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NewsLinks Last Updated: Jun 17th, 2008 - 01:07:18

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Jun 17, 2008, 00:06

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Israel brushes aside U.S. pressure over statehood deal

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel sought on Monday to lower U.S. expectations for any deal with the Palestinians this year, brushing aside pressure over settlements and calling for decisions on Jerusalem's future to be deferred.

European powers to continue with Lisbon Treaty despite Ireland �No� vote

The major European powers, led by Germany and France, have made clear they will seek to defy Ireland�s rejection of the Lisbon Treaty in the referendum held June 12. In a 53 percent turnout, 53 percent voted �No� while 46 percent voted in favour.

Bush's former Iraq ambassador to seek Afghan presidency

In his time, he has been President George Bush's point man in Baghdad, Kabul and the UN, as well as a lobbyist for both the Taliban and international oil companies. Now Zalmay Khalilzad is preparing to run for the presidency of his native Afghanistan.

Corn sets all-time high on U.S. crop fears

LONDON (Reuters) - Corn prices surged to a record high on Monday and looked set to climb further as widespread flooding in a key producing region, the U.S. Midwest, helped to heighten concern about tight supplies, dealers said.

Cheney admits error, this one about Chinese oil drilling

WASHINGTON � Vice President Dick Cheney's office has acknowledged that he erred when telling an audience this week that China is drilling off the coast of Cuba. Citing columnist George Will, Cheney on Wednesday told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that "oil is being drilled right now 60 miles off the coast of Florida. We're not doing it. The Chinese are in cooperation with the Cuban government."

APNewsBreak: Companies get OK to annoy polar bears

WASHINGTON - Less than a month after declaring polar bears a threatened species because of global warming, the Bush administration is giving oil companies permission to annoy and potentially harm them in the pursuit of oil and natural gas. The Fish and Wildlife Service issued regulations this week providing legal protection to seven oil companies planning to search for oil and gas in the Chukchi Sea off the northwestern coast of Alaska if "small numbers" of polar bears or Pacific walruses are incidentally harmed by their activities over the next five years.

Human cost of Brazil's biofuels boom

BOCAINA, BRAZIL -- For as far as the eye can see, stalks of sugar cane march across the hillsides here like giant praying mantises. This is ground zero for ethanol production in Brazil -- "the Saudi Arabia of biofuels," as some have already labeled this vast South American country. But even as Brazil's booming economy is powered by fuel processed from the cane, labor officials are confronting what some call the country's dirty little ethanol secret: the mostly primitive conditions endured by the multitudes of workers who cut the cane.

CEO pay rose higher in '07 despite economic woes

NEW YORK - As the American economy slowed to a crawl and stockholders watched their money evaporate, CEO pay still chugged to yet more dizzying heights last year, an Associated Press analysis shows.

[Fact or Fiction?] Activists Preparing Against Use of �Brown Note� at Dem Convention

Political activists planning protest rallies at the upcoming Democratic Convention in Denver have their stomachs in knots over a rumor about a crowd control weapon - known as the �crap cannon� - that might be unleashed against them. Also called �Brown Note,� it is believed to be an infrasound frequency that debilitates a person by making them defecate involuntarily.

Kristol: McCain And Graham Plan To Introduce Legislation Undermining Supreme Court Decision On Guantanamo

Last week, the Supreme Court ruled that Guantanamo Bay detainees have the right to challenge their detention in civilian courts. Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) wasted no time in publicly blasting the decision, saying they were �disappointed� in �one of the worst decisions in the history of this country.�

Fox News presenter taken off air after Barack Obama 'terrorist fist jab' remark

A Fox News television presenter is to be taken off air after she accused Barack and Michelle Obama of greeting each other with a "terrorist's fist jab." . . . E. D. Hill, a veteran of the Fox network, made her comment after the presumptive Democratic nominee and his wife affectionately bumped fists on stage last week as he prepared to make his victory speech.

