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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Thursday October 9 2008 - (813)

Thursday October 9 2008 edition
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States' Actions To Block Voters Appear Illegal
2008-10-09 03:39:36

Tens of thousands of eligible voters in at least six swing states have been removed from the rolls or have been blocked from registering in ways that appear to violate federal law, according to a review of state records and Social Security data by the New York Times.

The actions do not seem to be coordinated by one party or the other, nor do they appear to be the result of election officials intentionally breaking rules, but are apparently the result of mistakes in the handling of the registrations and voter files as the states tried to comply with a 2002 federal law, intended to overhaul the way elections are run.

Still, because Democrats have been more aggressive at registering new voters this year, according to state election officials, any heightened screening of new applications may affect their party’s supporters disproportionately. The screening or trimming of voter registration lists in the six states - Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Nevada and North Carolina - could also result in problems at the polls on Election Day: people who have been removed from the rolls are likely to show up only to be challenged by political party officials or election workers, resulting in confusion, long lines and heated tempers.

Some states allow such voters to cast provisional ballots, but they are often not counted because they require added verification.

Although much attention this year has been focused on the millions of new voters being added to the rolls by the candidacy of Senator Barack Obama, there has been far less notice given to the number of voters being dropped from those same rolls.

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In Britain: Staring Into The Abyss
2008-10-09 03:39:11

The most concerted effort yet by global authorities to bring an end to the 14-month credit crunch, using every weapon in their arsenal, failed to restore battered confidence Wednesday night. Stock markets tumbled despite a £500 billion  ($1 trillion) bank rescue package from the British government and unprecedented interest rate cuts from the world's key central banks.

The prime minister, Gordon Brown, put his government's credibility on the line as he risked potentially vast sums of public money to save the U.K.'s banking system. "This is not a time for outdated thinking or conventional dogma. Extraordinary times call for bold and far-reaching solutions," he said, promising that the plan would "show that we have led the world in changing the terms and conditions on which we can help to renew the flow of money in the system."

The plan was generally welcomed by the City, but investors were concerned about the lack of detail, which reflected the speed with which it had been drawn up. Investors fear that if the plan does not work, they are staring into the abyss of a possible collapse of the banking system.

Wednesday's dramatic actions included:

-- Britain pledging £50 billion ($100 billion) to buy stakes in its major banks.

-- A further £450 billion ($900 billion) allocated to underpin banks' finances.

-- Unprecedented coordinated rate cuts made by central banks.

-- The International Monetary Fund warning of global recession.

In London, £57 billion ($114 billion) was wiped off the value of shares after the Bank of England cut its key interest rate by half a point to 4.5%, a move matched by seven other central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve and European Central Bank.

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For Dow, Wednesday's Final Swing Was Down
2008-10-08 18:52:56

Wall Street could not hold onto its gains on Wednesday, as a 150-point rally vanished in the closing minutes of trading amid the fear and uncertainty that continue to course through the financial system.

The Dow Jones industrials average ended down 189 points, after falling 316 points in the final 28 minutes of the session.

The broader market finished down 1.1 percent, a modest decline compared to the rest of the week, as measured by the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index.

“It just feels like more of the same,” said Richard Sparks, an analyst at Schaeffer’s Investment Research. “This is an extremely weak market with a tremendous amount of uncertainty.”

Stocks were volatile through much of the day, lurching up and down the chart across a 400-point range.

Investors had appeared conflicted about the extraordinary global rate cut by the world’s central banks that came before trading opened in New York. Stocks ducked in and out of positive territory as investors weighed the good - a half-point reduction in the Federal Reserve's benchmark interest rate - against the bad, namely the growing realization that a serious recession may be difficult to avoid.

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Commentary: 'They're Stealing From You And Me - Where's The Outrage?'
2008-10-08 18:52:32
Intellpuke: This commentary was written by Garrison Keillor and appeared in the International Herald Tribune edition for Monday, October 6, 2008.

It wasn't their money Wall Street was playing with. It was ours.

Where were the cops?

It's just human nature that some calamities register in the brain and others don't. The train engineer texting at the throttle ("HOW R U? C U L8R") and missing the red light and 25 people die in the crash - oh God, that is way too real - everyone has had a moment of supreme stupidity that came close to killing somebody. Even atheists say a little prayer now and then: Dear God, I am an idiot, thank you for protecting my children.

