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To: Wharf Rat who wrote (175543)9/7/2009 8:31:43 AM
From: T L Comiskey
   of 307480
out damn spot

Wild cougar captured in US park

A cougar living for the past fortnight in a park in the US city of Seattle has been captured by wildlife officials and set free in the wild.

The big cat was caught about 0240 local time on Sunday (0930GMT) after it was spotted by an employee at a cultural centre in Discovery Park.

Tracker dogs chased it up a tree and a wildlife agent tranquilised it.

Two live traps had failed to lure the cougar, forcing the popular park to be closed for days.

The 534-acre park, the largest in Seattle, Washington state, was re-opened on Sunday.

Cats for dinner

Captain Bill Hebner of the Department of Fish and Wildlife said the two-year-old animal was in good health, the Associated Press reported.

The cougar was driven to the Cascade foothills near Skykomish, about 45 miles (72km) north-east of Seattle, to be released.

"It wasn't aggressive or stalking people, and it maintained its natural respect for the wild," Capt Hebner said.

He added that domestic cats were likely to have been its food during its time prowling in and around the park, as well as rabbits and other small animals.

A global positioning unit attached round the cougar's neck will send twice daily updates about its location, park officials said.

After sightings last week, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife set two traps, one involving a cage covered with brush and ferns and baited with dead fish and elk liver.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/09/06 23:31:53 GMT


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To: T L Comiskey who wrote (175541)9/7/2009 8:33:02 AM
From: Wharf Rat
   of 307480
Depending on the reference, up to 50M Bangladeshis live within a meter of sea level.

In the meantime,Aussie drought worse
Message 25921426

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To: Wharf Rat who wrote (175545)9/7/2009 8:38:51 AM
From: T L Comiskey
   of 307480
re aussie drought worsens..

Ca wines go up in value....


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To: Wharf Rat who wrote (175534)9/7/2009 8:48:10 AM
From: SiouxPal
   of 307480
After our dog dies it's hard to think of doing it again.
I'm a wuss.

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From: T L Comiskey9/7/2009 8:48:25 AM
   of 307480
Charity: US troops stormed through Afghan hospital

By KAY JOHNSON, Associated Press Writer

KABUL – A Swedish charity accused American troops Monday of storming through a hospital in central Afghanistan, breaking down doors and tying up staff in a search for militants. The U.S. military said it was investigating.

The allegation that soldiers violated the neutrality of a medical facility follows the reported deaths of Afghan civilians in a U.S. airstrike in the country's north last week. An Afghan human rights group said Monday the strike on two hijacked fuel tankers may have killed as many as 70 civilians in Kunduz province.

Civilian deaths and intrusive searches have bred resentment among the Afghan population nearly eight years after the U.S.-led coalition invaded to oust the Taliban's hard-line Islamist regime for sheltering al-Qaida terrorist leaders.

Foreign forces are working to persuade the population to support the Afghan government after last month's presidential election, which has yet to be decided amid allegations of vote-rigging.

On Monday, the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan said the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division forced their way into the charity's hospital without permission to look for insurgents in Wardak province, southwest of Kabul.

"This is a clear violation of internationally recognized rules and principles," said Anders Fange, the charity's country director. He said it also went against an agreement between NATO forces and charities working in the area.

The U.S. troops came to the hospital looking for Taliban insurgents late at night last Wednesday. Fange said they kicked in doors, tied up four hospital guards and two people visiting hospitalized relatives, and forced patients out of beds during their search.

They also barged into women's wards, he said, adding that strange men entering rooms where women are in beds is a serious insult to the local Pashtun culture and word of it could turn the community against international troops.

When they left two hours later, the soldiers ordered hospital staff to inform coalition forces if any wounded insurgents were admitted, and the military would decide if they could be treated, he said.

The staff refused. Fange said informing on patients would put the staff at risk and make the hospital a target and he demanded guarantees the military would not enter hospitals without permission in future.

"If the international military forces are not respecting the sanctity of health facilities, then there is no reason for the Taliban to do it either," he said. "Then these clinics and hospitals would become military targets."

U.S. military spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Christine Sidenstricker confirmed that the hospital was searched last week but had no other details. She said the military was looking into the incident.

"We are investigating and we take allegations like this seriously," she said. "Complaints like this are rare."

Violence has surged across much of Afghanistan since President Barack Obama ordered 21,000 more U.S. troops to the country this year. Two foreign troops were killed Sunday when their patrol hit a roadside bomb and a third died of wounded sustained in a separate gunbattle with insurgents, NATO said without giving their nationalities. All three deaths were in volatile southern Afghanistan.

