Free Internet Press

Uncensored News For Real People This is a mirror site for our daily newsletter. You may visit our real site through the individual story links, or by visiting .

Friday, February 20, 2009

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Friday February 20 2009 - (813)

Friday February 20 2009 edition
Free Internet Press is operated on your donations.
Donate Today

IAEA: Iran Has Enough Enriched Uranium To Build Nuclear Weapon
2009-02-20 02:23:54

The United Nation's nuclear watchdog reported Thursday that Iran had managed to enrich a metric ton of low enriched uranium (LEU), which U.N. officials say is technically enough to build a nuclear weapon.

U.N. officials cautioned that there remained many practical obstacles to the production of a bomb, and pointed out that the uranium is under close surveillance, and the report issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iran appeared to have slowed down the rate at which its uranium enrichment capacity is expanding. The report is likely to raise further the already high tensions surrounding the Iranian nuclear program.

One respected U.S. analyst said that the tonne milestone meant that Iran had reached "breakout capacity" - the theoretical ability to produce the 20-25 kilogram highly enriched uranium needed for one functioning warhead. Others were more cautious but said there was plenty more in the report to raise the level of international concern.

The IAEA said that Iran had put a roof over a "heavy-water" nuclear reactor being built near the town of Arak, capable and was preventing agency inspectors from carrying out ground inspections, meaning that they no longer had any way of seeing what was being done at the facility, which could potentially produce plutonium.

Iran is also refusing to tell the IAEA where it is manufacturing the centrifuges used to enrich uranium, so the agency cannot confirm how many are being produced and where they are being installed.

Read The Full Story

Bailout Adds 1.5 Trillion Pounds To Britain's Public Debt
2009-02-20 02:23:33

Gordon Brown suffered a double blow Thursday when government statisticians recalculated Britain's national debt at £1.5 trillion and the CBI accused the prime minister of lacking a coherent economic recovery strategy.

As the prime minister warned in Rome, Italy, that the world was being hit by an "economic hurricane", his fightback plan at home was complicated when the Office for National Statistics raised the prospect of Britain's national debt rising to 150% of national income from its current 48%.

The ONS classified Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland as public corporations and thus added all their liabilities - up to £1.5 trillion - on to the taxpayers' balance sheet. The ONS said the recapitalizations of Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group meant they had in effect become public corporations, which would have to add the full extent of their liabilities to the national debt.

The move, which the Treasury dismissed as a "technical classification" with few policy implications, prompted Tory warnings that Britain was now facing a debt crisis. Kenneth Clarke, the shadow business secretary, called on Alistair Darling, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to introduce a dramatic reduction in the growth in public spending from this April, rather than waiting until next year.

"We are going to quite staggering levels of public debt," Clarke told the BBC. "The voters are going to have to pay the interest on all this mounting debt. "

Read The Full Story

'There Were Definitely Excesses'
2009-02-19 19:26:03
Intellpuke: The following interview with German reinsurance giant Munich Re C.E.O. Nikolaus von Bomhard was conducted by Spiegel journalists. In it, Mr. von Bomhard discusses the global controversy over bankers' bonuses and the true roots of the current financial crisis. The interview follows:

SPIEGEL: Mr. von Bomhard, your company is the largest reinsurer in the world. This means that you earn money primarily by insuring insurers, for instance in the event of a natural disaster. Right?

Bomhard: You could put it that way, yes. But with our ERGO Group, we are also a major direct insurer.

SPIEGEL: These days many managers are acting as if the economic crisis were a force of nature that has struck the world. Could they have purchased insurance from you for this?

Bomhard: Not so directly. The staggering dimensions of this crisis were in fact surprising for everyone, but it was - in contrast to an earthquake - created by people.

SPIEGEL: Greedy people.

Bomhard: People, in any case, whose actions are far more difficult to calculate than something like the probability of a tsunami in a certain region.

SPIEGEL: Calculating probabilities of all kinds is what you do for a living.

Bomhard: We reach our limits with such complex situations. But it was clear that something was brewing. It was merely a question of when the storm would hit. We insurers are generally more skeptical than bankers.

Read The Full Story

German Opel Workers Fear For Jobs Amid GM Crisis
2009-02-19 19:25:32

Uncertainty looms large at the Opel car factory in Bochum. The future of thousands of jobs hangs in the balance as struggling parent company General Motors seeks to slash costs. But for the workers at the Bochum plant, uncertainty is nothing new.

