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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Thursday March 5 2009 - (813)

Thursday March 5 2009 edition
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Professor James Duane's 5th Amendment lecture "Don't talk to the police!"
2009-03-04 21:35:58
This is Professor James Duane’s 5th Amendment lecture - popularly known as “Don’t talk to the police!”.  Regent University chapter of the Federalist Society.  Virginia Beach, Virginia.  March 14, 2008

This is an excellent lecture, I recommend everyone, even the good and habitually innocent, watch it at least once.

Click Here to view the larger version.
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Shoes And Nazi Bazookas - The Prehistory Of Adidas And Puma
2009-03-04 21:33:40

During World War II, industries big and small all over Germany became part of Hitler's massive war machine. The change even affected the predecessor of footwear legends Adidas and Puma, which - oddly enough - manufactured Germany's version of the bazooka.

When the starting shot rang out, the athletes surged forward. Jesse Owens dug his spikes deep into the racing track of Berlin's Olympic Stadium - and the best sprinter of his day dominated the 100 meters race to win a gold medal at the 1936 Olympic Games. America's black superstar took home a total of four gold medals. And each of his victories represented minor triumphs for two German brothers as well - Adolf ("Adi") and Rudolf Dassler - the manufacturers of the sprinting shoes that carried the sprinter of the century from victory to victory.

Of course, success did not come as a total surprise. Herzogenaurach, the Dasslers' home town in Bavaria, has a long tradition as a center for shoe making. In 1922, for example, it boasted 112 shoe makers drawn from a population of 3,500. It was here, in 1924, that Adolf and Rudolf Dassler founded the "Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory" to specialize in athletic shoes. During the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, a German sprinter wearing Dassler spikes took the bronze medal. But it was the legendary shoes of Owens that established the Dasslers' worldwide reputation and laid the foundation for two exceptional careers. After the war, Adi and Rudolf went their separate ways. Each would build up one of West Germany's showpiece sports companies - one Adidas, the other Puma.

The history of the Dasslers - who both joined the Nazi Party in 1933 - wouldn't be complete without one chapter from World War II: In 1944, there was suddenly a spike in the number of Allied tanks being blown apart by German fire. The culprit was the latest anti-tank rocket launcher, nicknamed the "Panzerschreck" ("Tank Terror"). This extremely effective weapon petrified Allied tank crews - and it was manufactured in the same factory that had developed Owens' shoes only eight years earlier.

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Commentary: 'Obama Has Cleverly Put The Ball In Medvedev's Court'
2009-03-04 21:33:09
Intellpuke: This commentary was written by Spiegel correspondent Josh Ward in Spiegel's online edition for Wednesday, March 4, 2009, under the German news magazine's column "The World From Berlin". The column, which follows, routinely provides of survey of comments on a single issue from several German news publications.

U.S. President Barack Obama's offer to Russia to abandon its missile defense shield in return for Moscow's help in keeping nuclear weapons out of Iranian hands has upped the ante on US-Russian relations. German commentators praise Obama's shrewdness but still see complications ahead.

In George W. Bush's playbook, the best offense was a good offense. With his latest offer to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, U.S. President Barack Obama has signaled that he follows a different philosophy when it comes to playing in the global political arena.

Despite his stated intentions, Bush's plan for a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe still killed (at least) two birds with one stone. It set in motion the development of a system that could theoretically defend against a potential Iranian long-range missile capability. And it flexed America's muscles in response to Russia's newfound confidence.

Obama's plan kills two birds with one stone, too. It offers the U.S. a chance to back out of a plan with questionable applicability and technological feasibility while at the same time forcing Russia out of the position of the aggrieved. But Obama's tactical maneuvering is aggressively defensive; it tacitly forces Russia to show the world whether it is willing to give up extensive trade and lucrative arms and technology deals with Iran in order to help calm growing fears about Iran's developing a nuclear bomb.

In his response to Obama's letter from three weeks ago, which included the offer, Medvedev wants to dispel the impression that it is somehow his turn to act. For example, he told reporters at a press conference in Spain on Tuesday that his letters and telephone conversations with Obama included "no talk about some kind of trade-off or quid pro quo" and that, instead, he was just happy that "our American partners are ready to discuss this problem," which he hinted was not the case under the Bush administration.

