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Friday, December 19, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Friday December 19 2008 - (813)

Friday December 19 2008 edition
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Wall Street Slides As Oil Drops Below $40 A Barrel
2008-12-18 16:22:23

Once again, almost like clockwork, the stock markets fell in the last hour.

After searching for a direction for much of the day, Wall Street dropped sharply late Thursday, falling nearly 300 points and erasing many of its gains from a 5 percent rally earlier in the week.

At 3:50 p.m., the Dow Jones industrial average was down 184 points or 2 percent and the broader Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index was down 1.7 percent.

Oil prices also fell - settling at $36.22, down $3.84 a barrel - their lowest levels in more than four years. The OPEC  cartel said this week that it would cut production by another 2.2 million barrels a day, but a widening global recession has shown no signs of relenting anytime soon.

Oil and gas consumption has plunged as the economy has deteriorated, dragging oil prices down from their July peak of slightly more than $145 a barrel. Energy stocks were pulled down as well, with Chevron and Exxon Mobil falling about 2 percent.

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Moguls And Arab States Are Big Donors To Clinton Foundation
2008-12-18 16:22:01
The governments of Saudi Arabia and Norway, the Dubai Foundation and the business moguls Bill Gates, Stephen Bing, Haim Saban and Robert L. Johnson are among the biggest financial backers of former President Bill Clinton's  foundation over the last decade, according to a complete donor list published for the first time Thursday morning.

Lifting a longstanding cloak of secrecy, Bill Clinton disclosed the names of more than 200,000 donors to his foundation as part of an agreement negotiated with President-elect Barack Obama to douse concerns about potential conflicts of interest if Hillary Rodham Clinton is confirmed as secretary of state.

The donor list, posted on the web site of the William J. Clinton Foundation, httrp://,  indicates that his organization accepted multimillion-dollar gifts from a variety of foreign governments, companies and individuals who might have an interest in United States foreign policy. The foundation raised $500 million over the last decade to pay for Clinton’s presidential library and his philanthropic activities.

Federal law does not require a former president to reveal his foundation’s financial benefactors and Clinton until now had declined to do so, arguing that many who gave expected confidentiality but, when Obama asked Mrs. Clinton to join his cabinet, the former president agreed to release his list as part of a nine-point agreement intended to keep his multifaceted activities from compromising his wife’s work if she wins Senate confirmation to become the nation’s top diplomat.

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Bush Administration Rule Protects Health-Care Workers' 'Right To Conscience'
2008-12-18 16:21:32

The Bush administration Thursday issued a sweeping new regulation that protects a broad range of health-care workers - from doctors to janitors - who refuse to participate in providing services that they believe violate their personal, moral or religious beliefs.

The controversial rule empowers federal health officials to cut off federal funding for any state or local government, hospital, clinic, health plan, doctor's office or other entity if it does not accommodate employees who exercise their "right of conscience." It would apply to more than 584,000 health-care facilities.

"Doctors and other health care providers should not be forced to choose between good professional standing and violating their conscience," Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said in a statement.

The regulation, which was issued just in time to take effect in the 30 days before the change of administrations, was sought by conservative groups, abortion opponents and others as necessary to safeguard workers from being fired, disciplined or penalized in other ways.

Women's health advocates, family planning proponents, abortion rights activists, members of Congress and others condemned the regulation, saying it would create major obstacles to a variety of health services, including abortion, family planning, end-of-life care and possibly a wide range of scientific research.

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Obama Taps Rep. Solis To Head Labor Dept.
2008-12-18 16:20:52
Barack Obama has selected Los Angeles congresswoman Hilda Solis to run his Labor Department, a labor source confirmed Thursday.

Elected to Congress in 2000, she previously served two years in the California Assembly and six in the State Senate, where she was the first female Hispanic state senator. She attended California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and earned a Master of Public Administration from the University of Southern California, beginning her career in the Carter White House Office of Hispanic Affairs. She later worked as a management analyst with the Office of Management and Budget.

