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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Sunday March 29 2009 - (813)

Sunday March 29 2009 edition
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No Givens As Obama Steps Onto World Stage
2009-03-29 02:33:37

After 69 days in which international issues have taken a back seat to attempts to rescue the economy at home, President Obama takes the world stage this week as a wildly popular figure among the people of Europe, but one who faces a difficult task in selling his plans to the continent's leaders.

The president plans to push for a new approach to the war in Afghanistan, aggressive action to stop the proliferation of weapons and a more united European effort to combat the global recession.

If the U.S. president thought his popularity would cause foreign governments to fall quickly into line behind a new American leadership, experts warn, he could be in for a rude awakening.

The German government has resisted calls to deploy more combat troops to Afghanistan. Russia is pushing back against a NATO missile defense system in Poland. The Czech prime minister last week described the U.S. plans for global economic recovery as the "road to hell."

On Saturday, the White House made clear that it is not trying to dictate spending in European capitals to revive the economy, after facing strong resistance from France, Germany and other nations.

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Berlin Takes On The Tax Havens
2009-03-29 02:33:07

The German government is applying pressure on offshore tax havens. It is also taking action against German banks operating in Switzerland, where they maintain accounts for shadowy Liechtenstein foundations. In a time of economic crisis, Berlin needs all the tax euros it can get.

Martin Maurer remembers that fateful gray November day all too well. Maurer runs the Association of Foreign Banks in Switzerland from his office above an upmarket men's clothing store only a stone's throw from Zurich's exclusive Bahnhofstrasse. The organization represents the interests of more than 150 financial institutions, 20 of them German.

On that day last November, Maurer received a number of calls from nervous fund managers, who were alarmed by a seven-page letter that Germany's Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) had sent to all German banks with Swiss subsidiaries. The agency, based in Bonn, was asking unpleasant questions about an explosive subject. It wanted to know how many accounts the Swiss subsidiaries were managing for foundations and trusts, and how many of these foundations were headquartered in the tiny principality of Liechtenstein, which is famous as a tax haven.

The letter "was worded unclearly and not coordinated with the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority," says Maurer. His concerns prompted him to meet with a few German members of his association 10 days later. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss how to interpret the BaFin letter, says Maurer, noting that the Germans "discussed how to respond."

The Bonn bank regulators, for their part, smelled a conspiracy and suspected secret agreements were being made. In mid-February, BaFin contacted several German banks with additional, more specific questions.

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'Holy Mary, Help Us In Our Hour Of Need'
2009-03-29 02:32:31

A mysterious illness is causing calves to bleed to death on German farms. Veterinarians are stumped over what is causing the deaths: vaccines, genetically modified feed or perhaps even the first mother's milk?

What can a cattle farmer do when he sees blood running from his calves like water, when they become lethargic and febrile and, by the next morning, are lying dead on the floor, their coats covered in blood?

"Our calves from last summer looked like they had been beaten," says farmer Robert Meyboom, who is still shocked and perplexed today. "The animals' bodies were covered with drops of blood, and their eyes were bloodshot."

The veterinarian tried everything, he says, including administering vitamins and blood-clotting agents. But nothing worked, and "within two or three days, they were all dead."

Meyboom, a farmer from Wesel in the Lower Rhine region of western Germany, has lost seven animals since the first calf bled to death in his barn in October 2007. The last calf died an agonizing death only a few weeks ago. Farmers refer to the victims as "blood sweaters," alluding to the way blood seems to seep from the pores in some of the calves.

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Despite Red Flags About Judge, A Kickback Scheme Flourished
2009-03-28 16:04:07
Things were different in Pennsylvania's Luzerne County juvenile courtroom, and everyone knew it. Proceedings on average took less than two minutes. Detention center workers were told in advance how many juveniles to expect at the end of each day - even before hearings to determine their innocence or guilt. Lawyers told families not to bother hiring them. They would not be allowed to speak anyway.

“The judge’s whim is all that mattered in that courtroom,” said Marsha Levick, the legal director of the Juvenile Law Center, a child advocacy organization in Philadelphia, which began raising concerns about the court to state authorities in 1999. “The law was basically irrelevant.”

Last month, the law caught up with Judge Mark A. Ciavarella, Jr., 58, who ran that juvenile court for 12 years, and Judge Michael T. Conahan, 56, a colleague on the county’s Court of Common Pleas.

In what authorities are calling the biggest legal scandal in state history, the two judges pleaded guilty to tax evasion and wire fraudin a scheme that involved sending thousands of juveniles to two private detention centers in exchange for $2.6 million in kickbacks.

On Thursday, the State Supreme Court ordered that the records be cleaned for hundreds of the 2,500 or so juveniles sentenced by Judge Ciavarella, and in the coming weeks, the two judges will be sentenced, under a plea agreement, to more than seven years in prison.

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Vast Spy System Loots Computers In 103 Countries
2009-03-28 16:03:36
A vast electronic spying operation has infiltrated computers and has stolen documents from hundreds of government and private offices around the world, including those of the Dalai Lama, Canadian researchers have concluded.

In a report to be issued this weekend, the researchers said that the system was being controlled from computers based almost exclusively in China, but that they could not say conclusively that the Chinese government was involved.

The researchers, who are based at the Munk Center for International Studies at the University of Toronto, had been asked by the office of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader whom China regularly denounces, to examine its computers for signs of malicious software, or malware.

Their sleuthing opened a window into a broader operation that, in less than two years, has infiltrated at least 1,295 computers in 103 countries, including many belonging to embassies, foreign ministries and other government offices, as well as the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan exile centers in India, Brussels, London and New York.

The researchers, who have a record of detecting computer espionage, said they believed that in addition to the spying on the Dalai Lama, the system, which they called GhostNet, was focused on the governments of South Asian and Southeast Asian countries.

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White House Debate Led To Plan To Increase Effort In Afghanistan
2009-03-28 16:03:01
President Obama's plan to widen United States involvement in Afghanistan came after an internal debate in which Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.,warned against getting into a political and military quagmire, while military advisers argued that the Afghanistan war effort could be imperiled without even more troops.

All of the president’s advisers agreed that the primary goal in the region should be narrow - taking aim at al-Qaeda, as opposed to the vast attempt at nation-building the Bush administration had sought in Iraq. The question was how to get there.

The commanders in the field wanted a firmer and long-term commitment of more combat troops beyond the 17,000 that President Obama had already promised to send,and a pledge that billions of dollars would be found to significantly expand the number of Afghan security forces.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pressed for an additional 4,000 troops to be sent to Afghanistan - but only to serve as trainers. They tempered the commanders’ request and agreed to put off any decision to order more combat troops to Afghanistan until the end of this year, when the strategy’s progress could be assessed.

During these discussions, Biden was the voice of caution, reminding the group members that they would have to sell their plans to a skeptical Congress.

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U.S., Iraqi Troops Arrest An Ally In Baghdad
2009-03-28 16:02:17
American and Iraqi forces have arrested the leader of a crucial Awakening Council in Baghdad on Saturday afternoon, according to a spokesman for the Iraqi Army, and that particular group declared that it was no longer allied with the Americans.

Gunfights had broken out between the Awakening Council members and American forces on Saturday afternoon, according to spokesmen from the group and from the Iraqi military. The group operates in the Fadhil neighborhood, a Sunni stronghold in central Baghdad.

The Awakening Councils are neighborhood-based groups of Sunnis, many of them former insurgents, who are now paid by the Iraqi government to stay on their side.

“Americans forces have broken the alliance with us by arresting our leader, Hajji Adil al-Mashhadani,” said Abu Mirna, the media coordinator for the Fadhil Awakening Council. “Now there are clashes in the area between the Americans and Awakening fighters, and you can hear shooting. It’s chaos.” He said the arrest was made by a combined force of the American Army, Iraqi Army and National Police.

Maj. Gen. Qassim Atta, a spokesman for Iraqi forces in Baghdad, confirmed that Mashhadani and one of his aides were taken into custody after a judge issued a warrant for their arrest, accusing them of terrorism. A spokesman for the American military was not immediately available for comment.

Fadhil was one of the most hotly contested neighborhoods in Iraq’s sectarian warfare and a former insurgent stronghold. Mashhadani has been a strong critic of the failure of Iraqi authorities to incorporate his fighters into Iraqi security agencies, as had been promised. “There’s a fifty-fifty chance that Awakening guys who are not very loyal to Iraq or who need to support their families may decide to join al-Qaeda again,” Mashhadani said in an interview a week ago.

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Commentary: Earth Hour
2009-03-28 12:40:53

  Today millions of people around the world are to take part in "Earth Hour".  The idea of it is that 8pm local time, everyone should shut down everything they can, and operate without electricity. 

  There is the warm fuzzy factor ("I saved some power"), and it does draw attention to the fact that we can survive without electricity, but it doesn't do much if anything at all to reduce pollution.

  Years ago, I lived in a city with four coal and one nuclear power plant.  Part of their public awareness campaign was to bring people into the plants, explain how they work, and help educate the customers.  Power plants aren't an inherit evil.  The problem is the customers that they service.  If there wasn't a demand, they wouldn't need to operate huge facilities.  As technology grows, they grow too.  Can the aging 10MW hydroelectric plant service the needs of the community, or do they need the 100MW nuclear ! plant?

