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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Tuesday November 4 2008 - (813)

Tuesday November 4 2008 edition
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Surprise! ... NOT! Alaska Panel Appointed By Governor's Office Clears Palin In Troopergate Scandal
2008-11-04 04:00:59
A report released on Monday by a state board found that Gov. Sarah Palin did not apply improper pressure to try to dismiss a state trooper who was her former brother-in-law and did not violate state ethics laws in the firing of her public safety commissioner.

The report by the Alaska Personnel Board contradicts the conclusions last month of a separate inquiry into the matter overseen by a bipartisan legislative panel. The earlier inquiry found that Gov. Palin had breached a state ethics act by pressing to have the trooper, Mike Wooten, fired. The panel said, however, that the governor was within her rights to fire the public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan.

The personnel board’s report, based on an investigation led by an independent counsel, Timothy J. Petumenos, concluded that there was no evidence to prove Palin or any state employee had acted improperly in Monegan’s dismissal.

The report said the legislative inquiry had based its conclusions on an incorrect interpretation of state ethics laws and on insufficient evidence. The lawmakers who ordered the first inquiry stood by their report on Monday.

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In This Economy, Even Sex Doesn't Sell
2008-11-04 04:00:35
The women at Donna's Ranch are crowded around the kitchen table on a warm summer night, dining on stir fry, tugging at thigh-high dresses, griping about depleted bank accounts. At this northeastern Nevada bordello, which marks a gravel road's end, they woo grizzled truckers and weary travelers for a single reason: money.

Lately, the women don't go home with much.

Amy, 58, once bought a $32,000 Toyota Tacoma in cash; now her $1,200 mortgage saps her dwindling pay. Some weeks, she could make more flipping burgers than flirting under a made-up name. Marisol's daughters think she works at a resort; she struggles to keep up the ruse. It now takes months, not weeks, to bring $5,000 back to Southern California.

"Marisol," one of her regulars tells her, "it costs me in gas what it takes for me to spend a half-hour with you."

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The '08 Race: A Sea Change For Politics As We Know It
2008-11-04 04:00:14

The 2008 race for the White House that comes to an end on Tuesday fundamentally upended the way presidential campaigns are fought in this country, a legacy that has almost been lost with all the attention being paid to the battle between Senators John McCain and Barack Obama.

It has rewritten the rules on how to reach voters, raise money, organize supporters, manage the news media, track and mold public opinion, and wage - and withstand - political attacks, including many carried by blogs that did not exist four years ago. It has challenged the consensus view of the American electoral battleground, suggesting that Democrats can at a minimum be competitive in states and regions that had long been Republican strongholds.

The size and makeup of the electorate could be changed because of efforts by Democrats to register and turn out new black, Hispanic and young voters. This shift may have long-lasting ramifications for what the parties do to build enduring coalitions, especially if intensive and technologically-driven voter turnout programs succeed in getting more people to the polls. McCain’s advisers expect a record-shattering turnout of 130 million people, many being brought into the political process for the first time.

“I think we’ll be analyzing this election for years as a seminal, transformative race,” said Mark McKinnon, a senior adviser to President Bush’s campaigns in 2000 and 2004. “The year campaigns leveraged the Internet in ways never imagined. The year we went to warp speed. The year the paradigm got turned upside down and truly became bottom up instead of top down.”

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Former Soviet Bloc Country To Lead European Union
2008-11-04 03:59:55
It ought to be a seminal moment: As a new president takes office in Washington, D.C., the Czech Republic assumes the rotating presidency of the European Union,the first former Soviet bloc country to lead the group of 470 million Europeans, and during one of the worst economic conflagrations in a century.

Instead of welcoming the opportunity for this country of 10 million to shepherd the world’s biggest trading bloc, the fiery Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, has invoked the Munich agreement of 1938, when the European powers helped to carve up Czechoslovakia.

