Free Internet Press

Uncensored News For Real People This is a mirror site for our daily newsletter. You may visit our real site through the individual story links, or by visiting .

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Sunday November 2 2008 - (813)

Sunday November 2 2008 edition
Free Internet Press is operated on your donations.
Donate Today

Judge Orders Justice Dept. To Produce White House Memos On Warrantless Wiretaps
2008-11-02 01:43:08
A federal judge has ordered the U.S. Justice Department to produce White House memos that provide the legal basis for the Bush administration's post-Sept. 11 warrantless wiretapping program.

U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy, Jr., signed an order Friday requiring the department to produce the memos by the White House legal counsel's office by Nov. 17. He said he would review the memos to determine whether any information could be released publicly without violating attorney-client privilege or jeopardizing national security.

Kennedy issued his order in response to lawsuits by civil liberties groups in 2005 after news reports disclosed the wiretapping program.

The department argued that the memos were protected attorney-client communications and contained classified information.

However, Judge Kennedy said that the attorney-client argument was "too vague" and that he would have to look at the documents to determine whether that argument was valid and also to see whether there was information that could be released without endangering national security.

Read The Full Story

From U.S. Midwest To M.T.A., Pain From Global Gamble
2008-11-02 01:42:39

“People come up to me in the grocery store and say, ‘How did we get suckered into this?’ ” - Marc Hujik, of the Kenosha, Wisconsin, school board

On a snowy day two years ago, the school board in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, gathered to discuss a looming problem: how to plug a gaping hole in the teachers’ retirement plan.

It turned to David W. Noack, a trusted local investment banker, who proposed that the district borrow from overseas and use the money for a complex investment that offered big profits.

“Every three months you’re going to get a payment,” he promised, according to a tape of the meeting. But would it be risky? “There would need to be 15 Enrons” for the district to lose money, he said.

The board and four other nearby districts ultimately invested $200 million in the deal, most of it borrowed from an Irish bank. Without realizing it, the schools were imitating hedge funds.

Half a continent away, New York subway officials were also being wooed by bankers. Officials were told that just as home buyers had embraced adjustable-rate loans, New York could save money by borrowing at lower interest rates that changed every day.

For some of the deals, the officials were encouraged to rely on the same Irish bank as the Wisconsin schools.

Read The Full Story

Editorial: Gone Missing
2008-11-02 01:42:01
Intellpuke: This editorial appeared in the New York Times edition for Sunday, November 2, 2008.

Ever since Sept. 11, 2001, the world has shuddered at the possibility of loose nuclear weapons or radioactive material falling into the hands of terrorists. Shuddered and done too little to stop it.

Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, warned last week that there has been a “disturbingly high” number of reports of missing or illegally trafficked nuclear material. According to agency figures, there were 243 incidents between June 2007 and June of this year. Fortunately, the amounts reported missing have been small. Some experts say that if all the material were lumped together it would not be enough for one nuclear weapon. That is no consolation in a world where so many countries are eager to build their own nuclear reactors and possibly nuclear weapons.

That means that in coming years there will be even more states with nuclear materials, more scientists with nuclear knowledge and more opportunities for terrorists to get their hands on the material for a bomb.

It is the atomic agency’s job to keep tabs on civilian nuclear programs, to ensure that states do not misplace fuel or divert it to clandestine weapons programs. One way to guard against such a perilous future is to ensure that the agency is fully staffed with the best people available and has the money and support it needs.

Member states must be willing to increase their budget contributions so the agency can refurbish its testing laboratory, invest in new technology and hire additional nuclear experts. The agency must also be ready to take on new tasks, like administering a nuclear fuel bank to be the supplier of last resort for countries that choose not to get into the risky reactor fuel business. (Producing nuclear fuel is the hardest part of building a nuclear weapon.)

Read The Full Story

Machinists Union Ratifies Contract With Boeing
2008-11-02 01:41:02
Machinists union members ratified a new contract with Boeing Co. on Saturday, ending an eight-week strike that cut the airplane maker's profits and stalled jetliner deliveries.

