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Friday, November 28, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Friday November 28 2008 - (813)

Friday November 28 2008 edition
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Indian Troops Raid Hotels In Daring Rescues
2008-11-27 16:01:34
Sharpshooters and Indian Army commandos launched dramatic raids Thursday into two of India's most luxurious hotels, attempting to root out gunmen whose deadly attacks have transformed parts of India's commercial capital into smoldering war zones.

Hundreds of families grieved for the 125 people reported killed, as police and terrorism experts remained puzzled over who was behind the attacks on the hotels, a Jewish center, and other sites in the heart of Mumbai. More than 325 people were reported injured.

Closed-circuit television cameras that recorded some scenes of the attack showed college-aged men roaming the streets with automatic assault rifles and backpacks apparently filled with ammunition and explosives. In one video still, one of the gunmen appears almost giddy as he walks down the street with an AK-47 assault rifle.

In a speech on national television Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made the first official assertion that the attackers were from outside India, statements usually taken here to point to Pakistan. "The well-planned and well-orchestrated attacks, probably with external linkages, were intended to create a sense of panic, by choosing high profile targets and indiscriminately killing foreigners," said Singh. Some news channels split their screens to show the prime minister speaking and the ongoing battle between security personnel and the attackers.

The prime minister called for creation of "a central agency" to investigate terrorism in India, where some 44 bomb blasts in seven different cities have killed more than 150 people since May. Wednesday's assaults were seen as unprecedented, authorities said, in terms of the open, coordinated effort to lay siege to well-known symbols of India's prosperity and to places where Westerners gathered.

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U.S. Consumer Loan Aid Will Only Trickle So Far
2008-11-27 16:01:13

If you’re buying a home, refinancing a mortgage or seeking an auto or student loan, the new government plans to make borrowing cheaper and easier sound like a gift.

One problem, however, is that whole categories of people may be ineligible. If you are refinancing, you could be out of luck if your mortgage balance is more than your house is worth. And for all kinds of new loans, lenders have raised their standards even as their customers’ credit records are deteriorating because of late payments and other problems.

Then there is the fact that the government’s efforts may take a while to start working - if they do at all. Once again, the government hopes that the benefits to consumers will trickle down. It is not simply lending to them directly.

So while mortgage rates fell by at least a quarter of a percentage point on Tuesday, the day of the government announcement, and stayed there Wednesday, it could take months for the piece that affects credit card and small-business loans to kick in.

“It’s not going to be like flipping a light switch,” said Joe Belew, president of the Consumer Bankers Association. “You’re not going to see an avalanche of new loans. But the system is under a lot of stress, and anything that can lubricate the markets is a good thing.”

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Editorial: Sewing Up The Safety Net
2008-11-27 16:00:41
Intellpuke: This editorial appeared in the New York Times edition for Wednesday, November 26, 2008.

Largely missing from the discussion about the faltering economy is the recession’s impact on the 37 million Americans who are already living at or below the poverty line - and the millions more who will inevitably join their ranks as the downturn worsens.

Poverty and joblessness go hand in hand. If unemployment rises in the coming year from today’s 6.5 percent to 9 percent, as some analysts predict, another 7.5 million to 10.3 million people could become poor, according to a new study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The prospect of nearly 50 million Americans in poverty is even more daunting when one considers the holes that have been punched in the safety net over the last quarter-century. Since the Reagan administration, the federal government has steadily reduced its role in curtailing poverty, or even in coordinating state and local efforts to help alleviate it.

Meanwhile, most states reduced or eliminated cash assistance for single poor adults and limited access to food stamps. Stricter eligibility requirements keep thousands of people from collecting jobless benefits. Facing budget deficits, cash-strapped states will be tempted to cut social programs even more. The experience of being poor in America, never easy, will soon become even more difficult for more people - unless Congress boosts food stamps, modernizes the unemployment compensation system and takes other steps to strengthen the ability of the federal and state governments to help the millions who will need assistance.

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Sophisticated Attacks, But By Whom?
2008-11-27 16:01:22
A day after the terror attacks in Mumbai that killed over 100 people, one question remained as impenetrable as the smoke that still billowed from two of the city’s landmark hotels: who carried out the attacks?

The Indian authorities say they captured some of the attackers, so some answers may emerge soon. But for now, their identities remain a mystery. Surviving witnesses recalled the gunmen as masked young men in unremarkable T-shirts and jeans, some heavily armed, wearing backpacks filled with weapons. The only claim of responsibility came from a group that may not even exist.

The assaults represented a marked departure in scope and ambition from other recent terrorist attacks in India, which have singled out local people rather than foreigners and hit single rather than multiple targets.

The Mumbai assault, by contrast, was seemed directed at foreigners, involved hostage taking and was aimed at multiple and highly symbolic targets.

India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the attacks probably had “external linkages,” reflecting calculations among Indian officials that the level of planning, preparation and coordination could not have been achieved without help from experienced terrorists. Some security experts insisted the style of the attacks and the targets in Mumbai suggested the militants were likely to be Indian Muslims, with a domestic agenda.

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Editorial: Save The Economy, And The Planet
2008-11-27 16:00:52
Intellpuke: This editorial appeared in the New York Times edition for Thursday, November 27, 2008.

Environment ministers preparing for next week’s talks on global warming in Poznan, Poland, have been sounding decidedly downbeat. From Paris to Beijing, the refrain is the same: This is no time to pursue ambitious plans to stop global warming. We can’t deal with a financial crisis and reduce emissions at the same time.

There is a very different message coming from this country. President-elect Barack Obama is arguing that there is no better time than the present to invest heavily in clean energy technologies. Such investment, he says, would confront the threat of unchecked warming, reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil and help revive the American economy.

Call it what you will: a climate policy wrapped inside an energy policy wrapped inside an economic policy. By any name, it is a radical shift from the defeatism and denial that marked President Bush’s eight years in office. If Mr. Obama follows through on his commitments, this country will at last provide the global leadership that is essential for addressing the dangers of climate change.

In his first six months in office, Mr. Bush reneged on a campaign promise to regulate carbon dioxide and walked away from the Kyoto Protocol, a modest first effort to control global greenhouse gas emissions.

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Iraqi Parliament Approves U.S. Security Pact
2008-11-27 16:00:26
The Iraqi Parliament ratified a long-delayed security agreement on Thursday that lays out a three-year timetable for the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq.

For Iraq and the United States, the pact’s passage through Parliament by a large majority - more than 140 of some 200 lawmakers present voted in favor - marks a watershed moment, heralding an increase in Iraqi sovereignty over American and other foreign troops on its soil.

The pact, which took more than a year to negotiate, consists of two documents: a Status of Forces Agreement defining the rules under which American forces will operate, and a wider Strategic Framework Agreement outlining a broad bilateral view looking toward the future.

Within minutes of the ratification, the American Embassy in Baghdad issued a joint statement of congratulation from Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker and Gen. Ray Odierno, the overall commander of American forces in Iraq.

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