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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Tuesday December 9 2008 - (813)

Tuesday December 9 2008 edition
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3 Killed As F/A-18 Military Jet Slams Into San Diego Neighborhood
2008-12-09 01:24:53
It was meant to be a routine training mission: a young Marine pilot sharpening his skills flying an F/A-18D Hornet from the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln off the San Diego, California, coast.

But as the plane had lifted off the carrier deck, the pilot quickly knew he was in trouble, possibly with a malfunction in one of the plane's engines. He radioed the air controller at Miramar, who ordered the emergency landing attempt.

As the plane crossed over land at Torrey Pines en route to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, more problems struck, possibly "flame-out" of a second engine. The plane lost altitude and began to wobble.

Residents of the University City neighborhood west of Miramar, accustomed to the sight of warplanes overhead, looked up and knew something was terribly wrong.

Within seconds, the plane nosed downward and picked up speed, clipping the top of a jacaranda tree and smashing into a Cather Avenue home where a mother, a grandmother and two children lived. Skid marks could be seen on the driveway.

Three of the persons in the home were later confirmed dead, and the fourth missing. Burning debris and the smell of jet fuel spread in all directions.
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Commentary: 'Cyberspace Has Buried Its Head In A Cesspit Of Climate Change Gibberish'
2008-12-09 01:24:29
Intellpuke: This commentary was written by author and Professor George Monbiot, who lives and works in the U.K.

We all create our own reality, and shut out the voices we do not want to hear. But there is no issue we are less willing to entertain than man-made climate change. Here, three worlds seem to exist in virtual isolation. In the physical world, global warming appears to be spilling over into runaway feedback: the most dangerous situation humankind has ever encountered. In the political world - at the climate talks in Poznan, for instance - our governments seem to be responding to something quite different, a minor nuisance that can be addressed in due course. Only the Plane Stupid protesters who occupied part of Stansted airport in the U.K. Monday appear to have understood the scale and speed of this crisis. In cyberspace, by contrast, the response spreading fastest and furthest is flat-out denial.

The most popular article on the Guardian's website last week was the report showing that 2008 is likely to be the coolest year since 2000. As the Met Office predicted, global temperatures have been held down by the La Nina event in the Pacific Ocean. This news prompted a race on the Guardian's comment thread to reach the outer limits of idiocy. Of the 440 responses posted by lunchtime Monday, about 80% insisted that man-made climate change is a hoax. Here's a sample of the conversation:

"This is a scam to get your money ... The only people buying into 'global warming' have no experience with any of the sciences."

"If we spend any money or cost one person their job because of this fraud it would be a crime. When will one of our politicians stand up and call this for what it is, bullshit!"

"What a set of jokers these professors are ... I think I understand more about climate change than them and I don't get paid a big fat salary with all the perks to go with it."

And so on, and on and on. The new figures have prompted similar observations all over the web. Until now, the "skeptics" have assured us that you can't believe the temperature readings at all; that the scientists at the Met Office, who produced the latest figures, are all liars; and that even if it were true that temperatures have risen, it doesn't mean anything. Now the temperature record - though only for 2008 - can suddenly be trusted, and the widest possible inferences be drawn from the latest figures, though not, of course, from the records of the preceding century. This is madness.

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Convoy Attacks Trigger Race To Open New Afghan Supply Lines
2008-12-09 01:23:27
NATO countries are scrambling for alternative routes as far afield as Belarus and Ukraine to supply their forces in Afghanistan, which are increasingly vulnerable to a resurgent Taliban, the Guardian reported.

Four serious attacks on U.S. and NATO supplies in Pakistan during the past month, including two in the past three days, have added to the sense of urgency to conclude pacts with former Soviet republics bordering Afghanistan to the north.

NATO is negotiating with Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to allow supplies for NATO forces, including fuel, to cross borders into Afghanistan from the north. The deal, which officials said was close to being agreed, follows an agreement with Moscow this year allowing NATO supplies to be transported by rail or road through Russia.

The deal could allow more fuel for NATO forces to be transported from refineries in Baku, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan. Most of the 75 million  gallons of fuel estimated to be used by NATO forces annually in Afghanistan comes from refineries in Pakistan.

Germany and Spain, whose troops are based in more peaceful northern Afghanistan, have negotiated separate bilateral air transport agreements with Russia.