On the other hand, the America's federal bailout of the financial market (yawn) is a calamity that people accept as if it were just one more hurricane. An air of crisis, the secretary of the Treasury striding down a hall at the Capitol with minions in his wake, solemn-faced congressmen at the microphones. Something must be done, harrumph harrumph.

The Current Occupant pops out of the cuckoo clock and reads a few lines off a piece of paper, pronouncing all the words correctly. And the newscaster looks into the camera and says, "Etaoin shrdlu qwertyuiop."

Where is the outrage?

Poor Senator Larry Craig got a truckload of moral condemnation for tapping his wingtips in the men's john, but his party proposes to spend 5 percent of the GDP to buy up bad loans made by men who walk away with their fortunes intact while retirees see their 401(k) go pffffffff like a defunct air mattress, and it's business as usual.

John McCain is a lifelong deregulator and believer in letting brokers and bankers do as they please - remember Lincoln Savings and Loan and his intervention with federal regulators in behalf of his friend Charles Keating, who then went to prison? Remember Neil Bush, the brother of the C.O., who, as a director of Silverado S&L, bestowed enormous loans on his friends without telling fellow directors that the friends were friends and who, when the loans failed, paid a small fine and went skipping off to other things?

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Editorial: The Politics Of Attack
2008-10-08 18:51:21
Intellpuke: This editorial appeared in the New York Times edition for Wednesday, October 8, 2008.

It is a sorry fact of American political life that campaigns get ugly, often in their final weeks. But Senator John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin have been running one of the most appalling campaigns we can remember.

They have gone far beyond the usual fare of quotes taken out of context and distortions of an opponent’s record -  into the dark territory of race-baiting and xenophobia. Senator Barack Obama has taken some cheap shots at Mr. McCain, but there is no comparison.

Despite the occasional slip (referring to Mr. Obama’s “cronies” and calling him “that one”), Mr. McCain tried to take a higher road in Tuesday night’s presidential debate. It was hard to keep track of the number of times he referred to his audience as “my friends.” But apart from promising to buy up troubled mortgages as president, he offered no real answers for how he plans to solve the country’s deep economic crisis. He is unable or unwilling to admit that the Republican assault on regulation was to blame.

Ninety minutes of forced cordiality did not erase the dismal ugliness of his campaign in recent weeks, nor did it leave us with much hope that he would not just return to the same dismal ugliness on Wednesday.

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Oil Prices Skid To 2008 Low On Falling Demand
2008-10-08 18:50:46
Oil prices closed down Wednesday after touching their lowest level this year, pressured by a huge jump in U.S. crude inventories and more signs of dwindling demand.

Light, sweet crude for November delivery fell $1.11 to settle at $88.95 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil at one point fell to $86.05 - the lowest price since Dec. 6, 2007.

In London, November Brent crude sank to a one-year low of $81 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange, before ending the day down 30 cents at $84.36 a barrel.

Crude has now fallen about 40 percent since surging to an all-time record $147.27 a barrel on July 11.

In a rare dose of good news for consumers, falling oil prices are starting to weigh on pump prices. A gallon of regular fell about 3 cents overnight to a new national average of $3.447 a gallon Wednesday, according to auto club AAA, the Oil Price Information Service and Wright Express.

That's 16 percent lower than the record average of $4.114 set July 17, but well above the year-ago average of $2.765 a gallon. Still, should oil keep sliding, analysts say pump prices could fall back below $3 a gallon sometime next month.

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Panic Grips Persian Gulf Investors
2008-10-08 18:50:06
Middle East investors took a dim view of paltry European efforts to shore up unsettled markets, sending U.S. and European equity stocks lower Tuesday.

The U.S. dollar and the yen fell but gold prices climbed, with an all-time high set in euro terms, Reuters data showed, as lingering fears over the outlook for the financial sector spurred buying. Oil prices rose Tuesday.

Stock markets also plunged across the Gulf Tuesday as panic over the global financial crisis gripped investors, wiping billions of dollars off the value of shares.

The market in Saudi Arabia sank by over 7 percent while the biggest percentage loss was reported in Egypt, where the key index plummeted by more than 16 percent to its lowest level in two years.

Four Gulf states tried to lend verbal support to faltering stock markets Tuesday, saying their financial institutions were sound despite the global credit crisis.

Officials from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman moved to reassure investors that the decline in regional markets was merely temporary and said their economies were strong.

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Fed Reserve Orders Emergency Interest Rate Cut To 1.5 Percent
2008-10-08 15:07:34
The Federal Reserve and five other central banks slashed their key interest rates this morning, hoping to jolt petrified global credit markets back to life.