Mysterious fatal strokes in 3 U.S states baffle docs

People in three southern U.S. states are facing a health threat no one can explain: an abnormally high risk of suffering a fatal stroke - even among tourists just visiting the region. Residents and visitors alike in near-coastal areas of North and South Carolina and Georgia have a stroke risk at least 10 per cent higher than people in other U.S. states.

SC first to get 'I Believe' license plates

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- South Carolina's lieutenant governor announced Thursday that he is willing to put up $4,000 of his own money so his state can become the first in the nation to issue "I Believe" license plates with the image of a cross and a stained glass window. The legislation allowing the plates was one of several religious-themed bills to became laws in the closing days of the state's legislative session.

Jun 16, 2008

Defense lawyers to challenge Guant�namo trials

A day after the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling granting detainees at Guant�namo Bay, Cuba, the right to challenge their detention in federal court, military defense lawyers said they planned to use the decision to mount new attacks on the government's war crimes prosecutions that could stall or stop trials.

Europe struggles to keep reform plans alive after Irish reject treaty

Political leaders across Europe were trying desperately last night to keep EU reform plans on track after Irish voters overwhelmingly rejected the Lisbon Treaty. The French and German governments led calls for the other 26 EU nations to push ahead regardless with the ratification of the treaty. But senior officials in Brussels accepted that � unless Ireland could be persuaded to stage a second referendum next year � seven years of painful negotiations to simplify and streamline the governance of the EU had come to nothing.

EU tries to isolate Irish after treaty rejection

Germany and France moved to isolate Ireland in the European Union yesterday, scrambling for ways to resuscitate the Lisbon Treaty a day after the Irish dealt the architects of the EU's new regime a crushing blow. Refusing to take Ireland's 'no' for an answer, politicians in Berlin and Paris prepared for a crucial EU summit in Brussels this week by trying to ringfence the Irish while demanding that the treaty be ratified by the rest of the EU.

G.O.P. Says Ex-Treasurer Stole Funds

An internal investigation by the National Republican Congressional Committee has determined that $725,000 is missing from its fund-raising accounts, money that the group says was stolen as part of a six-year scheme carried out by its former treasurer.

Giuliani Plans to Aid Hopefuls, for His Share

WASHINGTON � With the Republican Party in need of money for the November elections, former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani has offered to appear at fund-raisers around the country for G.O.P. candidates. But there is a catch: He wants some cash out of the deal.

Iraq Says U.S. Security Pact Talks at Impasse

BAGHDAD � Iraq�s negotiations with the United States on a security agreement governing America�s long-term involvement in the country are at an impasse because America�s demands infringe upon Iraqi sovereignty, the country�s prime minister said Friday.

Exclusive: New batch of terror files left on train

Secret government documents detailing the UK's policies towards fighting global terrorist funding, drugs trafficking and money laundering have been found on a London-bound train and handed to 'The Independent on Sunday'.

Many historians see little chance for McCain

One week into the general election, the polls show a dead heat. But many presidential scholars doubt that John McCain stands much of a chance, if any. Historians belonging to both parties offered a litany of historical comparisons that give little hope to the Republican. Several saw Barack Obama�s prospects as the most promising for a Democrat since Roosevelt trounced Hoover in 1932.

Lieberman irks Democrats by criticizing Obama

WASHINGTON - Joe Lieberman is fast becoming the Democrats' public enemy No. 1. The four-term Connecticut senator, who came tantalizingly close to being Al Gore's vice president in 2000, not only has been campaigning for his pal, presumed Republican nominee John McCain, now he's publicly criticizing the Democrats' standard-bearer, Barack Obama. Lieberman has strayed before, most notably switching from Democrat to independent in 2006 to hold onto his Senate seat after a Democratic primary loss.

House GOP falls short on campaign cash

WASHINGTON - House rank and file Republicans are tens of millions of dollars short of meeting fundraising targets set by their own campaign committee in advance of this fall's elections, according to figures circulating among the leadership, heightening concerns inside the party about major losses in November.

Petrol prices pinching post office

WASHINGTON - Soccer moms and commuters aren't the only ones feeling the bite of rising fuel costs � every time the price of gasoline goes up a penny it costs the Postal Service $8 million.