NATO was also investigating last week's U.S. airstrike. The strike came despite new rules for foreign forces limiting use of airpower to avoid civilian casualties.

The provincial government said most of the dead were militants, but on Monday, the Afghan Rights Monitor said interviews with 15 villagers indicate that only a dozen gunmen died and 60-70 villagers were killed. The group called for further investigations.

"Even if all the victims were supporters of the Taliban, the fact that most of them were unarmed and were not engaged in any combat activity does not warrant their mass killing," said Ajmal Samadi, the rights group's director.

A spokesman for the provincial government, Ahmad Sami Yawar, said Monday that only five of the estimated 70 killed were civilians.

Meanwhile, insurgents killed more civilians in bombings and other attacks. On Monday, the government said three militant rockets landed overnight in the capital, Kabul, hitting a house and killing three people. In central Uruzgan province, a remote-controlled bomb targeting a police vehicle exploded in a busy market, killing two children and wounding 16 other people, according to local police official Gulab Khan.

A United Nations report in July said the number of civilians killed in conflict in Afghanistan has jumped 24 percent this year, with bombings by insurgents and airstrikes by international forces the biggest killers. The report said 1,013 civilians were killed in the first half of 2009, 59 percent in insurgent attacks and 30.5 percent by foreign and Afghan government forces. The rest were undetermined.


Associated Press Writer Rahim Faiez in Kabul contributed to this report.

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To: SiouxPal who wrote (175547)9/7/2009 9:05:04 AM
From: Wharf Rat
   of 307480
Yeah. This one is old, too. I'll get a puppy, eventually.

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To: T L Comiskey who wrote (175531)9/7/2009 9:11:28 AM
From: altair19
   of 307480

<We just put our dog of 15+ years down last week>

That's always a very sad day to say goodbye to an old loyal friend. Peace.


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To: koan who wrote (175445)9/7/2009 9:31:55 AM
From: Wharf Rat
   of 307480
China backs state firms on oil options losses
09.07.09, 05:14 AM EDT
* SASAC also says SOEs reserve rights to launch lawsuits

* Lawyers say devil is in details of trading contracts (Adds analysts comments, market reactions)

By Eadie Chen and Tom Miles

BEIJING, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Beijing has publicly put its weight behind some state-owned firms struggling with oil derivatives losses, saying it will back them in any legal action against the foreign banks that sold the products.

In a statement on Monday, the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission said that some state-owned enterprises had sent letters to their trading partners about oil structured options trades, confirming a report in Caijing magazine last week that had sent shudders through the banking community.

"(SASAC) will support companies to minimise losses and protect rights through negotiations and holdings management. We also reserve the right to launch legal suits," the agency said.

The move is the latest by SASAC to curb the over-the-counter derivatives business after a series of corporate commodity and forex hedging deals went spectacularly bad over the past 10 months, costing Chinese state firms billions of dollars.

Bankers were unhappy with the latest developments.

"If they declare bankruptcy, it is different. But if these companies are still in business, it is not acceptable for them to just walk away from the losses," said a Singapore-based banker, who like others declined to be named due to the sensitive nature of the matter.

The agency did not specify the names of state firms and their trading partners involved in the issue.

A Singapore-based bank source told Reuters last week that Air China <60111.SS><0753.HK>, China Eastern <600115.SS> and shipping giant COSCO <1919.HK> had issued almost identical notices to their foreign investment banks.

Major global providers of commodity risk management such as Goldman Sachs ( GS - news - people ) <GS.N>, UBS ( UBS - news - people ) <UBSN.VX>, Morgan Stanley ( MS - news - people ) <MS.N> and JPMorgan <JPM.N> were not immediately available for comment.


Lawyers said that the details of the contracts will be key in deciding whether Chinese state firms can just walk away from their loss-making commodity derivative trades.

"As far as I know, many of the contracts signed between foreign investment banks and Chinese state firms follow the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) format," a Beijing-based derivatives lawyers said.

"Usually the ISDA format allows the product-selling banks to choose the region and types of law their contract should be subject to," said the lawyer, who declined to be named due to the sensitive nature of the issue.

That means that the investment banks can choose regions other than China to resolve their disputes with Chinese firms, and usually these contracts will be regarded as legal in other regions, the lawyer said.

The lesson for Chinese firms is that they have to increase their expertise about derivatives and make sure they have the right to choose Chinese law to settle their dispute with their banks, the lawyer added.


SASAC said in the statement that it was also investigating some state firms' oil option trades and repeated that it would ban state firms from making speculative derivatives trades.

It also warned that state firms should choose trading partners carefully to steer clear of complex products.