It's two o'clock in the afternoon at the sprawling Opel plant in Bochum, in the northwest of Germany. A new shift is starting and small groups of men and women exit the car factory which General Motors, its parent company, may soon close for good. But outside in the winter sunshine, most workers refuse to give in to despondency about their uncertain future.

As they hurry to their cars, passing television crews and gaggles of journalists, few want to talk. After all, this is not the first time that reporters have flooded their workplace. Five years ago, a strike against a mooted closure stalled production lines for five whole days; in the end, the threatened closure never happened. Those memories are still fresh for the Opel workers, clad in their gray overalls.

"What is there to say right now?" asked one man who has worked for Opel for eight years but preferred not to be named. "If we were to go on strike now, the Americans would close the plant straight away. So it's a matter of keeping our mouths closed and getting on with our jobs. I've got a family. I need the plant. I need the money."

And that sentiment is typical, according to Thomas Bender, who is distributing flyers from the MLPD communist party which wants the workers to go on strike. "If there is a time to fight, then it's now," said Bender. "There's no hope that the city of Bochum will offer any help."

Read The Full Story

Newly Poor Swell Lines At Food Banks Nationwide
2009-02-19 15:25:27
Cindy Dreeszen and her husband live in one of the wealthiest counties in the United States. They have steady jobs, his at a movie theater and hers at a government office. Together, they earn about $55,000 a year.

But with a 17-month-old son, another baby on the way, and, as Ms. Dreeszen put it, “the cost of everything going up and up,” the couple went to a food pantry this month to ask for some free groceries.

“I didn’t think we’d even be allowed to come here,” said Ms. Dreeszen, 41, glancing around at the shelves of fruit, whole-wheat pasta and baby food. “This is totally something that I never expected to happen, to have to resort to this.”

Once a crutch for the most needy, food pantries have responded to the deepening recession by opening their doors to what one pantry organizer described as “the next layer of people,” a rapidly expanding group of child-care workers, nurse’s aides, real estate agents and secretaries who are facing a financial crisis for the first time. Over all, demand at food banks across the country increased by 30 percent in 2008 from the previous year, according to a survey by Feeding America, which distributes more than two billion pounds of food every year. While pantries usually see a drop in demand after the holiday season, many in upscale suburbs this year are experiencing the opposite.

Here in Morris County, New Jersey (median household income, $82,173), the Interfaith Food Pantry added extra hours this month after seeing a 24 percent increase in customers and 45 percent increase in food distributed in November, December and January compared with the same period last year.

Read The Full Story

After Conflicting Answers On Blagojevich, Clouds Gather Over Burris
2009-02-19 15:25:00
A slight man elegantly dressed in a navy overcoat and knotted red tie, Sen. Roland W. Burris (D-Illinois) stepped onto a downtown street Wednesday, only to be instantly dwarfed by a horde of cameramen and reporters.

"Senator, are you going to resign?" they called, microphones and recorders in hand. "Do you have anything to say?"

Burris remained for a moment a silent witness to a political drama largely of his own making. The junior U.S. senator who thought he was crowning his pioneering career with a position at the political pinnacle finds himself fighting to save both his job and his reputation.

His harsh welcome outside the City Club of Chicago was not what he intended when he scheduled a five-day journey designed as part listening tour, part victory lap for the first African American elected to statewide office in Illinois, and now President Obama's successor.

Plans were made before the revelation of his conflicting words about his contacts with Gov. Rod Blagojevich's inner circle and the opening of two investigations into statements Burris made under oath. That was before his image as a straight shooter began to fade, threatening the legacy of a man so confident that he arranged to have his political accomplishments chiseled into the stone of his future mausoleum.

Read The Full Story

Netanyahu Closing In On Israel's Prime Minister's Seat
2009-02-19 15:24:33
Benjamin Netanyahu looked poised to become Israel's next prime minister after earning the endorsement on Thursday of Avigdor Lieberman, head of the far-right party Yisrael Beiteinu.

President Shimon Peres has yet to decide who should form Israel’s next government. After conferring with Peres,  Lieberman expressed support for a government led by Netanyahu’s conservative Likud Party but also urged that the government include Kadima, the centrist party led by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

Lieberman did not rule out participating in a narrow right-wing government, however, and that looked like a real possibility because Netanyahu had enough seats to set up such a coalition.