The vote by members of the union, which represents about 27,000 workers at plants in Washington state, Oregon and Kansas, was about 74 percent in favor of the proposal five days after the two sides tentatively agreed to the deal and union leaders recommended its approval.

The workers are expected to return to Boeing's commercial airplane factories, which have been closed since the Sept. 6 walkout, starting Sunday night.

The union has said the contract protects more than 5,000 factory jobs, prevents the outsourcing of certain positions and preserves health care benefits. It also promises pay increases over four years rather than three, as outlined in earlier offers.

The union members, including electricians, painters, mechanics and other production workers, have lost an average of about $7,000 in base pay since the strike began. They had rejected earlier proposals by the company, headquartered in Chicago.

Read The Full Story

Few Americans See Benefits Of Dollar's Rise
2008-11-01 23:11:50
The value of the U.S. dollar has soared with unheard-of speed against many currencies in recent weeks, but the global financial crisis has altered the usual effects of such a spike.

Normally a rising dollar means more Americans traveling abroad and foreign countries exporting more goods and services to the United States. This time, even though the dollar has gained about 25 percent against the euro and the British pound since early August, few analysts said they expect to see that happening anytime soon.

As Americans face recession and rising joblessness, fewer are tempted to take overseas vacations or buy more imported goods. "In an ideal world, the soaring dollar sounds wonderful" for British exports, "but quite frankly no one is buying anything from anyone," said Howard Wheeldon, senior strategist at BGC Partners in London.

At the same time, the speed of the climb has brought debt problems almost overnight to many struggling countries. Foreign governments and individuals who borrowed in dollars are finding that the corresponding rapid decline of their currencies against the dollar has made it harder, and in some cases impossible, to buy enough dollars to keep up loan payments.

Read The Full Story

Mexico's Top Federal Police Officer Resigns Amid Investigation
2008-11-01 23:11:25
The top officer of Mexico's federal police force has quit amid allegations that drug gangs have infiltrated senior levels of crime-fighting agencies, according to a resignation statement posted Saturday.

Acting federal police Commissioner Gerardo Garay said he was stepping aside "to place myself at the orders of legal judicial authorities to clear up any accusation against me."

Garay did not say what accusations he was referring to, nor were federal officials available Saturday to comment on the resignation; but the newspaper Reform reported Saturday that prosecutors are looking into whether the federal police assigned to the Mexico City airport had aided drug traffickers.

A top operator of the Sinaloa drug cartel was arrested in Mexico City on Oct. 20 following a gun battle with police, and prosecutors say the man was in charge of trafficking cocaine and methamphetamine through the capital's international airport.

Garay wrote in his letter "that during my time in the federal police, my conduct has always strictly adhered to professionalism, legality and efficiency."

Read The Full Story

One In Five U.S. Homeowners With Mortgages Owe More Than House Is Worth
2008-11-01 16:55:12
Nearly one in five U.S. mortgage borrowers owe more to lenders than their homes are worth, and the rate may soon approach one in four as housing prices fall and the economy weakens, a report on Friday shows.

About 7.63 million properties, or 18 percent, had negative equity in September, and another 2.1 million will follow if home prices fall another 5 percent, according to a report by First American CoreLogic.

The data, covering 43 states and Washington, D.C., includes borrowers nationwide, even those who took out mortgages before housing prices began to soar early this decade.

Seven hard-hit states - Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Ohio - had 64 percent of all "underwater" borrowers, but just 41 percent of U.S. mortgages.

"This is very much a regional problem, and people tend to forget that," said David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor's, who expects home prices nationwide to fall another 10 percent before bottoming late next year.

"Most of the country is not in bad shape," he continued. "Things seem to be stabilizing in Michigan, but the big bubble states - Florida, California, Arizona and Nevada - are still very overpriced."

About 68 percent of U.S. adults own their own homes, and about two-thirds of them have mortgages.

Read The Full Story

As Taliban Overwhelm Police Pakistanis Fight Back
2008-11-01 16:54:43
On a rainy Friday evening in early August, six Taliban fighters attacked a police post in a village in Buner, a quiet farming valley just outside Pakistan’s lawless tribal region.