Tim Russert vs. the News...

I will likely be pummeled for what I am about to write, but I have to say something. Although my heart goes out to the Russert family and his co-workers, the non-stop 24/7 coverage of Russert's death is obscene. Yes, the man was well liked, celebrated, a fixture for the beltway to gather around. I get it. And yes, he deserves recognition and tributes. But this wall-to-wall coverage of his death is beyond appropriate, bordering on insanity really. There are few people in the world who deserve the kind of coverage Russert's death is getting. I would say Ghandi, MLK, the Pope, etc., surely would have required this kind of coverage because they were admired the world over, celebrated the world over, known to people from every possible background.

Jun 13, 3008

Justices Rule Terror Suspects Can Appeal in Civilian Courts

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that foreign terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay have rights under the Constitution to challenge their detention in U.S. civilian courts. The justices handed the Bush administration its third setback at the high court since 2004 over its treatment of prisoners who are being held indefinitely and without charges at the U.S. naval base in Cuba. The vote was 5-4, with the court's liberal justices in the majority.

Supreme Court ruling cripples Guantanamo trials

The future of President Bush's controversial military trial system for terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay has been dealt a potentially terminal blow by the US Supreme Court. In its third rebuke of the Bush Administration's treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, the court ruled that the 270 foreign terror suspects have the right under the US Constitution to challenge their detention in civilian courts on the American mainland.

Bush disagrees with court's Guantanamo ruling

ROME - President Bush on Thursday strongly disagreed with a Supreme Court ruling that clears foreign terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay to challenge their detention in U.S. civilian courts. Bush suggested new legislation may now be needed to keep the American people safe.

U.S. security talks with Iraq in trouble in Baghdad and D.C.

BAGHDAD-A proposed U.S.-Iraqi security agreement that would set the conditions for a defense alliance and long-term U.S. troop presence appears increasingly in trouble, facing growing resistance from the Iraqi government, bipartisan opposition in Congress and strong questioning from Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama .

New Gang of 14 [Republican members of Congress] won�t back McCain

At least 14 Republican members of Congress have refused to endorse or publicly support Sen. John McCain for president, and more than a dozen others declined to answer whether they back the Arizona senator. Many of the recalcitrant GOP members declined to detail their reasons for withholding support, but Rep. John Peterson (R-Pa.) expressed major concerns about McCain�s energy policies and Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) cited the Iraq war.

Some Hill Dems won't endorse Obama

The presidential race may be topic A, B and C in Washington these days, but some people are just too busy to think about it � particularly, it seems, centrist Democrats from conservative districts, who aren�t exactly eager to align themselves with Sen. Barack Obama

Central bank body warns of Great Depression

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the organisation that fosters cooperation between central banks, has warned that the credit crisis could lead world economies into a crash on a scale not seen since the 1930s.

Scanners that see through clothing [being] installed in US airports

NEW YORK (AFP) - Security scanners which can see through passengers' clothing and reveal details of their body underneath are being installed in 10 US airports, the US Transportation Security Administration said Tuesday. A random selection of travellers getting ready to board airplanes in Washington, New York's Kennedy, Los Angeles and other key hubs will be shut in the glass booths while a three-dimensional image is made of their body beneath their clothes.

Liberty, security and an anxiety over lost rights

Senior MPs last night used the debate on the 42-day detention plan to warn that it would diminish ancient British freedoms that would be difficult to win back. Sir Menzies Campbell used his first parliamentary speech since resigning as the Liberal Democrat leader to issue a rallying call to MPs to accept that their duty to protect freedom "transcends all of our other responsibilities".

United Will Also Charge for Luggage

United Airlines said Thursday that it would begin charging many passengers on Friday to check their first bag, joining American Airlines in assessing a $15 luggage fee for passengers flying on the cheapest tickets.

Americans scramble to lock in next year's heating oil

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Americans looking past a painful summer at the gas pump toward next winter are scrambling to lock in heating oil at current near-record prices for fear of a worsening energy spike -- but the dealers aren't offering.

