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 .

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Wednesday November 26 2008 - (813)

Wednesday November 26 2008 edition
Free Internet Press is operated on your donations.
Donate Today

Gates To Stay On As Defense Secretary Under Obama; Retired Marine Gen. Jones To National Security Adviser
2008-11-25 21:21:33
Seeking experience in a time of war, President-elect Barack Obama will keep Defense Secretary Robert Gates in that job - if only temporarily - and he has chosen a retired Marine general to be his national security adviser, officials said Tuesday.

Gates and retired Gen. James Jones bring years of experience to the Cabinet of a 47-year-old commander in chief with a relatively thin foreign policy resume.

Obama, who rolled out the key components of his economic team this week, plans to announce his foreign policy brain trust after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Gates, who has served as President George W. Bush's defense chief for two years, will remain in the Cabinet for some time, probably a year, according to an official familiar with discussions between the two men. A Democratic official said Jones was Obama's pick to head the National Security Council, the part of the White House structure that deals with foreign policy.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because Obama has not authorized anybody to discuss the deliberations.

Read The Full Story

Commentary: Obama's Treasury Pick Has All The Wrong Ideas
2008-11-25 21:21:12
Intellpuke: This commentary was written by journalist and author William Greider, and was posted on The Nation's website edition for Tuesday, November 25, 2008.

A year ago, when Barack Obama said it was time to turn the page, his campaign declaration seemed to promise a fresh start for Washington. I, for one, failed to foresee Obama would turn the page backward. The president-elect's lineup for key governing positions has opted for continuity, not change. Virtually all of his leading appointments are restoring the Clinton presidency, only without Mr. Bill. In some important ways, Obama's selections seem designed to sustain the failing policies of George W. Bush.

This is not the last word and things are changing rapidly. But Obama's choices have begun to define him. His victory, it appears, was a triumph for the cautious center-right politics that has described the Democratic party for several decades. Those of us who expected more were duped, not so much by Obama but by our own wishful thinking.

Let us stipulate that these are all honorable people, smart and experienced veterans of Washington combat. But they represent the Democratic party that mainly sees itself as managerial - making government work better. The long era of conservative dominance has taught them to keep their distance from big reform ideas that promise fundamental change of the system. Their operating style is incremental and cautiously practical. They conscientiously avoid (or actively block) propositions that sound too liberal or radical. Alas, Obama is coming to power at a critical moment when incrementalism is irrelevant. The system is in collapse. Financial chaos won't wait for patient deliberations.

Read The Full Story

One-Third Of China's Yellow River Is "Unfit For Drinking Or Agriculture'
2008-11-25 21:20:50

Severe pollution has made one-third of China's Yellow River unusable, according to new research.

Known as the country's "mother river", it supplies water to millions of people in the north of China but, in recent years,  the quality has deteriorated due to factory discharges and sewage from fast-expanding cities.

Much of it is now unfit even for agricultural or industrial use, the study shows.

The survey, based on data taken last year, covered more than 8,384 miles of the river, one of the longest waterways in the world, and its tributaries.

The Yellow River Conservancy Committee, affiliated to the ministry of water resources, said 33.8% of the river system's water sampled in 2007 registered worse than level five. That means it is unfit for drinking, aquaculture, industrial use and even agriculture, according to criteria used by the U.N. Environment Program.

Only 16% of the river samples reached level one or two, the standard considered safe for domestic use.

Read The Full Story

With Orszag, Obama Aims To Trim Spending
2008-11-25 17:15:43

President-elect Barack Obama continued to fill out his economic team Tuesday, naming Peter R. Orszag director of the Office of Management and Budget, the arm of the White House responsible for crafting the federal budget and overseeing the effectiveness of federal programs.

Speaking at his second news conference in two days, Obama said that Orszag will take the lead in scouring the federal budget, which is straining under record deficits, with an eye toward eliminating programs that do not work. Obama called that task an essential complement to his desire to enact a huge economic stimulus package soon after he takes office.

His stimulus plan, which is being crafted by his growing team of economic advisers, has a goal of creating or saving 2.5 million jobs over the next two years - an undertaking that some analysts say could cost as much as $700 billion.

