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 .

Friday, December 05, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Friday December 5 2008 - (813)

Friday December 5 2008 edition
Free Internet Press is operated on your donations.
Donate Today

Strategic Command Chief Urges Swift Nuclear Weapons Modernization
2008-12-05 02:20:21

The leader of the U.S. Strategic Command said Thursday that "time is not on our side" to modernize the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile, particularly as China and Russia upgrade their nuclear warheads and delivery systems.

"The path of inaction is a path leading toward nuclear disarmament. ... The time to act is now," Air Force Gen. Kevin P. Chilton told an audience of government, military and civilian arms experts attending the Nuclear Deterrence Summit in Washington.

Rep. Ellen O. tauscher (D-California), chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee on strategic weapons, told the same audience that the nation's nuclear modernization program was in a "holding pattern" until the Obama  administration could review studies that are to be completed next year.

Chilton said he was concerned that Congress had effectively killed the Bush administration's Reliable Replacement Warhead program, which is designed to provide a modern, safer warhead with no new capabilities before the end of this decade. Expressing concern that the nation's Cold War stockpile is aging, Chilton said that "a reliable [nuclear] inventory supports nonproliferation goals."

Read The Full Story

Colombia Reels After Investment Scandal Shakes Economy
2008-12-05 02:19:58
The pied piper was a gangly, long-haired entrepreneur whose remarkable success story seemed to augur well for those who invested in his get-rich scheme. David Murcia, 28, had gone from being a traveling salesman making $130 a month to living in a luxury high-rise, driving a Ferrari and forging ties with government officials.

Investigators now say Murcia ran a secretive, hydra-headed enterprise - part pyramid scheme, part money-laundering business - that provided investors with returns of up to 300 percent in just a few months. His company, DMG Group Holdings, along with 250 other pyramid schemes nationwide, attracted hundreds of thousands of working-class people starry-eyed with promises of an easy payday.

DMG and the others - including the now-infamous DRFE, whose initials stood for "Fast Money, Easy Cash" - soon collapsed, and Murcia and his associates are in jail. The attorney general's office said that perhaps as many as 4 million people in a country of 44 million lost money, an estimated $1 billion in four hard-hit southern states alone.

The ensuing scandal has riveted this country, shaken the economy and damaged the so-called Teflon president - Alvaro Uribe - like nothing before. A weekend poll on Uribe's governance showed that 77 percent of Colombians surveyed in the country's south believe that things are going badly, and support for his reelection bid is wavering.

Read The Full Story

Veterans' Long-Term Problems Linked To Traumatic Brain Injury
2008-12-05 02:19:09
Traumatic brain injuries, one of the signature injuries of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, can be linked to such long-term problems as seizures, aggression and dementia reminiscent of Alzheimer's disease, according to an Institute of Medicine report released Thursday.

Even mild brain injuries, the report found, appear associated with some long-term problems.

The report is a wake-up call, said Dr. Michael Yochelson, who specializes in traumatic brain injury at National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington and used to work at the National Naval Medical Center.

"We need to be prepared to take care of these people, and we need to be observant," said Yochelson, who was not involved in the institute's report.

A recent Rand Corp. report on which Yochelson worked estimated that 300,000 troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan - 19% - had suffered traumatic brain injuries. Such injuries have cost the nation $554 million in treatment and lost productivity, that report estimated.

Read The Full Story

AT&T, DuPont, Credit Suisse Slashing Thousands Of Jobs
2008-12-04 17:04:30

Telecommunications giant AT&T said Thursday it would lay off 12,000 employees in coming months, the latest shock to a labor market that has declined steadily for a year.

In a news release this morning the company said that "economic pressures, a changing business mix and a more streamlined organizational structure" would lead it to trim its workforce by about 4 percent, beginning this month.

The announcement from AT&T comes amid a steady wave of data showing a collapse in hiring. New claims for unemployment benefits remained above half a million last week, though at 509,000 represented a dip from the week before, while ongoing claims rose 89,000 to hit 4.09 million, the highest level since the recession of the early 1980s.

The government's latest monthly report on unemployment, due for release tomorrow, is expected to show November job losses in excess of 300,000.