German commentators are not buying it. They recognize the shrewdness of Obama's move and are anxious to see how Russia responds. But they also acknowledge that an end to the missile shield plans also has consequences for Poland and the Czech Republic, as well.

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Obama Administration Targets Aid For Troubled Homeowners
2009-03-04 17:40:28

The Obama administration Wednesday released guidelines of its massive foreclosure prevention program and it includes a refinancing program for homeowners with little equity in their homes and a loan modification effort for borrowers at risk of losing their homes.

It is expected to help up to 9 million homeowners lower their mortgage payments. Lenders can begin modifying troubled loans under the program immediately, the Treasury Department said in a statement. To be eligible for modification, the loans must have originated on or before Jan. 1 of this year. The program will end in December 2012, and loans can be modified only once under that part of the program.

It applies to first lien mortgages with a principal balance of up to $729,750.

Under the program, troubled homeowners can have their interest rate reduced as low as 2 percent to make their payments affordable, which is defined by the administration as 31 percent of their income. The program lavishes incentive payments on the lenders to encourage them to modify loans.

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Economy To Dominate Annual Meeting Of China's National Legislature
2009-03-04 17:40:06
China's national Legislature, the National Peoples' Congress, begins its tightly scripted annual meeting on Thursday with an agenda dominated by the ruling Communist Party’s two overriding concerns: riding out the global economic crisis and keeping citizens’ unhappiness with their lot from boiling over into public unrest.

In the nine-day session of the National People’s Congress, about the only suspense involves whether the government will propose to add still more stimulus spending to the $584 billion that China’s leaders already have pledged to help the slumping economy. On Wednesday, Asian and European stocks rose in part on hopes that it would.

Prime Minister Wen Jiabao is to speak early on Thursday to the 3,000-odd delegates, and is expected by many analysts to set a target for 8 percent growth of China’s gross domestic product in 2009, the same as in previous years. The government has long said that that rate is needed to hold down unemployment and the potential for social unrest. The economy logged a 9 percent rate last year, even after a sharp slowdown in the last quarter.

A number of experts believe that a 2009 growth rate of 6.5 percent or 7 percent, meager by recent Chinese standards, is increasingly likely. Some financial analysts predicted this week that the government will propose spending vast new amounts to head off a sharper decline, although the consensus view is that new spending, if any, will be more modest.

“The government could enlarge the plan a bit,” Shen Minggao, the chief economist for Caijing, a Chinese business magazine, said in an interview. But he said that fiscal conservatives would be wary of increasing a 2009 budget deficit that already appeared to be headed for a record.

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Fed Reserve Report Paints Bleak Economic Picture
2009-03-04 17:39:34
From Boston to Atlanta to San Francisco, the economy has gotten worse in the last two months, and businesses are pessimistic about the chances for a near-term recovery. Many do not expect a recovery until late 2009 or early next year.

That was the assessment Wednesday in the Federal Reserve's beige book, a regular sketch of economic conditions in 12 Fed districts nationwide.

Unemployment rose across the country as businesses laid off workers and imposed hiring freezes. Manufacturing fell, companies earned less and credit remained tight. Fewer tourists visited popular destinations, airline traffic fell and the demand for commercial real estate “weakened significantly,” said the Fed.

There were a few, faint silver linings amid the gloom: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Chicago, Illinois, reported that their regional economies “remained weak” but did not get weaker. Consumer spending picked up slightly after a dismal holiday shopping season, and shoppers saw prices easing because of weakened demand. And some information technology companies reported a rise in business as other companies looked to cut costs through the use of technology.

Residential real estate offered “minimal and scattered” signs of stabilization in some regions, although Case-Shiller data show that prices nationwide are still falling. Single-family home prices tumbled 18.5 percent in December from the previous year, and real estate agents say that non-foreclosure sales are still stagnant.