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Falling Sales In Russia Force Ford To Idle Its Plant
2008-12-09 01:22:53
Hopes that Russia and other emerging markets could help support the automotive industry despite a slumping performance in the United States and Europe dimmed on Monday as the Ford Motor Company followed Volkswagen and Renault in suspending production at its Russian assembly line.

While Ford's fortunes were less than glittering elsewhere, the automaker had deftly anticipated a surge in demand for cars in Russia over the last decade. As sales fell in the United States, Russia remained an engine of growth for both imports and the domestically assembled sedans.

In fact, the Focus was the best-selling brand in Russia, easily outpacing its Japanese and European competition and proving Ford could do what it had struggled to achieve in the United States - efficiently build a popular, compact family car.

Ford opened its largest dealership in Europe outside Moscow; demand exploded so quickly that the company at one point had a six-month backlog of orders for Focus cars built at an assembly plant near St. Petersburg.

The company said Monday that it would idle that plant from Dec. 24 until Jan. 21 for an extended New Year’s holiday, citing poor sales; Focus sales were down 30 percent in October from a year earlier, the Interfax news agency reported.

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Pakistan Arrests Suspected Mastermind Of Mumbai Attacks
2008-12-08 15:33:49
In a move aimed at diffusing tensions with India, Pakistani authorities arrested a suspected ringleader of last month's deadly attacks in Mumbai, along with rounding up several others in a massive raid on an alleged Pakistani terrorist group in the Himalayan territory of Kashmir, Pakistani officials, witnesses and members of the group said Monday.

Residents in the small Kashmiri town of Shawai Nala said dozens of Pakistani soldiers descended on a camp run by Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a Muslim aid organization suspected of funding the militant Pakistani group Lashkar-i-Taiba, about 3 p.m. Sunday. Mehboob Ahmed, a resident of the nearby city of Muzzaffarabad, the area's capital, said a Pakistani army helicopter gunship swept over the camp several times just before the ground was rocked by rocket fire and a fusillade of bullets fired by Pakistani forces.

According to local residents and a Jamaat-ud-Dawa member, Pakistani security forces arrested 22 people, including Zaki ur-Rehman Lakhwi, one of at least five Lashkar-i-Taiba members named by Indian authorities as the masterminds behind the brutal Mumbai assault. The attack on India's financial capital killed more than 170 people and wounded at least 230.

Police in Mumbai said last week that Lakhwi organized and directed the attacks from the camp near Muzzaffarabad. They said Lakhwi worked in coordination with Lashkar-i-Taiba commander Yousuf Muzammil, who directed part of the operation from a safe house in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi. At least 10 gunmen commandeered a fishing boat to ferry them from Karachi to Mumbai, where they launched a raid on two luxury hotels, a train station and a Jewish cultural center. Lt. Col. Baseer Haider, a spokesman for the Pakistani army, said that he was aware of the raid on the Jamaat-ud-Dawa camp but that the operation was being handled by Pakistan's Interior Ministry, the country's lead domestic security agency. An aide to Rehman Malik, Pakistan's top Interior Ministry adviser, said Malik was unavailable for comment early Monday.

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3M Cutting 1,800 Jobs Around The World In 4th Quarter
2008-12-08 15:33:23
3M Co. is cutting 1,800 jobs in the fourth quarter and ordering some workers to take vacation or unpaid time off for the last two weeks of the year.

3M spokeswoman Jackie Berry told the Minneapolis Star Tribune for a story posted Friday night that the worsening economy forced the cuts. She told the newspaper she didn't have a dollar amount on how much the company expects to save. The company is also postponing merit pay for next year, she said.

The Maplewood-based manufacturer had earlier announced 1,000 job cuts in the third quarter, which ended Sept. 30. The 1,800 new layoffs will come from the U.S., Western Europe and other developed nations.

Berry didn't say where specific cuts would be made, but told the Star Tribune "several hundred" will be in the United States.

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Pakistan's Spies Aided Group Tied To Mumbai Seige
2008-12-08 03:46:29
Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistan-based militant group suspected of conducting the Mumbai attacks, has quietly gained strength in recent years with the help of Pakistan’s main spy service, assistance that has allowed the group to train and raise money while other militants have been under siege, American intelligence and counterterrorism officials say.