Along with the AT&T layoffs announced this morning, Dupont said it would trim 2,500 workers involved in lines of business dependent on the slumping auto and housing industries.

Read The Full Story

Canadian Prime Minister Harper Shuts Down Parliament To Keep Power
2008-12-04 17:04:08
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper shut down Parliament on Thursday in an unprecedented attempt to keep his government in power, fending off a no-confidence vote he was all but certain to lose.

Less than two months after winning re-election, Harper successfully asked the unelected representative of the head of state for the power to close down Parliament until Jan. 26, hoping to buy enough time to develop a stimulus package that could prop up the economy.

"Today's decision will give us an opportunity - I'm talking about all the parties - to focus on the economy and work together," Harper said after the private meeting.

Governor General Michaelle Jean, who represents Britain's Queen Elizabeth II as head of state, granted the unusual request to suspend parliament. Had she refused, Harper would have had two choices: step down or face a no-confidence vote Monday he was sure to lose.

Harper would not offer details on their conversation.

Read The Full Story

European Court Rules Against Britain's DNA Database
2008-12-04 17:03:44
The European Court of Human Rights ruled unanimously on Thursday that Britain’s policy of gathering and storing the fingerprints and DNA of all criminal suspects - even those who turn out to be not guilty - was a violation of the human right to privacy.

The ruling, handed down in Strasbourg, is a severe blow to the law-enforcement policies of the Labor government, which has led Europe in aggressively collecting and retaining personal information on its citizens. Using unusually strong language, the court declared itself “struck by the blanket and indiscriminate nature” of the police’s policy of holding DNA material indefinitely in its data base.

Britain’s DNA Database contains the profiles of more than 4.6 million people, some 860,000 of whom do not have criminal records. Privacy experts say that this represents a higher proportion of its population than do similar databases in other countries.

“They’re in the vanguard of doing this, is the polite way of saying it,” said Dan Cooper, a partner at Covington & Burling, a corporate and business law firm that filed an amicus brief in the case on behalf of Privacy International, an advocacy group. “They have the biggest database in Europe, and possibly globally, for law-enforcement purposes.”

Human-rights groups applauded the court’s decision as a welcome check on the powers of the state.

Read The Full Story

Detroit Execs Face Skeptical Senators
2008-12-04 17:03:13

Executives of the Big Three U.S. automakers renewed their appeals Thursday for as much as $38 billion in federal loans to help them survive the current economic recession, acknowledging past mistakes in their business models but warning of potentially devastating consequences if any of the companies are allowed to collapse.

The executives of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, appearing along with other witnesses before the Senate Banking Committee, sought to explain new business plans they presented in response to demands last month from skeptical lawmakers for proof of how they would restore a key component of American manufacturing to long-term viability. The executives are scheduled to appear before a House panel on Friday.

The amount being sought by the auto companies in bridge loans and lines of credit ranges from $34 billion to $38 billion, depending on the severity of economic conditions. In their appearances before House and Senate committees two weeks ago, the executives said they needed $25 billion.

In an opening statement, GM Chairman G. Richard Wagoner, Jr., made his case for $12 billion in short-term loans plus a $6 billion line of credit. He said the company needs $4 billion immediately and $4 billion more in January. GM's intention is to begin repaying the loans as soon as 2011 and fully repay them by 2012, he said.

Read The Full Story

Oil Price Casualty: The Downturn Hits Dubai
2008-12-04 05:57:20
With plummeting oil prices causing the Persian Gulf economy to shrivel, Dubai's push to become a global financial hub is in jeopardy.

For a year or so, the movers and shakers of the small but oil-rich United Arab Emirates have watched the unfolding of the credit crisis in the West with a mixture of dismay and denial. It won't happen here, was their view. And for a long time it didn't. Now it is. The price of oil, the lifeblood of the Persian Gulf economy, has fallen more than 60 percent since its mid-July peak. Real estate, the other mainstay, especially in oil-poor Dubai, has been quick to follow. An industry source in Dubai estimates that prices, which rose about 14.4 percent in the first eight months of this year, have suddenly dropped by 20 percent to 30 percent, with some developments seeing 50 percent declines.

