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Sunday, Sep 21st

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Life as an Iraqi interpreter for the British Army: Seen as a traitor with no security

They regularly find themselves in live combat situations, and although they wear the same body armour as the troops, they are unarmed. They often find themselves the target of their own countrymen, many of whom see them as collaborators and traitors. Yet they are a vital link between the international forces and the inhabitants of a country crippled by insurgents and militia.

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On Election Day, FCC May Vote to Slash Funds for Rural Cell Service

While the nation's eyes are on the results of this year's historic presidential election, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plans to vote on changes to the Universal Service Fund (USF) that may dramatically reduce, or in some cases eliminate altogether, the support available today to expand rural cell phone service across America, jeopardizing economic development and public safety in smaller communities. The FCC has been considering various proposals for cutting the portion of the USF used to support the construction and expansion of cell phone and wireless communication technology in rural areas -- and has plans for making that decision on Election Day, November 4.
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American Nobel Prize winners endorse Obama

Seventy six American Nobel Prize winners endorsed Barack Obama in a strongly worded letter rebuking the Bush Administration's contempt for science.

During the administration of George W. Bush, vital parts of our country's scientific enterprise have been damaged by stagnant and declining federal support.  The government's scientific advisory process has been distorted by political considerations.  As a result, our once dominant position in the scientific world has been shaken and our prosperity has been placed at risk.  We have lost time critical for the development of new ways to provide energy, treat disease, reverse climate change, strengthen our security, and improve our economy.

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U.S. Treasury Program Shuns Banks That Need Cash Most

The U.S. government's $160 billion handout to banks from Niagara Falls to Beverly Hills is going mostly to lenders that need it least, putting weaker rivals at risk of being shut down or taken over, analysts say.

``This has the unintended effect of making the strong stronger and the weak weaker,'' said Gray Medlin, founder of Carson Medlin Co., a Raleigh, North Carolina, investment bank focused on banking deals. ``Banks that are getting bad exams and are under intense pressure from regulators won't be successful in applying.''

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Tough times: Congress grew 13 percent richer in 2007

Times are tough, but don't worry about most members of Congress making ends meet.

Their collective wealth grew by 13 percent last year, leaving them in better shape than most Americans to make it through an economic downturn, according to a new analysis of personal financial reports.

Overall, nearly two of every three senators are millionaires.

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The “Dirty Little Secret” Of the US Bank Bailout

In an unusually frank article published in Saturday's New York Times, the newspaper's economic columnist, Joe Nocera, reveals what he calls "the dirty little secret of the banking industry"--namely, that "it has no intention of using the government bailout money to make new loans."

As Nocera explains, the plan announced October 13 by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to hand over $250 billion in taxpayer money to the biggest banks, in exchange for non-voting stock, was never really intended to get them to resume lending to businesses and consumers--the ostensible purpose of the bailout. Its essential aim was to engineer a rapid consolidation of the American banking system by subsidizing a wave of takeovers of smaller financial firms by the most powerful banks.

As Nocera notes: "Read that answer as many times as you want--you are not going to find a single word in there about making loans to help the American economy."

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Massive UN vote in support of lifting US embargo on Cuba

The UN General Assembly on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly for the 17th year in a row in favor of lifting the 46-year-old US trade embargo on communist-ruled Cuba, as Havana hoped for better ties with a new US administration.

Some 185 of the assembly's 192 members approved a resolution, which reiterated a "call upon all states to refrain from promulgating and applying laws and measures (such as those in the US embargo) in conformity with their obligations under the Charter of the United Nations and international law."

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Did Your Representative Cause the Financial Crisis?

In 2000, Congress passed a law barring states from regulating credit default swaps under their gambling and “bucket shop” laws. This set the stage for the market in “financial derivatives” that are a big part of what is causing the economic meltdown today.

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F.D.A. Criticized for Assurances on Chemical in Plastic

A scientific panel has issued a blistering report against the Food and Drug Administration, saying the agency ignored important evidence in reassuring consumers about the safety of the controversial chemical bisphenol-A.

The panel, in a report issued this week, did not draw any conclusions about the safety of the chemical, known as BPA. But it criticized the F.D.A. for ignoring crucial studies and using what it said were flawed methods in reaching its conclusions. 

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