The militants tied up eight policemen and lay them on the floor, and according to local accounts, the youngest member of the gang, a 14-year-old, shot the captives on orders from his boss. The fighters stole uniforms and weapons and fled into the mountains.

Almost instantly, the people of Buner, armed with rifles, daggers and pistols, formed a posse, and after five days they cornered and killed their quarry. A video made on a cellphone showed the six militants lying in the dirt, blood oozing from their wounds.

The stand at Buner has entered the lore of Pakistan’s war against the militants as a dramatic example of ordinary citizens’ determination to draw a line against the militants.

But it says as much about the shortcomings of Pakistan’s increasingly overwhelmed police forces and the pell-mell nature of the efforts to stop the militants, who week by week seem to seep deeper into Pakistan from their tribal strongholds.

Read The Full Story

Editorial: The American Firm
2008-11-01 16:54:11
Intellpuke: This editorial appeared in Le Monde's edition for Thursday, October 30, 2008.

Oligarchy: a political regime in which sovereignty belongs to a small group of people, a restricted and privileged class. The word became fashionable again to define the Cossack capitalism that has plundered Russia for the last several years. But, in the end, weren't Vladimir Putin's friends directly inspired by the American model?

The investigation of Goldman Sachs that we publish today invites a person to think so. It illuminates, in fact, the very close - practically incestuous - relationships (pages 18 to 19) that unite the most powerful bank in the world with the political authority of the premier global power.

Thus, the secretary of the treasury is none other than former Goldman Sachs's boss, Henry Paulson. His principle collaborators for the most part also come from "GS," starting with Neel Kashkari, in charge of the gigantic rescue plan for banks established a month ago to stem the financial crisis. And the list is long, from the president of the board of directors of America's central bank, the Federal Reserve, to that of the World Bank.

Read The Full Story

Iceland, Mired In Debt, Blames Britain For Woes
2008-11-01 16:53:05
No one disputes that Iceland's economic troubles are largely the country’s own fault; but there may be more to the story, at least in the view of Iceland’s government, its citizens and even some outsiders. As grave as their situation already was, they say, Britain - their old friend, NATO ally and trading partner - made it immeasurably worse.

The troubles between the countries began three weeks ago when Britain took the extraordinary step of using its 2001 anti-terrorism laws to freeze the British assets of a failing Icelandic bank. That appeared to brand Iceland a terrorist state.

“I must admit that I was absolutely appalled,” the Icelandic foreign minister, Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir, said in an interview, describing her horror at opening the British treasury department’s home page at the time and finding Iceland on a list of terrorist entities with al-Qaeda, Sudan and North Korea, among others.

In a volatile economic climate, in which appearance matters almost as much as reality, being associated with terrorism is not a good thing.

“The immediate effect was to trigger an almost complete freeze on any banking transactions between Iceland and abroad,” said Jon Danielsson, an economist at the London School of Economics. “When you’re labeled a terrorist, nobody does business with you.”

Read The Full Story

California Board Knew Of Nurses' Criminal Records But Took Years To Act
2008-11-02 01:42:58
California panel lagged in revoking LVNs convicted of sex and drug crimes. The Los Angeles Times found RNs working despite convictions. "The public isn't protected," said expert.

In March 2006, a Long Beach hospital put state licensing authorities on notice: Two patients had accused a nurse of molesting them on a single night. One said that he massaged her breasts, the other that he groped her under her hospital gown, according to hospital and court records.

By year's end, licensed vocational nurse Carlito Paar Manabat, Jr., had pleaded no contest to two counts of sexual battery. He went on to serve six months in jail and register as a sex offender.

Last February, he renewed his license, checking "yes" on the application when asked if he'd been convicted of a crime.

It wasn't until July, more than two years after first being alerted to the problem, that the California Bureau of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians took the first formal steps to revoke or restrict Manabat's license.