N.Y. police consider giving all officers stun guns

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York Police Department is considering giving stun guns to officers who walk the city's streets, a police spokesman said on Wednesday, prompting calls for restraint from a human rights group.

Northern California jury holds TASER International responsible for man�s death

On June 6, a federal jury in San Jose, California, found TASER International, Inc., responsible for the February 20, 2005 death of 40-year-old Robert C. Heston in nearby Salinas, the first trial to establish that the company�s weapon can kill a human being.

Probe Reveals Hundreds of Expired Products at CVS, Rite Aid

A statewide sweep by New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo found that more than half of CVS stores and 43 percent of Rite Aid stores were selling expired drugs, milk, eggs and baby formula.

Jun 12. 2008

Inquiry asks if speculators drive up oil prices

WASHINGTON -- The nation's top regulator of oil trading announced on Tuesday the creation of a special federal task force to study the role of speculators and the investment practices of large institutions that critics believe are running up oil prices.

Corn prices surge to record high

Corn prices have hit new highs after the US Department of Agriculture forecast that output would fall because of poor weather. Corn hit a record price of $6.672 a bushel for July delivery on the Chicago Board of Trade after the government cut its forecasts for the 2008 yield by 3%. Crops have been hard hit by wet weather and flooding in the US.

Anti-war protesters banned from demonstrating against Bush

London police have announced a ban on anti-war campaigners hoping to protest against President George Bush's visit to Downing Street this Sunday. The Whitehall ban has been immediately condemned as a "totalitarian act" by the playwright Harold Pinter, while Stop the War organisers are urging people to defy it and to demonstrate nearby in Parliament Square.

BBC uncovers lost Iraq billions

A BBC investigation estimates that around $23bn (�11.75bn) may have been lost, stolen or just not properly accounted for in Iraq. The BBC's Panorama programme has used US and Iraqi government sources to research how much some private contractors have profited from the conflict and rebuilding. A US gagging order is preventing discussion of the allegations.

Doctors To Study Iraq Birth Defects

Sky News recently reported on families in the Iraqi city of Fallujah who are calling for an independent investigation into their concerns about a rise in the number of newborn babies suffering from deformities. They raised concerns about the weapons used by American forces in 2004 during the war in Iraq - and are now questioning whether there could be any links with the deformities. As a result of seeing our exclusive report, one of the world's leading authorities on foetal medicine, Professor Kypros Nicolaides, has decided to offer three scholarships to obstetricians in Fallujah.

Bush warns Iran of 'all options'

US President George W Bush says he wants to pursue diplomacy to deal with Iran's controversial nuclear programme, but "all options are on the table". Mr Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said further sanctions against Iran were possible.

US tax rebate could be pointless, says behavioural study

PARIS (AFP) - The US government has failed if it believes its one-off tax rebate will perk consumer spending and help revive the American economy, according to a study released on Wednesday. Behavioural scientists found that people given money as a lump sum are likelier to squirrel it away or pay off debt, but if they are given the same amount spread as smaller, monthly payments, they are more inclined to spend it.

Southern Baptists target political arena

INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) - America's largest evangelical denomination adopted a resolution on political engagement on Wednesday signaling its intention to flex its muscles in the November presidential election. "Christians should seek to apply their spiritual and moral values to the political process," read the resolution, adopted on the second and final day of the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting.

U.S. to erect more "virtual" border fences

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. officials announced plans for more high-tech border fencing and rules making it harder for federal contractors to hire illegal workers, but said on Monday it would take another three years to declare victory in immigration control.

Home price drop means $4 trillion in lost capital

NEW YORK (Reuters) - No one knows when the credit crisis will end. But when it does, U.S home prices may have lost a third of their value, high-yield bond valuations will hit levels close to those seen during the last recession, and what may amount to $1 trillion of Wall Street losses may translate into almost $4 trillion of lost access to capital.

