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Saturday, January 03, 2009

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Saturday January 3 2009 - (813)

Saturday January 3 2009 edition
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John Travolta's Son Dies In Bermuda
2009-01-02 22:27:50
Jett Travolta, 16, the son of actor John Travolta, died Friday after suffering a seizure at his family's vacation home on Grand Bahama Island. 

Attempts were made to revive him, but he died at the scene.

Jett, who had a history of seizures, was the eldest child of Travolta and his wife, actress Kelly Preston.

Rest in Peace, Jett.
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Editor: To summarize other reports,  Jett Travolta suffered from a fatal seizure in the bathroom.  During the seizure, he hit his head.  He was found by a housekeeper.  John Travolta attempted to resuscitate him, but was not successful.  Jett was declared dead after he reached the hospital by ambulance. 

  Mr. Travolta, I can truly sympathize with y! ou.  An almost identical situation happened to my family almost a year ago, when my step son passed away after suffering a seizure in the bath.
  Part of our grieving was to try to understand what happened.  I grasp the basic mechanical reasons for "why", but why hadn't we been warned that he could die during a seizure?  What could we have done differently?  What could anyone have done differently?  In the end, there was nothing any of us could have done.  I read countless accounts of this happening to others.  No matter if you had been standing there when he began his seizure or not, or if he had been attended by a staff of the finest doctors in the world, nothing would have changed the outcome.

  You can read this page for a brief description, and a links to mor! e information on "Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy" (SUDEP).

  I can't usually offer this, but knowing that there weren't many people I could actually talk to about this, you and/or your family can contact me at , and we will be more than happy to talk to you, totally confidentially.  No mention of this will ever be made again.  My wife told me, "I wish I could just call and talk to him, so he knows he's not alone."

  Free Internet Press

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In Slump, U.S. Steel Industry Looks To Federal Stimulus
2009-01-02 16:35:51

The steel industry, having entered the recession in the best of health, is emerging as a leading indicator of what lies ahead. As steel production goes - and it is now in collapse - so will go the national economy.

That maxim once applied to Detroit’s Big Three car companies, when they dominated American manufacturing. Now they are losing ground in good times and bad, and steel has replaced autos as the industry to watch for an early sign that a severe recession is beginning to lift.

The industry itself is turning to government for orders that, until the September collapse, had come from manufacturers and builders. Its executives are waiting anxiously for details of President-elect Barack Obama's stimulus plan, and adding their voices to pleas for a huge public investment program - up to $1 trillion over two years - intended to lift demand for steel to build highways, bridges, electric power grids, schools, hospitals, water treatment plants and rapid transit.

“What we are asking,” said Daniel R. DiMicco, chairman and chief executive of the Nucor Corporation, a giant steel maker, “is that our government deal with the worst economic slowdown in our lifetime through a recovery program that has in every provision a ‘buy America’ clause.”

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Some Foreigners Evacuate Gaza As Israeli Attacks Continue
2009-01-02 16:35:18
Israeli warplanes pounded Hamas targets in Gaza for a seventh day on Friday while Israel allowed hundreds of foreigners, many of them married to Palestinians, to leave the enclave, raising fears here that Israel was planning to escalate its week-old campaign.

Tensions spread to the West Bank and East Jerusalem, where Palestinian anger at reports of civilian casualties in Gaza seemed to be translating into at least a temporary increase in popular sympathy for Hamas.

Israel has vowed to press its offensive until there is no more rocket fire out of Gaza; its troops and tanks remained along the border, poised for a possible ground invasion.

Palestinian militants continued to launch salvos of rockets at southern Israel on Friday, with several hitting the coastal city of Ashkelon, lightly injuring two Israeli women there.

Israeli air and naval forces pummeled more bases of Hamas, the Islamic group that controls Gaza. The military said it hit the houses of several Hamas militants that also served as weapons depots as well as tunnels used for weapons smuggling and missile launching sites.

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Failed Lender IndyMac Bank Sold To Private Group For $13.9 Billion
2009-01-02 16:34:39
A group of private investors agreed Friday to buy IndyMac Bank, the Pasadena, California, specialist in exotic home loans that collapsed in July and became the third-largest bank to fail since the government began insuring deposits in 1934.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which has run IndyMac since its collapse, said the bank would be purchased by IMB Management Holdings, a New York-based partnership led by buyout expert J. Christopher Flowers, hedge-fund operator John Paulson and Steven Mnuchin, chairman of private equity firm Dune Capital Management.

IMB Management Holdings and the investor group will inject about $1.3 billion in new capital into the emerging bank and form a new holding company that will own and operate it under a thrift charter. What is being called New IndyMac also will bring in "an experienced senior management team to run the day-to-day operations of the thrift," the FDIC said in a statement.

Under the complex deal, the buyers will pay the FDIC about $13.9 billion and will share losses with the FDIC. The bank will assume the first 20% of losses, after which the FDIC would absorb the lion's share of losses.

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Mystery Author Donald E. Westlake Dies at 95
2009-01-02 16:31:01
Donald E. Westlake, a prolific mystery writer who won three Edgar Awards and an Academy Award nomination for screenplay adaptation in a career spanning five decades, has died. He was 75.

Westlake collapsed and died of an apparent heart attack on his way to dinner New Year's Eve while on vacation in Mexico, his wife, Abigail, told the New York Times.