The emergency move came hours after Britain announced a massive bailout of its financial system, saying it would shore up and partially nationalize shaky banks by buying preferred stock, guaranteeing bonds and infusing the monetary system with new cash.

The central banks "have to try everything they can at this point in the crisis," said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at Global Insight, an economic forecasting firm in Lexington, Massachusetts. "Rate cuts are not a cure-all, but you have to do it. And it's important that this is done globally because this is a global crisis."

The Fed lowered its benchmark federal funds rate by half a percentage point, to 1.5% - the lowest level since 2004. Until earlier this year, the central bank had been raising rates, seeking to snuff out signs of inflation.

The stock markets dropped sharply in the opening minutes of trading before recovering and making slight gains, then dipping again. At about 8 a.m. PDT, The Dow industrials, which had already lost nearly 900 points so far this week, was down more than 70 points from Tuesday's close.

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Experts Conclude Pfizer Manipulated Studies
2008-10-08 15:07:13

The giant pharmaceutical company Pfizer earlier this decade manipulated the publication of scientific studies to bolster the use of its epilepsy drug Neurontin for other disorders, while suppressing research that did not support those uses, according to experts who reviewed thousands of company documents for plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the company.

Pfizer’s tactics included delaying the publication of studies that had found no evidence the drug worked for some other disorders, “spinning” negative data to place it in a more positive light, and bundling negative findings with positive studies to neutralize the results, according to written reports by the experts, who analyzed the documents at the request of the plaintiffs’ lawyers.

One of the experts who reviewed the documents, Dr. Kay Dickersin, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, concluded that the Pfizer documents spell out “a publication strategy meant to convince physicians of Neurontin’s effectiveness and misrepresent or suppress negative findings.”

Pfizer issued a statement Tuesday denying that it had manipulated Neurontin data, saying “study results are reported by Pfizer in an objective, accurate, balanced and complete manner, with a discussion of the strengths and limitations of the study, and are reported regardless of the outcome of the study or the country in which the study was conducted.”

The expert reports, unsealed Monday in a federal court in Boston, Massachusetts, add to accusations that the pharmaceutical industry has controlled the flow of clinical research data, blurring the lines between science and marketing.

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September Retail Sales Reflect Slump
2008-10-08 15:06:49

If the last few weeks of retail sales are any indication, it is shaping up to be, in the words of one analyst, a Christmas of movie tickets and board games.

Retail stores on Wednesday began to report September sales and most companies, from off-price to luxury chains, saw significant, sometimes double-digit declines, that surprised even the chains’ executives. Many retailers - including Nordstrom, J. C. Penney and Kohl's - lowered their earnings guidance for the third quarter.

September sales for stores open at least a year, known as same-store sales and a barometer of retail health, plunged 14.8 percent at Stein Mart, the troubled off-price department store. Penney’s same-store sales fell 12.4 percent compared with a decrease of 3.7 percent for the period a year ago. Dillard's sales dropped 12 percent. Sales at Kohl’s decreased 5.5 percent.

At Bon-Ton Stores, same-store sales decreased 4.6 percent compared with the period a year ago, while same-store sales at Target declined 3 percent. The sales results also laid to rest any lingering notions about the nation’s high-end retailers being impervious to the downturn. Same-store sales in the specialty retail segment of Neiman Marcus, which includes Neiman Marcus Stores and Bergdorf Goodman, tumbled 15.8 percent. Saks’ same-store sales sunk 10.9 percent and Nordstrom’s were down 9.6 percent.

Blake W. Nordstrom, president of Nordstrom, said the deteriorating consumer environment led to “a weakening sales trend that was greater than our earlier expectations.”

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Biden Critical Of Palin's Rhetoric
2008-10-08 15:06:16
Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden criticized Republican counterpart Sarah Palin Wednesday for inciting "mildly dangerous" rhetoric into the campaign. Biden also faulted Republican presidential candidate John McCain for condoning her attacks.

"This is beyond disappointing, this is wrong," he said at a rally in Tampa, Florida.

Saying that McCain and Palin are "taking the low road to the highest office in the land," Biden argued that McCain's campaign has launched personal attacks against Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama as an attempt to get voters "to stop paying attention to what's really going on in this election." Calling McCain "an angry man, lurching from one position to another," Biden noted that McCain has agreed with President Bush on issues ranging from privatizing Social Security to what he called a "shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later foreign policy."

