heart of what we do.”

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SEC's 2004 Rule Let Banks Pile Up New Debt And Risk
2008-10-03 11:19:27
“We have a good deal of comfort about the capital cushions at these firms at the moment.” - Christopher Cox,  chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, March 11, 2008.

As rumors swirled that Bear Stearns faced imminent collapse in early March, Christopher Cox was told by his staff that Bear Stearns had $17 billion in cash and other assets - more than enough to weather the storm.

Drained of most of its cash three days later, Bear Stearns was forced into a hastily arranged marriage with JPMorgan Chase - backed by a $29 billion taxpayer dowry.

Within six months, other lions of Wall Street would also either disappear or transform themselves to survive the financial maelstrom - Merrill Lynch sold itself to Bank of America, Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy protection, and Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley converted to commercial banks.

How could Cox have been so wrong?

Many events in Washington, on Wall Street and elsewhere around the country have led to what has been called the most serious financial crisis since the 1930s, but decisions made at a brief meeting on April 28, 2004, explain why the problems could spin out of control. The agency’s failure to follow through on those decisions also explains why Washington regulators did not see what was coming.

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Judge Refuses To Dismiss Charges Against Sen. Ted Stevens
2008-10-03 11:18:44

A federal judge refused Thursday to dismiss charges against Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens (R), ruling that Stevens'  corruption trial can proceed despite the prosecution's belated disclosure of information that could aid his defense.

After a surprise revelation Wednesday night that Justice Department lawyers had not disclosed the potentially exculpatory information, the ruling followed a hearing on the matter late Thursday.

"Although the court is persuaded there is a ... violation, the court is not persuaded that dismissal of the indictment or mistrial is the appropriate remedy," said U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan. He added that the government's actions had broken his trust in the prosecutors and ordered them to give Stevens' attorneys copies of all witness interviews.

"The court has no confidence in the government's ability" to meet its obligations to ensure a fair trial, he said.

Stevens, 84, is charged with failing to disclose on Senate financial documents that an energy company executive who contributed to his campaigns also extensively renovated Stevens's Alaska home without charging him for all of the work.

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Wells Fargo in a Deal to Buy All of Wachovia
2008-10-03 09:30:40
In a surprise twist, the West Coast bank Wells Fargo & Company, said Friday that it had reached an agreement to acquire a rival, the Wachovia Corporation, for about $15.1 billion in stock.

The announcement came just four days after Citigroup had agreed to buy Wachovia’s banking operations of Wachovia for $2.2 billion of about $1 a share. But Wachovia, which is based in Charlotte, N.C., has now rejected that deal in favor of one where the entire company would be acquired. How Citigroup will respond to the news remained a question Friday morning.

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Global Warming: The Methane Time Bomb
2008-10-03 13:10:30
Arctic scientists discover a new global warming threat as melting permafrost releases millions of tons of methane gas - 20 times more damaging than carbon dioxide.

The first evidence that millions of tons of a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide is being released into the atmosphere from beneath the Arctic seabed has been discovered by scientists.

The Independent has been passed details of preliminary findings suggesting that massive deposits of sub-sea methane are bubbling to the surface as the Arctic region becomes warmer and its ice retreats.

Underground stores of methane are important because scientists believe their sudden release has in the past been responsible for rapid increases in global temperatures, dramatic changes to the climate, and even the mass extinction of species. Scientists aboard a research ship that has sailed the entire length of Russia's northern coast have discovered intense concentrations of methane - sometimes at up to 100 times background levels - over several areas covering thousands of square miles of the Siberian continental shelf.

In the past few days, the researchers have seen areas of sea foaming with gas bubbling up through "methane chimneys" rising from the sea floor. They believe that the sub-sea layer of permafrost, which has acted like a "lid" to prevent the gas from escaping, has melted away to allow methane to rise from underground deposits formed before the last ice age.

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Bummer: U.S. Employers Shed 159,000 Jobs In September
2008-10-03 11:19:41
U.S. employers slashed payrolls by 159,000 in September, the most in more than five years, a worrisome sign that the economy is hurtling toward a deep recession.

The Labor Department's fresh snapshot, released Friday, also showed that the nation's unemployment rate held steady at 6.1 percent as hundreds of thousands of people streamed out of the work force for any number of reasons.