Solis has pushed in Congress for more training for so-called green-collar jobs - jobs that advance industries toward greater energy officials. In the California state Senate, she successfully advocated in 1996 to increase the state's minimum wage from $4.25 to $5.75 an hour. She the only member of Congress on the board of American Rights at Work, a pro-labor group helmed by David Bonior.

In Congress, Solis sits on the House Energy and Commerce committee, the Natural Resources committee, the select committee on energy independence and global warming and the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. She has also been outspoken against domestic violence.

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Bush Considers 'Orderly Bankruptcy' For Auto Industry
2008-12-18 16:22:15

President Bush said Thursday he does not intend to leave behind a "major catastrophe" for President-elect Barack Obama  in the auto industry and expressed worry about the impact of a collapse on wider financial markets.

The White House also said that it was seriously considering "orderly bankruptcy" as a way to save distressed automakers.

Bush, speaking at the conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., said he has not yet decided on a course of action to rescue the auto industry. He also said he was "worried about a disorderly bankruptcy and what it would do to the psychology of the markets."

"Under normal circumstances, no question bankruptcy court is the best way to work through credit and debt and restructuring," Bush said during the event, which included questions from members of the audience. "These aren't normal circumstances. That's the problem."

Bush said that the U.S. auto industry is "obviously very fragile" and that action from Washington is necessary to prevent further damage to financial markets. He said it would be unfair to pass off a decision to Obama.

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10,000 Urge Pakistan To Cut U.S.-NATO Supply Line
2008-12-18 16:21:44
Thousands of anti-government protesters demanded Thursday that Pakistan shut the route along which supplies are ferried to U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, adding to the growing pressure on Islamabad's beleaguered leadership.

The demonstration by more than 10,000 people in the northwestern city of Peshawar also focused on a recent series of U.S. missile strikes against suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban targets in Pakistan's lawless tribal areas along the Afghan border and Pakistani military offensives against Islamic insurgents in the area.

Leaders of the demonstration drew links between the missile attacks and the supply line, saying the equipment was being used for attacks on Pakistani soil and vowing to shut down the convoys.

"We will no longer let arms and ammunition pass through ... and reach the hands of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan," Sirajul Haq, the provincial head of hardline Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami, told the crowd. "They are using the same against our innocent brothers, sisters and children."

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Iraqi Arrests Extend Beyond Key Ministry
2008-12-18 16:21:11
A senior spokesman at the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior confirmed publicly on Thursday that 23 of its officials had been arrested in recent days under suspicion of being affiliated with a banned political party related to Saddam Hussein's Baath Party. The ministry, in a statement, also said the scope of the investigation was wider than originally reported, with officials in other security ministries also arrested.

While the spokesman for the Interior Ministry, Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, confirmed the arrests at a news conference, he denied those arrested were involved in planning a coup.

According to senior security officials in Baghdad who revealed the arrests earlier this week, up to 35 officials in the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior ranking as high as general have been detained this week.

The arrests, according to those officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, included at least three generals. The officials also said that the arrests had come at the hand of an elite counterterrorism force that reports directly to the office of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.

The possible involvement of the counterterrorism unit would speak to the seriousness of the accusations, and several officials from the Ministries of the Interior and National Security said that some of those arrested were in the early stages of planning a coup.

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Iraqi Who Threw Shoes At Bush Asks For Pardon
2008-12-18 16:20:24
The jailed journalist who threw his shoes at President George W. Bush has asked for a pardon for what he described as "an ugly act," a spokesman for Iraq's prime minister said Thursday.

Muntadhar al-Zeidi, a correspondent for an Iraqi-owned television station based in Cairo, Egypt, could face two years imprisonment for insulting a foreign leader. He remained in custody Thursday night.

"It is too late to reverse the big and ugly act that I perpetrated," al-Zeidi wrote in a letter delivered to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, according to the prime minister's spokesman.

The spokesman, Yassin Majid, told the Associated Press that al-Zeidi went on in the letter to recall an interview he conducted with the prime minister in 2005 when al-Maliki invited him into his home, saying: "Come in, it is your home too."

"So I ask for your pardon," wrote al-Zeidi, said Majid.

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