Jun 11, 2008

Kucinich introduces Bush impeachment resolution

Cleveland Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich took to the House of Representatives floor on Monday evening to introduce a 35-count resolution to impeach President George W. Bush.

Senate Republicans block taxes on oil majors

WASHINGTON - Senate Republicans have blocked a Democratic plan to tax the windfall profits of the largest oil companies.

Iran's supreme leader opposes US-Iraq deal

TEHRAN, Iran - Iraq's prime minister made little headway in easing Iranian opposition to a U.S.-Iraqi security pact, as Iran's supreme leader told him Monday that American troops must leave the country. The deal, which is still under negotiation, could lay the groundwork for a long-term U.S. military presence in Iraq. The Iranians fear the deal would solidify U.S. influence in Iraq and give American forces a launching pad for military action against them.

US: Iraq security pact can be finalized in July

BAGHDAD - The U.S. State Department's top Iraq adviser said Tuesday he believes an agreement to establish a long-term security relationship between Iraq and the United States will be completed by the end of July.

Report confirms White House-Abramoff ties

WASHINGTON -- Convicted superlobbyist Jack Abramoff influenced White House actions while his firm wooed administration officials over expensive meals and plied them with box tickets to sporting events, according to a House of Representatives committee report released Monday. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform said Monday that it had received new White House documents and testimony that confirmed 80 White House contacts with Abramoff and uncovered 70 others despite White House assertions that Abramoff had vastly overblown his administration connections. Abramoff, who's cooperating with federal prosecutors after pleading guilty in an expanding corruption investigation, previously reported that his former firm had more than 400 contacts with White House officials.

Ex-official Says DoD Nixed Iran Attack

WASHINGTON - Pentagon officials firmly opposed Vice President Dick Cheney's proposal to strike Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps bases last summer by insisting that the administration make clear decisions about how far the United States would go in escalating the conflict with Iran, according to a former Bush administration official.

Washington ordered destruction of Guant�namo interrogation records

In another confirmation of the criminal character of Washington�s handling of so-called �enemy combatants,� a �Standard Operating Procedure� manual has come to light that explicitly instructs US interrogators at the American prison camp in Guant�namo Bay, Cuba to destroy contemporaneous records of their interrogations.

Supreme Court justices sold stock last year

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, whose investments forced them to sit out cases before the Supreme Court, have significantly reduced their stock holdings, their latest financial disclosures show. Roberts sold all his shares in four companies last year _ Becton Dickinson & Co., Cisco Systems Inc., Citigroup Inc. and Merck & Co. Inc. _ worth $117,000 to $265,000. Alito sold all his stock in Intel Corp., worth $15,000 to $50,000, and reduced his holdings in three other companies, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Exxon Mobil Corp. and McDonald's Corp. The information was contained in the justices' annual report on their finances, released Friday.

Bush confronted Rove�s sins in church

If you�re going to fire someone, you want to make sure you do it in a place where the now-unemployed can�t make a scene. You know�a place like, say, a church. That, according to a new book � �Machiavelli�s Shadow� � by former Time magazine reporter Paul Alexander, is where President George W. Bush informed trusted advisor Karl Rove in 2007 that his services would no longer be needed at the White House.

Net Providers to Block Sites With Child Sex

ALBANY � Verizon, Sprint and Time Warner Cable have agreed to block access to Internet bulletin boards and Web sites nationwide that disseminate child pornography. The move is part of a groundbreaking agreement with the New York attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo, that will be formally announced on Tuesday as a significant step by leading companies to curtail access to child pornography. Many in the industry have previously resisted similar efforts, saying they could not be responsible for content online, given the decentralized and largely unmonitored nature of the Internet.

Conservative Group Funds New Anti-McCain Campaign, Promoting "Mickey Mouse"

A new online campaign, backed by conservatives, offers a way for Republicans to vent their anger at John McCain: write in "Mickey Mouse" for president. In most states, write-in candidates that reach a certain threshold are reported as percentages just like the normal candidates are. The group's plan is for Mickey Mouse to reach that point, as a way for voters to visibly and effectively demonstrate their disgust.

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