   Regardless of which side of this fight you sit on, there is always someone campaigning against another side.  Hydroelectric is much cleaner than other resources, but people campaign against the fact that requires dams, and those dams stop the natural flow of water, frequently with man made lakes now created behind them.  Wind powered farms are clean, but people call them an eyesore (any better than a 500' smoke spewing chimey, or cooling towers?), and they endanger birds.  Solar farms require large areas with sufficient sunlight. 
  There is always a side against something.  I am aware of a desalination plant set up to service one of America's large metro areas.  They were fought the entire time by "environmentalists" who believed every living thing downstream from it would die.  In reality, the salinity was changed by a trivial amount, but because of their efforts the size of the plant was d! ecreased, lots of money was spent in court and for additional ! experts to "prove" that it was safe.  Today that area is in a drought.  Lawn sprinkling is soon to be forbidden, along with any unnecessary water use (car washing, pressure cleaning, etc).   If they had been allowed to build the original plant, and even additional plants, the quality of life would not have changed, and seaside towns would be able to provide clean drinking water to other urban areas. 

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London Braces For Massive Protests Of G-20 Meeting
2009-03-29 02:33:24

London is bracing itself for the G-20 meeting next week, as thousands of demonstrators prepare to descend upon the British capital. While most protesters will be peaceful, those working in the financial industry are being advised not to wear suits to work or even to stay at home to avoid potential violence.

Mirina Pepper has just been panhandled by a homeless man near London's Liverpool Street Station. She reaches into her handbag and grabs a bundle of £20 notes. "Here, you can give them out," she says. The homeless man looks perplexed at the notes, not knowing whether he should take this as a good or bad thing.

It's funny money with the words "G-20 Meltdown" printed on it. They're flyers for a "Party in the City." Pepper gets the homeless man to agree to come the event next Wednesday and to bring along as many of his buddies as he can. Another homeless man just a few meters away experiences the same fate.

Pepper, 41, is responsible for organizing "G-20 Meltdown," a coalition of groups that plan to protest against the London financial summit next week that has even earned the respect of Scotland Yard. "They have some very clever people and their intention on April 1 is to stop the City," Commander Bob Broadhurst of the Metropolitan Police said last week. "They are innovative and we have to be innovative, too."

The policeman's concerns put a smile on Pepper's face. She's delighted by the idea of a cat and mouse chase through this city of more than 7.5 million people. "It's all a question of numbers," she says. Five-thousand police officers will be deployed, many in combat gear. It's the largest police operation the city has seen in 10 years. But there are doubts about whether that will be enough. Police will have to provide security for 22 world leaders, including the United States president, and 40 motorcades will have to be directed through the streets of London. In addition, dozens of embassies and hotels will have to be guarded, the conference center has to be sealed off from the public and the banks in the city's financial district will also have to be guarded from potentially violent anarchist protesters.

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Thwarted By Land, They're Smuggling By Sea
2009-03-29 02:32:50
Nallely and Heriberto Salgado boarded the Mexican fishing skiff bobbing off the Baja California coast last week and watched warily in the moonlight as 19 other people squeezed onto the vessel designed to carry no more than a dozen.

A smuggler piloting the 25-foot boat promised a short ride before landing on a beach in San Diego, California.

Twelve hours later, the Salgados were still being lashed with sea spray. The thick fog had burned off, leaving a panorama of brilliant blue, with no land in sight.

"We saw only ocean all around us," said Nallely Salgado. "And we were running out of gas."

With tougher enforcement and new barriers rising on land along the U.S.-Mexico border, many immigrants like the ones crowded aboard the Tiburon are taking to the sea.

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Obama: U.S. 'Must Respond' To Flood Potential In Midwest
2009-03-28 16:04:18
President Obama used his weekly radio and Internet address today to reach out to the people of North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota whose homes and livelihoods are threatened by the rising of the Red River.

"Even as we face an economic crisis which demands our constant focus, forces of nature can also intervene in ways that create other crises to which we must respond - and respond urgently," said the president.

Obama on Tuesday declared a major disaster in North Dakota, where the river was expected to crest Sunday at 42 feet. He has also declared a disaster in Minnesota, on the other side of the Red.

For the president, the surging Red River presents an early test of a promise that he made during his campaign for the White House: to make sure the federal government treats disasters with the seriousness they deserve.

President George W. Bush's handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was a major theme during the 2008 campaign. Both Obama and Sen. John McCain both traveled several times to New Orleans, and both vowed to make sure the government never again fails on that scale.

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Editorial: The Remembered War
2009-03-28 16:03:51
Intellpuke: This editorial appeared in the New York Times online edition for Saturday, March 28, 2009.

With his new comprehensive plan for Afghanistan and Pakistan, President Obama has asserted leadership over the war that matters most to America’s security - the one against al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

We do not underestimate the difficulty of succeeding against these deadly adversaries. But it was greatly encouraging simply to see the president actually focusing on this war and placing it in the broader regional framework that has been missing from American policy. That is a good first step toward fixing the dangerous situation that former President George W. Bush created when he abandoned the necessary war in Afghanistan for the ill-conceived war of choice in Iraq.

Mr. Obama has come back to first principles. Instead of Mr. Bush’s vague talk of representative democracy in Afghanistan, he defined a more specific mission. “We are not in Afghanistan to control that country or dictate its future,” Mr. Obama said, but “to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

The United States removed the Taliban from power in Afghanistan in 2001 as it sought to stamp out the al-Qaeda militants behind the 9/11 attacks. More than seven years later, the Taliban and al-Qaeda are stronger than ever. Militants have crossed the border into Pakistan, where they plot attacks against the United States, its allies and Pakistan.

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Spanish Court Weighs Criminal Investigation 6 Bush-Era Officials For Torture
2009-03-28 16:03:14
A high-level Spanish court has taken the first steps toward opening a criminal investigation against six former Bush administration officials, including former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, on whether they violated international law by providing a legalistic framework to justify the use of torture of American prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, said an official close to the case.

The case was sent to the prosecutor’s office for review by Baltasar Garzon, the crusading investigative judge who indicted the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. The official said that it was “highly probable” that the case would go forward and could lead to arrest warrants.

While the move represents a step toward ascertaining the legal accountability of top Bush administration officials for allegations of torture and mistreatment of prisoners in its so-called war on terror, some American experts said that even if warrants are issued their significance could be more symbolic than practical, and that it was likely that they would not lead to arrests if the officials do not leave the United States.

The complaint under review also names John C. Yoo, the former Justice Department lawyer who wrote secret legal opinions saying the president had the authority to circumvent the Geneva Conventions, and Douglas J. Feith, the former under secretary of defense for policy.

The move was not entirely unexpected as several human rights groups have been asking judges in different countries to indict Bush administration officials. One group, the Center for Constitutional Rights, had asked a German prosecutor for such an indictment, but the prosecutor declined.

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Royal Bank Of Scotland Caught In Protectionist Storm
2009-03-28 16:02:42
Once as rooted in the Scottish soil as this city's famous castle, the Royal Bank of Scotland ventured far during the era of globalization - pumping billions of dollars worth of credit overseas as it expanded into markets as diverse as Kazakhstan, China and Rhode Island.

Just as RBS came to symbolize the free flow of credit across borders, the worldwide financial crisis has turned it into a leading example of the reverse: protectionism in the 21st century.

The government took majority control of the venerable bank four months ago after it suffered the worst corporate loss in British history. Authorities promptly issued a fresh directive: RBS, which had been in private hands since 1727, would have to sharply boost lending to British companies and home buyers stung by the global credit crunch - effectively curtailing lending to its equally hard-hit customers overseas. As RBS prepares to comply with the government order to pump billions of dollars more into British credit markets, it is retrenching in at least 15 countries, moving to sell off branches from Vietnam to Romania.

In the United States, where RBS operates the nation's 10th largest bank, the company recently sold off 65 subsidiary branches in Indiana and scaled back auto loan operations in Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma and Arizona.

World leaders gathering for a major economic summit in London next week are vowing not to repeat the trade wars of the 1930s by imposing the kind of protectionist tariffs on butter, steel and other goods that deepened the Great Depression. While their promises center largely on avoiding classic forms of trade barriers - such as higher taxes on imported cars - the rise of financial protectionism poses a far greater threat to global recovery.

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Shuttle Returns To Terra Firma Safely
2009-03-28 15:39:16
Space shuttle Discovery touched down safely at 3:14 P.M. (Eastern Daylight Time) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, completing its 13-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The landing time was pushed back from 1:39 P.M. due to uncertain weather at the landing site earlier in the day.
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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Saturday March 28 2009 - (813)

Saturday March 28 2009 edition
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Obama Say Afghanistan-Pakistan Strategy Requires More Money, Troops
2009-03-27 14:14:53

President Obama this morning announced a new Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy that will require significantly higher levels of U.S. funding and thousands more military and civilian personnel to reverse what he called an "increasingly perilous" situation.

"I do not ask for this support lightly," Obama said in a White House speech before regional ambassadors, aid officials and his senior national security team. "These are challenging times, and resources are stretched. But the American people must understand that this is a down payment on our own future."

Among the resources required, he said, are an additional 4,000 troops, beyond the 17,000 he authorized last month, that will bring total U.S. deployments to more than 60,000. U.S. military expenses for Afghan operations this year, White House aides said, will increase about 60 percent from the current toll of $2 billion a month. The newly announced forces, from the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, will serve as trainers and advisers to an Afghan army expected to double to 134,000 by 2011.

