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Monday, November 10, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Monday November 10 2008 - (813)

Monday November 10 2008 edition
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China Announces $585 Billion Economic Bailout Package
2008-11-09 15:29:21
China's government announced plans Sunday for an estimated $585 billion in spending and stimulus measures to shore up its weakening economy and counter the effects of the global financial crisis.

The massive stimulus plan would include tax cuts, a loosening of credit and government spending on a wide range of projects, including construction of low-income housing, transportation systems and the development of rural infrastructure, said the official new China News Agency.

Analysts welcomed the larger-than-expected stimulus package, which represents about one-sixth of China's overall annual economic output. They said the spending would help businesses, bolster demand for commodities and lift consumption - which would, in turn, give a boost to a world economy that is faltering.

With the U.S., Japan and much of Europe in a deep downturn, China's role looms ever larger as it has been a major driver of global economic growth in recent years.

In the last five years, China's economy has expanded by double digits, but the annual growth rate slowed sharply to 9% in the third quarter amid weakening exports and a sagging real estate market. Some analysts have predicted that growth would fall much lower next year, a prospect that worries Chinese officials because of the threat of rising joblessness and the risk of social instability.

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Study: Statins Found To Prevent Heart Attacks In People With Normal Cholesterol
2008-11-09 15:29:00
Cholesterol-lowering statins can also reduce inflammation that causes heart disease and have the potential to prevent tens of thousands of heart attacks each year in patients with normal cholesterol levels, researchers reported Sunday.

In a study of nearly 18,000 people with normal cholesterol levels, the drug rosuvastatin produced a 54% reduction in heart attacks, a 48% reduction in strokes, a 46% reduction in the need for angioplasty or bypass surgery and a 20% reduction in deaths compared with a placebo, researchers said at a New Orleans meeting of the American Heart Association.

The effects were so dramatic that the planned four-year study was halted after nearly two years.

The findings "really change what we are going to do in the future," said Dr. W. Douglas Weaver of Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, president of the American College of Cardiology. "This targets a patient group that normally would not be screened or treated to prevent cardiovascular disease."

About half of heart attacks occur in patients who do not have high cholesterol levels.

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Egypt Denies Entry To Bin Laden's Son
2008-11-09 15:28:10
Egypt denied entry to one of Osama bin Laden's sons on Sunday, becoming the third country to reject the self-proclaimed "ambassador for peace."

Omar Osama bin Laden, 27, and his British wife arrived at Cairo International Airport over the weekend and were promptly put on a plane to the Gulf Arab country of Qatar.

Bin Laden was denied entry after he unsuccessfully sought political asylum in Spain, claiming he would not be safe if he returned to an Arab country. The couple had lived in Egypt for the past year.

One of the al-Qaeda leader's 19 children, Omar Osama bin Laden caused a tabloid storm last year after he married Zaina Alsabah, a British citizen.

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Obama Positioned To Quickly Reverse Bush Administration Actions
2008-11-09 03:39:22

Transition advisers to President-elect Barack Obama have compiled a list of about 200 Bush administration actions and executive orders that could be swiftly undone to reverse White House policies on climate change, stem cell research, reproductive rights and other issues, according to congressional Democrats, campaign aides and experts working with the transition team.

A team of four dozen advisers, working for months in virtual solitude, set out to identify regulatory and policy changes Obama could implement soon after his inauguration. The team is now consulting with liberal advocacy groups, Capitol Hill staffers and potential agency chiefs to prioritize those they regard as the most onerous or ideologically offensive, said a top transition official who was not permitted to speak on the record about the inner workings of the transition.

In some instances, Obama would be quickly delivering on promises he made during his two-year campaign, while in others he would be embracing Clinton-era policies upended by President Bush during his eight years in office.

"The kind of regulations they are looking at" are those imposed by Bush for "overtly political" reasons, in pursuit of what Democrats say was a partisan Republican agenda, said Dan Mendelson, a former associate administrator for health in the Clinton administration's Office of Management and Budget. The list of executive orders targeted by Obama's team could well get longer in the coming days, as Bush's appointees rush to enact a number of last-minute policies in an effort to extend his legacy.

A spokeswoman said Saturday that no plans for regulatory changes had been finalized. "Before he makes any decisions on potential executive or legislative actions, he will be conferring with congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle, as well as interested groups," said Obama transition spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter. "Any decisions would need to be discussed with his Cabinet nominees, none of whom have been selected yet."

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Editorial: Lame Ducks And Recession Politics
2008-11-09 03:38:49
Intellpuke: This editorial appeared in the New York Times edition for Sunday, November 8, 2008.