With prices for villas and apartments falling and sales grinding to a halt, big developers such as Nakheel, which is building the iconic palm frond-shaped projects on fill dredged from the sea bottom, are halting construction and laying off staff. Jobs, though on a lesser scale, also are being lost at investment banks such as Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, which have seen the Gulf as one place business was not drying up. They are now trimming staff, to the alarm of the local authorities, who have staked their future on the Gulf's becoming a global financial center.

A chill wind is blowing through the Gulf. Credit has dried up; stock exchanges have crashed; and the region's once-vaunted Sovereign Wealth Funds, set up to save for a future when oil reserves are exhausted, have instead sustained huge losses, potentially in the hundreds of billions of dollars.

War Council

The diciest situation is unfolding in the UAE, where the sheikhs of Dubai - the second-largest of seven emirates - are at last realizing that they need to call time on a decade-long, debt-fueled building and acquisition spree. That admission came most explicitly in the recent naming by the ruler of Dubai, Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, of what looks like a war council composed of nine of the top executives of what is known as Dubai Inc. That's the network of companies such as Dubai World, Emirates Airline, and Dubai Holding that are controlled by the ruling family and the government. "Yes, we recognize the new reality," said the Council's Chairman Mohamed Alabbar on Nov. 24. "Make no mistake."

Read The Full Story

Oil Falls Below $46 A Barrel
2008-12-04 05:56:56
Oil fell below $46 a barrel to its lowest in nearly four years on Thursday, extending four consecutive days of declines in response to the bleak outlook for the world economy and oil demand.

Oil prices have dropped more than $100 a barrel from an all-time high of $147.27 hit in July.

U.S. light crude for January delivery was down 70 cents to $46.09 a barrel by 0946 GMT (4:46 a.m. EST). It earlier touched a low of $45.30, the lowest since February 9, 2005.

London Brent crude was down 81 cents at $44.63.

Read The Full Story

Mexico's Drug Cartels Send A Gruesome Message
2008-12-04 05:56:33
The death squads of the drug cartels are killing in spectacularly gruesome ways, using the violence as a language to deliver a message to society.

Increasingly, bodies show unmistakable signs of torture. Videos of executions are posted on the Internet, as taunts, as warnings. Corpses are dumped on playgrounds, with neatly printed notes beside them. And very often, the heads have been removed.

When someone rolled five heads onto the dance floor in a cantina in Michoacan state two years ago, even the most hardened Mexicans were shocked. Now ritual mutilations are routine. In the border city of Tijuana, 37 people were slain over the weekend, including four children. Nine of the adults were decapitated, including three police officers whose badges were stuffed in their mouths.

"There is a new and different violence in this war," said Victor Clark Alfaro, the founder of the Binational Center for Human Rights, who moves around Tijuana accompanied by bodyguards. "Each method is now more brutal, more extreme than the last. To cut off the heads? That is now what they like. They are going to the edge of what is possible for a human being to do."

Read The Full Story

At Least 18 Killed In Fallouja, Mosul Blasts, Including 2 U.S. Soldiers
2008-12-05 02:20:11
Explosions tore through two police stations Thursday in the western Iraqi city of Fallouja, leaving at least 16 people dead, and a blast in a northern city killed two U.S. soldiers in the latest reminders of this country's fragile security situation.

The attacks came on the heels of other large blasts this week that targeted Iraqi and U.S. security forces and left dozens of people dead.

With U.S. combat troops scheduled to begin pulling out of Iraqi cities and towns early next year, the bombings were an ominous sign of what Iraqi security forces may face on their own after the drawdown.

Iraq's three-member Presidency Council on Thursday formally ratified a Status of Forces Agreement that mandates the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from population centers by June 30 and from the country by the end of 2011. Iraq's parliament approved the pact Nov. 27. Ratification by Iraq's president and two vice presidents was necessary for it to take effect Jan. 1, after the United Nations mandate governing the U.S. troop presence expires.

Read The Full Story

Israeli Riot Police Evict Settlers In Hebron
2008-12-05 02:19:41

Riot police forcibly evacuated a house filled with dozens of Jewish settlers in the West Bank city of Hebron Thursday in the most public showdown between the government and the increasingly violent settler movement for more than two years.