Obama called on Congress to pass legislation to provide $1.5 billion a year for five years in economic assistance to Pakistan, along with a bill creating "opportunity zones" for exports. Additional development aid is also planned for Afghanistan, and Obama said he would launch a "dramatic increase," expected to number in the hundreds, of U.S. civilian officials on the ground there. The United States also plans to provide additional equipment, including transport helicopters, to the Pakistani military.

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Alaska's Mt. Redoubt Erupts Twice, Sends Ash Cloud 12 Miles High
2009-03-27 14:14:24
Alaska's Mount Redoubt erupted several times Thursday, spewing a more than 12-mile-high cloud that could drop ash on Anchorage for the first time since the volcano began erupting Sunday night.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory said the first eruption around 8:30 a.m. shot an ash cloud about 30,000 feet in the air, and a second eruption about an hour later sent ash 65,000 feet high - the highest cloud since the eruptions began. Five to 10 smaller eruptions followed, with none of their plumes surpassing 20,000 feet.

The largest eruption caused a mud flow into the Drift River near the base of the volcano.

Before Thursday's eruptions, the volcano had been relatively quiet for more than a day.

"We can have these large explosions pretty much any time," said Stephanie Prejean, an observatory seismologist. "We don't know how long this will continue."

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Oil Prices Tumble In Friday's Markets
2009-03-27 14:13:49
Oil prices sank Friday as investors digested a week's worth of grim economic news and sold off with the price of crude still close to the peak for 2009.

Benchmark crude for May delivery dropped $2.31 to $52.05 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent prices fell $2.10 to $51.36 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

Crude stocks surged all week as traders and brokers started to sense the return of a bull market. Prices have steadily increased for a month.

Oil prices set new 2009 highs on both Tuesday and Thursday and there is a growing consensus that there will be a supply shortage as oil companies slash spending on exploration and production.

Most analysts agree that will not occur for some time because demand for energy has fallen so fast.

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U.N. Atomic Agency Fails To Elect Chief
2009-03-27 14:13:09
Officials from 35 nations failed to agree on a successor to Mohamed ElBaradei as head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.)in a second day of voting on Friday, the agency said, opening the field to new candidates.

The officials, grouped in the agency’s board of governors, deadlocked after the leading candidate, Yukiya Amano, a Japanese official who is his country’s ambassador to the organization, fell one vote short of the two-thirds majority required for election at the agency’s headquarters in Vienna, Austria.

Amano out-polled his South African counterpart, Abdul Samad Minty, in three rounds of voting on Thursday and an additional three rounds on Friday, but never obtained the necessary margin for victory. With 24 votes required, Amano took 23 “yes” votes in the initial Friday poll on his candidacy, and in a later round received 22 affirmative votes with one abstention. In the final round, Minty garnered 15 “yes” votes with one abstention.

Taous Feroukhi, chairwoman of the board of governors, told reporters that the field was now open to new contenders in the race to succeed ElBaradei, whose third four-year term expires in November. ElBaradei, 66, has held the post since 1997, when he took over from Hans Blix,of Sweden. The I.A.E.A. is the United Nations nuclear watchdog. The agency plays a central role in monitoring and investigating charges of illicit nuclear proliferation and promoting atomic energy for peaceful purposes.

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Fargo Neighborhood Evacuated As River Waters Rise
2009-03-27 14:14:36
Along the banks of Fargo, North Dakota, the Red River surpassed its highest level in history Friday morning, forcing the emergency evacuation of one neighborhood before dawn and leading city leaders here, once cheerfully upbeat, to sound far more dire.

“We do not want to give up yet,” Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker said late Thursday night after receiving yet another piece of gruesome news. Forecasters now believe the Red River will go right on rising, and by Saturday overtake the record set here more than a century ago by two feet or even more, much higher than anyone here had earlier believed possible.

“We want to go down swinging - if we go down,” said the mayor, as he urged his city to summon the energy to build the dikes that protect it yet another foot higher by Friday night.

“I’m going to be devastated if we lose,” said Walaker, who had, only a few days ago, expressed optimism, even certainty, that Fargo, a city of 90,000 and North Dakota’s most populous, would be fine.

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Dozens Dead In Pakistan Bombing
2009-03-27 14:14:08
A suicide bomber brought the roof of a crowded mosque crashing down on worshipers in northwest Pakistan Friday, setting off explosives as a cleric intoned the holy prayers, killing scores of people in what was the bloodiest attack this year.

The attack was unleashed in an area that has seen intense activity by Pakistani security forces aimed at protecting the critical Khyber Pass supply route for American forces in Afghanistan. Occurring only hours before President Obama  unveiled a new strategy against militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan, it raised questions about Pakistan’s ability to counter the threat from al-Qaeda and the Taliban. 

Estimates of the death toll swung wildly as survivors in long robes and white skull-caps scrabbled frantically in the debris to recover the dead and rescue the wounded. A minaret with a loudspeaker poked from the rubble. One local official said 37 people had died but most accounts put the death toll at around 50. Hours after the attacks, Pakistan television stations reported that up to 70 people might have died.

The bomber mingled with worshipers, according to survivors and residents, as the Friday prayer session reached its climax with a communal prayer. Residents said that about 250 to 300 people had been praying in the mosque at the time.

One survivor named Arman said that a cleric had begun to intone “God is great” just as the blast occurred. “There were blood and limbs all around,” he said. “I had never seen such a horrendous scene in my whole life.”

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Indonesia Continues Search After Dam Burst Kills 52
2009-03-27 14:13:32
Rescue works searched desperately into the night Friday for dozens of missing people after a dam burst just outside the Indonesian capital and a wall of mud and water killed at least 52 victims as they slept.

"My prediction is we still have many people trapped in there, so the death toll will rise," said Rustam Pakaya, the Health Ministry's crisis center chief.
"I think the death toll can reach a hundred," he added, as scores of body bags were delivered to the disaster area.

Torrential rain Thursday raised the level of a reservoir behind the dam to almost 55 yards above capacity and "the dam could not hold the water. It was overloaded. And the dam burst around 2 a.m."

At least 31 survivors dragged from the thick muck and floodwaters in Cirendeu were rushed to two hospitals in south Jakarta.

Aerial photos showed an enormous hole, hundreds of feet across the earthen dam, as if a giant claw had torn through it. Subandrio Pitoyo, a public works official, said that due to heavy rain, the water level in the reservoir behind Situ Gintung Dam rose so high that it overflowed the dam, collapsing the earthen wall.
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Friday, March 27, 2009

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Friday March 27 2009 - (813)

Friday March 27 2009 edition
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Treasury Secretary Geithner Calls For Major Overhaul Of Financial Rules
2009-03-26 15:36:32
The Obama administration on Thursday detailed its wide-ranging plan to overhaul financial regulation by subjecting hedge funds and traders of exotic financial instruments, now among the biggest and most freewheeling players on Wall Street, to potentially strict new government supervision.

Treasury Secretary Timothey F. Geithner outlined the plan Thursday before the House Financial Services Committee, where he got a decidedly mixed reception. He said the changes were needed to fix a badly flawed system that was exposed by the current financial crisis. Geithner, in his opening statement, called for “comprehensive reform. Not modest repairs at the margin, but new rules of the game.”

“Very complex, very consequential, very difficult,” Geithner called the changes that he said were necessary, and the sooner the better.

Included in the plan would be the establishment of one single agency “with responsibility for systemic stability over the major institutions and critical payment and settlement systems and activities.”

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U.S. Officials: Pakistan's Military Intelligence Helping Taliban Strikes Against Afghanistan
2009-03-26 15:36:06
The Taliban's widening campaign in southern Afghanistan is made possible in part by direct support from operatives in Pakistan's military intelligence agency, despite Pakistani government promises to sever ties to militant groups fighting in Afghanistan, according to American government officials.

The support consists of money, military supplies and strategic planning guidance to Taliban commanders who are gearing up to confront the international force in Afghanistan that will soon include some 17,000 American reinforcements.

Support for the Taliban, as well as other militant groups, is coordinated by operatives inside the shadowy S Wing of Pakistan’s spy service, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, said the officials. There is even evidence that ISI operatives meet regularly with Taliban commanders to discuss whether to intensify or scale back violence before the Afghan elections.

Details of the ISI’s continuing ties to militant groups were described by a half-dozen American, Pakistani and other security officials during recent interviews in Washington and the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. All requested anonymity because they were discussing classified and sensitive intelligence information.

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Over 5.5 Million Americans Drawing Jobless Benefits
2009-03-26 15:35:34
The number of laid-off Americans filing initial jobless benefit claims rose slightly last week while the number of people continuing to claim benefits set a record for the ninth straight week, the Labor Department said Thursday.

The figures indicate that the labor market remains weak even as some other recent economic indicators have come in better than expected.

The Labor Department said first-time claims for unemployment insurance rose to a seasonally adjusted 652,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 644,000, slightly higher than analysts expected. A year ago, the number stood at 367,000.

The total number of people claiming benefits for more than a week jumped 122,000 to 5.56 million, significantly higher than analysts' projections of 5.48 million and the highest on records dating back to 1967. The continuing claims data lag initial claims by a week.

The number of continuing claims has increased by more than 100,000 four times in the past five weeks, an indication that workers are remaining on the rolls for longer as they struggle to land a new job after being laid off.