He said in late October that the Czech presidency would be “insignificant” since Europe, now as then, was controlled by France, Germany, Italy and Britain. Czech politicians, he warned, should not think they could change anything.

Like their Central European neighbors, Czechs have spent centuries straddling the continent’s East-West divide, pushed and pulled between Russia and Germany or Austria. The prospect, come Jan. 1, of six months at the helm of the European Union at a sensitive point in history seems to have brought out national neuroses from the past.

The center-right government of Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek is teetering badly after huge losses in recent regional elections, prompting alarm that the European Union could be led by a rudderless nation.

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Automakers Report Grim October Sales
2008-11-03 18:33:53
Vehicle sales in the United States tumbled to multi-decade lows in October as tightened credit markets and an economic slowdown kept consumers away from dealerships.

General Motors on Monday reported an incredible 45 percent decline in its sales, and Chrysler said its sales were down 35 percent. The Ford Motor Company said it sold 30.2 percent fewer cars and trucks.

Toyota Motor said its sales were 23 percent lower, despite offering no-interest financing and large discounts on many models. Sales were down 33 percent at Nissan and 25.2 percent at Honda.

“If you adjust for population growth, this is probably the worst industry sales month in the post-World War II era,” Mark LaNeve, G.M.'s vice president for sales in North America, said in a statement. “We believe there is considerable pent-up demand from the last three years, but until the credit markets open up and consumer confidence improves, the entire U.S. economy, and any industry like autos that relies on financing, will suffer.”

G.M. said it would begin its year-end “red tag” sale on Tuesday, a month sooner than usual, while Toyota extended its no-interest loan offers until the end of November. People who do want to buy a car will find a plethora of good deals, but the automakers are finding that many potential customers are more interested in saving their money.

“Buyers are in the driver’s seat in a market that’s awash with good deals, strong values and new products,” said the Toyota division general manager, Bob Carter.

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Germany's Commerzbank Seeks $10.5 Billion In Bailout Aid
2008-11-03 18:33:29
Commerzbank on Monday became the first commercial lender in Germany to accept government cash, while several other European banks reported poor earnings, an indication of the continuing weakness in the sector.

Commerzbank, based in Frankfurt, said it would avail itself of 8.2 billion euros, or $10.5 billion, from Germany’s financial markets stabilization fund to strengthen its capital base.

In Paris, the French bank Societe Generale said its third-quarter profit slid 84 percent from a year earlier, to 183 million euros, as revenue fell 5 percent, to 5.1 billion euros. The bank’s profit was well below market expectations, but investors said there had been relief that there were no major surprises.

Societe Generale is still trying to restore confidence after it announced a $7.2 billion loss in January that it pinned on a junior futures trader, Jerome Kerviel. It wrote off 1.4 billion euros in the latest quarter.

“This shows that banks are not only suffering from market dislocation, but also from the economic downturn,” said  Mamoun Tazi, a banking analyst at MF Global in London.

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U.S. Supreme Court Hears American Indian Land Case
2008-11-03 18:32:37
Rhode Island officials told the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday that permitting the federal government to hold land owned by the Narragansett Indian Tribe would undercut the state's criminal, safety and zoning laws.

State leaders fear if the 31-acre lot is governed by tribal and federal law, they would lose jurisdiction over it. The tribe could then build a casino on the land or create a tax-free zone that would hurt the state's revenues. Casinos are banned under state law, but tribes can build and operate them on lands held in federal trust.

Justices stepped into the dispute over the federal government's ability to take land into trust for American Indian tribes in a closely watched case that could have a dramatic impact on how tribes recognized after the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act are allowed to buy, govern and use land.

Rhode Island argued that federal law prevents the federal government from taking land into trust for American Indian tribes recognized after the 1934 act. The Narragansetts became a federally recognized tribe in 1983.

''What the government is asking for is the exact opposite of what the statute clearly requires,'' said former Solicitor General Theodore Olson, arguing for the state.

