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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Saturday December 13 2008 - (813)

Saturday December 13 2008 edition
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Bush Considers Using Wall St. Bailout Funds For Auto Industry
2008-12-12 16:38:20
President Bush was considering using money from the Wall Street bailout fund to help prevent the collapse of U.S. automakers after White House-backed legislation to provide $14 billion in emergency loans died in the Senate, administration officials said Friday.

Auto industry supporters pressured Bush to use money from the $700-billion Troubled Asset Relief Program to keep General Motors and Chrysler from running out of cash. A failure of one of Detroit's Big Three could take all of them down because of the interconnected supply chain and cause the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs.

"Under normal economic conditions, we would prefer that markets determine the ultimate fate of private firms. However, given the current weakened state of the U.S. economy, we will consider other options if necessary -  including use of the TARP program to prevent a collapse of troubled automakers," White House spokesman Dana Perino told reporters this morning. "A precipitous collapse of this industry would have a severe impact on our economy, and it would be irresponsible to further weaken and destabilize our economy at this time."

Congressional Democratic leaders have pushed Bush to use the Wall Street fund to provide emergency aid to the automakers. But until today he had adamantly resisted, preferring that Congress redirect money from an existing $25-billion fund to help automakers retool their factories to produce more energy efficient vehicles.

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FDA Draft Report Urges Consumption Of Fish Despite Mercury Contamination
2008-12-12 16:38:00

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is urging the government to amend its advisory that women and children should limit how much fish they eat, saying that the benefits of seafood outweigh the health risks and that most people should eat more fish, even if it contains mercury.

If approved by the White House, the FDA's position would reverse the government's current policy that certain groups - women of childbearing years, pregnant women, nursing mothers, infants and children - can be harmed by the mercury in fish and should limit their consumption.

The FDA's recommendations have alarmed scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency, who in internal memos criticized them as "scientifically flawed and inadequate" and said they fell short of the "scientific rigor routinely demonstrated by EPA."

The FDA sent its draft report, a copy of which was obtained by the Washington Post, to the White House Office of Management and Budget as part of the FDA's effort to update the existing health advisory. The report argued that nutrients in fish, including omega-3 fatty acids, selenium and other minerals could boost a child's I.Q. by three points.

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New U.S. Rule Expands DNA Collection To All People Arrested
2008-12-12 16:37:23

Immigration and civil liberties groups condemned a new U.S. government policy to collect DNA samples from all non-citizens detained by authorities and all people arrested for federal crimes.

The new Justice Department rule, published Wednesday and effective Jan. 9, dramatically expands a federal law enforcement database of genetic identifiers, which is now limited to storing information about convicted criminals and arrestees from 13 states.

Congress authorized the expansion in 2005, citing the power of DNA as a tool in crime solving and prevention.

The FBI created its National DNA Index System in 1994 to store profiles of people convicted of serious violent crimes, such as rape and murder, but the system has been expanded repeatedly, first to include all convicted felons, then misdemeanants and state arrestees. The data bank contained more than 6.2 million samples as of August, and officials estimate that 61,000 cases have been solved or assisted using DNA.

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U.S. Actor Van Johnson Dies At 92
2008-12-12 16:36:27
Van Johnson, who soared to stardom during World War II as MGM's boy-next-door in films such as "A Guy Named Joe" and "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" and became one of the era's top box-office draws, died today. He was 92.

Johnson, who was most frequently cast opposite June Allyson and Esther Williams during his MGM heyday, died of age-related causes at a senior residence in Nyack, New York, said Wendy Bleiweiss, a close friend.

With his broad smile, red hair and freckled face, the tall, onetime chorus boy personified the wholesome young American man, MGM-style.

"A Guy Named Joe," the 1943 fantasy romantic-drama starring Spencer Tracy as a World War II pilot who is killed in action and returns to earth in spirit form to help novice pilots, provided a breakout, critically acclaimed role for Johnson: He played a young pilot who falls in love with Tracy's girlfriend (played by Irene Dunne).

Johnson had become an MGM contract player only the year before, but his road to stardom nearly ended before he ever got in front of the cameras for "A Guy Named Joe."