American officials say there is no hard evidence to link the spy service, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI,or ISI, to the Mumbai attacks; but the ISI has shared intelligence with Lashkar and provided protection for it, said the officials, and investigators are focusing on one Lashkar leader they believe is a main liaison with the spy service and a mastermind of the attacks.

As a result of the assault on Mumbai, India’s financial hub, American counterterrorism and military officials say they are reassessing their view of Lashkar and believe it to be more capable and a greater threat than they had previously recognized.

“People are having to go back and re-look at all the connections,” said one American counterterrorism official, who was among several officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was still progressing.

Pakistani officials have denied any government connection to the siege on Nov. 26-29, in which nine gunmen and 163 other people were killed. A Pakistani official confirmed on Sunday that security forces had initiated an operation against at least one Lashkar camp.

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Scientist: Oil Giants Face Lawsuits Over Climate Change
2008-12-09 01:24:44

People affected by worsening storms, heat waves and floods could soon be able to sue the oil and power companies they blame for global warming, said a leading climate expert.

Myles Allen, a physicist at Oxford University, said a breakthrough that allows scientists to judge the role man-made climate change played in extreme weather events could see a rush to the courts over the next decade.

"We are starting to get to the point that when an adverse weather event occurs we can quantify how much more likely it was made by human activity," he said. "And people adversely affected by climate change today are in a position to document and quantify their losses. This is going to be hugely important."

Allen's team has used the new technique to work out whether global warming worsened the U.K. floods in autumn 2000, which inundated 10,000 properties, disrupted power supplies and led to train services being canceled, motorways closed and 11,000 people evacuated from their homes - at a total cost of £1 billion.

He would not comment on the results before publication, but said people affected by floods could "potentially" use a positive finding to begin legal action.

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A Lobbying Frenzy For Federal Dollars
2008-12-09 01:24:04

Last week it was auto industry suppliers. Monday it was mayors from the nation's biggest cities. Now, auto dealers from across the country have arrived in Washington, D.C.

With Congress poised to vote on a rescue for the nation's auto industry and President-elect Barack Obama promising to launch a massive public spending program, Capitol Hill has once again become the scene of a lobbying free-for-all, with industry and local governments alike seeking some of the billions in taxpayer dollars that Congress is likely to spend in the not-too-distant future.

While some of the lobbying has been conducted by the usual hands on K Street, a parade of trade groups, unions and business owners have chosen to voice their pleas in person.

Some of the most determined lobbying has come from representatives of the auto industry, who have converged on Washington in an all-out effort to build support for a rescue of the Big Three. Their arrival follows that of the chief executives of General Motors, Chrysler and Ford, who have twice tried to press lawmakers for emergency loans.

Brian Swanson, the general manager of a metal forming company based in Plymouth, Mich., recently joined 50 other auto industry suppliers in a small procession by the Capitol Reflecting Pool. He said the gathering was intended to show Congress that a bailout for automakers "was not a Detroit issue."

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Greek Authorities Pledge Crackdown On Rioters After 3rd Night Of Chaos
2008-12-09 01:23:06

Greek police are braced for more violence around the funeral Tuesday of a teenage boy shot dead by police, after rioting youths brought a third night of chaos to Greek cities.

The government denied reports it would declare a state of emergency, but last night the interior minister, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, signaled the authorities will take a firmer stance against rioters in the worst disturbances to hit the country since the collapse of military rule in 1974.

Emerging from a three-hour emergency cabinet meeting, he said: "What is happening both for the economy of our country and our democracy is unacceptable. We will not tolerate these events. We will do what we must."

Yet thousands took to the streets again, burning shops and buildings and even setting alight a Christmas tree in the center of Athens. One hotel's windows were smashed and guests evacuated. The four-story Olympic Airways office in central Athens was completely burned, as well as a bank and more than 130 shops.

Rioters threw rocks and petrol bombs at riot police and set up barricades across downtown streets. Smoke rose above the city center, mingling with clouds of teargas. Broken glass littered the streets.