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Debt Linked To Buyouts Tightens Economic Vise
2008-11-03 13:53:55

Private equity firms embarked on one of the biggest spending sprees in corporate history for nearly three years, using borrowed money to gobble up huge swaths of industries and some of the biggest names - Neiman Marcus, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Toys “R” Us.

The new owners then saddled the companies with the billions of dollars of debt used to buy them. Now, many of the loans and bonds sold to finance the deals are about to come due at the worst possible time.

So, like homeowners with an adjustable rate mortgage that just went up, some of private equity’s titans are facing a huge squeeze, and that is coming at the same time consumers are staying home with their wallets closed.

Already this year, big retailers backed by private equity, like Linens ’n Things, Mervyn’s and Steve & Barry’s, have filed for bankruptcy.

Analysts expect an even broader array of companies backed by private equity - including resorts like Harrah's Entertainment and lenders like GMAC, the financing arm of General Motors - to face even more pressure as profits shrivel and creditors come knocking.

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U.S. Rejects G.M.'s Call For Help In Chrysler Merger
2008-11-03 13:53:20
The U.S. Treasury Department has turned down a request by General Motors for up to $10 billion to help finance the automaker’s possible merger with Chrysler,according to people close to the discussions.

Instead of providing new assistance, the Treasury Department told G.M. on Friday, the Bush administration will now shift its focus to speeding up the $25 billion loan program for fuel-efficient vehicles approved by Congress in September and administered by the Energy Department.

Treasury officials were said to be reluctant to broaden the $700 billion financial rescue program to include industrial companies or to play a part in a G.M.-Chrysler merger that could cost tens of thousands of jobs.

It remained unclear whether the officials were also seeking to avoid making any decision that would conflict with the goals of a new presidential administration. The Democratic candidate, Senator Barack Obama, has said in recent days that he supports increasing aid to the troubled auto companies, while Senator John McCain has not said whether he would support aid beyond the $25 billion.

While G.M. and Chrysler continue to talk, no deal is expected until the government clarifies its role, if any. Potential investors in the deal have been hesitant to back the merger without federal assistance.

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Experts Question AIG $143 Billion Bailout
2008-11-03 13:52:52

A number of financial experts now fear that the federal government's $143 billion attempt to rescue troubled insurance giant American International Group(AIG) may not work, and some argue that company shareholders and taxpayers would have been better served by a bankruptcy filing.

The Treasury Department leaped to keep AIG from going bankrupt on Sept. 16, and in the past seven weeks, AIG has drawn down $90 billion in federal bailout loans, but some key AIG players argue that bankruptcy would have offered more structure and greater protections during a time of intense market volatility.

AIG declined to comment on the matter.

Echoing some other experts, Ann Rutledge, a credit derivatives expert and founding principal of R&R Consulting, said she is not sure how badly the financial system would have been rocked if the government had let AIG file for bankruptcy protection, but she fears that the government is papering over the problem with a quick fix that was not well planned.

"What we see now are a lot of games by the government to keep these institutions going with a lot of cash," she said. "This is to fill holes in companies' balance sheets, and they're trying to hold at bay the charges that our financial system is insolvent."

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Stocks Flat In Early Trading In Response To Economic Data
2008-11-03 13:52:18

U.S. stocks were flat in early trading Monday as cautious investors digested a new set of gloomy economic data. The Dow Jones industrial average was flat, up 9 points. The Standard & Poor's 500 and the Nasdaq were also flat.

The Commerce Department reported that construction spending fell .3 percent in September, led by a drop in home construction. That was a smaller drop than expected by analysts.

Manufacturing activity fell to 38.9 in October, the lowest level since September 1982, according to a reading from the Institute for Supply Management. The 4.6 percent drop from September was the third consecutive monthly loss and represented a faster rate of decline, said the group.

