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Monday, January 19, 2009

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Monday January 19 2009 - (813)

Monday January 19 2009 edition
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Ahem ... About the past two days...
2009-01-19 02:06:30
Intellpuke: As you probably noticed, there was a two-day gap in posting fresh articles here at Free Internet Press. There is a simple explanation for this: Some cretin went googling and came across an unfamiliar website. Curious, the cretin explored it. Two clicks and 27 pop-ups later he departed the website hastily ... along with about a dozen viruses and an equal amount of malware.

Thanks to this cretin's bumbling, incomprehesible stupidity this, of course, led to a lot of techincal problems which would have defeated many a tech shut down many a website, but thanks J.W., our resident cyber wizard, we're all fixed and up and running.

I apologize to all of you for the inconvenience. Why am I the one apologizing? Because I was the bumbling, incomprehensibly stupid cretin whose carefree googling caused all the problems.

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Cockpit Tape Verifies Pilot's Account Of Hudson River Landing
2009-01-19 02:06:06

The cockpit voice recording from the plane that landed in the Hudson River on Thursday captured both the sound of an impact on the US Airways jet, presumably by birds, and the efforts of a crew that was going through what a senior investigator called a “very calm, collected exercise,” even though they were gliding lower and had no way to reach a runway.

The plane lost thrust in both engines soon after takeoff, and never reached an altitude above 3,200 feet, officials of the National Transportation Safety Boardsaid on Sunday.

“About 90 seconds after takeoff, the captain remarks about birds,” said Kathryn O. Higgins, one of the agency’s five board members, in characterizing what could be heard on the cockpit voice recording. The recording was played in the board’s laboratory in Washington, D.C., on Sunday and described to Higgins, who has been assigned to the scene. “One second later, the cockpit voice recorder recorded the sound of thumps and a rapid decrease in engine sounds,” she said.

The recorder helped illustrate how the crew departed from the usual script once they realized their dire circumstances.

Usually, one pilot flies the plane and the other works the radios, but in this case, it was Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger III doing both, while the first officer, Jeffrey B. Skiles, rushed to try to accomplish a “restart” checklist. Even if the engines could have been restarted, he had very little time: Flight 1549 ditched into the river three and a half minutes after the engines lost power.

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Rulings Of Improper Detentions At Guantanamo Bay As Bush Era Closes
2009-01-19 02:05:41

For nearly six years, Haji Bismullah, an Afghan detainee at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has insisted that he was no terrorist, but had actually fought the Taliban and had later been part of the pro-American Afghan government.

Over the weekend, the Bush administration flew him home after a military panel concluded that he “should no longer be deemed an enemy combatant.”

Asked about the panel’s decision, which was not publicly announced and seemed to acknowledge a mistake of grand proportions, a Pentagon spokeswoman said, “Mr. Bismullah was lawfully detained as an enemy combatant based on the information that was available at the time.”

The decision was part of a pattern that has emerged in the closing chapter of the administration. In the last three months, at least 24 detainees have been declared improperly held by courts or a tribunal â€" or nearly 10 percent of the population at the detention camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where about 245 men remain.

The Bush administration has maintained that the detention camp holds “the worst of the worst.” In a radio interview Tuesday, Vice President Dick Cheney said that “now what’s left, that is the hardcore.”

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As Israel Begins Pullout, Gazans Survey Debris
2009-01-19 02:05:02
Israeli soldiers flashed the victory sign Sunday as they began withdrawing from the Gaza Strip. Shellshocked Palestinians emerged from shelters and counted their dead. As a tenuous cease-fire took hold, few people on either side predicted an end to the cycle of violence that has endured for generations.

The 22-day war ended without surrender. Neither Israel nor Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls Gaza, made any concessions, except to stop fighting temporarily.

"The essence of this is you have two completely separate cease-fires, with no underpinnings in them of agreement or understanding, and no resolution of the original causes of the conflict," said Alistair Crooke, a former British intelligence officer and former European Union adviser on Palestinian issues. "On one level, it's back to square one, and all of the elements of the situation are back to where they were before the war."

Although Hamas sustained the heavier losses, by a lopsided margin, Israeli officials acknowledged that the movement could quickly rebuild its political and military wings and that it still posed a potent long-term threat to Israel.

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Obama Stesses Optimism, Responsibility In Remarks
2009-01-19 02:06:16

As a growing celebratory spirit began to consume the nation's capital, President-elect Barack Obama stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial Sunday and declared a "celebration of American renewal" two days ahead of his swearing-in.

"Behind me, watching over the union he saved, sits the man who in so many ways made this day possible," Obama said, in front of the marble statue of President Abraham Lincoln.