The reduction in payrolls was much sharper than the 100,000 cuts economists were forecasting. They expected the jobless rate to be unchanged.

It marked the ninth straight month that the economy has lost jobs. The drop underscores fallout from a long slump in the housing market and a dangerous credit crunch that intensified last month throwing Wall Street - and the economy - into chaos.

So far this year, 760,000 jobs have disappeared.

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Analysis: Palin Delivers, But Doubts Linger
2008-10-03 11:19:04
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin spent much of the past two weeks on the defensive, hounded by critics over halting performances in television interviews and questioned even by conservative writers doubtful about whether she is ready to be vice president.

The Palin who showed up for Thursday's debate against Democratic Sen. Joseph R. Biden, Jr., was anything but defensive. In a fast-paced exchange about a range of domestic and foreign policy issues, she was the aggressive campaigner who in the first weeks of her candidacy had so energized the Republican faithful.

As a result, what was touted as a moment of truth for Palin instead turned into a lively and civil argument between the two vice presidential nominees over the policies and records of Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama. For 90 minutes, they sparred over Iraq and Afghanistan, energy and global warming, the economy and taxes, and which candidate would do more to protect the middle class.

One debate will not erase doubts that have been building about Palin's capacity to serve as vice president, but the effect of the encounter may shift the focus away from the sideshow that Palin has become and put it back on the two presidential nominees and what they would do for the country. Thursday's debate adds to the importance of the two remaining presidential debates, the first of which will be held Tuesday.

Palin produced at a moment McCain needed it most. In the past two weeks, his standing has deteriorated as the focus of national attention has shifted almost entirely to the economy. National and state polls show Obama gaining ground, and the preface to the debate Thursday was the news that McCain is pulling out of Michigan, once seen as a potential pickup.

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Remains Found At Fossett Plane Crash Site
2008-10-03 09:31:18
A day after discovering the wreckage of the plane flown by the millionaire adventurer Steve Fossett when he disappeared 13 months ago, investigators said Thursday that they had found remains at the crash site, a rugged and lonely mountainside in the Sierra Nevada of east-central California.

Mark V. Rosenker, the acting chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, confirmed the finding, saying that while the remains were “very little,” he believed that Mr. Fossett’s identity could be confirmed genetically.

“I believe the coroner will be able to do some work,” Mr. Rosenker said.

Sheriff John Anderson of Madera County said late Thursday that the remains were a small bone fragment that would be sent to the state’s Justice Department for forensic analysis.

Mr. Fossett’s aircraft was discovered Wednesday in a remote area of Inyo National Forest, about 120 miles south of the Nevada ranch where he departed on Sept. 3, 2007. Mr. Fossett, a renowned aviator, had said he was going on a brief flight but never returned, and the transponder on his aircraft did not send any location signals. At his wife’s request, Mr. Fossett, 63, was declared legally dead in February by a judge in Chicago.

Mr. Rosenker said parts of the transponder had been found, along with other pieces of Mr. Fossett’s plane, in a debris field some 150 feet wide and 400 feet long. Initial indications are that the plane hit a mountain, at an altitude of about 10,100 feet, and then burst into flame, investigators said. There was no sign the plane had been on fire before the crash, Mr. Rosenker said, but the plane’s engine was found 300 feet from the fuselage, which indicated an intense impact.

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Solar News: Big Day for Solar
2008-10-03 09:07:54

This was submitted to us via Email by Sunbelt Electric and Sunbelt Solar Energy

The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 was voted on by the Senate and passed by a vote of 74 to 25. The House is expected to vote on this bill Friday. 10/3. It will extend the federal solar tax credit for 8 years. This bill would remove the current $2000 cap on residential PV systems allowing the homeowner to save the full 30 percent of the cost of a solar PV system. On a 5 KW Solar PV system this would mean an additional $11,000 in federal tax credits that would be available, for a total of $13,000 on a typical 5KW PV system. With this new legislation and the State of Florida rebate of $20,000 on 5 KW residential solar PV systems, it would bring the final cost within reach to many homeowners.

We urge you to call your representatives using the link below and ask them to vote "Yes" on the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.

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