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I.R.S. To Offer Deal To Wealthy Tax Evaders
2009-03-26 15:36:19

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service, under pressure to bring in money to the faltering economy, plans to give offshore tax evaders a big break.

The agency has drafted a plan that significantly lowers a penalty that applies to wealthy Americans who hide money overseas in secret accounts, a person briefed on the matter said Thursday. The plan is intended to lure out of hiding scores of wealthy people who must come forward and declare their accounts in order to take advantage of the lower penalty.

The plan was developed amid a widening investigation into wealthy American clients of UBS but will apply to clients of other banks as well.

Under the plan, according to the person briefed on the issue, the I.R.S. will reduce an onerous penalty for not filing a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Account, known as an Fbar - something offshore tax evaders have not done.

The current penalty is 50 percent of the high balance of each account over the last three years - an amount that can wipe out an investor’s accounts in just two years - but the I.R.S. will reduce that penalty to 5 to 20 percent, depending in part on whether the wealth was inherited.

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Fargo Residents Race To Protect Against Rising Red River
2009-03-26 15:35:49
Volunteers, many of them cold and weary after loading sandbags all night, were racing on Thursday to raise dikes protecting this city still higher, hoping to hold back the Red River, which is expected to reach record levels by Saturday.

In one sign of this city’s intensifying fears about the flooding threat, hundreds of workers on Thursday began building a second set of dikes - inside the primary, 12-mile long dike - to protect Fargo’s main services, like a water plant and a waste water facility.

“We’re in uncharted territory,” Dennis Walaker, the mayor of this city, said after a morning meeting of city officials. Noting that the river’s waters had risen another 3 feet in the last day, Walaker said he gave the city a “3- or maybe 4-to-1 shot at winning” its battle with the flood. “We’re still optimistic,” he said.

Worries of major flooding extend well beyond Fargo. Throughout parts of North Dakota and western Minnesota, residents are bracing for the Red River, nearby streams and rivers and the Missouri River to spill their banks - the result, said experts, of a combination of factors. In the fall, the flat terrain here was saturated by rain, followed by a winter of heavy snow, and now - as so much snow began melting - came days more of rain and, on Wednesday, half a foot of snow in some places.

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New York Art Dealer Is Charged With Stealing $88 Million
2009-03-26 15:34:54

A noted Upper East Side art dealer in New York City has been indicted on charges he stole $88 million from investors and collectors who consigned artwork to him and said they were cheated out of the sale proceeds or never saw the pieces again, according to a person briefed on the case.

The dealer, Lawrence B. Salander, and his business, the Salander-O’Reilly Galleries, were charged by a grand jury with 100 counts including grand larceny, falsifying business records, scheming to defraud, forgery and perjury, according to the person, who declined to be identified because the charges had not been formally announced. A news conference was scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Thursday at the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.

Salander was arrested at his home in upstate Millbrook, New York, on Thursday morning.

Salander’s gallery displayed paintings as different as English landscapes by John Constable and modernistic scenes by  Robert De Niro, Sr., the actor’s father. The gallery boasted that The Robb Report, the glossy lifestyle guide for the rich, had cited it as the best gallery in the world in 2003.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Thursday March 26 2009 - (813)

Thursday March 26 2009 edition
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Congress May Force Obama To Delay On Copenhagen Climate Change Deal
2009-03-25 20:17:25
U.S. President Obama may be forced to delay signing up to a new international agreement on climate change in Copenhagen at the end of the year because of the scale of opposition in the U.S. Congress, it emerged Wednesday.

Senior figures in the Obama administration have been warning Labor counterparts that the president may need at least another six months to win domestic support for any proposal.

Such a delay could derail the securing of a tough global agreement in time for countries and markets to adopt it before the Kyoto treaty runs out in 2012.

American officials would prefer to have the approval of Congress for any international agreement and fear that if the U.S. signed up without it there would be a serious domestic backlash.

Stephen Byers, co-chairman of the International Climate Change Taskforce, said: "The Copenhagen climate change talks in December will come at a difficult moment. The timing couldn't really be worse for the Obama administration. It is vital that this is recognized by the international community. If need be, we should be prepared to give them more time - not to let them off the hook and escape their responsibilities, but ensure they are politically able to sign up to effective international action which reflects the scale of the challenge we face."

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Israel Accused Of War Crimes Over Use Of Phosphorus Shells In Gaza
2009-03-25 20:17:00
Israel's military fired white phosphorus over crowded areas of Gaza repeatedly and indiscriminately in its three-week war, killing and injuring civilians and committing war crimes, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.

In a 71-page report, the rights group said the repeated use of air-burst white phosphorus artillery shells in populated areas of Gaza was not incidental or accidental, but revealed "a pattern or policy of conduct".

It said the Israeli military used white phosphorus in a "deliberate or reckless" way. The report says:

-- Israel was aware of the dangers of white phosphorus.

-- It chose not to use alternative and less dangerous smoke shells.

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Markets See Moderate Gain After Erratic Session
2009-03-25 19:03:18
Wall Street managed a moderate gain Wednesday after an attack of nerves had investors giving back a big early advance and then barreling back into the market right before the close.

Trading was extremely erratic - the Dow Jones industrials rose as much as 203 points in early trading in response to upbeat economic data, then fell nearly 110 during the afternoon before closing up 90. Analysts said weak demand during an auction of government debt stirred up worries about how easily Washington will be able to raise money to fund its economic rescue program. The fear in the market is that the government might not be able to easily raise the hundreds of billions of dollars it needs.

The day shows how fragile Wall Street remains despite a two-week rally that saw the Dow regain more than 1,000 points. The market was pulled in different by opposing forces Wednesday that led to choppy trading - which may well be the pattern for stocks going forward.

"There was a mix of good and bad news and at the end of the day the good news won out," said Alan Skrainka, chief market strategist at Edward Jones. "It's a jumpy market."

Doug Roberts, chief investment strategist at, said, "Right now there is a lot of crosscurrents coming. People want to be flat going in to the following day. They really don't want to be holding a major position."
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Seeds Of Change In Washington On Agriculture
2009-03-25 15:42:35

Dave Murphy is the founder of a food advocacy group, but he wants you to know, "in no uncertain terms," that he is not a foodie. Foodies are people who obsess about the perfect apple tart. Not that there's anything wrong with that but, for Murphy, the fight for good food isn't about pleasure or aesthetics; it's about justice and survival.

Three years ago, he left a good job in Washington to return home to Iowa, where a Minnesota corporation was threatening to build a nearly 5,000-head hog farm near his sister's home. "This is not something abstract," he said. "This is about people I know. People I went to high school with. When you speak to people from Berkeley or Manhattan, people on the coasts, it's a really different ballgame."

Like famous Berkeley, California, activist Alice Waters, chef-owner of Chez Panisse, Murphy dreams big. Yet the tactics he employs are very different. Waters raises awareness through prime-time television appearances, star-studded charity dinners and the rustic meals she serves at her restaurant. Murphy uses grass-roots community organizing methods, such as petitions and action alerts.

The first campaign by Murphy's nonprofit group, Food Democracy Now ( ), was a petition calling for more sustainable food policies and suggesting six progressive candidates for secretary of agriculture last November. After the secretary was appointed, he added a list of 12 candidates for key deputy and undersecretary positions. To date, two of the so-called sustainable dozen have received key appointments. Kathleen Merrigan, a professor at Tufts University who helped develop national organic standards, was appointed deputy secretary. Doug O'Brien, an assistant director at the Ohio Department of Agriculture, will be Merrigan's chief of staff.

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Geithner Clarifies His Remarks After Dollar Tumbles
2009-03-25 15:42:10
Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner on Wednesday said that the dollar would remain the world’s dominant reserve currency for some time to come, clarifying earlier remarks that sent the dollar tumbling.

“The dollar remains the world’s dominant reserve currency,” Geithner said after a speech in Midtown Manhattan to the Council on Foreign Relations.“I think that’s likely to continue for a long period of time.

Geithner’s comments came in response to a question regarding a proposal by Zhou Xiaochuan, the governor of the People’s Bank of China, that suggested a possible replacement for the dollar as a global reserve currency. The proposal called on the International Monetary Fund to increase the use of "Special Drawing Rights" - a basket of currencies made up of the euro, yen, pound and dollar that has served as a reserve asset.

The dollar plunged earlier in the morning after Geithner, in response to another question, said China’s suggestion “deserves some consideration,” though he added that he had not read the proposal.

The dollar rebounded later on Geithner’s clarification.

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Like It's Predecessor, New U.S. Justice Dept. Claiming Privilege
2009-03-25 15:41:40

Civil liberties advocates are accusing the Obama administration of forsaking campaign rhetoric and adopting the same expansive arguments that his predecessor used to cloak some of the most sensitive intelligence-gathering programs of the Bush White House.

The first signs have come just weeks into the new administration, in a case filed by an Oregon charity suspected of funding terrorism. President Obama's Justice Department not only sought to dismiss the lawsuit by arguing that it implicated "state secrets," but also escalated the standoff - proposing that government lawyers might take classified documents from the court's custody to keep the charity's representatives from reviewing them.

The suit by the al-Haramain Islamic Foundation has proceeded further than any other in challenging the use of warrantless wiretaps, threatening to expose the inner workings of that program. It is the second time the new Justice Department has followed its predecessors in claiming the state-secrets privilege, which would allow the government to exclude evidence in a civil case on grounds that it jeopardizes national security.

