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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Tuesday January 13 2009 - (813)

Tuesday January 13 2009 edition
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Bush: Nation's Moral Standing Still Intact
2009-01-12 18:03:27

President Bush Friday morning declared emphatically that "most people around the world, they respect America," strongly disagreeing with the idea that the country's moral standing suffered during his time in office. He said he did what he thought was right in facing crises from Hurricane Katrina to prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, even though sometimes "things didn't go according to plan."

At his last planned news conference before he leaves office at noon on Jan. 20, Bush called Abu Ghraib "a huge disappointment," and said finding out that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had not stockpiled weapons of mass destruction before the U.S. invasion in 2003 was deeply frustrating as well.

"I don't know if you want to call those mistakes or not, but they were - things didn't go according to plan ... ," said Bush. "There is no such thing as short-term history. I don't think you can possibly get the full breadth of an administration until time has passed."

Bush said the greatest challenge President-elect Barack Obama and his successors will likely face is "an attack on our homeland" akin to the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Such a scenario, he predicted, would make people less likely to question interrogation tactics and other extreme security measures adopted by the government during his tenure.

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Alcoa Reports A $1.2 Billion Quarterly Loss
2009-01-12 18:03:02
Alcoa, the aluminum company, said Monday it lost $1.19 billion during its fourth quarter as prices and demand for the metal plunged in a troubled global market.

Alcoa’s loss highlighted the impact of the weakening world economy on key aluminum markets, such as the construction and auto industries. Prices of the metal, used in everything from cars and aircraft to window frames and beer cans, have fallen steeply along with other commodities since mid-2008.

Alcoa, the first component of the Dow Jones industrial average to post results and considered a bellwether of earnings to come, said quarterly revenue sank 19 percent to $5.7 billion from $7 billion a year-earlier.

To cope with diminishing demand, Alcoa announced plans last week to lay off about 13 percent of its global work force by the end of 2009, further cut production and spending, and sell four of its subsidiaries. Alcoa said it expected to save $450 million annually as a result of the cutbacks.

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Obama Preparing Order To Close Guantanamo Military Prison
2009-01-12 17:33:28
President-elect Barack Obama is preparing to issue an executive order his first week in office - and perhaps his first day - to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, according to two presidential transition team advisers.

It's unlikely the detention facility at the Navy base in Cuba will be closed anytime soon. In an interview last weekend, Obama said it would be "a challenge" to close it even within the first 100 days of his administration.

The order, which one adviser said could be issued as early as Jan. 20, would start the process of deciding what to do with the estimated 250 al-Qaeda and Taliban suspects and potential witnesses who are being held there. Most have not been charged with a crime.

The Guantanamo directive would be one of a series of executive orders Obama is planning to issue shortly after he takes office next Tuesday, according to the two advisers. Also expected is an executive order about certain interrogation methods, but details were not immediately available Monday.

The advisers spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the orders that have not yet been finalized.
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Hamas Defiant As Israel Pushes Into Gaza City
2009-01-12 18:03:14
Israeli ground forces called in a series of air strikes as fierce fighting continued in Gaza Monday, the 17th day of Israel's war against Hamas. 

On Sunday, Israeli troops pushed into a heavily populated area of Gaza City from the south, and senior Israeli officials said for the first time in the war that they believed that the Hamas military wing was beginning to crack and that Hamas leaders inside Gaza were “eager” for a cease-fire.

Hamas leaders in Gaza, however, said Monday that the organization would continue to fight until the siege was ended and the crossings to Israel and Egypt were reopened. News agencies reported Monday that militants fired as many as 10 missiles out of Gaza into southern Israel, causing no casualties.

"We confirm to our people that victory is closer than ever," the Hamas cabinet in Gaza said in a statement distributed to journalists, according to a Reuters translation.

The Israeli military said that warplanes attacked five Hamas operatives along with weapons caches, tunnels and other targets, while Israeli gunboats fired from the sea. By midday, the Israeli military said its warplanes had struck 25 targets, including, it said, a mosque where Hamas stored rockets and mortars.

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Stocks Tumble As Oil Prices Fall On Economic Worries
2009-01-12 17:33:39
Wall Street extended last week's slide Monday as investors worried that the quarterly results companies begin releasing this week will signal the economy is in worse shape than feared.

Oil prices helped fuel the pessimism, tumbling 8 percent to a new low for the year as investors bet economic weakness would curb demand. Wall Street normally welcomes falling oil as a boost for consumers who pay less to put gas in their car, but steep drops can touch off deeper fears about the overall economy.

Wall Street is expecting fourth-quarter and full-year earnings will be particularly bleak, especially after several companies warned last week that they are being hit hard by the recession. Aluminum producer Alcoa Inc., which last week announced it would slash production, fell again Monday after an analyst lowered his rating on the stock. Alcoa said after the market closed that it lost $1.19 billion during its fourth quarter as demand for aluminum plunged.

Financial stocks also declined as investors looked to Citigroup Inc. and Morgan Stanley, which could announce a deal as soon as Wednesday to combine their brokerage operations. The potential tie-up underscores the troubles some banks are still having with tattered balance sheets, and a prominent analyst said Citigroup might still need to raise cash.
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Democrats In U.S. Senate To Seat Burris As Illinois Senator
2009-01-12 17:33:14
Roland Burris won his battle to succeed Barack Obama as the junior senator from Illinois Monday afternoon as Senate Democratic leaders dropped their objections and said they expect him to be seated this week.

The agreement came after Senate lawyers said Burris met the chamber's rules and could be sworn in.

"Barring objections from Senate Republicans, we expect Senator-designee Burris to be sworn in and formally seated later this week," said a joint statement from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin.

The Senate Democratic leaders had told Burris last week that he needed to testify before the Illinois House impeachment committee about his relationship with Gov. Rod Blagojevich and submit a signature from Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White certifying his appointment by Blagojevich.

"We have spoken to Mr. Burris to let him know that he is now the Senator-designate from Illinois and as such, will be accorded all the rights and privileges of a Senator-elect," said the joint statement.

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