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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Tuesday December 2 2008 - (813)

Tuesday December 2 2008 edition
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Report: U.S. In Recession Since Last December
2008-12-01 17:07:56

It's official: The United States is in a recession - and it started a year ago.

The nation's economy peaked, and the recession began, in December 2007, the National Bureau of Economic Research announced Monday.

The group's Business Cycle Dating Committee, the semi-official arbiter of these things, defines a recession as "a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in production, employment, real income, and other indicators."

While analysts have been all but certain that a recession has been underway for months, there has been some debate over exactly when it began. Last winter, employers started cutting jobs and growth slowed significantly, but the decline appears to have accelerated over the summer.

The committee concluded that the start of the recession was December 2007 - due in large part, it said in a statement, to the decline in jobs that began that month; but it noted that many other data points confirm the diagnosis.

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Obama Names Hillary Clinton To Cabinet
2008-12-01 17:07:34
President-elect Barack Obama Monday formally announced a national security team that is led by his onetime chief Democratic rival and includes a top member of President Bush's Cabinet - a bipartisan group that he said shares his pragmatism and his commitment to strengthen America's standing in the world.

In a news conference in Chicago, Obama introduced Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-New York) as secretary of state, bringing on board the candidate who battled him for the Democratic presidential nomination during a long primary season. As America's top diplomat, Clinton will be the face of Obama's efforts to remake the country's foreign policy.

Obama also announced that Bush's defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, has agreed to remain in the job in the new administration, providing continuity while taking on what the president-elect said would be a new mission: "responsibly ending the war in Iraq through a successful transition to Iraqi control."

In response to questions, Obama said, "I assembled this team because I'm a strong believer in strong personalities and strong opinions. I think that's how the best decisions are made." He vowed to counter the danger of "group-think" that precludes dissenting views and pledged to welcome "a vigorous debate inside the White House."

He stressed, however, that he will set policy, will be responsible for his administration's "vision" and will expect his team to implement decisions once they are made. "So, as Harry Truman said, the buck will stop with me."

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India Surveys Terror Aftermath
2008-12-01 17:06:50
More top Indian officials resigned Monday in the wake of last week's terror attacks in Mumbai, while the U.S. and Indian governments stepped up pressure on Pakistan to cooperate in investigating responsibility for a siege that left 174 dead.

Vilasrao Deshmukh, the chief minister of Maharashtra state, which includes Mumbai, submitted his resignation as an acknowledgment of security failings that allowed the attack to extend over three days, and the ruling Congress Party was expected to accept his offer to step down. Deputy chief minister R.R. Patil resigned earlier on Monday, while Indian Home Minister Shivraj Patil had quit the day before.

As authorities finished clearing bodies from the devastated Taj Mahal Palace & Tower hotel, FBI forensic teams landed in the country and began visiting the hotel and other of the 10 sites attacked by a band of gunmen.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is en route to the country and said in London that the United States expects "total transparency and cooperation" from Pakistan as the investigation proceeds. The band of 10 attackers is thought to have trained in Pakistan, and the one surviving member of the group belongs to the outlawed Kashmiri guerrilla organization Lashkar-i-Taiba, according to Indian security officials.

"What we are emphasizing to the Pakistani government is the need to follow the evidence wherever it leads," said Rice, according to the Associated Press. "I don't want to jump to any conclusions myself on this, but I do think that this is a time for complete, absolute, total transparency and cooperation, and that's what we expect."

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Judge Postpones Hearing On Witness In Trial Of Sen. Stevens
2008-12-01 17:06:20

A federal judge has postponed a hearing scheduled for Monday into allegations by a witness that he received extensive help from prosecutors before he testified in the corruption trial of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). The witness has also alleged that he lied on the stand about an immunity deal with prosecutors.

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan rescheduled for Jan. 15 the hearing to consider a defense request to question the witness, David Anderson, and others about disclosures Anderson made in a letter to the judge last month.

Besides telling Sullivan that he had received extensive help from prosecutors in preparing his testimony, Anderson also wrote that he lied on the stand in saying he did not have an immunity agreement with authorities.

In his letter, he wrote that his testimony about not having immunity "is simply not true." However, he does not reference a formal deal and says that he thought he had immunity because authorities "shook my hand" on such an agreement.

At trial, he testified that he did not have a formal agreement with prosecutors but believed he had a "handshake" deal with authorities in exchange for his help.

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Stocks Dive As Investors' Confidence Drops
2008-12-01 17:07:48

Stocks plunged Monday more than 650 points on the Dow Jones Industrial average after a government agency officially declared that the country has been in a recession for nearly a year.

The National Bureau of Economic Research said in a statement that it "determined that the decline in economic activity in 2008 met the standard for a recession."

That confirms what economists have long surmised, but analysts have already turned their attention to how severe the downturn will be and when the economy will begin to recover. New economic data Monday indicated that the downturn continues to be worse than expected.

The markets had been down significantly this morning, but they took an even steeper decline after the announcement. The Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 7 percent, or more than 650 points, while the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index dropped nearly 9 percent, or 80 points. The tech-heavy Nasdaq was down nearly 9 percent, or 137 points.

The losses were broad based, but the financial sector took some of the deepest losses. Citigroup was down 12 percent after rallying last week when a government bailout of the firm was announced. Bank of America and J.P. Morgan were down 11 percent and 9 percent respectively.

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Pentagon To Detail 20,000 Troops To Bolster Security In U.S.
2008-12-01 17:07:16

The U.S. military expects to have 20,000 uniformed troops inside the United States by 2011 trained to help state and local officials respond to a nuclear terrorist attack or other domestic catastrophe, according to Pentagon officials.

The long-planned shift in the Defense Department's role in homeland security was recently backed with funding and troop commitments after years of prodding by Congress and outside experts, said defense analysts.

There are critics of the change, in the military and among civil liberties groups and libertarians who express concern that the new homeland emphasis threatens to strain the military and possibly undermine the Posse Comitatus Act, a 130-year-old federal law restricting the military's role in domestic law enforcement.

Yet the Bush administration and some in Congress have pushed for a heightened homeland military role since the middle of this decade, saying the greatest domestic threat is terrorists exploiting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

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Bombings In Iraq Kill At Least 31
2008-12-01 17:06:35
Bombing attacks targeting Iraqi security forces in Baghdad and a U.S. patrol the northern city of Mosul left at least 31 people dead and dozens more injured, said Iraqi officials, making Monday one of the deadliest days in recent weeks in Iraq.

The attacks highlighted the fragility of Iraq's security situation as the country prepares for provincial elections early next year. The United Nations mission in Iraq warned Sunday that violence could rise in the run-up to the polls.

In eastern Baghdad, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives belt at the back gate of a police academy about 1 p.m. Two minutes later another bomber exploded a booby-trapped car at the main entrance of a nearby government building, said Maj. Gen. Qassim Atta, the top spokesman for Iraqi military operations in Baghdad.

In a statement, the U.S. military said 15 police officers died and 35 officers and civilians were injured in the attack. Iraqi authorities said the blasts killed 11 people and injured 34.

When the blast occurred, students were leaving the academy after classes, said Lt. Ahmad Kadhim, a member of the SWAT team assigned to guard the academy. He said his men had left their posts to receive their salaries.

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