Attorneys for al-Haramain are seeking monetary damages from officials at the White House, the National Security Agency, the Treasury Department and the FBI, saying that the government's alleged illegal eavesdropping of the charity's board members and attorneys five years ago violated the charity's rights of due process and freedom of speech. Representatives of the charity, whose U.S. operations have gone out of business, say that its purpose was philanthropic and that authorities have no evidence that it funded terrorism.

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E.U. President Calls U.S. Stimulus The 'Way To Hell'
2009-03-25 15:40:50
Transatlantic tension over the handling of the global economic crisis intensified Wednesday when the prime minister of the Czech Republic, which holds the European Union presidency, described President Obama's stimulus measures as the “way to hell.”

Addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek argued that the Obama administration’s fiscal package and financial bailout “will undermine the stability of the global financial market.”

Topolanek’s comments, only a day after he offered his government’s resignation following a no confidence vote, took European officials by surprise.

The rotating European Union presidency lasts for six months and the country that holds it is supposed to speak on behalf of the entire 27-nation bloc.

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Obama Confident 'We're Moving In The Right Direction'
2009-03-25 03:08:39

President Obama sought to reassure Americans Tuesday night that his administration has made progress in reviving the economy and said his $3.6 trillion budget is "inseparable from this recovery."

After sprinting through his first months in office, Obama is now facing heightened criticism from Republicans, who have called his blueprint irresponsible, and from skeptical Democrats who have already set about trimming back his top budget priorities.

Obama came into office amid lofty expectations and the worst economic crisis in generations, and he succeeded in pushing through a $787 billion stimulus and launching expensive plans to revive the banking system.

Tuesday night, against a backdrop of a broad national anxiety that the economy may still be failing, he attempted to recalibrate the high hopes to more closely fit the challenges he said lie ahead.

Although he spoke sharply once in response to Republican criticism, Obama struck a tone of common purpose throughout his second prime-time news conference, urging the country to be patient as he works on issues as divergent as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the malign impact of lobbying in Washington, D.C.

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Britain's Prime Minister Tells Wall Street To Change Its Ways
2009-03-25 20:17:12
Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown Wednesday told the cream of New York's financial community that they must change their ways if the world is to emerge unscathed from the global financial crisis.

At a breakfast meeting at New York's Plaza hotel, the prime minister offered strong support for Barack Obama, who used a White House press conference on Tuesday night to express his frustration at bonuses being paid to staff at bailed-out businesses.

"We have to clean up the banking system," the prime minister told financiers at the meeting hosted by the Wall Street Journal's managing editor, Robert Thomson.

"We must give people confidence that the principles that guide their daily lives are those that also guide the markets. I know people are angry at what they see in banking bonuses remuneration."

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China Using Contraceptive Pellets To Curb Rats In Tibet
2009-03-25 20:16:47
China's authorities have scattered 200 kilograms (440 lbs.) of rodent contraceptive pellets across the Tibetan plateau to control what they describe as a "plague of desert rats".

The growing number of rodents have been blamed for destroying fragile high-altitude grasslands and accelerating the spread of deserts.

Biodiversity experts warn, however, that the extermination campaign could worsen the problem of soil degradation and the poisons could damage other parts of the plateau ecosystem.

China's chemists custom-designed the drugs to induce abortions and prevent pregnancy in "gerbils", according to the state-run Xinhua news agency. It is possible they are referring to pika, a small cousin of the rabbit with rounded ears and long whiskers that has long been the target of government eradication campaigns.

Government workers began spreading the contraceptive in the Gurbantunggut desert last May, leaving it in pellet form near the entrance of burrows. Since then they have reportedly distributed 200 kilograms of the drug over 49,000 hectares in China's western region of Xinjiang. They say the drug will have a minimal impact on other animals.

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U.S. House Democrats Slash More Than $100 Billion From Obama's Plan
2009-03-25 15:42:47

House budget leaders today unveiled a $3.45 trillion budget blueprint for fiscal 2010 that slices more than $100 billion from the spending plan President Obama proposed last month.

Much of the difference comes from a decision by House leaders to jettison Obama's plan to seek more cash for the Treasury Department's financial-sector bailout, a decision that would reduce the projected deficit but not prevent the administration from requesting the money.

The result is a spending plan that would drive the annual deficit to $1.2 trillion next year, compared with $1.4 trillion under Obama's request. Over the next five years, the deficit would fall to just under $600 billion, requiring the nation to borrow $3.9 trillion, compared with $4.4 trillion under Obama's plan.

Like a competing proposal unveiled in the Senate, the House plan would permit lawmakers to pursue Obama's priorities on health care, education and energy only if those initiatives do not increase the deficit. Unlike the Senate, the House is proposing to use a procedural shortcut to push Obama's health-care and education proposals through the Senate without Republican votes.

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U.S. Sees Rise, Of Sorts, In Manufacturing Orders
2009-03-25 15:42:22

In a glimmer of surprisingly upbeat economic data, manufacturing orders for goods like metals, machines and military equipment rose last month for the first time after six months of declines, the government reported on Wednesday.

The Commerce Department reported that orders for durable goods rose 3.4 percent in February following a downwardly revised 7.3 percent drop in January. Orders for machinery, transportation equipment and computers and electronics rose.

The monthly gain was better than economists’ expectations of a 2.5 percent decline, and represented the latest in a series of less-than-terrible reports that have offered a break from months of relentlessly bad economic news.

On Monday, an industry group reported that sales of previously owned homes rose 5 percent in February, and the government reported on Tuesday that its barometer of home prices rose in January after 10 months of declines. Earlier this month, the government reported that consumer prices were stabilizing slightly, cooling fears of deflation and that retail sales in February had fallen by less than expectations.

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FBI Director Asks Lawmakers To Renew Patriot Act Provisions
2009-03-25 15:41:56

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III Wednesday urged lawmakers to move swiftly to renew intelligence-gathering measures set to expire in December, calling them "exceptional" tools to help protect national security.

Mueller told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that he hoped that the reauthorization of two provisions contained in the Patriot Act would be far less "controversial" than in previous years. During the Bush administration, the law drove a wedge between investigators seeking to detect terrorist threats and advocates warning that it trampled on Americans' civil liberties.

In response to a question from Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), Mueller said that his agents had used a provision that helped authorities secure access to business records about 220 times between 2004 and 2007. Data for last year was not yet available, said Mueller.

The measure, known as section 215 after its location in the Patriot Act, has been criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union as allegedly violating the First Amendment rights of U.S. citizens. It allows investigators probing terrorism to seek a suspect's records from third parties such as financial services, travel and telephone companies without notifying the suspect.

"It has been exceptionally helpful in our national security investigations," said the FBI director.

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Clinton Visits Mexico At A Time When Relationship Is Strained
2009-03-25 15:41:14
Mexico's economy is being dragged down by the recession to the north. American addicts have turned Mexico into a drug superhighway, and its police and soldiers are under assault from American guns. NAFTA promised 15 years ago that Mexican trucks would be allowed on American roads, but Congress said they were unsafe.

United States-Mexican relations are in the midst of what can be described as a neighborly feud, one that stretches along a lengthy shared fence. That border fence, which has become a wall in some places, is another irritant.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived in Mexico on Wednesday for what will be the first in a parade of visits by top administration officials, including President Obamahimself next month, to try to head off a major foreign policy crisis close to home. They will find a country mired in a deepening slump, miffed by signs of protectionism in its largest trading partner, and torn apart by a drug war for which many in Mexico blame customers in the United States.

Hours before Clinton’s arrival, Mexican authorities announced that they had captured one of the nation’s 37 worst drug traffickers, a man included on “most wanted” list police issued two days ago.

The suspect, Hector Huerta Rios, was detained Tuesday in a suburb of the northern industrial city of Monterrey, said Gen. Luis Arturo Oliver, at a news conference, according to the Associated Press. On Monday, Mexican authorities published a list of their most-wanted drug traffickers with an offer of up to $2 million for information leading to the arrest of any of the top 24 and up to $1 million for any of the 13 lieutenants, including Huerta Rios. It was unclear if any reward was paid in the arrest on Tuesday.

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Vandals Hit Home Of Ex RBS Chief
2009-03-25 15:40:21
The house of Fred Goodwin, the former chief executive of the ailing Royal Bank of Scotland, was vandalized early Wednesday and windows of his car were smashed.

Goodwin attracted criticism for keeping his £703,000, or $1 million, pension despite a string of ill-timed acquisitions under his tenure that brought the bank under government control and calls from Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown to surrender the payment.

At least three windows on the ground-floor level of his house in an affluent suburb of Edinburgh, Scotland, were smashed and a black Mercedes S600 parked in the driveway was vandalized. It is unclear if Goodwin was in the house at the time.

“We can confirm we attended at an address in Oswald Road at 4:35 a.m. on March 25 and inquiries are ongoing,” a spokeswoman for the Lothian and Borders Police said in a statement. No one has been arrested or charged and the police have asked anyone with information about the incident to step forward, she said.