Borrowing a line from Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, Biden added, "You can't call yourself a maverick when all you've ever been is a sidekick."

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Survey: Tuesday's Debate Moved Undecideds To Obama
2008-10-09 03:39:22
Barack Obama beat John McCain in Tuesday night's debate in the eyes of undecided voters by 61 to 39 percent, according to a new online Ipsos/McClatchy poll.

Before the debate, the 389 undecided voters favored McCain by 55-45, but after it they shifted to favor Obama over McCain by 57-43 percent.

The online survey's value is like that of a large focus group; it is not a scientific random sample of the population, and so it has no statistical margin of error. Still, its results are illustrative of how many undecided voters perceived the debate.

While 57 percent said their opinion of each candidate wasn't changed much by the debate, 31 percent said it made them more favorable toward Obama, while only 18 percent said that about McCain.

McCain was judged more mean-spirited and disrespectful by 62 percent, to 38 percent who thought that about Obama. Fifty seven percent of the voters polled thought McCain demonstrated that he was tough enough to be president, while only 43 percent said that about Obama.

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Judge Assails Evidence In Stevens Trial
2008-10-09 03:38:53

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that he would tell jurors to ignore two pieces of evidence that he said were tainted by government bungling in the trial of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens on corruption charges.

It was the third time that U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan has chastised Justice Department prosecutors over their handling of witnesses or evidence in the trial.

Stevens (R-Alaska) is charged with lying on financial disclosure forms to disguise accepting more than $250,000 in gifts and renovations to his house in Girdwood, Alaska. Prosecutors allege that most of those gifts and renovations were provided by Bill Allen, the former chief executive of Veco, a now-defunct oil services firm that specialized in maintaining oil rigs.

Sullivan said he would tell jurors to ignore evidence concerning the hours worked by two Veco workers on Stevens'  house because prosecutors knew the information "was not true." One of the employees was in another state when Veco records - introduced as evidence by prosecutors - showed him working on the house. Defense lawyers did not learn that information until they reviewed documents that prosecutors disclosed a few days ago in response to another evidentiary ruling.

"Something smells here," said Sullivan.

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Thousands Of Troops Are Deployed On U.S. Streets Ready To Carry Out 'Crowd Control'
2008-10-08 18:52:45
Members of Congress were told they could face martial law if they did not pass the bail out bill. This will not be the last time.

Background: the First Brigade of the Third Infantry Division, three to four thousand soldiers, has been deployed in the United States as of October 1. Their stated mission is the form of crowd control they practiced in Iraq, subduing "unruly individuals," and the management of a national emergency. I am in Seattle, Washington, and heard from the brother of one of the soldiers that they are engaged in exercises now. Amy Goodman reported that an Army spokesperson confirmed that they will have access to lethal and non-lethal crowd control technologies and tanks.

George Bush struck down Posse Comitatus, thus making it legal for military to patrol the U.S. He has also legally established that in the "War on Terror," the U.S. is at war around the globe and thus the whole world is a battlefield. Thus the U.S. is also a battlefield.

He also led change to the 1807 Insurrection Act to give him far broader powers in the event of a loosely defined "insurrection" or many other "conditions" he has the power to identify. The Constitution allows the suspension of habeas corpus - habeas corpus prevents us from being seized by the state and held without trial - in the event of an "insurrection." With his own army force now, his power to call a group of protesters or angry voters "insurgents" staging an "insurrection" is strengthened.

U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman, of California, said to Congress, captured on C-Span and viewable on YouTube, that individual members of the House were threatened with martial law within a week if they did not pass the bailout bill:

"The only way they can pass this bill is by creating and sustaining a panic atmosphere. … Many of us were told in private conversations that if we voted against this bill on Monday that the sky would fall, the market would drop two or three thousand points the first day and a couple of thousand on the second day, and a few members were even told that there would be martial law in America if we voted no."

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New Corporate Threat To Our Water Supplies
2008-10-08 18:52:16
Intellpuke: The following article is an excerpt from's latest book "Water Consciousness". It was first posted at the website edition for Monday, October 6, 2008.

Neglect of public infrastructure has private companies swooping in to buy public systems, like water, with grave consequences.

In the last few years, the world's largest financial institutions and pension funds, from Goldman Sachs to Australia's Macquarie Bank, have figured out that old, trustworthy utilities and infrastructure could become reliable cash cows - supporting the financial system's speculative junk derivatives with the real concrete of highways, water utilities, airports, harbors, and transit systems.