"If we're going to make the investments we need, we must also be willing to shed the spending we don't," said Obama. "In these challenging times, when we are facing both rising deficits and a sinking economy, budget reform is not an option. It is an imperative."

Read The Full Story

Outlook For U.S. Housing Market Grows More Dire
2008-11-25 17:15:03
The financial shocks of September and October appeared to dash any hopes for a quick recovery in the housing market, where the precipitous declines in sales and prices - the problems at the heart of the current credit crisis - have only worsened.

Home loans, already scarce by normal standards, dried up as the impact of the Lehman Brothers collapse spiraled through the credit market. Buyers who had begun to wade back into the market were spooked by the turmoil, reversing recent improvements. Of the sales that did go through in October, nearly half were the result of a sale after a foreclosure.

Sellers were forced to lower prices again, sending home values down at a record pace.

Home prices across the United States declined 16.6 percent in the third quarter from the July-to-September period a year ago, according to the Case-Shiller Home Price Index, a widely watched gauge released Tuesday by Standard & Poor’s.

Read The Full Story

Wall Street Mixed After Credit Moves
2008-11-25 17:14:36

For a while on Tuesday, not even the promise of $800 billion in federal money aimed at easing credit for home buyers, consumers and businesses could keep Wall Street from slipping lower.

After surging at the open, the stock markets began to slide in afternoon trading as sagging technology companies tugged shares lower but, in the last hour of trading, the market turned around and closed slightly higher, extending its winning streak to three trading sessions.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed 36.47 points higher or 0.43 percent at 8480.1 points. . The broader Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index finished up 5.5 points or 0.7 percent at 857.31.

The Nasdaq composite ended down 7.29 points or 0.5 percent at 1464.73, pushed lower by lagging technology shares .

Read The Full Story

In Russia, Bid To Remove Judge In Politkovskaya Murder Trial
2008-11-25 17:13:57
Russian prosecutors requested a new judge Wednesday in an increasingly confused trial of three suspects accused in the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, a prominent investigative journalist, after the judge flip-flopped twice on whether to allow press coverage.

The judge, Yevgeny Zubov, is accused of “violating procedural rules,” said Marina Gridneva, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor general’s office. She would not elaborate on the alleged violations, though she said Judge Zubov would be given the chance to decide whether to recuse himself on Wednesday.

In a hearing on Tuesday, the judge once again decided to open the trial to the media, a second reversal on the issue, after 19 of the 20 jurors signed a statement saying they had made no official complaints about the presence of journalists in the courtroom, in opposition to the judge’s previous statements.

Read The Full Story

Brennan Out Of Running For Top Intelligence Post
2008-11-25 17:12:55
John Brennan, President-elect Barack Obama's top adviser on intelligence, took his name out of the running Tuesday for any intelligence position in the new administration.

Brennan wrote in a Nov. 25 letter to Obama that he did not want to be a distraction. His potential appointment has raised a firestorm in liberal blogs that associate him with the Bush administration's interrogation, detention and rendition policies.

''It is with profound regret that I respectfully ask that my name be withdrawn from consideration for a position within the intelligence community. The challenges ahead of our nation are too daunting, and the role of the CIA too critical, for there to be any distraction from the vital work that lays ahead,'' wrote Brennan.

Obama's advisers had grown increasingly concerned in recent days over online blogs that accused Brennan of condoning harsh interrogation tactics on terror suspects, including waterboarding, which critics consider torture.

Read The Full Story

Marine Archaeologists Find Slave Ship
2008-11-25 17:12:05
Marine archaeologists have found the remains of a slave ship wrecked off the Turks and Caicos Islands in 1841, an accident that set free the ancestors of many current residents of those islands. Some 192 Africans survived the sinking of the Spanish ship Trouvadore off the British-ruled islands, where the slave trade was banned.

Over the years the ship had been forgotten, said researcher Don Keith, so when the discovery connected the ship to current residents the first response ''was a kind of shock, a lack of comprehension,'' he explained in a briefing organized by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (N.O.A.A.).