Suffering big losses, some state firms have been complaining that their foreign investment banks sometimes did not reveal sufficient information about the potential risks of the products they are touting.

"The word is that these new directives from China are directed more towards exotic hedging instruments such as structured options, among others, than plain vanilla swaps," said an oil derivatives trader with a bank.

"It would seem that some Chinese companies lost a lot of money on exotics without really understanding how the instruments work."

Starting from January, SASAC has sent a series of warnings to crack down on the sale of derivative products by foreign banks to Chinese enterprises who bought protection against higher prices last year only to watch the market collapse.

In July, it ordered state companies to report their holdings of futures, options, forwards and swaps, and investment performances, to the watchdog within 10 working days of the end of each quarter.

For more details on derivatives regulation: [ID:nPEK207347]

For a timeline [ID:nSP481422]

For an analysis [ID:nSP508234] (Additional reporting by Yaw Yan Chong and Judy Hua in Singapore; Editing by Michael Urquhart)

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From: SiouxPal9/7/2009 10:00:11 AM
   of 307480
John Ashcroft Can Be Sued For Post-9/11 Detentions, Court Rules

BOISE, Idaho — A federal appeals court delivered a stinging rebuke Friday to the Bush administration's post-Sept. 11 detention policies, ruling that former Attorney General John Ashcroft can be held liable for people who were wrongfully detained as material witnesses after 9/11.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the government's improper use of material witnesses after Sept. 11 was "repugnant to the Constitution and a painful reminder of some of the most ignominious chapters of our national history."

The court found that a man who was detained as a witness in a federal terrorism case can sue Ashcroft for allegedly violating his constitutional rights. Abdullah al-Kidd, a U.S. citizen and former University of Idaho student, filed the lawsuit against Ashcroft and other officials in 2005, claiming his civil rights were violated when he was detained as a material witness for two weeks in 2003.

He said the investigation and detention not only caused him to lose a scholarship to study in Saudi Arabia, but cost him employment opportunities and caused his marriage to fall apart.

He argued that his detention exemplified an illegal government policy created by Ashcroft to arrest and detain people – particularly Muslim men and those of Arab decent – as material witnesses if the government suspected them of a crime but had no evidence to charge them.

Ashcroft had asked the judge to dismiss the matter, saying that because his position at the Department of Justice was prosecutorial he was entitled to absolute immunity from the lawsuit. Justice Department spokesman Charles Miller would only say Friday that the agency is reviewing the opinion.

Phone messages left at Ashcroft's Washington D.C. lobbying and law firms were not immediately returned Friday afternoon.

The exact ramifications of the ruling were not immediately clear, but at a minimum it casts a negative spotlight on the Bush administration's practice of detaining Muslim men earlier this decade at a time when the nation was still on edge after Sept. 11.

"It's a very big ruling, because qualified immunity is ordinarily a very robust form of protection," said Richard Seamon, a professor at the University of Idaho College of Law and a former assistant to the U.S. Solicitor General. "To overcome that immunity, you have to show that the defendant almost deliberately acted unconstitutionally to violate someone's rights – no innocent mistakes."

If the ruling stands, Ashcroft could be forced to submit to a deposition, Seamon said.

"The mere prospect of that causes a lot of concern for these officials, with the time and secrecy parts of that and all the publicity that this kind of thing attracts," Seamon said. "That's exactly why qualified immunity exists, so these officials can be spared that."

The judges said they also didn't intend to dampen the ardor of prosecutors as they carried out their duties, and said they were mindful of the pressures face by the attorney general. But, they said, even qualified immunity doesn't allow the attorney general to carry out national security functions completely free from any personal liability concerns.

All three judges on the panel have reputations as politically conservative jurists, with two appointed by former President George W. Bush and the third a Reagan appointee.

Al-Kidd's attorney, Lee Gelernt of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the ruling panel had implications reaching far beyond the government's actions in detaining material witnesses post-Sept. 11.

"Our hope is that we can now begin the process of uncovering the full contours of this illegal national policy," he said.

The 9th Circuit judges said al-Kidd's claims plausibly suggest that Ashcroft purposely used the material witness statute to detain suspects whom he wished to investigate and detain preventively.

"Sadly, however, even now, more than 217 years after the ratification of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, some confidently assert that the government has the power to arrest and detain or restrict American citizens for months on end, in sometimes primitive conditions, not because there is evidence that they have committed a crime, but merely because the government wishes to investigate them for possible wrongdoing, or to prevent them from having contact with others in the outside world," Judge Milan D. Smith Jr. wrote. "We find this to be repugnant to the Constitution and a painful reminder of some of the most ignominious chapters of our national history."