Read The Full Story

A World Of Trouble And Discord
2008-11-02 01:42:25

Presidents and prime ministers from major countries around the world will gather in Washington, D.C., in two weeks to begin heated negotiations over the shape of global financial regulation as they scramble to avoid a deep worldwide recession and restore confidence in markets.

Key European allies are pushing for broad new roles for international organizations, empowering them to monitor everything from the global derivatives trade to the way major banks are regulated across borders. But the Bush administration has signaled reluctance to go that far. In the past, it has resisted similar proposals as potentially co-opting the independence of the U.S. financial system or compromising free markets.

Some economists and policymakers say the summit could launch important reforms. Others predict it could turn into an economic tower of Babel, with weak political leaders promoting solutions fundamentally at odds with one another. And if leaders cannot bridge their differences, they could risk another bout of financial disarray.

There are also differences of opinion on the issue of timing. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who pressed for the 20-nation summit, says it must produce concrete and immediate results. However, the host, President Bush, is a lame duck who says the meeting will be "the first in a series" and should focus on principles even though "the specific solutions pursued by every country may not be the same." Emerging proposals to sharpen existing regulatory tools appear to conflict with plans to create entirely new ones.

What is clear is that expectations for the summit among many observers are high.

Read The Full Story

Canadian Troops Fight Taliban Inch By Inch
2008-11-02 01:41:22
Breaking the Taliban's hold on Kandahar has proved elusive.

The company of Canadian soldiers set off from the small base in southern Afghanistan a few hours before dawn. Combat boots crunching along the wide plains of the Kandahar desert, they moved slowly in a long line into the moonless black ahead.

No one said a word as they picked their way across an old cemetery. The soldiers strained to hear any sound of approaching insurgents above the slap of funeral flags in the crisp autumn wind. Someone at the head of the line motioned them forward. A few dozen yards later, they stopped again.

The soldiers' target, a Taliban bomb-supply compound, was only a little more than two miles away. It took the contingent of 200-plus troops about three hours to march from the cemetery to the insurgent stronghold. That is the way the war is being fought in southern Afghanistan: inch by inch.

The pace is frustratingly slow for many of the 2,500 Canadian troops fighting to break the Taliban's hold on Kandahar. The insurgents move swiftly under cover through much of the province. But for the Canadians, every tactical wiggle in Kandahar involves days of planning and dozens - sometimes hundreds - of soldiers.

Read The Full Story

Tempo, Rhetoric Heat Up On Campaign Trail
2008-11-01 23:12:00
Barack Obama and John McCain sprinted through a dwindling number of battleground states on Saturday, appealing for votes by returning to the core arguments of their candidacies with time running out.

Obama seized on a rare campaign appearance by Vice President Cheney to drive home his theme that electing McCain would represent a continuation of the failed policies of the Bush administration. Speaking in Laramie, Wyoming, Cheney declared that McCain is "the right leader for this moment in history," and Obama responded to the endorsement at a rally here in Pueblo, Colorado.

"I'd like to congratulate Senator McCain on this endorsement because he really earned it," said Obama. "He served as Washington's biggest cheerleader for going to war in Iraq and supports economic policies that are no different from the last eight years."

Campaigning in Springfield, Virginia, McCain reiterated his contention that Obama is too liberal and inexperienced for the presidency and continued to cast doubt on the Democratic nominee's patriotism. McCain pointed to Obama's remark in Des Moines on Friday that his victory in the Iowa caucuses in January had "vindicated" his faith in America.

"My country has never had anything to prove to me, my friends," McCain told the crowd as it loudly booed Obama. "I have always had faith in it, and I have been humbled and honored to serve it."

Read The Full Story

Iraq Sends More Police To Border With Syria
2008-11-01 23:11:37
Iraq sent police reinforcements Saturday to the Syrian border after last weekend's U.S. raid against an alleged al-Qaeda hideout in Syria raised tension between the two countries, said officials.

Police Col. Jubair Rashid Naief said a police quick reaction force for Anbar province moved to the border town of Qaim, about 200 miles northwest of Baghdad, to prevent al-Qaeda from moving into the area from Syria.