"It appears that manufacturing is experiencing significant demand destruction as a result of recent events," Norbert J. Ore, chairman of ISM's manufacturing business survey committee, said in a statement.

Both reports are seen as another indicator of the depth of a recession that many analysts now presume has already begun.

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French Aid Worker Abducted In Kabul, Afghanistan
2008-11-03 13:50:51
Gunmen kidnapped a French aid worker in central Kabul Monday morning and shot dead an Afghan bystander who tried to thwart the abduction, said police and witnesses.

The kidnapping was the latest of a series of incidents spreading alarm among foreigners in the capital. It was carried out just after 9 a.m. on a busy street of shops and homes

Last month, a British aid worker with dual South African nationality, Gayle Williams, 34, was killed in Kabul and the  Taliban said it had executed her for spreading Christianity. There was no immediate claim for Monday’s kidnapping but the Taliban denied involvement.

Two French aid workers were making their way from their residence to their office when three gunmen armed with assault rifles tried to seize them, said shopkeepers and bystanders.

One French citizen from a group known as AFRANE, meaning Amitie  Franco-Afghane, or French-Afghan Friendship, escaped when an Afghan working as a driver in the intelligence service tackled one of the kidnappers and grabbed his gun.

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As China Faces Falter Economy, Confidence Turns To Fear
2008-11-04 04:00:49
When Chong Yik Toy Co. went bankrupt, the bosses fled without meeting their payroll and angry workers took to the streets in protest. Less than 72 hours later, the local government came to the rescue.

Armed with bags full of cash totaling half a million dollars, accountants began distributing the money so the 900 former employees would have something to get by on. The Chinese officials who made the emergency payments on Oct. 21 called it an "advance," part of a "back-pay insurance fund."

Yet the reality was obvious to everyone: It was a government bailout.

In the initial weeks of the global financial crisis, Chinese officials resolutely declared that they were not significantly affected. But now, as factory closings, dire corporate earnings reports and stock market losses continue to mount, the Communist Party's confidence has changed to another feeling entirely: fear.

For the first time in the 30 years since China began its capitalist transformation, there is a perception that the economy is in real trouble. And for the Communist Party, the crisis is not just an economic one, but a political one. The government's response offers a glimpse into its still ambiguous relationship with capitalism - relatively hands-off in good times, but quick to intervene directly at the first signs of a downturn in order to prevent popular unrest.

In recent weeks, local governments have set up special loans for ailing companies and initiated severance payments for workers who have already lost their jobs. Officials are candid in acknowledging the efforts are needed to head off what they call "mass incidents" - the Communist Party euphemism for protests.

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Bones Conclusively Proved To Those Of Steve Fossett
2008-11-04 04:00:23
In California, Madera County officials announced Monday that the DNA of two bones discovered last week in a remote part of the Sierra Nevada matched that of missing adventurer Steve Fossett.

County officials said they had received test results from a California Department of Justice forensics lab in Richmond, California, that conclusively showed that the bones found Oct. 29 belonged to Fossett, who vanished over a year ago.

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Obama, McCain Make Last Appeals
2008-11-04 04:00:05
Polls show Obama with clear advantage.

Democrat Barack Obama, seeking a history-making victory in a presidential campaign that has captivated the country as few others ever have, maintained a clear advantage over Republican John McCain Monday as the two made final appeals in battleground states and readied massive get-out-the-vote operations in advance of Tuesday's balloting.

State and national polls released Monday underscored the steep hill McCain must climb in the final hours to reach the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House. Burdened by President Bush's unpopularity and an economic crisis that redrew the race in September in Obama's favor, the senator from Arizona sprinted through a series of critical states Monday - all but one of which Bush carried four years ago - exhorting his supporters to help him defy the odds.

Obama concentrated on Florida, North Carolina and Virginia, appealing to supporters to produce a huge turnout in those battlegrounds as he sought to checkmate his rival by keeping alive as many options as possible for winning an electoral college majority. The strategy, laid down in the summer at the beginning of the general election, has proved successful in the late stages of the race and require McCain to win virtually every state where the polls are close to deny Obama a victory.