The spiraling collapse of the financial system may only intensify the quest for private investments in what is now the public sector. This flipping of public assets could be the next big phase of privatization, and it could happen even under an Obama administration, as local and state governments, starved during Bush's two terms in office, look to bail out on public assets, employees, and responsibilities. The Republican record of neglect of basic infrastructure reads like a police blotter: levees in New Orleans, a major bridge in Minneapolis, a collapsing power grid, bursting water mains, and outdated sewage treatment plants.

Billions in private assets are now parked in "infrastructure funds" waiting for the crisis to mature and the right public assets to buy on the cheap. The first harbingers of a potential fire sale are already on the horizon. The City of Chicago has leased its major highway and Indiana its toll road. Private companies are managing major ports and bidding for control of local water systems across the country. Government jobs are also up for sale. For the first time in American history, the federal government employs more contract workers than regular employees.

This radical shift to the private sector could become one of history's largest transfers of ownership, control, and wealth from the public trust to the private till. But more is at stake. The concept of democracy itself is being challenged by multinational corporations that see Americans not as citizens, but as customers, and government not as something of, by, and for the people, but as a market to be entered for profit.

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Analysis: Why Syria Matters To Israel
2008-10-08 18:51:01

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has returned from his Washington meeting with President George W. Bush empty-handed and frustrated. His already shaky peace negotiations with Israel have hit a brick wall and, as more often than not, Washington was siding with his opposite side. Meanwhile, his Hamas rivals in Gaza Strip have failed to find takers of their offer of a lengthy truce with Israel. On the eve of the 60th anniversary of Al-Nakbah and the creation of Israel, Palestinian losses appear to have been compounded on all fronts.

But the peace game continues elsewhere. All eyes are suddenly glued on Syria, whose president revealed that Turkey was mediating to revive abandoned negotiations with Israel. The Israelis confirmed the existence of a Turkish initiative and announced that Washington had not objected to a resumption of talks with Damascus.

Then there was the surprise accusation by the Bush administration that North Korea was helping Syria build a nuclear facility in the eastern desert, which President Bashar Assad said was a non-nuclear military site. The timing of the release of intelligence material on the alleged reactor, nearly seven months after Israel is believed to have destroyed it in an air strike last September, has baffled Republicans and Democrats in Washington.

Syria’s reaction to Washington’s accusations has been vociferous. Its ambassador to the U.S. has called for a comprehensive IAEA inspection that would begin in Israel and end in Syria. He reminded the world how the U.S. had lied about Iraq’s WMD program and used false evidence to justify its invasion of that country.

The U.S. revelation could be part of a pressure campaign on North Korea, which is being drawn in lengthy and complicated negotiations to dismantle its nuclear program; but its effect on Syria and the recent burst of peace efforts cannot be downplayed.

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Turkey Re-Authorizes Military Strikes In Iraq
2008-10-08 18:50:21
Turkey’s parliament voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to extend by one year its authorization of military operations against Kurdish separatists in northern Iraq, keeping the door open to future strikes in the region.

The approval, by a vote of 497 to 18, had been largely expected, and occurred amid a flurry of attacks in Turkey’s largely Kurdish southeast. Seventeen Turkish soldiers were killed in an attack on a border post late last week, and Turkey responded with several days of air strikes in Iraqi territory. A fresh attack on Wednesday killed five police officers and wounded 19 others on the outskirts of Diyarbakir in the southeast.

Turkey, a NATO member, has been fighting Kurdish separatists in its southeast since the 1980s, though the conflict has died down substantially in recent years. An attack on a border post last year set off a political confrontation between Turkey and Iraq, with Turkey conducting air strikes and a brief ground operation into Iraq.

A government mandate permitting the military to conduct operations outside Turkey was due to expire Oct. 17.

Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek said Turkey had conducted 29 air operations, several artillery strikes as well as land operations under the previous mandate.

Turkey contends that Iraq does not do enough to curb the rebels, known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., who hide in the mountains along its northern border. Iraq says far more reside in Turkey.

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Central Banks Coordinate Global Cut In Interest Rates
2008-10-08 18:49:48

In a move of unprecedented scope, the world’s major central banks lowered their benchmark interest rates Wednesday, a coordinated effort to halt a collapse of share prices and a freeze in credit markets that threatens to set off the first global recession since the early 1970s.