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Five Blackwater Guards Indicted For Manslaughter In 2007 Shootings
2008-12-08 15:34:00

Five Blackwater Worldwide security guards charged in the shooting deaths of 14 Iraqi civilians last year turned themselves in to federal authorities in Salt Lake City, Utah, Monday morning, according to their attorneys, and the Justice Department unsealed a 35-count indictment against them.

The five guards were indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., in connection with the shooting, which occurred Sept. 16, 2007, in Baghdad's bustling Nisoor Square. The indictment said all five were charged with voluntary manslaughter; attempt to commit manslaughter; and using and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

A sixth security guard, Jeremy P. Ridgeway, pleaded guilty Friday to charges of voluntary manslaughter and attempt to commit voluntary manslaughter, according to papers filed in court Monday.

The five guards indicted in the case are Evan Liberty, 26, a former Marine of Rochester, New Hampshire; Nick Slatten, 25, a former Army sergeant of Sparta, Tennessee; Dustin Heard, 27, a former Marine corporal of Maryville, Tennessee; Donald Ball, 26, a former Marine corporal of Salt Lake City, Utah; and Paul Slough, 29, of Sanger, Texas, who served in the Army and the Texas National Guard. All except Liberty served with the military in Iraq. After concluding their service, the men signed up with Blackwater to provide security in the country.

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Dow Chemical To Slash 5,000 Jobs, Close 20 Planets
2008-12-08 15:33:35
Dow Chemical Co. said Monday it will slash 5,000 full-time jobs - about 11 percent of its total work force - close 20 plants and sell several businesses to rein in costs amid the economic recession.

The company, one of the largest chemical makers in the world, expects the moves to save about $700 million per year by 2010. Dow also will temporarily idle 180 plants and prune 6,000 contractors from its payroll.

Exactly which workers and plants will be affected is still being determined, said a company spokesman.

"We are accelerating the implementation of these measures as the current world economy has deteriorated sharply, and we must adjust ourselves to the severity of this downturn," Chief Executive and Chairman Andrew N. Liveris said in a statement.

Last month, Dow Chemical had said it would review all options to reduce costs and eliminate or defer capital spending.

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Debt-Ridden Tribune Co. Considers Bankruptcy
2008-12-08 03:46:38

Media giant Tribune Co., saddled with billions in debt since it became a privately held company last year, has hired bankruptcy advisers, according to its flagship newspaper, the Chicago Tribune.

The Chicago-based company owns a coast-to-coast empire with television stations and newspapers in most of the nation's largest cities. Its holdings include the Los Angeles Times; cable television super-station WGN in Chicago; the Baltimore Sun; and WDCW-50 in Washington, D.C., the CW affiliate. The company even owns the Chicago Cubs.

Tribune assumed some $13 billion in debt when real estate mogul Sam Zell engineered an employee-owned transition to private ownership one year ago this month. Hopes were high among employees that the company could be re-engineered to be a news company of the 21st century.

Sharply dropping advertising revenue, a decline that has hit almost all of the nation's newspapers in recent years, has put the company in danger of being unable to meet its debt covenants and may force it to seek the shelter of bankruptcy reorganization, according to a source close to the company who spoke on the condition of anonymity because Tribune is privately held.

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Pakistan Militant Group Builds Web Of Western Recruits
2008-12-08 03:46:15
The Pakistani extremist group suspected in the Mumbai rampage remains a distant shadow for most Americans, but the threat is much nearer than it seems.

For years, Lashkar-e-Taiba has actively recruited Westerners, especially Britons and Americans, serving as a kind of farm team for Islamic militants who have gone on to execute attacks for al-Qaeda, a close ally. The Pakistani network makes its training camps accessible to English speakers, providing crucial skills to an increasingly young and Western-born generation of extremists.

Briton Aabid Khan was one of them. When British police arrested him at Manchester International Airport on his return from Pakistan in June 2006, they found a trove of terrorist propaganda and manuals on his laptop that the trial judge later described as "amongst the largest and most extensive ever discovered." The haul included maps and videos of potential targets in New York City and Washington, D.C.

One video, shot deep in Pakistani extremist turf, shows the then-21-year-old Khan with a grinning young man who says he's from Los Angeles - a mysterious figure in a case that apparently illustrates Lashkar's dangerous reach.

In August, a court here sentenced Khan to 12 years in prison on charges of possession of articles for use in an act of terrorism and making records useful for terrorism.

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