Obama, the first African American nominated by a major party, is looking not only to win the presidency but also to produce a popular vote majority, which no Democrat has done since 1976, when Jimmy Carter won 50.1 percent. By invading Republican territory in the South, Midwest and Rocky Mountains, Obama also is bidding to redraw an electoral map that has been static and closely divided into red and blue states in the past two elections.

If Obama were to win, he probably would enter the White House with enhanced Democratic majorities on Capitol Hill. House Democrats are looking at the potential for a gain that could come close to equaling the 31 seats they added two years ago when they took control of both chambers. Senate Democrats are trying to add substantially to the 51 seats they currently control, with reaching 60 not out of the question.

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Networks Vow Not Predict A Winner Until One Candidate Is The Winner
2008-11-04 03:59:44
If Sen. Barack Obama racks up victories in key Eastern and Midwestern states Tuesday night, television viewers will probably hear that he appears headed for victory even before the polls close in the West.

Officials at the broadcast and cable networks, as well as the Associated Press, said Monday that they would not project a president-elect until one of the candidates has at least 270 electoral votes in his column - and they won't award any electoral votes from a state until after all the polls in that state are scheduled to close.

Short of an Obama landslide, it's unlikely that either candidate will reach the requisite 270 electoral votes without  Western states such as California or Nevada.

That won't stop network analysts from indicating the direction the race appears headed.

"If it seems very likely that one man will reach 270, we will leave little doubt about our expectations," said one TV news executive.
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Spain To Allow Out-Of-Work Homeowners To Defer Mortgage Payments
2008-11-03 18:33:41
Faced with an economy that is slipping into recession and the highest unemployment rate in the European Union, the Spanish government Monday unveiled what may be a first-of-its-kind program to allow out-of-work homeowners to defer mortgage payments.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriquez Zapatero told a news conference in Madrid that the package would also include incentives for employers to hire the jobless.

Under the mortgage-relief program, unemployed homeowners and some retirees could postpone payment of half their monthly bill for two years starting in January - as long as the amount deferred each month was no more than 500 euros, or about $635. The offer would apply to mortgages of up to 170,000 euros and could affect about half a million people, said Zapatero.

It was not clear whether thousands of foreigners who own homes in Spain would also qualify.

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U.S. Stocks Started And Ended Flat Monday After Economic Data
2008-11-03 18:33:13
A momentous week for Washington began quietly on Wall Street, as stocks barely budged amid downbeat reports on the construction, manufacturing and auto industries.

Sales at Ford, Chrysler and General Motors fell last month to their worst levels in decades and business in the manufacturing sector shrank at the fastest rate in 26 years.

The reports underscored the dramatic slowdown of the economy, but did not present a significantly different view of the business outlook for the rest of the year. Stocks fluctuated in a narrow range for most of the day, but stayed mostly flat as investors appeared wary of wading into the market ahead of Tuesday’s presidential election.

At the close, the Dow Jones industrial average was virtually unchanged, finishing down 5.18 points at 9,319.83. The decline was small, but it did break a two-day winning streak for the index, its first in a month. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index lost 0.25 percent and the Nasdaq composite index gained 0.3 percent on modest gains in technology stocks.

The manufacturing index of the Institute for Supply Management fell to 38.9 in October from 43.5 in September, on a scale where readings below 50 indicate contraction in the industry. It was the lowest reading since September 1982.

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High Turnout May Add To Problems At Polling Places
2008-11-03 13:54:06

Millions of voters will encounter an unfamiliar low-tech landscape at the polls on Tuesday. About half of all voters will vote in a way that is different from what they did in the last presidential election, and most will use paper ballots rather than the touch-screen machines that have caused concern among voting experts.