The Department of Justice may now ask the full 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider the ruling by the panel, may appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, or it could allow the lawsuit to revert back to Boise's U.S. District Court.

If the case goes back to the lower court, the government will likely have to comply with al-Kidd's discovery requests – releasing documents and files that it has previously maintained were highly confidential and that could pose a threat to national security.

The ruling was the latest development in a saga dating back to 2003, when al-Kidd was standing in Dulles International Airport in Washington and surrounded by federal agents.

The Kansas-born husband and father of two was held for two weeks before being extradited to Idaho and released to the custody of his wife by a federal judge. The government thought al-Kidd had crucial testimony in a computer terrorism case against fellow Idaho student Sami Omar Al-Hussayen.

Al-Kidd and Al-Hussayen both worked on behalf of the Islamic Assembly of North America, a Michigan-based charitable organization that federal investigators alleged funneled money to activities supporting terrorism and published material advocating suicide attacks on the United States.

A jury eventually acquitted Al-Hussayen of using his computer skills to foster terrorism and of three immigration violations after an eight-week trial.

Al-Kidd, who had played football for the University of Idaho under the name Lavoni Kidd, was never charged with a crime.

In his lawsuit, al-Kidd says he still suffers from the fallout of his arrest and confinement. He says he was jailed for 16 days in high-security cells that were lit 24 hours a day, and that he was strip-searched several times.

When a court ordered that he be released, he was required to live with his wife and in-laws in Nevada, limit his travel, surrender his passport and other travel documents, report to a probation officer and submit to home visits. The confinement and supervision lasted 15 months, and by the time it ended he had separated from his wife and had been fired from his job for a government contractor because the arrest left him unable to get the necessary security clearance.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that another former Sept. 11 detainee, Javaid Iqbal, couldn't sue Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller for abuse he suffered while detained because Iqbal couldn't show there was anything linking the top government officials to the abuses.

The 9th U.S. Circuit judges said al-Kidd's case was different, however, because he was able to offer as evidence specific statements that Ashcroft himself made regarding the post-Sept. 11 use of the material witness statute.

Ashcroft said that the use of the material witness statute and other enhanced tactics "form one part of the department's concentrated strategy to prevent terrorist attacks by taking suspected terrorists off the street," the ruling said.

But the judges also noted that as the case moves forward, al-Kidd will have a significant burden to show that Ashcroft himself was personally involved in an illegal policy.

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From: SiouxPal9/7/2009 10:02:43 AM
1 Recommendation   of 307480
***Revolution #2009***
Steven Weber

It's easy to believe airliners were brought down by guys with box cutters.

For this nation's duly elected president and his progressive policies to be kneecapped by a minority of loud, angry, possibly psychotic right-wing zombots is a sure sign that democracy is nothing more than a gossamer ideal.

And by lazily allowing such ideological idiocy to spread unchecked we now have the cultural equivalent of cancer.

There is no more reason for anyone to grant Republicans any respect. They have abdicated their authority. Their intentions are clear, their leaders too in love with their own salaries, their brazen goal to become the Kamikaze party reaching critical mass. Their credibility is all but dead, reduced to a bitter, gaping, black hole.

And thanks to them, democracy seems poised to tumble in.

Politics may be politics but this has gone way beyond gamesmanship and into the realm of wanton, drunken destruction. So far, no sane Republican---if there is one---has been roused by any nascent patriotism to voice opposition to any of the mad utterances vomited forth from the party's leaders and their "grassroots" infantilized infantry.

They have demonstrated daily that, having lost the presidential election and control of congress they've lost their their cultural relevance and all sense of morality as well, and in a fatally childish tantrum, are executing a nuclear option. The leadership itself has allowed the dead-enders into the fold and purposefully impregnated those soft-boiled egg psyches with apocalyptic imagery. The rest of us were too stunned to think that it was actually happening, that the Republicans would kill everyone and everything to wrest control back from a citizenry which wanted nothing more of their Grand Old Party's grand guignol.

And in monumental self delusion, the daily news cycle spins and spins with a wink as brazen as Sarah Palin's, as if we are all in on it and that this sort of thing is "healthy in a democracy". If anything, that alone means we might really be closer than ever to a real societal calamity, something that makes this economic crisis look like a picnic.

Only if every salvo is met with equal ferocity, if every pseudo fact is countered by reality is there a chance. To lay back and let vitriol burn itself out is unrealistic in a time when such things are the bread and butter of the corporate controlled media, when despair and division is essential to their profit margins.

You say you want a revolution? Well, alright.

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