The author of more than 90 books - most of them written on a typewriter - Westlake wrote under a variety of pseudonyms including Richard Stark, Tucker Coe, Samuel Holt and Edwin West - in part because people didn't believe he could write so much, so fast.

"In the beginning, people didn't want to publish more than one book a year by the same author," Susan Richman, his publicist at Grand Central Publishing, told the New York Times.

In recent years, Westlake wrote under only his own name and the pseudonym Richard Stark. More than 15 of his books were made into films, and he wrote a number of screenplays - most prominent among them, "The Grifters," the adaptation of the Jim Thompson pulp novel, which was nominated for an Academy Award in 1991.

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Global Manufacturing Growth Continues To Decline
2009-01-02 16:36:28

From Australia, to Asia and Europe and the United States on Wednesday, the message in the latest economic reports was clear: manufacturing continued to slump amid the worst slowdown since the Great Depression. 

In the United States on Friday, a crucial measure of manufacturing activity fell to the lowest level in 28 years in December. The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing executives, said its manufacturing index was 32.4 in December down from 36.2 in November.

“Manufacturing activity continued to decline at a rapid rate during the month of December,” said Norbert J. Ore, chairman of the Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing Business Survey Committee. This index was at the lowest reading since June 1980 when it was 30.3 percent.

“This report indicates that the U.S. economy was on even weaker footing than commonly believed as 2008 came to a close,” said Joshua Shapiro, chief United States economist at MFR. “Moreover, the signal from the export orders index is that the rest of the world is right there with us. Hardly a signal for economic recovery anytime soon.”

In addition, Ore said, “New orders have contracted for 13 consecutive months, and are at the lowest level on record going back to January 1948.”

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Los Angeles Earthquake Drill Finds Flaws In Steel High-Rises
2009-01-02 16:35:31
Modern steel buildings have long been considered among the most sturdy in the event of a major earthquake. But a model of a massive quake in Southern California has sparked debate among scientists and engineers over whether these structures are more vulnerable than previously thought.

The Great Southern California ShakeOut, the nation's largest earthquake drill, suggested that about five high-rise steel buildings in the region would collapse in the modeled magnitude 7.8 quake.

High-rise steel buildings sustained less damage than unreinforced brick buildings and older concrete buildings in the analysis. But the damage they sustained was greater than expected based on the standard building design formulas.

"It has huge implications," said Lucile Jones, a U.S. Geological Survey seismologist who served as chief scientist for the ShakeOut project. "When these types of buildings collapse, we could have 1,000 people in them. That's something to worry about."

The findings come 14 years after the Northridge earthquake, which exposed weaknesses in some older steel buildings.

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Oil Up 4 Percent On Mideast, Russia Tensions
2009-01-02 16:35:06
Oil prices jumped 4 percent Friday amid rising tensions in the Middle East and a dispute between Russia and Ukraine over natural gas supplies that spawned worries over fuel availability in Europe.

The gains were encouraged by a rally in U.S. stocks to a two-week high, with dealers hopeful the worst of the financial crisis that sent energy prices plummeting more than $100 a barrel since July was over.

U.S. light, sweet crude jumped $1.74 to settle at $46.34 a barrel while London Brent rose $1.32 to $46.91 per barrel.

Oil prices were down from their peaks over $147 a barrel hit in mid-July as a global economic slowdown shrinks energy demand, but a series of production cuts by OPEC since September has helped to end the slide in recent weeks.

OPEC's most recent agreement in mid-December to slash 2.2 million barrels per day from January 1 was the cartel's biggest-ever output cut, and the group's kingpin Saudi Arabia has signaled it could cut further if needed.

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U.S. Airline Offers Apology To Detained Muslim Travelers
2009-01-02 16:34:19

AirTran Airways has issued a public apology and provided free return airfare to nine Muslim passengers who were ejected Thursday from an AirTran flight to Orlando, Florida, at Reagan National Airport after two other passengers overheard what they construed as threatening remarks.

AirTran spokesman Tad Hutcheson said the company had also agreed to refund the travelers the cost of their tickets on another carrier after AirTran refused to rebook them.

"We regret that the issue escalated to the heightened security level it did on New Year's Day, but we trust everyone understands that the security and the safety of our passengers is paramount and cannot be compromised," read a company statement. "We apologize to all of the passengers - to the nine who had to undergo extensive interviews from the authorities and to the 95 who ultimately made the flight. Nobody on Flight 175 reached their destination on time on New Year's Day, and we regret it."

The nine passengers, including three young children, were headed to a religious retreat in Florida on New Year's Day when they were ordered off the flight but subsequently cleared of suspicion by FBI agents who characterized the incident as a misunderstanding, according to an airport official.

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Pakistan Troops Reopen Supply Route Used By U.S., NATO
2009-01-02 16:30:47
A crucial land route for military supplies to Western troops in Afghanistan was reopened today by Pakistani authorities, three days after being closed because of fighting between the Pakistani army and Islamic militants.

The reopening of the road through the historic Khyber Pass is unlikely to mark an end to bold attacks by militants that have plagued the route, making shipments of NATO materiel increasingly untenable for the last two months.

About three-quarters of the supplies bound for U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan pass through Pakistan. With the expected deployment of as many as 30,000 additional American troops to Afghanistan in coming months, the security of the supply route is likely to become an even more pressing issue.

NATO officials have acknowledged that they are trying to arrange alternate routes through Central Asia, but insist that the loss of supplies through militant attacks on private transport convoys in Pakistan has not had a significant effect on military operations in Afghanistan.

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