Lieberman said there were “three possibilities, from our point of view: A broad government, which is what we want; a narrow government, that will be a government of paralysis, but we don’t rule out sitting in it; and the third option is going to elections, which will achieve nothing.”

Ms. Livni, however, seemed uninterested in joining any government that she did not head, and told supporters on Thursday that Kadima would probably go into the opposition.

Read The Full Story

FBI Finds Stanford: 'We Said, Are You This Guy? He Said Yes'
2009-02-20 02:23:43

A two-day global hunt to find the cricket tycoon Sir Allen Stanford in the wake of allegations that he masterminded a massive financial swindle came to an end last night, when the FBI said it had tracked him down to Virginia.

The discovery of the Texas billionaire in Fredericksburg, about 50 miles south-west of Washington, D.C., spared the American financial regulators further embarrassment after they issued charges against Stanford on Tuesday without being certain of his whereabouts.

It allowed the Securities and Exchange Commission to serve papers on the businessman, thus rendering its proceedings against him active in what it claims to be a financial fraud of "shocking magnitude".

The FBI said last night that he had been found as he was driving a car in Fredericksburg, noting he was not a fugitive and had been very co-operative. "He wasn't hard to find," the FBI said. "We said, 'Are you this guy?', he said, 'Yes', and we served the papers on him."

Read The Full Story

Late Trading Sends Dow Below 7,500 Threshold
2009-02-19 19:26:17
Goodbye, 7,500.

Wall Street slipped lower on Thursday, and the Dow Jones industrial average dropped beneath 7,500, closing at its lowest levels in six years. After bouncing between light gains and losses, financial markets pitched lower in the last hour of trading as investors expressed more concerns about the Obama administration’s plans to curb foreclosures and shore up the flagging banking system.

Once again, financial stocks pulled down the broader market, with Bank of America and Citigroup falling by double digits and troubled regional banks posting losses.

While stocks have been trading in a broad range over the last three months, analysts said that the indexes may be carving out a new, deeper trench, where the bottom of the old range becomes the top of the new one. Stocks could linger there for the next few months, analysts said, as investors wait to see whether the $787 billion stimulus package  will have any effect.

“We’re going to see the same action we saw earlier, but maybe one step lower,” said Dan Cook, senior market analyst at IG Markets. “There’s just a lot of downward pressure on the market right now.”

Losses among financial companies, computer makers and General Electric sent the Dow lower by 89.68 points or 1.2 percent, to end at 7,465.95. The index dropped below its recent bear-market lows on Thursday, and had not closed so low since it sank to 7,286 on Oct. 9, 2002.

Read The Full Story

Children Flock To German Soup Kitchens
2009-02-19 19:25:47

More and more children are heading to Germany's soup kitchens for a warm meal. But as rising unemployment pushes more families into poverty, charities are struggling to keep up with lengthening queues.

The rush for Germany's best-known soup kitchen kicks off at 12:30 sharp. Kids of three and four totter up the steep stairway to the entrance alongside primary school children burdened with large satchels. They are joined by 15-year-old girls with four younger siblings plus their own babies in tow. Many arrive on bicycles, while others take the tram from neighboring districts. They hotfoot it into the dining room where today's menu is pasta with turkey sauce.

By early afternoon, when the last meals have been served, some 500 boys and girls will, once again, have eaten a free lunch at the Arche (literally Ark, a youth center run by a Berlin-based Christian charity). The building, in Berlin's Hellersdorf district, was a school back in the days of communism, but it has since become a large-scale catering operation filling the stomachs of more people than most company cafeterias in Germany. The three cooks and their assistants provided some 200,000 meals in 2008, up 20 percent from the previous year.

Similar rapid increases in numbers have been seen at the almost 100 soup kitchens and similar facilities run by the Deutsche Tafel charity. Gerd Hauser, head of the organization, estimates that to date, almost a quarter of a million children have become regular visitors to its branches throughout Germany, with their affiliated free meal centers. It is an alarming figure, and one which reveals a great deal about Germany, the plight of those suffering from poverty and the failure of public policy.