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International Court Issues Warrant For Sudanese President
2009-03-04 17:38:23
The International Criminal Court's pretrial judges issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on Wednesday, charging that he directed the mass murder of tens of thousands of Sudanese civilians in Darfur. It is the first time the Hague-based court has accused a sitting head of state of war crimes.

A three-judge panel upheld a request by the ICC's chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo of Argentina, to charge Bashir on seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity; but the panel ruled that prosecutors had not provided enough proof to charge Bashir with orchestrating a campaign of genocide. Moreno-Ocampo, said the panel, was free to pursue the genocide charge later if he obtained additional evidence.

In response, Sudan ordered the expulsion of as many as 10 humanitarian aid agencies from Darfur, including OxFam, Mercy Corps and Solidarites, the main suppliers of such vital essentials as food, medicine, sanitation and health care in northern Darfur, according to a U.N. official.

"The secretary general is concerned to hear that between six and 10 humanitarian NGOs (non-government organizations) have had their registration revoked, and some of their assets seized," said Marie Okabe, a spokeswoman for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. "He notes that this represents a serious setback to lifesaving operations in Darfur, and urges the government of Sudan to act urgently to restore these NGOS to their full operational status."

Okabe said the humanitarian agencies' departure from the region would "have an immediate and serious impact on the humanitarian and security situation."

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U.S. Banks Were Asked To Help - Now, They May Be Forced
2009-03-04 21:34:01
Joe and Angel Bostic bought their East Raleigh home in 1994 for $150,000, when times were good and Joe Bostic had a thriving renovation business.

Now, he sits home on disability after a failed surgery, his wife works as a teacher’s assistant and their new bank says they owe $228,000 after their payments ballooned from $891 to nearly $1,700 a month.

The couple have filed for bankruptcy.

As the recession deepens and millions more families risk losing their homes, the U.S. House is scheduled to vote on one of the most debated pieces of legislation trying to address the nation's housing crisis.

Supporters say it could eventually affect an estimated 12 million homeowners like the Bostics who now are "underwater," or owe more on their mortgages than their houses are worth.

Yet the mortgage industry has made killing the legislation its top goal, and says it could hurt their books and increase interest rates for other borrowers.

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U.S. Diplomat: Pakistan Poses Global Security Worry
2009-03-04 21:33:24

The top U.S. diplomat in Kabul warned ­Tuesday that Pakistan poses a bigger security challenge to America and the world than Afghanistan, as Islamabad grappled with the latest terrorist attack on its soil and the escalating Taliban ­insurgency on its northwestern border.

Christopher Dell, who currently runs the U.S. embassy in Kabul, was speaking in the aftermath of the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore and the news that Pakistani Taliban groups had formed a common front to attack NATO troops in Afghanistan, in what is widely expected to be a bloody and possibly ­decisive summer this year.

"From where I sit [Pakistan] sure looks like it's going to be a bigger problem," Dell said in an interview in the heavily fortified U.S. embassy in Kabul. "It is certainly one of those nuclear armed countries the instability of which is a bigger problem for the globe.

"Pakistan is a bigger place, has a larger population, its nuclear-armed. It has certainly made radical Islam a part of its political life, and it now seems to be a deeply ingrained element of its political culture. It makes things there very hard."

Fears over Pakistan's ability to cope with the rise of violent religious extremism were intensified by claims Tuesday that police in Lahore had abandoned the Sri Lankan cricketers whom they were supposed to be protecting when gunmen opened fire on Tuesday. Surveillance ­footage showed three of the attackers walking down the middle of a street, apparently under no pressure. Pakistani officials stressed that six police officers died in the attack.

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At Least 20 Dead In Mexico Prison Riot
2009-03-04 21:32:45

At least 20 inmates died inside the high security area of a prison in the border city of Ciudad Juarez Wednesday in what looks to have been a massacre carried out by members of one gang against rivals.

This is the latest of a series of bloodbaths in Mexican jails that have killed 83 prisoners in six months. They are associated with the drug wars outside prisons which killed over 6,000 in 2008 and well over 1,000 so far this year.

