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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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