The change does not guarantee a smooth election day, as the nation’s voting system remains untested for what is expected to be an unprecedented turnout. Six years after the largest federal overhaul in how elections are run, voting experts are still predicting machine and ballot shortages in several swing states and late tallies on election night.

Two-thirds of voters will mark their choice with a pencil on a paper ballot that is counted by an optical scanning machine, a method considered far more reliable and verifiable than touch screens, but paper ballots bring their own potential problems, say voting experts.

The scanners can break down, leading to delays and confusion for poll workers and voters, and the paper ballots of about a third of all voters will be counted not at the polling place but later at a central county location. That means that if a voter has made an error - not filling in an oval properly, for example, a mistake often made by the kind of novice voters who will be flocking to the polls - it will not be caught until it is too late. As a result, those ballots will be disqualified.

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Pentagon, Defense Contractors Expect Funding Cuts Due To Financial Meltdown
2008-11-03 13:53:41
After years of unfettered growth in military budgets, Defense Department planners, top commanders and weapons manufacturers now say they are almost certain that the financial meltdown will have a serious impact on future Pentagon spending.

Across the military services, deep apprehension has led to closed-door meetings and detailed calculations in anticipation of potential cuts. Civilian and military budget planners concede that they are already analyzing worst-case contingency spending plans that would freeze or slash their overall budgets.

The obvious targets for savings would be expensive new arms programs, which have racked up cost overruns of at least $300 billion for the top 75 weapons systems, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).  Congressional budget experts say likely targets for reductions are the Army’s plans for fielding advanced combat systems, the Air Force'sJoint Strike Fighter, the Navy's new destroyer and the ground-based missile defense system.

Even before the crisis on Wall Street, senior Pentagon officials were anticipating little appetite for growth in military spending after seven years of war. The question of how to pay for national security now looms as a significant challenge for the next president, at a time when the Pentagon’s annual base budget for standard operations has reached more than $500 billion, the highest level since World War II when adjusted for inflation.

On top of that figure, supplemental spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has topped $100 billion each year, frustrating Republicans as well as Democrats in Congress. In all, the Defense Department now accounts for half of the government’s total discretionary spending, and Pentagon and military officials fear it could be the choice for major cuts to pay the rest of the government’s bills.

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Editorial: Lame Duck Summit
2008-11-03 13:53:03
Intellpuke: This editorial appeared in the New York Times edition for Monday, November 3, 2008.

President Bush will be the lamest of ducks by Nov. 15, when leaders of 20 nations meet in Washington to discuss the global financial crisis. With only two months left in office, he will not be around to implement any policy changes he proposes or agrees to.

Mr. Bush’s bigger problem is his utter lack of credibility when it comes to the central question of how to regulate national and global financial markets to ensure that this disaster never happens again. Eight years and a huge financial crash later, and Mr. Bush is still extolling the corrective powers of unrestrained markets.

Still, the meeting could not, and should not, wait until a more opportune time in America’s political cycle. With the world entering a United States-led recession, the global economic powers need to air their concerns and global markets need to see that political leaders are ready to work together to restore stability.

What this first meeting should not do is try to impose any real policy changes. With the crisis still unfolding, it’s too soon for extensive reforms. Philosophical differences are also too deep and with Mr. Bush on his way out, the Americans are in no position to sign anything.

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Circuit City To Close 155 Stores, Lay Off Employees
2008-11-03 13:52:32

Circuit City announced Monday morning that it is closing 155 stores and eliminating 17 percent of its employees as the struggling Richmond-based retailer tries to conserve cash and fend off pressure from vendors.

The nation's second-largest consumer electronics retailer said the pullback in consumer spending coupled with the economic downturn and tightening of the credit markets has severely hurt sales this quarter. Its vendors have tightened their lending standards, with some requesting payment before shipment, said the company.