After word got out ''people really got on board with it,'' he said, and the local museum has assisted the researchers. He said this is the only known wreck of a ship engaged in the illegal slave trade.

Keith and his co-researchers from the Texas-based Ships of Discovery organization came across a letter at the Smithsonian Institution that referred to the sinking and began their search for the ship.

Read The Full Story

Interview With George Soros: 'The Economy Fell Off The Cliff'
2008-11-25 03:32:51
George Soros, 78, has made billions as a hedge-fund manager and investor. Germany's Spiegel magazine spoke with him about the current financial crisis, how he expect President-elect Barack Obama to respond to the economic disaster and the responsibilities borne by speculators.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Soros, in spite of massive interventions by governments and federal banks the financial crisis is getting worse. The stock markets are in free fall, millions of people could lose their jobs. More and more companies are in trouble, from General Motors in Detroit to BASF in Ludwigshafen. Have you ever seen anything like it?

Soros: Never. I find the present situation dramatic and overwhelming. In my latest book, “The New Paradigm for Financial Markets: The Credit Crisis of 2008”, I predicted the worst financial crisis since the 1930s. But to tell you the truth: I did not actually anticipate that it would get as bad as it did. It has gone beyond my wildest imagination.

SPIEGEL: What are your fears for the coming months?

Soros: I think that the dark comes before dawn. The financial markets are under great pressure because of the lack of leadership during the transition period. In the next two months, the markets will experience maximum pressure. Then we will see some initiatives from the Obama administration. How long the crisis lasts will depend on the success of these measures.

SPIEGEL: The markets don't seem to have much confidence in the new president - in stark contrast to the enthusiasm in the population. Since Election Day on November 4, stocks have fallen by almost 20 percent.

Soros: I have great hopes for Barack Obama. But at the time of the election the financial community had not yet fully grasped the magnitude of the economic decline. They did not anticipate that the default of Lehman Brothers would cause cardiac arrest in the markets. The economy fell off the cliff, you begin to see mangled bodies lying at the bottom.

Read The Full Story

U.S. Cancer Rate Declines For The First Time
2008-11-25 21:21:21
Government figures indicate that major progress is being made in prevention, but researchers warn that there are still some clouds on the horizon, including a rising rate of brain cancer among women.

For the first time since the government began compiling records, the rate of cancer has begun to decline, marking a tipping point in the fight against the second-leading cause of death among Americans.

Researchers already knew that the number of cancer deaths was declining as the result of better treatment, but the drop in incidence indicates that major progress is also being made in prevention.

"The drop in incidence ... is something we have been waiting to see for a long time," said Dr. Otis W. Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society. And "the continuing drop in mortality is evidence once again of real progress made against cancer, reflecting real gains in prevention, early detection and treatment."

The declines may be temporary, said Dr. Robert Figlin, of the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center in Duarte, California. "Baby boomers are reaching the age at which they develop cancer ... so we should not be surprised if it changes direction again."

Read The Full Story

Consumers Rank Global Warming Ahead Of Economy As Major Concern
2008-11-25 21:21:01

Consumers around the world want governments to stop haggling and start acting on climate change, according to a survey carried out in 12 countries by a coalition of climate groups.

Despite the looming prospect of a deep global recession, 43% of the 12,000 respondents of the survey chose climate change ahead of the global economy when asked about their current concerns. Worldwide, 77% of respondents wanted to see their governments cutting carbon by their fair share or more, in order to allow developing countries to grow their economies.

The survey was carried out for the HSBC Climate Partnership, a collaboration between the international bank and climate non-government organizations including WWF, the Climate Group, Earthwatch Institute and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

Lord Stern, and adviser to HSBC on economic development and climate change and former adviser to the U.K.  government, said: "This research demonstrates the need for decisive action on climate change. The urgent challenge is to build a framework for a global deal so that consensus can be reached in Copenhagen next year and the discussions in Poznan are a critical stepping stone to achieving this. Now is the time to lay the foundations of a new form of growth that can transform our economies and societies."