The job numbers for October, released by the government on Friday, leave no doubt that the nation is in a recession that will be deep and painful. As President-elect Barack Obama said on Friday, Congress cannot wait for a new administration to take action.

Lawmakers, no matter how lame-duck they may be, have a duty to pass an extension of unemployment benefits and other measures that directly address surging joblessness and shrinking incomes. Mr. Obama was right to endorse this approach, but as he noted, there is already a sitting president. If President Bush and his team care at all about their legacy at this point, they should support a real stimulus plan, or at the very least get out of the way and not block or distort it.

In addition to unemployment pay, the most effective forms of stimulus are bolstered food stamps and federal aid to states and cities so that they can continue to provide health care and other services. Of late, however, the administration has insisted that its bank bailout and inadequate anti-foreclosure plans are the solution to rising joblessness. If Mr. Bush sticks to that script, it will be difficult to enact a stimulus bill that is targeted and timely.

Failure to do so, however, would be derelict. After 10 straight months of job losses, the ranks of the unemployed swelled to 10.1 million in October, for a jobless rate of 6.5 percent, the highest since 1994. Worse, the rate would be 11.8 percent if it included Americans who are working part time because they cannot find full-time work and jobless workers who have given up looking for work because their prospects are so dim. Worse still, well over one in five jobless Americans - some 2.3 million people - have been out of work for six months or more, a level of long-term joblessness not seen in the early stages of any recession since World War II.

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Russian President Call Obama; Kremlin Describes Talk As Upbeat
2008-11-09 03:38:16
President-elect Barack Obama spoke to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Saturday, another in a series of phone calls he has received from leaders of other nations.

A Kremlin statement said Obama and Medvedev "expressed the determination to create constructive and positive interaction for the good of global stability and development" and agreed that their countries had a common responsibility to address "serious problems of a global nature."

To that end, according to the Kremlin statement, Medvedev and Obama think an "early bilateral meeting" should be arranged.

Obama's office did not issue a statement describing the call.

A Bush administration plan for setting up a missile shield close to Russia's borders has been a sore point with the Kremlin and has added to troubles in its relationship with the United States.

On Wednesday, the day after Obama's election, Medvedev threatened to move short-range missiles to Russia's borders with NATO allies.

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Canadian Journalist Set Free By Afghan Abductors
2008-11-09 03:37:36
A Canadian journalist kidnapped in Afghanistan was released Saturday after four weeks in captivity, according to Afghan and Canadian officials.

Mellissa Fung was abducted Oct. 12 while reporting for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Fung, 35, who worked with the CBC on a freelance basis, was traveling with a translator and driver when she was seized after interviewing refugees in a sprawling camp about five miles west of Kabul.

Few details about Fung's abductors or where she was held were released Saturday, but an official with CBC in Kabul said Fung was returned to the capital about 7:30 p.m. and appeared to be in good health.

Jamie Purdon, director of news gathering for CBC, said Fung was probably held by the same captors for the duration of the ordeal.

Fung, who was taken to the Canadian Embassy after her release, will undergo a full medical examination before returning to her family in Canada, said CBC.

"We are very, very relieved," said Purdon.

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Political Blog: Senate Majority Leader Weighs In On Sen. Stevens
2008-11-09 15:29:12

Everyone’s been watching the returns in Alaska, where the 84-year-old Senator Ted Stevens seems to have pulled out a re-election win despite his recent felony convictions in a corruption case exposing his acceptance of gifts from developers for renovations of his home in Alaska.

Senator Stevens has been adamant that his conviction is an aberration; that he will surmount this obstacle, and will survive. He, in essence, refuses to give up his longtime seat in the Senate, in contradiction to calls for his resignation from leading Republicans, like the Minority leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, or the Republican presidential nominee, John McCain, and even his governor, Sarah Palin.

On CNN Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid - who is enjoying a boost by five or six Senate seats, give or take the counting and recounting in Minnesota and Georgia - declared that Mr. Stevens will not, will not be in the Senate, come the next session. Asked about Senator Daniel Inouye’s declaration that Mr. Stevens of course could return, Mr. Reid said:

"All the Republicans - John Ensign, head of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, Republican Leader McConnell and a long list of people - said that he’s going to be kicked out of the Senate. Of course he is. He is not going to survive."

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Egypt Postpones Palestinian Talks On Hamas Boycott
2008-11-09 15:28:48
The Egyptian government indefinitely postponed reconciliation talks between Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas, setting up a possible new leadership battle between the two sides.