Al-Arabiya television quoted witnesses as saying scores of armored vehicles were seen moving from the Anbar provincial capital of Ramadi to Qaim, which had been a major al-Qaeda stronghold until Anbar's Sunni tribes turned against al-Qaeda.

The police moves follow last Sunday's bold U.S. raid on the Syrian border town of Abu Kamal, during which U.S. officials say they killed a top al-Qaeda militant who operated a network of smuggling fighters into Iraq.

The U.S. has not officially acknowledged the attack. Syria says eight civilians were killed and has branded the raid as aggression.

Read The Full Story

Congressmen Using Law As Shield Against Investigations
2008-11-01 16:55:25

A constitutional clause designed to protect members of Congress from abusive or harassing lawsuits is increasingly being used by lawmakers as a shield in public corruption investigations, frustrating investigators even as the FBI attempts to police wrongdoing at a pace not seen since the Watergate scandal.

Under a constitutional provision known as the "speech or debate clause," lawmakers have wide protections that cover their work on Capitol Hill. That means legislation, floor speeches, and wiretaps that capture information related to votes and strategy are often out of bounds in developing a criminal case.

The latest lawmaker to seize on the controversial legal argument is Rick Renzi (R-Arizona), who is citing the wiretaps of his Verizon Wireless BlackBerry in trying to persuade a court to throw out charges of fraud, extortion and conspiracy against him.

For four weeks surrounding the 2006 midterm elections, FBI agents secretly listened as Renzi and fellow House members traded phone calls to gossip about congressional leadership races and fret over the future of the Republican Party. The conversations also revealed intrigue and favor-trading among House members and their aides.

Earlier this week, Renzi received a boost when the House leadership, both Republicans and Democrats, asked the judge in his case for permission to file a friend-of-the-court brief in support of at least some of Renzi's arguments.

Read The Full Story

Commentary: Who Watches While U.S. Invades - Again
2008-11-01 16:54:59
Intellpuke: This commentary was written by Marcia Mitchell, co-author with Thomas Mitchell of "The Spy Who Tried To Stop A War: Katharine Gun and the Secret Plot to Sanction the Iraq War" and "The Spy Who Seduced America: Lies and Betrayal in the Heat of the Cold War". Ms. Mitchell's commentary appeared on's website edition for Saturday, November 1, 2008. Her commentary follows:

Has anyone in Washington noticed? The new U.S. raids into Pakistan and Syria are, as was the invasion of Iraq, in blatant violation of international law. But who's keeping track of this sort of thing? Certainly not senior U.S. officials, who apparently have weighed the negative consequences of illegal military operations against their perceived benefits and opted in favor of the latter.

Washington officials apparently reason that relations with Syria, already damaged over the attacks, may well be mended with the arrival of a new occupant in the Oval Office, given that country's desire for an improved relationship with the United States. Possibly, but not certain. And what may work with Syria may not work with Pakistan; further, what may work with leaders of these countries may not work with their enraged citizens. There is no question that US raids launched from Iraqi soil only add to this latest downward spiral into Middle Eastern mud.

It is fair to ask if anyone in Washington has noticed of late that Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter clearly establishes the rules for one country attacking another, rules to which the U.S. is a signatory. International law provides three reasons for use of arms against an enemy - defense against imminent military attack, an overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe, or a U.N. Security Council resolution.

(Regime change, now used as justification for having invaded Iraq, is specifically precluded as a reason for war. But again, no one seems to be noticing that toppling Saddam became a flawed justification once Weapons of Mass Destruction proved to be among the missing.)

Perhaps concern over these new forays across foreign borders is unwarranted. Certainly, selective raids against Syria and Pakistan hardly amount to war. But they are acts of aggression, plain and simple. The fact that this sort of cross-border incident is commonplace around the world is no reason for the United States to continue this sort of operation.

Read The Full Story

Editorial: Oh, Washington? While You're Bailing...
2008-11-01 16:54:25
Intellpuke: This editorial appeared in the New York Times edition for Saturday, November 1, 2008.