Read The Full Story

Higher Quotas Will Push Atlantic Tuna Closer To Collapse
2008-11-25 21:20:39

Tuna may follow cod to become the second major Atlantic fish species to collapse after European leaders were today accused of driving through new catch quotas far above the levels recommended by scientists.

The international environment campaign group WWF renewed its call for a consumer boycott of Atlantic bluefin tuna - a staple of Japanese sashimi - after countries involved in its trade ignored their own scientific advice, despite a collapse in the fish populations.

WWF also accused the European Commission (E.C.) of leading the pressure for higher quotas by using threats over trade to "bully" developing nations into switching sides from a rival proposal to stick to the scientists' recommendation and ban all fishing during the spawning season in May and June.

Sue Liebermann, head of species at WWF International, warned that the mistakes which led to the collaspe of Atlantic cod â€" and led the U.N.'s food agency to warn that seven out of 10 of all marine species are depleted - were being repeated. "Bluefin is a symbol of what we're doing to the oceans, species by species," she said.

Read The Full Story

Paulson Targets Consumer Spending, Mortgages
2008-11-25 17:15:25

The Federal Reserve and Treasury moved Tuesday to boost consumer spending and lower home mortgage rates, committing up to $800 billion to make it easier for households to borrow money for cars, tuition bills and new homes as part of a broad effort to rekindle economic growth.

The new program puts the balance sheet of the country's central bank behind two critical but troubled parts of the economy - consumer spending and housing. It is largely separate from the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, administered by the Treasury Department and focused on shoring up the country's financial system.

On a day when the Commerce Department announced that the economy contracted more quickly from July through September than initially estimated, Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr., said the slowdown made it necessary for the Federal Reserve and Treasury to intervene to boost the "real" economy, just as they did to stabilize banks and financial companies.

"As the economy is turning down, it is very important that lending be available to consumers," said Paulson. "What we are doing is support consumer lending."

Read The Full Story

Forecast Sees Protracted Global Economic Downturn
2008-11-25 17:14:52
Developed economies face a protracted recession and a sharp increase in unemployment, the O.E.C.D. warned Tuesday, and it called for aggressive economic stimulus measures.

Many advanced economies are in or nearing downturns of a magnitude not experienced since the early 1980s, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (O.E.C.D.)said in its twice-yearly economic outlook. The organization includes European countries, the United States, Canada, Japan and Australia.

Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel, the group’s chief economist, warned in the report that the uncertainties associated with the forecasts were “exceptionally large, especially those related to the assumptions regarding the speed at which the financial market crisis - the prime driver of the downturn - is overcome.”

The O.E.C.D. projected that the economies of its 30 members would decline in 2009 by 0.4 percent over all, after growth of 1.4 percent this year. It forecast that growth would return in 2010, with advanced economies growing a combined 1.5 percent.

Read The Full Story

Protesters Storm Thailand's Airport, Force Flight Cancellations
2008-11-25 17:14:14
Activists trying to bring down Thailand's government seized key parts of the capital's main airport Tuesday, forcing authorities to cancel all flights and dealing another blow to the country's reeling tourist industry.

"We want to seize the airport to show the media that the prime minister cannot control anything in Thailand," Suwan Kansanoh, a retired government official who was among the protesters, told journalists by phone.

The airport raid was the culmination of two days of demonstrations billed by the anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy as the "final mass rally" to oust the "killer government."

The government, led by Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, has refused to resign, insisting that the overwhelming mandate it won in elections held at the end of last year still stands.

Read The Full Story

Former Bin Laden Driver Hamdan To Be Sent To Yemen
2008-11-25 17:13:43

The U.S. military has decided to transfer Osama bin Laden's former driver from custody at Guantanamo Bay to his home in Yemen, ending the seven-year saga of a man the Bush administration considered a dangerous terrorist but whom a military jury found to be a low-level aide.

Salim Ahmed Hamdan is expected to arrive within 48 hours in Yemen's capital, Sanaa, where he will serve out the rest of his military commission sentence, which is set to expire Dec. 27, said two government officials. The Pentagon's decision to send Hamdan home narrowly avoids what could have been a sticky diplomatic situation, as Bush administration officials had long contended they could hold Hamdan indefinitely.

