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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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