Royal Bank of Scotland paid £290 a month for security arrangements at Goodwin’s house, the bank said earlier, adding that such arrangements were normal practice for any departing chief executive. Linda Harper, a spokeswoman for the bank, declined to comment on the incident and said it was a matter for the police.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Wednesday March 25 2009 - (813)

Wednesday March 25 2009 edition
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Obama Confident 'We're Moving In The Right Direction'
2009-03-25 03:08:39

President Obama sought to reassure Americans Tuesday night that his administration has made progress in reviving the economy and said his $3.6 trillion budget is "inseparable from this recovery."

After sprinting through his first months in office, Obama is now facing heightened criticism from Republicans, who have called his blueprint irresponsible, and from skeptical Democrats who have already set about trimming back his top budget priorities.

Obama came into office amid lofty expectations and the worst economic crisis in generations, and he succeeded in pushing through a $787 billion stimulus and launching expensive plans to revive the banking system.

Tuesday night, against a backdrop of a broad national anxiety that the economy may still be failing, he attempted to recalibrate the high hopes to more closely fit the challenges he said lie ahead.

Although he spoke sharply once in response to Republican criticism, Obama struck a tone of common purpose throughout his second prime-time news conference, urging the country to be patient as he works on issues as divergent as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the malign impact of lobbying in Washington, D.C.

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China Calls For New, Global, Currency
2009-03-24 19:01:52
China is calling for a new global currency controlled by the International Monetary Fund, stepping up pressure ahead of a London summit of global leaders for changes to a financial system dominated by the U.S. dollar and Western governments.

The comments, in an essay by the Chinese central bank governor released late Monday, reflect Beijing's growing assertiveness in economic affairs. China is expected to press for developing countries to have a bigger say in finance when leaders of the Group of 20 major economies meet April 2 in London to discuss the global crisis.

Gov. Zhou Xiaochuan's essay did not mention the dollar by name but said the crisis showed the dangers of relying on one nation's currency for international payments. In an unusual step, the essay was published in both Chinese and English, making clear it was meant for an international audience.

"The crisis called again for creative reform of the existing international monetary system towards an international reserve currency," wrote Zhou.

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Holocaust Survivor Jack Terry: 'I Felt Sure I Would Not Live'
2009-03-24 19:01:26
Intellpuke: Spiegel Online interviewed Jack Terry, a holocaust survivor. Terry's family all died in the Holocaust. His mother and sister were shot in front of him when he was a boy. Spiegel Online spoke to Terry about his horrific experiences and about the recent warrant issued for the arrest of alleged death camp guard John Demjanjuk.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Mr. Terry, as you know, prosecutors in Munich have filed charges against John Demjanjuk on more than 29,000 counts of accessory to murder. As the only member of your family to have survived the Holocaust, what is your reaction to the prosecution?

Terry: It is absolutely vital that anyone involved in such horrific events face appropriate judicial proceedings.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Demjanjuk is almost 90 years old. Should he, if found guilty, be incarcerated?

Terry: I would be satisfied even if he was locked up in a cell for just one day. For me that day, however short it may be, would be very symbolic.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: As a child, you were tortured for nine months at the Concentration Camp Flossenburg. According to the prosecutors, Demjanjuk was a guard there at precisely the same time as you were. Do you recall seeing him there?

Terry: No. I didn't know those on duty by name.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: As a Ukrainian, Demjanjuk belonged to the so-called Trawniki, the non-German guards of the SS.

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President Obama Has Fun Talking With Astronauts
2009-03-24 19:00:56
President Barack Obama seemed to have as much fun Tuesday talking to the 10 astronauts in orbit about e-mailing, fitness and Tang as the children who surrounded him at the White House and took part in the call.

Obama, making his first call to space, even asked the only woman aboard the shuttle-station complex whether she was tempted to cut her long hair while she was up there. She said no, and the president called her flyaway curls "a real fashion statement."

He started the call off joking with the astronauts.

"I'm told that you're cruising at about 17,000 mph, so we're glad that you are using the handsfree phone," he said.

After getting a big laugh in orbit and on the ground, the president got right down to business, telling the astronauts that he was extraordinarily proud of them for their work at the international space station over the past week. He wanted to know how they installed the new solar panels and what the impact of that green power would be.

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Treasury's Geithner Asks Congress For Authority To Seize Non-Bank Financial Institutions
2009-03-24 15:39:31

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner asked Congress Tuesday for new regulatory authority for non-bank financial institutions such as insurance giant American International Group in order to "eliminate gaps in supervision" and avoid potentially catastrophic threats to the nation's financial system.

Geithner said such authority would have allowed the government to bail out AIG last year at a far lower cost to taxpayers, a position backed by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke. The government currently has the authority to seize only banks.

Testifying before the House Financial Services Committee, Geithner also said Treasury is working with the Justice Department to explore legal avenues to recover AIG retention bonuses that have infuriated taxpayers and raised hackles on Capitol Hill. He said his department will impose on AIG a contractual commitment to pay the Treasury the amount of the retention awards from company operations and will deduct an amount equal to those payments from $30 billion in recently committed capital assistance.

In testimony at the same hearing, Bernanke defended the decision last year to bail out AIG but weighed in against the retention bonuses, saying he had sought to halt them.

The three-hour hearing was marked by several contentious exchanges between lawmakers and the witnesses. Both Republicans and Democrats sharply questioned Geithner and Bernanke about the retention bonuses and the overall bailout. Acknowledging the furor, Geithner said it would be "extraordinarily difficult" for the Obama administration to obtain any more bailout money from Congress.

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Peace Conference Canceled After South Africa Bans Dalai Lama
2009-03-24 15:39:06
Organizers of a peace conference that was to have been attended by five Nobel laureates in Johannesburg this week said on Tuesday that they had canceled it after the South African government denied a visa to the Dalai Lama.

Two of South Africa's Nobel Peace Prize laureate, retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former president F.W. de Klerk, condemned the government for giving in to pressure from China to block the Tibetan spiritual leader’s entry into the country and said they would refuse to participate in the conference if he was not there. The executive director of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Geir Lundestad, also said he would stay away.

The government, through a spokesman, said the Dalai Lama would not be allowed to come to South Africa to attend the conference, which was meant to promote the 2010 soccer World Cup, because he would have distracted attention from South Africa and drawn it instead to the contentious debate over the status of Tibet.

Thabo Masebe, a government spokesman, said on Monday that the Tibetan leader’s presence “would not be in South Africa’s best interests.”

A statement by the organizers on Tuesday said the participants had been told that “the only purpose of their visit to South Africa would be for the purposes of participation in the conference and not any other public engagements as these could take away from the purpose for which the conference was intended.” The conference, which was to have begun Friday, had been organized by South African soccer authorities.

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China Daily Assails Prisoner Abuses
2009-03-24 15:38:20
Inmates in China's 2,700 pretrial detention centers suffer bullying and torture at the hands of fellow prisoners and police officers, and some experts want a neutral body to take the centers out of police control to curb the abuses, the state-run English-language newspaper, China Daily, reported on Tuesday.

The newspaper noted that the Communist Party’s latest four-year plan for legal reforms does not contemplate changes in the detention system. The full-page article said that since February 8, five inmates had died under suspicious circumstances while in police custody. Amnesty International,the human-rights advocacy group, last week reported two additional deaths that the police say were due to illness. Family members dispute those explanations.

All seven deaths occurred in police detention centers, where inmates accused of crimes can be held for months awaiting trial or formal charges. The centers are officially run by the national public-security ministry, but are effectively controlled by local police officials who, one expert was quoted as saying, regard them “as part of their turf and the most profitable piece of their territory.”

Another criminal procedure expert, Chen Weidong of Renmin University, was quoted as saying that officers “will sometimes have the detained suspects, especially new ones, tortured so that they can get confessions and complete an investigation as soon as possible.”

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France To Pay Nuclear Test Victims
2009-03-24 15:37:47
After decades of rejecting ties between its nuclear weapons tests and health problems among personnel carrying them out, France said Tuesday that it would “be true to its conscience” and pay compensation to those suffering illnesses linked to radiation.

Defense Minister Herve Morin, told the newspaper Le Figaro that France believed for a long time that “opening the door to compensation would pose a threat to the very significant efforts made by France to have a credible nuclear deterrent.”

Between 1960 and 1996, France carried out more than 200 nuclear tests, first in Algeria, then in French Polynesia in the Pacific Ocean. Up to 150,000 civilian and military people who worked on the testing program had been “theoretically” affected, said Morin.

However, the scale of compensation may be limited. Morin said the government had set aside about $13.5 million to pay claims adjudicated by a panel of physicians and a magistrate.

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Dow Closes Down 115 Points
2009-03-24 19:02:04
A stock drop is never reassuring - except when it could have been worse.

The Dow Jones industrial average shed 115 points, or 1.5 percent Tuesday. But it also held on to 382 of the 498 points it racked up a day earlier.

Anyone with a 401(k) would have liked to see the rally continue. Market analysts said, though, that a pullback was expected given the massive gains Wall Street logged the day before when the government released plans to remove bad loans from banks' books.

"We'll take that trading pattern any time," said Arthur Hogan, chief market analyst at Jefferies & Co. He said he came into work anticipating the Dow to drop as much as 2 percent Tuesday after the index jumped 6.8 percent Monday - its biggest gain since late October.

The Dow was up more than 1,200 points after hitting nearly 12-year lows on March 9, and there was little in a way of positive economic or corporate data Tuesday to lift stocks further.