It also prevents President-elect Barack Obama from having to decide Hamdan's fate early in his term. Obama has said he wants to close the U.S. military prison in Cuba.

Hamdan's attorneys were poised to fight the assertion that their client could be held indefinitely, a case that probably would have brought Hamdan back to the Supreme Court to challenge his detention. Instead, he will serve out the remaining month of his sentence in a Yemeni prison before being released to his wife and two young children, one of whom has never met him. Hamdan is about 40.

Read The Full Story

Bush Grants Pardons To 14 People, Shortens Prison Terms For 2 Others
2008-11-25 17:12:25
Breaking a logjam of hundreds of pent-up clemency requests, President Bush Monday granted pardons to 14 people and shortened the prison terms of two others.

The majority of the felons who won leniency from Bush Monday are far from household names.

Andrew F. Harley of Falls Church was pardoned for wrongful use and distribution of marijuana and cocaine after a court-martial by the Air Force Academy in 1985 caused him to forfeit his pay and prompted his dismissal from the service. Leslie O. Collier of Charleston, Missouri, had been convicted of unauthorized use of a registered pesticide. Obie G. Helton of Rossville, Georgia, was pardoned after conviction on charges of acquiring food stamps without proper permission and sentenced to two years' probation in 1983.

Several other offenders who won leniency Monday were convicted of run-of-the-mill white-collar crimes such as bank embezzlement, tax evasion or accounting violations. Pardons give their recipients greater leeway to find jobs, live in public housing and vote, among other privileges.

Read The Full Story

World Scrambles To Deal With Pirate Threat
2008-11-25 03:33:12
In their inflatable speedboats and armed with bazookas, Somalia's barefoot pirates are posing a threat to world trade. Now that they have hijacked a supertanker, Europe is deploying warships in the region, while private security firms are offering their services to shipping companies.

The most important things in life are simple, at least in the world of Erik Prince. A square-jawed American with closely cropped hair, Prince served as an elite soldier in the U.S. Marines in Bosnia, Haiti and the Middle East. Given his experience, he believes that it will be relatively easy for him to distinguish between good and evil on the new battlefield, the high seas.

"If a couple of guys are sitting in a six-meter (20-foot) fishing boat, in the middle of the Gulf of Aden, and if they've got bazookas in their hands, they're clearly not out there for the fishing," says Prince, 39, the CEO of Blackwater Worldwide, the world's largest and most infamous private security firm. "You have a pretty good idea of what they're up to."

Prince is recruiting fellow former Marines to provide a new service: escorting merchant ships. In performing the job, their first step will be to issue warnings to attacking pirates through the ships' P.A. system. This will be followed by a few shots in the air, as a deterrent. And if none of this works, the sharpshooters on board the two helicopters on Blackwater's ship, the McArthur, will do their jobs.

Up to 3,000 of his mercenaries have already been deployed to support the U.S. military in Iraq. There, they acquired the reputation of shooting first and asking questions later. This has already caused problems. In September 2007, for example, 17 civilians were killed during a Blackwater mission in Iraq.

Blackwater is now receiving inquiries from dozens of new clients, mainly shipping companies and shipping insurance companies. All of them want the same thing: that Blackwater mercenaries guide their freighters and tankers safely past Somalia, through the world's most dangerous waters, the hunting grounds of bands of pirates armed with Kalashnikovs and grenade launchers, attacking anything that comes into their sights. In their flip-flops and inflatable plastic boats, they look more like small-time crooks, the sort hardly worth the effort of any coast guard vessel. And yet, in reality, these pirates are causing huge problems for the naval fleets of major powers - and, of course, for the governments in places like Berlin, Paris and Washington.

Somali pirates have already attacked more than 90 ships this year, three times as many as in 2007. They have managed to hijack 39 freighters, tankers and fishing vessels. At least 14 of them are currently anchored, under heavy guard, off pirate villages along the coast. The ships' crews have been waiting for months for ransom money to arrive and secure their release. The United Nations estimate that shipping companies have already paid close to €25 million ($31 million) in ransom.

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