At a Congressional hearing this week, the mayor of Trenton cut through the weighty economic theories concerning this latest downturn and borrowed a simple message from the Beatles. “Help!” Mayor Douglas Palmer pleaded. Like mayors and governors across the country, Mr. Palmer asked Congress to funnel money to city and state governments where tax revenues are plummeting and requests for aid are soaring.

The National Conference of State Legislatures has begun appealing for Congressional help with the “precarious” financial status of many states. Unlike the federal government, most states and cities require balanced budgets, and the conference has estimated a $26 billion shortfall for 27 states so far this year. If the economy continues its slide, that figure is surely to grow, with some estimates rising to $100 billion by the next fiscal year.

California is facing a $3 billion shortfall this year. New Jersey has $400 million less than needed for a $33 billion budget. Gov. David Paterson of New York, whose Wall Street tax revenues are evaporating, has estimated a record $47 billion budget deficit over the next four years. And New York City’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, who also sees his revenues shrinking precipitously, has called on Washington for a “new New Deal.”

If Congress and the White House can bail out bankers and insurance companies and possibly the auto industry, they should be able to help state and local governments, too. The aid could be temporary, the way it has been during past recessions. And it should come after cities and states have downsized to the essentials.

Read The Full Story

Daylight Savings: It's Not Just A Matter Of Time
2008-11-01 16:53:42
P.S. Be Sure To Set Clocks Back 1 Hour Saturday Night.

Time, as in the relentless forward-ticking of our lives, is mostly a nuisance, a loose concept that was standardized about 120 years ago when railroads decided that there should be an official noon rather than just whenever the sun was overhead-ish.

It is the master of doctor appointments and movie startings, and arbitrary decisions that it's too late to phone someone on this or that coast. Time is daily grind minutiae.

Except when it represents something bigger.

Sunday morning, when we end daylight saving time by staging a countrywide 2 a.m. do-over, we will be participating in a 90-year tradition that has, throughout the world, been both a political maneuver and a statement of rebellion. A matter of life and death and a symbol of assimilation. An extra hour of sleep each fall that will only be lost again come spring.

Japan doesn't observe daylight saving.

This is noteworthy, because most industrialized nations do. It's a spot-check mark of a developed civilization, like paid vacation or your own version of "American Idol". Europe and the United States kicked off the concept during World War I as an energy-saving measure, to increase production and consumption by shifting the daylight to when we're awake.

Read The Full Story

Fungus Identified As Bat Killer
2008-11-01 16:52:53

Something is killing the little brown bats of the Northeast, and researchers may have fingered the culprit: a fungus.

David S. Blehert, of the United States Geological Survey's National Wildlife Health Center in Wisconsin, and colleagues identified a fungus linked to white-nose syndrome, a condition that has affected bats in recent winters in upstate New York, Vermont and Massachusetts. The fungus, newly described, is unusual in that it grows in the cold, dotting areas of the bat’s skin with white strands. It penetrates the skin through hair follicles and sweat glands and may cause the bats to starve while they are hibernating, said the researchers.

“We do have good circumstantial evidence that this could be the primary pathogen” causing the deaths of large percentages of populations of little browns and other bats in caves in the region, said Dr. Blehert. The die-offs are one of the worst calamities to hit bat populations in the United States.

It had been thought that the fungus was a secondary symptom of whatever was killing the animals - a virus or a toxin like an environmental contaminant. The fact that the identical organism was found in bats from several caves “kind of rules out the possibility that there are all kinds of fungi out there and that opportunistically they are infecting the animals,” said Alan C. Hicks of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, a co-author of a paper on the fungus published online by Science.

Read The Full Story
Original materials on this site © Free Internet Press.

Any mirrored or quoted materials © their respective authors, publications, or outlets, as shown on their publication, indicated by the link in the news story.

Original Free Internet Press materials may be copied and/or republished without modification, provided a link to is given in the story, or proper credit is given.

Newsletter options may be changed in your preferences on

Please email there are any questions.

XML/RSS/RDF Newsfeed Syndication:


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home