Circuit City will close stores in 55 markets, marking its exit from about a dozen areas. Three stores in Maryland and three stores in Virginia will be shut down. They are located in Baltimore, Beltsville and Marlow Heights in Maryland and Charlottesville, Manassas and McLean in Virginia.

The company said the stores probably will not open Tuesday but will open for business Wednesday to begin store closing sales. Circuit City also axed plans to open 10 new stores in fiscal 2009 and will suspend store openings in fiscal 2010.

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Pakistan Warns U.S. Against Further Air Strikes In Tribal Areas
2008-11-03 13:51:06
Pakistan's defense minister cautioned the newly appointed head of the U.S. Central Command on Monday that launching further missile strikes in the country's troubled tribal areas could increase tensions between the two countries.

Pakistani Defense Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar issued the blunt warning to Gen. David H. Petraeus during his first official visit to Pakistan as head of the U.S. war in neighboring Afghanistan. Mukhtar, who also called for more coordination between the U.S. and Pakistani militaries, said the recent increase in U.S.-led cross-border strikes had created "bad blood" between the two allies. On Friday, 27 people were killed in two separate U.S. airstrikes in northwest Pakistan.

The Pakistani Defense Ministry said in a statement released shortly after the meeting that frequent attacks inside Pakistan by U.S. Predator drones "could generate anti-American sentiments" and "create outrage and uproar" among Pakistanis.

Petraeus, who took charge of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on Friday, and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard A. Boucher met with Mukhtar and Pakistan's top military officer, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani. It was part of the first leg of a tour that is expected to include a visit soon to Afghanistan.

Petraeus was also expected to meet with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and several other government officials, although a U.S. State Department spokesman in Islamabad said he could not confirm the meeting with Zardari. The spokesman declined to comment on Petraeus' talks with Pakistani officials.

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Report: The Financial Crisis And Sustainable Security
2008-11-03 00:41:07
Intellpuke: The following report was written by Professor Paul Rogers, a global consultant to Oxford Research Group and Professor of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford. I found it well worth the read and thought it merits a larger readership. Prof. Rogers' report follows:


Oxford Research Group’s (ORG) International Security Monthly Briefings focus primarily on issues such as the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, the evolution of western counter-terrorism policies and the development of the al-Qaeda movement. On occasions they also cover matters such as energy security, climate change and world food prospects. In view of the serious financial situation that has developed in recent months, this briefing provides an initial analysis of the possible impact of the crisis on security.

This is undertaken in the context of ORG’s work on sustainable security which, in turn, is predicated on an underlying analysis of the security issues that are likely to be most prominent in the next two to three decades. This assesses that there are four main trends that are particularly salient.

Firstly, global socio-economic divisions are widening, with most of the benefits of the past three decades of economic growth being concentrated in the hands of a trans-global elite community of about 1.2 billion people, mainly in the countries of the Atlantic community and the West Pacific, but with elite communities in the tens of millions in countries such as China, India and Brazil. Improvements in education, literacy and communications in recent decades have increased the awareness of many marginalized people of this unjust distribution of wealth. In extreme circumstances this can lead to the rise of violent and extreme social movements such as the Naxalites in India.

Secondly, climate change is expected to have profound effects on that majority of the world’s population living in the tropical and sub-tropical regions but without the economic resources to respond to severe storms, rising sea levels and drastic changes in rainfall distribution. Increased migration and social and political unrest are likely consequences.

Thirdly, resource competition, especially over energy resources in the Persian Gulf region and elsewhere, will, on present trends, be an increasing source of tension and conflict.

Lastly, the strong tendency of powerful elites to maintain security, by military force if necessary, is expected to be counter-productive, as has already been seen by many of the consequences of the war on terror.

Countering such trends involves a fundamental commitment to emancipation and socio-economic justice. This includes fair trade, debt cancellation, assistance for sustainable development, a radical cut in carbon emissions, rapidly increased use of renewable energy resources and the development of conflict prevention and conflict resolution policies that avoid the use of force.
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