The factional summit, originally scheduled to start Monday, was meant to resurrect the short-lived national unity government that collapsed in June 2007, leaving the militant group Hamas controlling the Gaza Strip and Fatah ruling the West Bank.

Hamas officials told Egyptian negotiators that they would boycott the talks after failing to come to agreement with Fatah over the fate of several hundred Hamas supporters and politicians jailed in the West Bank.

Hamas official Ahmed Youssef confirmed that the two sides had reached a stalemate over the prisoner release.

"There is still time to find a way to handle this," said Youssef, a senior advisor to former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, the top Hamas leader in Gaza.

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Toll Of People Killed In Haitian School Collapse Reaches 88
2008-11-09 15:28:01
Emergency crews picked through the rubble of a collapsed school in Haiti on Sunday as an angry crowd demanded they be allowed to help search for victims of a disaster that killed at least 88 people.

Onlookers in this poor Port-au-Prince suburb cheered a group of men who slipped past police barriers and started chipping away at a hanging concrete slab before riot officers chased them away.

"We don't need money to do the work!" many chanted, angry over rumors that rescuers were working slowly to inflate their wages.

"Everybody is frustrated. We smell the bodies," said 25-year-old Emmane Petitehomme. "If they don't do something quickly, we may have to leave here for a few days."

Fortin Augustin, the preacher who owns and built College La Promesse, was arrested late Saturday and charged with involuntary manslaughter, said police spokesman Garry Desrosier.

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U.S. Economy: How The Thundering Herd Stumbled And Fell
2008-11-09 03:39:05
“We’ve got the right people in place as well as good risk management and controls.” - E. Stanley O'Neal, 2005.

There were high-fives all around Merrill Lynch headquarters in Lower Manhattan as 2006 drew to a close. The firm’s performance was breathtaking; revenue and earnings had soared, and its shares were up 40 percent for the year.

Merrill’s decision to invest heavily in the mortgage industry was paying off handsomely. So handsomely, in fact, that on Dec. 30 that year, it essentially doubled down by paying $1.3 billion for First Franklin, a lender specializing in risky mortgages.

The deal would provide Merrill with even more loans for one of its lucrative assembly lines, an operation that bundled and repackaged mortgages so they could be resold to other investors.

It was a moment to savor for E. Stanley O’Neal, Merrill’s autocratic leader, and a group of trusted lieutenants who had helped orchestrate the firm’s profitable but belated mortgage push. Two indispensable members of O’Neal’s clique were Osman Semerci, who, among other things, ran Merrill’s bond unit, and Ahmass L. Fakahany, the firm’s vice chairman and chief administrative officer.

A native of Turkey who began his career trading stocks in Istanbul, Semerci, 41, oversaw Merrill’s mortgage operation. He often played the role of tough guy, former executives say, silencing critics who warned about the risks the firm was taking.

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Commentary: Put Away The Wish List, And Help Households Bounce Back
2008-11-09 03:38:39
Intellpuke: This commentary was written by Peter Bernstein, a financial consultant, economic historian and editor of the Economics & Portfolio Strategy newsletter. His commentary appeared in the New York Times edition for Saturday, November 8, 2008.

Campaign talk was all very well, but the new president will have to start his administration with serious business. He should begin his Inaugural Address by saying that most campaign promises must be put on a wait list while he gives his full attention to the critical condition of the economy. There is no time for lengthy deliberation and debate.

The restoration of some kind of liquidity and order to the financial sector is the first step to recovery. The departing administration has properly made the financial sector its priority, and its efforts appear to be bearing fruit. But these efforts have not been enough.

The president’s most important priority should be to support the household sector. Households and their mortgages were the key to the onset of crisis. Now, with unemployment rising and home prices still falling, the new administration must help households first if we are to have any hope of reversing the devastating course of a recession. Households are the primary customers of American business.

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Powerful Hurricane Paloma Roars Over Cuba, Bahamas Could Be Next
2008-11-09 03:37:48
Ferocious Hurricane Paloma roared across Cuba on Sunday, downing power lines, flooding the coast and forcing hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate on an island still recovering from two other devastating storms.

Early reports of damage were limited, but Cuban state media said the late-season storm toppled a major communications tower on the southern coast, interrupted electricity and phone service, and sent sea surges of up to 700 meters along the coast.

Paloma made landfall near Santa Cruz del Sur late Saturday as an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm on Saturday evening, but quickly weakened into a Category 2 storm with torrential rains and winds of 100 mph (155 kph), according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

It was expected to continue to lose strength as it moved across Cuba and was forecast to hit the central Bahamas by Sunday night or Monday.

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