Hundreds of police mounted a surprise raid on the three-story house, which had become the latest symbol of defiance for Israeli settlers. Troops fired teargas into the crowds and dragged settlers from the house one by one. Around 30 people were injured, including one policeman who had acid thrown in his eyes.

Although the house was emptied within an hour, the operation triggered broad settler protests across the occupied West Bank and in Jerusalem that continued into the night. In Hebron, masked settlers set Palestinian trees ablaze and attacked buildings. The Israeli military declared the southern West Bank a closed military zone, setting up roadblocks to prevent more settlers descending on the city.

The building, dubbed the House of Peace by the settlers and the House of Contention by the Israeli press, was home to 15 settler families, but their numbers had swelled as supporters poured in. Earlier this week there were riots between the settlers and Palestinians which left several people hurt on both sides. Settlers daubed a black Star of David on several graves in a nearby Palestinian cemetery as well as the word "revenge" on a Palestinian house.

Read The Full Story

U.S. Stocks Down In Final Hour Of Trading
2008-12-04 17:04:41

After taking an initial tumble at the opening bell but then rebounding twice, stocks were down heading into the last hour of trading as retailers reported dismal November sales figures and several corporations announced layoffs.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 2.3 percent, or 201 points, while the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index fell 2.5 percent, or 22 points. The tech-heavy Nasdaq was down 2.6 percent, or 39 points.

Investors have been battered by a series of poor economic news showing that the recession is deepening, broad based and affecting every sector of the economy. Today that was reinforced with more poor economic data. But investors appear to be taking the news in stride after already factored in a recession that is expected that will stretch into 2009.

The number of workers filing new claims for jobless benefits fell to a seasonally adjusted 509,000 last week, down 21,000 compared with the previous week, according to Labor Department data. That was better than analysts expected, but still at recessionary levels.

"This is a pleasant surprise, but there's no reason to think it means the trend in claims is turning," said Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist for High Frequency Economics. "Companies are seeking to make more, not fewer, layoffs at this point in the cycle."

Read The Full Story

U.S. Retailers Post Dismal Sales
2008-12-04 17:04:21

The holiday shopping season is getting off to a rocky start as many retailers this morning posted dismal sales figures for November.

Although several said traffic and sales on Black Friday were solid, it was not enough to turn the month around for retailers. Industry experts are predicting that this could be the worst Christmas for retail in decades.

Department store giant Macy's said sales at stores open at least a year - a key measure of success in retailing - dropped 13.3 percent in November compared with the same month last year. Total sales dropped 14.1 percent to $2.3 billion compared with $2.7 billion last year.

The company attributed part of the decrease to this year's late Thanksgiving, which shaved off seven crucial days before Christmas.

Macy's also said Black Friday was the best on record, but it acknowledged that the economic meltdown affected sales throughout the month.

Read The Full Story

Putin Seeks To Assure Russians Over Economic Concerns
2008-12-04 17:03:58
Confronting growing public anxiety over a faltering economy, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin assured Russians on Thursday the country would make it through the global financial crisis with "minimal losses" and pledged to boost pension payments and other spending to help those suffering in the downturn.

Using a nationally televised call-in program to stake out populist positions on a wide range of issues, Putin again asserted that the United States had "infected all leading economies of the world." But he also said he saw "positive signals" that relations with the United States would improve with the new administration of President-elect Barack Obama.

Putin suggested Obama was reconsidering plans to build a missile shield in Eastern Europe opposed by the Kremlin and noted NATO's recent decision to refrain from setting a timetable for Georgia and Ukraine to enter the alliance.

"We are hearing that it's necessary to take Russia's interests into account while developing ties with it," he said, citing the statements of senior Obama aides. "If these are not just words, if they get transformed into a practical policy, then of course our reaction will be appropriate and our American partners will feel this immediately."

Putin has been hosting annual question-and-answer events with the public since shortly after his election as president in 2000. But the three-hour-plus session Thursday, broadcast live from a studio near Red Square, was his first since being appointed prime minister by his hand-picked successor, President Dmitry Medvedev. After presiding over eight years of rapid growth, it was also the first in which he was forced to face questions about a sputtering economy.