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Solidarity Protests Across Europe Turn Violent
2008-12-12 03:21:08
As Greece entered its sixth day of unrest sparked by the police shooting of a 15-year-old boy, violence spread to other parts of Europe on Thursday. Solidarity protests in cities including Rome, Madrid and Copenhagen turned into skirmishes between demonstrators and police.

The unrest that has gripped Greece for days has started to spill over into other European capitals, with arrests made in Rome, Copenhagen and Madrid on Wednesday night after solidarity demonstrations descended into violence.

The situation in Greece itself had calmed somewhat by mid-morning Thursday following pre-dawn violence which saw students clash with police. Youth threw stones and fire bombs at police in the early hours of the morning in the sixth day of protests since the fatal shooting of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos ignited anger over police brutality. The events have also stoked public anger with the government - resentment that was already widespread following a series of financial scandals and unpopular reforms.

Much of the worst violence has been perpetrated by young anarchists, the so-called Black Bloc; but there is growing anger among the wider public about the inability of the government to control the situation and restore calm. On Wednesday a general strike across Greece halted flights and closed banks, schools and some hospital services.

Meanwhile, flourishes of violence spread to other parts of Europe. In Istanbul about a dozen Turkish left-wing protesters daubed red paint over the front of the Greek consulate, while the country's embassies in Rome and Moscow were attacked by fire bombers and stone throwers. In the Italian university town of Bologna, five police officers were reported injured after clashing with demonstrators outside the Greek consulate.

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Commentary: Why Merkel's Climate About-Face Is Bad For Business
2008-12-12 03:20:46
Intellpuke: This commentary was written by Christian Schwagerl and appeared on the Spiegel Online website edition for Friday, December 12, 2008. Mr. Schwagerl's commentary follows:

The economy or the environment? That is the choice as German Cancellor Angela Merkel sees it - and she has chosen the former; but the dichotomy is no longer valid, and Merkel's choice is a grave mistake. These days, one can have both the economy and the environment.

Forget the polar bears. Ignore the ice melting in Greenland.

When French President Nicolas Sarkozy calls European Union leaders together in Brussels on Thursday to debate the European climate package, Chancellor Angela Merkel should be thinking about German car makers, German energy companies, and other industrial jobs in the country.

Then, to help them, she should push for strict climate protection targets.

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Illinois Supreme Court Asked To Remove Blagojevich
2008-12-12 16:38:10
The attorney general of Illinois asked the state Supreme Court today to temporarily remove Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich (D) from office, arguing that he cannot effectively fulfill his duties because of federal corruption charges against him.

"His ability to provide effective leadership has been eliminated, and the state government is paralyzed," Lisa Madigan said in a motion requesting Blagojevich's removal on disability grounds.

In a news conference in Chicago to explain the unprecedented move, Madigan, who is known as a rising star in the Illinois Democratic Party and a political foe of Blagojevich, said she took the action because impeachment proceedings against the governor would not move quickly enough. She said those proceedings could still go ahead to remove Blagojevich from office permanently.

Shortly after she spoke came word that Blagojevich's chief of staff, John Harris, had resigned his post. Harris was arrested by FBI agents Tuesday at the same time as Blagojevich, and both were charged with federal corruption counts in a 76-page criminal complaint.

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In China, Anger Rises As Economy Falls
2008-12-12 16:37:48
The signs of discontent are small but unnerving in an authoritarian country where public demonstrations are not permitted.

Laid-off toy company workers smash windows and computers and overturn police cars in Guangdong province. Employees of a liquor company in Harbin travel to their company's Beijing headquarters to demand back wages. Taxi drivers, as many as 20,000 of them, scuffle with police in protests that have spread into seven provinces.

Even the police have gotten into the act. Auxiliary officers surrounded a Communist Party office last week in Hunan province to demand higher wages, said the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy.

As China's economy hits the skids, such protests have been sporadic and usually involved fewer than 100 people. But in recent weeks, they have cropped up across the country like brush fires.

"Definitely, this is the most serious problem we have seen since 1989," said Zhou Xiaozheng, a professor of sociology at People's University in Beijing. "You have millions of college students who can't find jobs. .. You have migrant workers who have lost their jobs at factories and don't have land to go back to."