Hauser sees the upsurge as a direct consequence of the low income provided by long-term welfare benefits in Germany, known as Hartz IV. Currently, parents of children under 14 are currently allocated just €211 per child each month. German welfare policy has long relied on the existence of soup kitchens to justify this miserly sum, said Hauser.

Read The Full Story

Obama Visits Canada, Trade And Oil On Agenda
2009-02-19 15:25:46
President Barrack Obama arrived here in Ottawa, Canada, on Thursday morning for the first foreign trip of his administration, a visit that was expected to focus on the fragile world economy, the sagging auto industry, international trade, Afghanistan and energy - in particular the question of how to turn Alberta’s oil sands into a clean source of power.

Obama was greeted by the governor general of Canada, Michaelle Jean, as well as the Canadian ambassador to the United States, Michael Wilson, and a retinue of red-jacketed Canadian Mounties after Air Force One touched down in a light snow at Ottawa International Airport shortly before 10:30 a.m. The president is here for a string of official meetings and plans to hold a short news conference with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the afternoon.

The United States is a major importer of Canadian oil, and Harper has been trying to win an agreement to exempt Canada’s vast tracts of oil sands, which contain up to 173 billion barrels of recoverable oil bound into sand and clay, from regulation. Obama is under intense pressure from environmentalists to resist that effort. Thursday’s visit is not expected to produce any detailed pact, but a White House official said the two countries would commit to working more closely together on research and information-sharing on energy and technology.

In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation prior to his trip, Obama stopped short of using the word dirty, as environmentalists do, to describe the process of extracting oil from the sands. But he said extraction work there “creates a big carbon footprint.”

Read The Full Story

Finally! California Legislature Approves New Budget
2009-02-19 15:25:14
California's Senate and Assembly OK plan that includes major program cuts and $12 billion in tax hikes. Republican Sen. Abel Maldonado cast the key vote after Democrats agree to let voters decide on "open" primary elections.

Voting at dawn to end a three-month impasse, the California Legislature passed a budget package that addresses the state's massive deficit with billions of dollars in new taxes and program cuts after Democrats and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reached a deal with a Republican holdout.

Sen. Abel Maldonado of Santa Maria provided the final Republican vote needed to pass a spending plan, which includes more than $12 billion in tax hikes. In exchange, Democrats agreed to rewrite election rules that Maldonado said had allowed the Capitol to become paralyzed by partisanship, leading the state to the brink of financial ruin.

The plan came together after midnight, following seven unsuccessful votes held throughout the day and into the night in the Capitol, which Sen. President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) had locked down Tuesday, barring senators from leaving. California's financial state had deteriorated to the point where Schwarzenegger ordered layoffs of 10,000 state workers and the suspension of hundreds of public-works projects. Early income-tax refunds have been delayed, and public anger has grown.

Read The Full Story

Gov. Palin Now Owes Taxes On Per Diem Payments For Nights At Home
2009-02-19 15:24:48

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) owes income taxes on nearly $17,000 paid to her as travel reimbursements when she spent nights in her Wasilla residence, according to a state legal opinion that the payments were not legitimate business expenses, a state official said Wednesday.

During her first 19 months in office, Palin charged the state $16,951 in "per diem" allowances for spending 312 nights in her home. The allowances were intended to cover meals and incidental expenses while she was traveling on state business.

The state this week reversed a policy that had treated the payments as legitimate business expenses under the Internal Revenue Code, said state administrator Annette Kreitzer. Payments to employees charging "per diem" expenses to stay in their own homes will be treated as income subject to taxes, said Kreitzer, and the state will update the employees' W-2 forms.

Palin's expenses were reported by the Washington Post last year after the Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain (Arizona), named Palin as his running mate. The Post reviewed records from late 2006 through early August 2008, and the story prompted a review by state officials. The governor continued to seek the payments through the end of the year, according to the Anchorage Daily News, which first reported this week that she owed taxes on the payments.

Read The Full Story
Original materials on this site © Free Internet Press.

Any mirrored or quoted materials © their respective authors, publications, or outlets, as shown on their publication, indicated by the link in the news story.

Original Free Internet Press materials may be copied and/or republished without modification, provided a link to is given in the story, or proper credit is given.

Newsletter options may be changed in your preferences on

Please email there are any questions.

XML/RSS/RDF Newsfeed Syndication:


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home