Read The Full Story

More Mumbai Links To Pakistan And Signs Of Hostage Abuse
2008-12-04 17:03:24
The Mumbai police on Thursday identified a second Pakistani terrorist as an engineer of the bloody assaults on the city last week and confirmed that they were investigating whether a Mumbai man arrested on terrorism charges had scoped out some of the high-profile targets the attackers struck, leaving more than 170 dead.

Gruesome new evidence also emerged Thursday suggesting that some of the six people killed at the Jewish center in Mumbai had been treated savagely. Some of the bodies appeared to have strangulation marks and wounds on their bodies did not come from gunshots or grenades, said the police.

The new links to Pakistan added fresh complications to American diplomatic efforts to secure cooperation between India and Pakistan, which has questioned some of the evidence that Pakistanis were involved. On Thursday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met in Islamabad with Pakistani leaders, a day after meeting with Indian leaders, to urge that the two countries work together to find the attackers and bring them to justice.

“What I heard was a commitment that this is the course that will be taken,” Ms. Rice told reporters at Chaklala Air Base after meeting with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.

Rice’s brief visit to Pakistan completed a delicate diplomatic minuet with visits to the region by the secretary of state and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, who was in Pakistan on Wednesday and flew to India on Thursday for meetings.

Read The Full Story

U.S. Fed Reserve Chairman Calls For Steps To Stem Foreclosures
2008-12-04 17:02:06

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke endorsed more aggressive action to prevent home foreclosures Thursday, including steps that would involve new uses of government funds to try to keep more Americans in their homes.

"Reducing the number of preventable foreclosures would not only help families stay in their homes, it would confer much wider benefits" by helping stabilize the financial system and the economy, Bernanke said in a speech at a Federal Reserve conference on housing and mortgage markets Thursday morning. "More can be done," he said, beyond the steps the Treasury Department and bank regulators have undertaken so far.

In particular, Bernanke endorsed an approach advocated by Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair in which mortgage servicers would reduce monthly payments for those who are delinquent on their loans to a fixed proportion of their income, likely 31 percent, with the government offering to share in any losses if borrowers default again.

Offering his own suggested tweak to that program, he said that the government might also bear part of the cost of reducing mortgage payments.

Bernanke also recommended another approach, that the government could buy up troubled mortgages from lenders, which are now trading at deep discounts, and allow borrowers to refinance into discounted government lending programs.

Read The Full Story

Canada's Prime Minister Says Bid To Oust Him Is Undemocratic
2008-12-04 05:57:08
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Wednesday condemned an opposition plan to gain power by ousting his government in a confidence vote, calling the effort undemocratic.

Harper, speaking in a televised address, vowed to use "every legal means" to stop the legislative move to unseat his minority Conservative government next week and replace it with an opposition-led coalition.

The embattled Conservative leader was responding to three parties that have united against his handling of the economy, saying he has failed to deal with the global meltdown.

A cabinet minister has suggested that Harper would ask Governor General Michaelle Jean to suspend Parliament until next month - giving him needed time to develop a stimulus package. Harper said later that he will visit the governor general Thursday to discuss the political crisis, but his statement didn't elaborate.

Read The Full Story

Zimbabwe Declares State Of Emergency Over Cholera
2008-12-04 05:56:47
Zimbabwe has declared a national emergency because of the cholera epidemic, which has forced hundreds to flee the country and paralyzed basic services, pushing the country to the point of collapse.

The Herald, a state-run newspaper, says the declaration came after a meeting of government and international aid officials in Harare Wednesday.

It follows an appeal by the health minister David Parirenyatwa to aid agencies for drugs, food, equipment and money to pay doctors and nurses at hospitals, after a breakdown in the health system.

The newspaper quotes Parirenyatwa as saying Zimbabwe's main hospitals "are literally not functioning". The deputy water minister Walter Mzembi says his ministry has only enough chemicals to treat water for another 12 weeks.

Cases have been reported in nine of the country's 10 provinces. Fatality rates are well above the international emergency rate of 1% due to a lack of drugs and medical assistance.

About 6,000 people have contracted the disease in recent weeks.

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