The different cartels are fighting each other for supremacy in strategic cities and states around the country, as well as fighting an unprecedented military-led crackdown launched by president Felipe Calderon two years ago. Juarez, just over the border from El Paso, Texas, is currently the most violent front in the wider war.

"The external conflict is being transferred to inside the prisons," said Enrique Torres, spokesman of the federal government's security operation in Juarez. "Organized crime looks for any space it can fill."

Torres said that the massacre started shortly after 6am when 14 members of a gang calling itself the Aztecas were escorted back to their cells after conjugal visits. Arriving at their module in a relatively low-security part of the building, they produced knives and forced the guards to unlock about 150 fellow gang members.

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U.S. Supreme Court: Federal Rules Do Not Protect Pharmaceutical Companies From Consumer Lawsuits
2009-03-04 17:40:17

The Supreme Court Wednesday ruled in favor of a woman who had her arm amputated after an improper injection of an anti-nausea drug and said drug makers could not rely on federal regulation to protect them from lawsuits brought under state consumer protection laws.

The court ruled 6-3 that Congress did not mean to shelter drug makers such as Wyeth Pharmaceuticals from the kind of lawsuits brought by Diana Levine, of Vermont, who developed gangrene after a physician's assistant injected the drug Phenergan into an artery.

The opinion by Justice John Paul Stevens said that even though the Food and Drug Administration had approved label warnings about complications from the drug, the company could have done more to prevent what happened to Levine, a children's musician who played guitar.

Wyeth contends that "once the FDA has approved a drug's label, a state-law verdict may not deem the label inadequate, regardless of whether there is any evidence that the FDA has considered the stronger warning at issue," wrote Stevens. "The most glaring problem with this argument is that all evidence of Congress' purposes is to the contrary."

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Wall Street Rebounds On Speculation China Will Increase Its Stimulus
2009-03-04 17:39:48
Investors found a bull in China on Wednesday.

Financial markets around the world snapped back after a week of relentless losses, with indexes rising from Asia to Europe to Wall Street as speculation that China would increase its stimulus spending beyond the $585 billion plan it had already proposed.

Prices of commodities like oil, copper and zinc rose, as did shares of producers of basic materials like steel, chemicals and plastic, which could benefit from government-financed construction projects.

At the close, the Dow Jones industrial average was 149.82 points or 2.2 percent higher, to 6,875.84, while the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index rose 2.3 percent or 16.53 points, closing at 712.86. The Nasdaq rose 2.4 percent or 32.73 points, to 1,353.74.

Companies from the financial sector to retailers to utilities pared their losses from previous sessions. Energy shares also climbed as crude oil rose $3.73, to $45.38 a barrel, and mining corporations rallied.

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Britain's Prime Minister Brown Warns U.S. Against Protectionism
2009-03-04 17:38:57
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Wednesday called on Americans to look up from their own tumbling financial markets to see a world gripped by an "economic hurricane" that could be turned around with U.S. help.

In a formal address to a joint meeting of Congress that was broadcast live in London, Brown asserted all is not bad. He predicted that the global economy could double in size over the next 20 years as billions of people move from being producers to consumers.

This ballooning market, Brown argued, presents unprecedented opportunities, so long as governmental leaders understand that their economic policies are felt all over the world.

"Should we succumb to a race to the bottom and a protectionism that history tells us that, in the end, protects no one?" Brown asked members of the House and Senate. "No," he declared.

"We should have the confidence that we can seize the opportunities ahead and make the future work for us," added Brown.

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Sen. Ted Kennedy To Receive Honorary Knighthood From Queen Elizabeth II
2009-03-04 17:38:06
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) has been chosen to receive an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II, according to the British Foreign Office.

The honor was formally announced in Washington Wednesday by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, during his address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress. With Vice President Biden and House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) looking on from the podium, Brown praised Kennedy's role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland after generations of civil strife, and his decades of work to strengthen health care and education opportunities in the United States and around the globe.

"Northern Ireland today is at peace, more Americans have health care, children around the world are going to school," Brown said. "And for all these things, we owe a great debt to the life, and courage, of Senator Edward Kennedy."

Lawmakers rose to their feet to applaud.

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