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Salton Sea Earthquakes - A Warning Sign Of The Big One?
2009-03-24 19:01:42
Scientists are watching closely to see if small faults crossing under the Salton Sea are transferring energy to the larger, more dangerous San Andreas fault after a series of small quake swarms in the area.

The quakes appeared to be tapering off by Monday afternoon, according to the monitoring system run by the U.S. Geological Survey and Caltech; but, in a 48-hour period starting Saturday morning, 42 earthquakes shook just south of Bombay Beach on the Salton Sea. The quakes ranged in magnitude from 0.5 to 3.3, with three larger than 3.0 hitting the area Saturday afternoon.

Scientists are particularly interested in the area because an earthquake that starts in Bombay Beach and ripples northwest along the San Andreas fault could be the Big One that devastates Los Angeles, said Graham Kent, a research geophysicist at the University of California at San Diego.

These quakes appear to be taking place at the hazy intersection of several recently mapped faults crossing beneath the Salton Sea and the the San Andreas fault.

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Danish Theologian Says Pope Benedict XVI 'Scorns Reality'
2009-03-24 19:01:08

A prominent Danish theologian, who is part of a commission set up to modernize the Vatican and the papacy, says that Pope Benedict XVI is out of touch with reality.

Pope Benedict XVI is the wrong man for the job in what has become a complex society, according to a Danish theologian who is part of a commission seeking to modernize the papacy.

"I have the greatest respect for Pope Benedict's intellectual capacity. Theologically he is well-founded - he knows it all. But I don't think he is the right man for the job. He forgets life," says Professor Emeritus Peder Norgaard-Hojen in an interview with

Ignoring Reality

Norgaard-Hojen, who has studied the Vatican and papacy for many years, has recently returned from meetings in an unusual Vatican commission composed of eight Catholics and eight Protestants. The commission is seeking to find ways to modernize the Vatican in an increasingly complex world.

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MailScanner has detected a possible fraud attempt from "" claiming to be U.S. Comedian Stephen Colbert Reaches For Stars After NASA Win
2009-03-24 19:00:37

An American comedian has embarrassed NASA, the U.S. space agency, by winning a competition to have part of the International Space Station named after him.

Space scientists had urged the public to select "Serenity" as the name of the third new "living room" aboard the orbiting outpost to match the existing Unity and Harmony modules.

Yet NASA may have to name it "Colbert" instead after almost a quarter of a million fans voted to give the satirist Stephen Colbert a giant leap into space.

The comedian's name beat the agency's preferred choice by more than 40,000 votes in a total ballot of 1.2 million. Other NASA recommendations included Venture, Earthrise and Legacy, while Myyearbook and Socialvibe were among the public's suggestions.

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U.S. EPA Halts Hundreds Of Mountain Top Mining Permits
2009-03-24 15:39:18
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency put hundreds of mountaintop coal-mining permits on hold Tuesday, saying it wants to evaluate the projects' impact on streams and wetlands.

The decision, announced by EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, targets a controversial practice that allows coal mining companies to dump waste from mountaintop mining into streams and wetlands.

It could delay 150-250 permits being sought by companies wanting to begin blasting mountaintops to access coal.

Those permits are issued by the Army Corps of Engineers, an agency that has been criticized by environmental groups and has been sued for failing to thoroughly evaluate the environmental impact of mountaintop removal.

Under the Clean Water Act, companies cannot discharge rock, dirt and other debris into streams unless they can show that it will not cause permanent damage to waterways or the fish and other wildlife that live in it.

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Google: YouTube Being Blocked In China
2009-03-24 15:38:35
Google said Tuesday that its YouTube video-sharing Web site was being blocked in China.

The company said it first noticed traffic from China had decreased dramatically late Monday. By early Tuesday, it had dropped to nearly zero, said the company.

“We don’t know the reason for the block,” said a YouTube spokesman, Scott Rubin. “Our government relations people are trying to resolve it.”

China routinely filters Internet content and blocks material that is critical of its policies. It selectively blocks videos from YouTube.

According to Reuters, Chinese government officials said Tuesday that they did not know about YouTube being blocked, but said that China was not afraid of the Internet.

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Markets Flat After Monday's Rally
2009-03-24 15:38:04
Stocks were flat Tuesday afternoon, failing to build on Monday's rally when investors cheered a Treasury Department plan to rid banks' balance sheets of toxic assets.

After initially tumbling more than 100 points this morning, the Dow Jones industrial average moderated and briefly traded in positive territory Tuesday afternoon. It was down .15 percent or 12 points by 2:30 p.m. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock also was flat, down .36 percent or 3 points. The tech-heavy Nasdaq fell 1 percent, or 17 points.

Wall Street rallied yesterday after the Treasury Department unveiled a new trillion-dollar plan to stabilize banks by relieving them of their troubled assets and risky loans and housing industry data showed that existing home sales increased unexpectedly in February The Dow climbed 6.8 percent, or 497.48 points, its fifth-largest point gain in its history.

It is not unusual for stocks to lose ground after a major rally as investors lock in profits. By hanging onto most of Monday's gains, investors are indicating that a two-week market rally that has pushed the Dow up more than 17 percent could continue, analysts said.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Tuesday March 24 2009 - (813)

Tuesday March 24 2009 edition
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U.S. Treasury Gives Details On Toxic Assets Plan
2009-03-23 19:27:47

The U.S. government will offer hundreds of billions of dollars in equity and loan guarantees to investors who bid against one another to buy troubled assets from banks, officials said Monday.

The "Public Private Investment Plan" detailed Monday morning, a long-awaited but risky piece of the government's financial stabilization strategy, will pour government money into private investment funds as a way to move loans from the balance sheets of banks to those of long-term investors.

Under the plan, the government and private investors will invest together to buy up between $500 billion and $1 trillion worth of real estate-related loans and securities from banks. The government will use up to $100 billion from the Troubled Assets Relief Program, matched by private funds, to capitalize the purchases.

The hope is that instead of hoarding cash in case those assets continue to lose value, banks will resume lending money once the toxic assets are off their books.

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Holbrooke On Afghanistan - The New American Determination
2009-03-23 19:27:18

Richard Holbrooke, the new U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, wants to explain Obama's policy on Afghanistan to NATO and the European Union. He gave the first details at a conference this weekend in Brussels. One thing is certain: The operation will become more American - and probably bloodier.

They were just a couple of words, but they said a lot. Richard Holbrooke was sitting on the stage of the Brussels Forum, addressing high-ranking Europeans and Americans who had gathered at the invitation of the German Marshall Fund. You could have heard a pin drop in the ballroom as the recently appointed U.S. envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan explained the new American strategy in those countries. Holbrooke sighed as he said that this is one of the conflicts where U.S. forces were furthest away from their supply routes. "We Americans," he said in reference to this far-off war. Then he quickly caught himself and added, almost sheepishly, "and NATO."

Indeed, the defense alliance seemed almost peripheral during Holbrooke's presentation. Admittedly, he referred to a comprehensive Western strategy, the link between civil society and the military and the need for a more intelligent approach towards the insurgents.

But his underlying signal was one of American determination. The Americans are about to send 17,000 additional troops to Afghanistanand in doing so they're unlikely to pay much attention to NATO structures.

Holbrooke is scheduled to outline the new American strategy in the region to representatives from the NATO and E.U. on Monday. The White House has commissioned a variety of secret strategy scenarios on this, and the result appears to be that the Afghanistan mission is evolving more than ever into a U.S. mission, and it's likely to become - at least initially - an even bloodier operation.

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Abu Dhabi Deal A 'Stroke Of Luck' For Daimler
2009-03-23 19:26:44
Abu Dhabi has bought a 9.1 percent stake in Daimler in a deal analysts say has come at just the right time for the German automaker battling the global economic downturn. The stake is expected to shield Daimler from a hedge fund takeover.

It was the kind of news the German stock market had evidently been waiting for - after the emirate of Abu Dhabi said on Sunday evening it was taking a 9.1 percent stake in German auto maker Daimler, the stock leapt as much as six percent. By midday on Monday, the stock was still up around two percent. Analysts said the investment by the oil-rich sheikhs would stabilize the Stuttgart-based company which is suffering from the global slump in auto sales. Daimler, they said, had found a new strategic investor with a long-term focus.

While Daimler AG is world-famous, its new shareholder, Arab state fund Aabar, is little known in Germany. The company belongs to a complex web of state-owned and semi-state-owned investment vehicles set up by the sheikhs of Abu Dhabi to multiply their petro dollars.

Aabar is controlled by the state fund International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), which has an investment portfolio estimated at more than $14 billion. Daimler could use liquidity at this time of crisis in the global auto sector.

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Palestinian Official Killed In Lebanon
2009-03-23 19:25:09
A senior Palestinian official was killed Monday along with two colleagues and a driver when a roadside bomb detonated next to their convoy as they left a Palestinian refugee camp in south Lebanon, said security officials.

The Palestinian official, Kamal Midhat, was the deputy leader in Lebanon of Fatah, the mainstream Palestinian faction led by Mahmoud Abbas. Three bodyguards were wounded in the blast.

The bomb exploded as the two-car convoy was in between two checkpoints outside the camp, near the southern city of Saida. Television images showed firefighters hosing the remains of Midhat’s car, a blackened heap of charred metal.

Some Palestinian officials speculated that the target might have been Midhat’s boss, Abbas Zaki, the Fatah representative in Lebanon, who is close to Abbas. Zaki had left the camp earlier.