Obama's advisers also began to give a taste of the inaugural address that he will deliver at the other end of the Mall, located between the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monumen -Monday, saying it will emphasize the themes of responsibility and restoring public confidence.

Obama touched on that subject yesterday, saying that what gave him great optimism was the "Americans of every race and region and station who came here because you believe in what this country can be and because you want to help us get there."

In a series of appearances that culminated in the concert at the Lincoln Memorial, Obama ventured across a city transformed into a miles-long block party, with banners strung across storefronts and tourists covered in Obama gear.

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Bush White House Directive Guides Actic Policy
2009-01-19 02:05:54

The White House last week issued a new policy directive to guide government decisions involving the Arctic, a document that outlines an array of challenges the incoming administration will face as rising temperatures spark a surge in economic and military activity there - along with new environmental concerns.

The 10-page directive signed by President Bush, which took two years to write and is meant to guide 10 Cabinet departments along with the Environmental Protection Agency, updates a policy first established 14 years ago. While fairly general, the document highlights the need for the United States to assert its interests in a region that has become increasingly desirable to countries that hope to exploit its natural resources and strategic possibilities.

"The United States has broad and fundamental national security interests in the Arctic region and is prepared to operate either independently or in conjunction with other states to safeguard these interests," the directive says.

White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said the administration wanted to update the Arctic policy in order to reflect the creation of new federal agencies such as the Departent of Homeland Security and because the changing climate in northern latitudes has spurred new military and commercial activity there.

"The overarching purpose of doing the directive is because of the significant changes that have taken place in the Arctic ... and realigning policy to deal with it," he said.

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As Jobs Dwindle, More Joining U.S. Military
2009-01-19 02:05:28

As the number of jobs across the nation dwindles, more Americans are joining the military, lured by a steady paycheck, benefits and training.

The last fiscal year was a banner one for the military, with all active-duty and reserve forces meeting or exceeding their recruitment goals for the first time since 2004, the year that violence in Iraq intensified drastically, said Pentagon officials.

The trend seems to be accelerating. The Army exceeded its targets each month for October, November and December - the first quarter of the new fiscal year - bringing in 21,443 new soldiers on active duty and in the reserves. December figures were released last week.

Recruiters also report that more people are inquiring about joining the military, a trend that could further bolster the ranks. Of the four armed services, the Army has faced the toughest recruiting challenge in recent years because of high casualty rates in Iraq and long deployments overseas. Recruitment is also strong for the Army National Guard, according to Pentagon figures. The Guard tends to draw older people.

“When the economy slackens and unemployment rises and jobs become more scarce in civilian society, recruiting is less challenging,” said Curtis Gilroy, the director of accession policy for the Department of Defense.

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From Books, A New President Found His Voice
2009-01-19 02:04:42
In college, as he was getting involved in protests against the apartheid government in South Africa, Barack Obama  noticed, he has written, “that people had begun to listen to my opinions.” Words, the young Obama realized, had the power “to transform”: “with the right words everything could change - South Africa, the lives of ghetto kids just a few miles away, my own tenuous place in the world.”

Much has been made of Obama’s eloquence - his ability to use words in his speeches to persuade and uplift and inspire. But his appreciation of the magic of language and his ardent love of reading have not only endowed him with a rare ability to communicate his ideas to millions of Americans while contextualizing complex ideas about race and religion, they have also shaped his sense of who he is and his apprehension of the world.

Obama’s first book, “Dreams From My Father” (which surely stands as the most evocative, lyrical and candid autobiography written by a future president), suggests that throughout his life he has turned to books as a way of acquiring insights and information from others - as a means of breaking out of the bubble of self-hood and, more recently, the bubble of power and fame. He recalls that he read James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Langston Hughes,  Richard Wright and W. E. B. Du Bois when he was an adolescent in an effort to come to terms with his racial identity and that later, during an ascetic phase in college, he immersed himself in the works of thinkers like Nietzsche and St. Augustine in a spiritual-intellectual search to figure out what he truly believed.

As a boy growing up in Indonesia, Obama learned about the American civil rights movement through books his mother gave him. Later, as a fledgling community organizer in Chicago, he found inspiration in “Parting the Waters,” the first installment of Taylor Branch’s multivolume biography of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

More recently, books have supplied Obama with some concrete ideas about governance: it’s been widely reported that “Team of Rivals,” Doris Kearns Goodwin's book about Abraham Lincoln's decision to include former opponents in his cabinet, informed Obama’s decision to name his chief Democratic rival, Hillary Rodham Clinton, as Secretary of State. In other cases, books about F. D. R.’s first hundred days in office and Steve Coll’s “Ghost Wars,“ about Afghanistan and the C.I.A., have provided useful background material on some of the myriad challenges Obama will face upon taking office.

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