The action failed to calm gyrating markets, however, amid the growing realization that a serious and prolonged recession may be difficult to avoid.

The Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, the Bank of England and the central banks of Canada and Sweden all reduced primary lending rates by a half percentage point. Switzerland also cut its benchmark rate, while the Bank of Japan endorsed the moves without changing its rates.

In another monetary first, the Chinese central bank joined the effort - without explicitly saying it was doing so - by reducing its key interest rate and lowering bank reserve requirements to free up cash for lending.

The Fed’s benchmark short-term rate now stands at 1.5 percent. The European Central Bank’s is 3.75 percent.

Taken together with other moves in the United States, Britain and Continental Europe in the last few days, the rate cuts look like part of a broader, global strategy that embraces aggressive use of monetary policy and taxpayer recapitalization of ailing banks, generating cautious optimism among crisis-weary analysts.

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Stocks Swing Wildly Despite Emergency Rate Cut
2008-10-08 15:07:25
Wall Street zigzagged Wednesday as an emergency interest rate cut failed to alleviate investors' fears that the paralysis in the credit markets will set off a global recession. The major indexes moved in and out of positive territory, with the Dow Jones industrials at times falling more than 200 points.

The rate cut by the Federal Reserve and other leading central banks failed to convince investors that credit markets would soon relax and that banks would begin lending more freely to businesses and consumers. The Fed lowered rates by a half-point, saying in a statement that the turmoil in financial markets posed a further threat to an already shaky economy; it was joined in the rate cut by the European Central Bank, Bank of England, The Bank of Canada, the Swedish Riksbank and the Swiss National Bank.

Interest rate changes take months to work their way through the economy, and while investors clearly were happy with the central banks' actions, they were also well aware that in the near term, banks remain reluctant to lend because of fears they won't be paid back.

That fear, which increased after the failure of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in mid-September, has all but shut down the credit markets, making it increasingly hard for companies and individuals to borrow, and in turn, posing a further threat to the economy. Wall Street has plunged in response to scarcity of credit; stocks initially rose on the rate cut, but turned lower as the reality of the credit markets' troubles set in again.

The fears on the Street have been exacerbated by the spread of the U.S. credit problems overseas. Several banks in Europe have had to be bailed out, and earlier this week, the governments of Germany, Ireland and Greece took steps to guarantee private bank deposits.

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U.S. Inquiry: 30 Afghan Civilians Died In U.S. Raid
2008-10-08 15:07:03
An investigation by the military has concluded that American air strikes on Aug. 22 in a village in western Afghanistan  killed far more civilians than American commanders there have acknowledged, according to two American military officials.

The military investigator’s report found that more than 30 civilians - not 5 to 7 as the military has long insisted - died in the air strikes against a suspected Taliban compound in Azizabad.

The investigator, Brig. Gen. Michael W. Callan, of the U.S. Air Force, concluded that many more civilians, including women and children, had been buried in the rubble than the military had asserted, said one of the military officials.

The air strikes have been the focus of sharp tensions between the Afghan government, which has said that 90 civilians died in the raid, and the American military, under Gen. David D. McKiernan, the top American military commander in Afghanistan, which has repeatedly insisted that only a handful of civilians were killed.

The report was requested by General McKiernan on Sept. 7, more than two weeks after the air strikes, in response to what he said at the time was “emerging evidence” about the raids. While American commanders in Afghanistan have contended that 30 to 35 militants were killed in the raid, the new report concludes that many among that group were in fact civilians, said the military officials.

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British Government Moves To Prop Up Banks
2008-10-08 15:06:29
The British government on Wednesday morning announced Europe's most far-reaching bank rescue plan, promising to inject tens of billions of dollars in capital into U.K. banks after two consecutive days of dramatic losses in share prices.

Warning that global financial markets had "ceased to function," Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the "comprehensive restructuring" of the banking sector was designed "to put the British banking system on a sounder footing and to build strength for the future."

Stabilizing London, the world's second-largest finance center, is a key task in calming the world crisis. Two major British banks have been rescued in recent days, and the central bank has pumped billions into money markets, but new weaknesses continue to emerge.

Britain's plan is less extensive than the $700 billion U.S. bailout, but the measure announced Wednesday is more aggressive than Brown's earlier moves to nationalize ailing banks on a case-by-case basis. Also Wednesday, the Central Bank of England joined other European banks and the U.S. Federal Reserve to announce a coordinated interest rate cut - an unusual move that underscored the depth of concern about the global economy.

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