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Evidence Links Child Remains To Florida Toddler's Home
2008-12-12 16:36:52
A medical examiner found evidence among a child's remains that link them to the home of a missing toddler, the county sheriff said today, offering the strongest indication yet that the remains may be those of Caylee Anthony.

Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary said investigators searched the home early today after the medical examiner found "some clues that came out of the remains" that "linked it to the house." He would not say what clues were found.

"We took some things out of the house that the forensic people are very interested in," he said.

The remains were found Thursday by a utility worker on a wooded lot less than a half-mile from the house where 3-year-old Caylee lived with her grandparents and her mother, 22-year-old Casey Anthony.

Casey Anthony was charged in October with first-degree murder, even though the toddler's body hadn't yet been found. She has insisted that she left the girl with a baby sitter in June, but she didn't report Caylee missing until July.

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U.S. Senate Negotiations On Automakers' Bailout Collapse
2008-12-12 03:21:24

An eleventh-hour effort to salvage a proposed $14 billion rescue plan for the auto industry collapsed late Thursday night as Republicans and Democrats failed to agree on the timing of deep wage cuts for union workers, killing the legislative plan and threatening America's car makers with bankruptcy.

"We're not going to get to the finish line. That's just the way it is. There's too much difference between the two sides," Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nevada)announced after 10 p.m., concluding a marathon negotiating session that ended in gridlock. Reid warned that financial markets could plummet when trading opens Friday morning.

"I dread looking at Wall Street tomorrow. It's not going to be a pleasant sight," he said.

The legislation would have provided emergency loans to General Motors and Chrysler, which have said they face imminent collapse without federal help. The high-stakes talks broke down over when the wages of union workers would be slashed to the same level as those paid to nonunion workers at U.S. plants of foreign automakers such as Toyota and Honda.

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Russians See Savings Vanish
2008-12-12 03:20:57
Anatoly Sisoyev always considered himself a patriot. As a child, he lost his father to an accident in the Soviet space program. As an adult, he served 30 years in the military, retiring at the rank of major. His son followed him into the army and was killed in Chechnya at the age of 18.

Through it all, he said, his faith in the Russian government never waned.

So when he heard radio ads two years ago encouraging citizens to invest in the initial public offerings of state-owned companies, Sisoyev lined up to buy shares, first in the oil-and-gas giant Rosneft and a year later in the nation's second-largest bank, VTB.

Sisoyev had suffered in Russia's rocky transition to capitalism, but the "people's IPOs," as they were billed by the Kremlin, seemed different. Then-President Vladimir Putin endorsed the stock offerings, presenting them as a chance for ordinary Russians - and not just the wealthy - to own a piece of the booming economy.

Now, as Russia confronts its worst economic crisis in a decade, the value of Sisoyev's shares has plummeted, wiping out most of his life savings. At 65, he is working as a part-time security guard because food prices are climbing faster than his meager pension. In a recent interview, he buried his face in his hands and fought back tears as he explained how he is trying to treat his sick wife by reading old medical textbooks because he can't afford a good doctor.

"I believed in the state, especially under Putin, so I bought shares," said Sisoyev, a soft-spoken man with white hair and a soldier's posture. "Now I don't believe in anything."

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1950s Pinup Model Bettie Page Dies At 85
2008-12-12 03:20:27
Bettie Page, the 1950s secretary-turned-model whose controversial photographs in skimpy attire or none at all helped set the stage for the 1960s sexual revolution, died Thursday. She was 85.

Page was placed on life support last week after suffering a heart attack in Los Angeles and never regained consciousness, said her agent, Mark Roesler. He said he and Page's family agreed to remove life support. Before the heart attack, Page had been hospitalized for three weeks with pneumonia.

"She captured the imagination of a generation of men and women with her free spirit and unabashed sensuality," said  Roesler. "She is the embodiment of beauty."

Page, who was also known as Betty, attracted national attention with magazine photographs of her sensuous figure in bikinis and see-through lingerie that were quickly tacked up on walls in military barracks, garages and elsewhere, where they remained for years.

Her photos included a centerfold in the January 1955 issue of then-fledgling Playboy magazine, as well as controversial sadomasochistic poses.

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