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EPA: Global Warming Threatens Public Health, Welfare
2009-03-23 17:38:59

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sent a proposal to the White House on Friday finding that global warming is endangering the public's health and welfare, according to several sources, a move that could have far-reaching implications for the nation's economy and environment.

The proposal - which comes in response to a 2007 Supreme Court decision ordering EPA to consider whether carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases should be regulated under the Clean Air Act - could lay the groundwork for nationwide measures to limit such emissions.

It reverses one of the Bush administration's landmark environmental decisions: In July 2008 then-EPA administrator Stephen Johnson rejected his scientific and technical staff's recommendation and announced the agency would seek months of further public comment on the threat posed by global warming pollution.

"This is historic news," said Frank O'Donnell, who heads the public watchdog group Clean Air Watch. "It will set the stage for the first-ever national limits on global warming pollution. And it is likely to help light a fire under Congress to get moving."

Business groups decried the move as an economic disaster.

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Update: No Signs Of Distress Before Montana Plane Crash
2009-03-23 14:53:16
The plane that crashed in a Montana cemetery gave no indication of problems during several communications with a base operator at the airport here where it was trying to land, an official with the National Transportation Safety Board said Monday.

The crash killed all 14 people aboard. Seven of the victims were children.

The pilot, who was not identified, did not provide a reason during a communication at 2:03 p.m when he requested to land at the Bert Mooney Airport on the outskirts of Butte. The airport is about 75 miles west of the plane’s destination in Bozeman where passengers were headed for a ski vacation, said the safety board chairman, Mark Rosenker.

Four minutes later the pilot told the base operator he had the airport in sight and had to maneuver around one more cloud. At 2:29 the plane disappeared off radar.

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Breaking News: Alaska's Mt. Redoubt Erupts, Planes Told To Avoid Area
2009-03-23 05:12:20
Intellpuke: After teasing volcanologists for several weeks, Mount Redoubt, a volcano located across Cook Inlet from Alaska's Kenai Peninsula, erupted this shortly after midnight (AST) Monday, sending a plume of ash up to 50,000 feet.

The Federal Aviation Administration is warning planes to avoid the area.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory reports the ash cloud is headed toward Anchorage and up the states west coast. It is expected to reach Anchorage about 2 a.m. and could reach as far north as Nome.

People are being advised to bring their pets indoors and not let them out as they could breathe in the ash which can scratch their lungs. It is possible that the falling ash could disrupt cable internet connections and cable t.v.
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Judge Orders FDA To Reconsider Morning-After Pill For Minors
2009-03-23 19:27:30

A federal court Monday ordered the Food and Drug Administration to reconsider the agency's controversial decision limiting non-prescription access to the morning-after pill Plan B to women age 18 and older.

U.S. District Judge Edward R. Korman ordered the FDA to make Plan B available to women age 17 and older within 30 days and to reconsider whether to make the drug available to women of all ages without a prescription.

In his 52-page decision, Korman said the "record is clear that the FDA's course of conduct regarding Plan B departed in significant ways from the agency's normal procedures regarding similar applications to switch a drug from prescription to non-prescription use."

Critics of the FDA's position hailed the ruling.

"We're very excited," said Suzanne Novak, a senior staff attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, which filed a lawsuit against the agency to reverse the 2005 decision.

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Editorial: Lessons Of The Exxon Valdez
2009-03-23 19:26:58
Intellpuke: This editorial appeared in the New York Times online edition for Monday, March 23, 2009.

Tuesday marks the 20th anniversary of one of this country’s great ecological disasters. The Exxon Valdez slammed into Bligh Reef in Alaska’s Prince William Sound, spilling 11 million gallons of crude oil, damaging 1,300 miles of shoreline, disrupting the livelihoods of thousands of Americans and fouling one of the country’s richest fishing grounds.

More than $2 billion has been spent on cleanup and recovery. Exxon has paid at least $1 billion in damages. Supertankers have been made safer with double hulls, emergency teams given better equipment. Some fish species, though not all, have recovered.

Yet the Exxon Valdez still sends a powerful cautionary message: oil development, however necessary, is an inherently risky, dirty business - especially so in the forbidding waters of the Arctic.

The White House should keep that in mind as it maps out its energy strategy. While rightly emphasizing conservation, efficiency and renewable energy, President Obama has said that oil and gas drilling in America’s coastal waters will be part of the mix. The challenge is to do it right, and do it carefully.

Mr. Obama’s interior secretary, Ken Salazar, has said he won’t be rushed into offshore drilling - a refreshing contrast to the “drill baby drill” mania of the 2008 G.O.P. campaign. He has already pulled back a Bush administration plan opening up huge swaths of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to drilling. He promises a more measured proposal by the end of the year.

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Study: Eating Red Meat Increases Risk Of Early Death
2009-03-23 19:25:30

Eating red meat increases the chances of dying prematurely, according to a large federal study that offers powerful new evidence that a diet that regularly includes steaks, burgers and pork chops is hazardous to your health.

The study of more than 500,000 middle-age and elderly Americans found that those who consumed the equivalent of about a small hamburger every day were more than 30 percent more likely to die during the 10 years they were followed, mostly from heart disease and cancer. Sausage, cold cuts and other processed meats also increased the risk.

Previous research had found a link between red meat and an increased risk of heart disease and cancer, particularly colorectal cancer, but the new study is the first large examination of the relationship between eating meat and overall mortality.

"The bottom line is we found an association between red meat and processed meat and an increased risk of mortality," said Rashmi Sinha of the National Cancer Institute, who led the study published today in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

In contrast, routine consumption of fish, chicken, turkey and other poultry decreased the risk of death by a small amount, the study found.

Although pork often is promoted as "white meat," it is believed to increase the risk for cancer because of its iron content, said Sinha. It is often grouped with red meat in nutritional studies.

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Distressed Property Sales Boost Existing Home Sale Numbers
2009-03-23 17:39:11

Existing home sales rose unexpectedly in February as first-time home buyers snapped up cheap homes, according to data released today by the National Association of Realtors.

Median home prices tumbled 15.5 percent to $165,400 in February from the same period a year ago. "Because entry level buyers are shopping for bargains, distressed sales accounted for 40 to 45 percent of transactions in February," Lawrence Yun, the group's chief economist, said in a statement.

Home sales increased 5.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.72 million in February. Analysts had expected the sales rate to continue to fall.

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U.S. Markets Soar On Toxic Assets Plan
2009-03-23 17:38:47

Stock markets soared above 5 percent during the last hour of trading following the Treasury Department's announcement of a new plan to help banks cleanse their balance sheets of toxic assets.

The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average was up 5.5 percent, or 403 points, to 7682 , while the broader Standard & Poor's 500-stock index rose 5.5 percent, or nearly 43 points, to 811.53 . The tech-heavy Nasdaq jumped 5.1 percent, or 75 points, to 1,532.33 .

The gains amount to a vote of confidence by investors in the program to purchase toxic assets, known as the Public Private Investment Plan. It calls for the government to partner with private investors to buy between $500 billion and $1 trillion in troubled real-estate related loans and securities that have poisoned financial institutions and destroyed investor confidence. Those assets will then be auctioned to the highest bidder, removing them from banks' balance sheets.

"I've heard the secret to success in business is to make plan C work, and I think that's essentially what we have here," said Jim Dunigan, managing executive of investments for PNC Wealth Management.

The financial sector has been leading the charge with a nearly 7 percent gain. Citigroup was up 19.1 percent and Bank of America shot up 18 percent amid heavy trading. Wells Fargo was up 17 percent, and J.P. Morgan rose 16 percent.

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Free Internet Press Logo Contest
2009-03-23 14:49:37

  In a secret closet, we've locked away one developer to work on revamping Free Internet Press.  He's been doing a beautiful job, but between his pleas for release he has said that he isn't a graphic artist. 

  We would like to welcome any and all readers to help us design a new logo.   Since FIP doesn't exactly make money (it's income almost pays the hosting bill, and for cigarettes for Intellpuke), we don't have a lot to give, but the prize for the winner will be:

  1) $20 (sent via PayPal)

  2) The equivelant of 1 year of donations.  That is, no ads will be shown for your account for 1 year!

  3) Our heartfelt gratitude.   We will discuss with you if you would like your identity posted in the final announcement story.

  Our current logo was made by "Dusty Star" a few years ago.  It's time for an update.  Dusty is more than welcome to participate this time a! lso.

  Our qualifications are: 

  1) It should come in a large size, so we can resize it down to the 333x89 that we are currently displaying our logo at.   We would prefer to receive it as a large size, preferably in the original design format.  We prefer the use of GIMP, so a GIMP xcf file is perfect, but we will accept any image format.

  2) It should contain the name of our site, "Free Internet Press".

  3) It should reflect the idea of news, newspapers, and free speech. 

  4) As you know, we're a mainstream news site.  No nudity, profanity, or other things that may not be acceptable for all viewers.  We are aware that our news is read by a huge range of people, world wide.  The age of our readership is from school children to retirees. 

  Email your submission to editor@fr!

  We will accept submissio! ns until April 1, 2009.  Shortly after the 1st, we will post the best submissions, and ask for everyone's comments on what to use.   If we fail to receive enough quality submissions, we will either decide on a submitted one ourselves, or make our sequestered developer make one.

  Thanks to all of  you, and good luck!

  JW Smythe
  Free Internet Press

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