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Monday, Sep 01st

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"Dead Zones" Multiplying Fast, Coastal Water Study Says

There are now more than 400 known dead zones in coastal waters worldwide, compared to 305 in the 1990s, according to study author Robert Diaz of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

Dead zones occur when excess nutrients—usually nitrogen and phosphorus—from agriculture or the burning of fossil fuels seep into the water system and fertilize blooms of algae along the coast.

As the microscopic plants die and sink to the ocean floor, they feed bacteria, which consume dissolved oxygen from surrounding waters. This limits oxygen availability for bottom-dwelling organisms and the fish that eat them. 

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Court: Saudi Arabia not liable in Sept. 11 attacks

A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that Saudi Arabia and four of its princes cannot be held liable in the Sept. 11 attacks even if they were aware that charitable donations to Muslim groups would be funneled to al-Qaida.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the defendants were protected by sovereign immunity and the plaintiffs would need to prove that the princes engaged in intentional actions aimed at U.S. residents.

Lawsuits seeking billions of dollars in damages were filed by representatives, survivors and relatives of the victims against foreign governments, charities, financial institutions and individuals believed to have provided support to al-Qaida. 

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The Lobby Like No Other Wants a War Like No Other

Having watched John McCain and Barack Obama resolutely pledge their allegiance – and their countrymen's lives and treasure – to the defense of Israel via AIPAC, the media, and personal meetings with Israeli leaders, it is worth asking what could possibly drive these men to so ardently commit America to participation in other people's religious wars. This question is particularly important today as the Bush administration and the Israel-firsters continue to push for an unprovoked U.S. attack on Iran.

While few would question the right of AIPAC leaders to lobby U.S. politicians, legally bribe them with campaign contributions, or limit their right to speak as they please in public, not matter how scurrilous or libelous their words, I sometimes wonder if Americans have focused on what AIPAC lobbies for and what its acolytes in politics and the media support.

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ExxonMobil CEO Defends High Profits

ExxonMobil CEO and chairman Rex Tillerson defended his company's staggering $11.7 billion in profits for the second quarter, saying that the company's earnings reflected the magnitude of its business operation.

"I can understand why people are very upset and why they're very worried and concerned about their ability to deal with these high prices," Tillerson said. "It does bother me that much of that is directed at us. Our job is to provide energy, to provide it in a means that is reliable. And we hope we can provide it in a means that's convenient as well to the consumer."

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Hair Samples in Anthrax Case Don't Match

Federal investigators probing the deadly 2001 anthrax attacks recovered samples of human hair from a mailbox in Princeton, N.J., but the strands did not match the lead suspect in the case, according to sources briefed on the probe.

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Georgia War a Neocon Election Ploy?

What is at work here is a neoconservative, self-fulfilling prophecy in which Russia is turned into an enemy that expands its largely reduced military, and Putin is cast as the new Josef Stalin bogeyman, evoking images of the old Soviet Union.

Before you dismiss that possibility, consider the role of one Randy Scheunemann, for four years a paid lobbyist for the Georgian government who ended his official lobbying connection only in March, months after he became Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s senior foreign policy adviser. 

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Watchdog: Bush turning intelligence agencies on Americans

President Bush seems to be slowly turning the nation's massive surveillance apparatus upon its citizens, and some worry that administration assurances to protect civil liberties are nothing but empty promises.

"This kind of concentrated power, exercised in secret, is a lit fuse with our Constitution likely in danger of being burned,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington legislative office.

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Bush rebuking Russia? Putin must be splitting his sides

Putin would die laughing if he read this week's American newspapers. The president, George Bush, declared the Russian invasion of Georgia "disproportionate and unacceptable". This is taken as a put-down to the vice-president, Dick Cheney, who declared the invasion "will not go unanswered", apparently something quite different. Bush says that great powers should not go about "toppling governments in the 21st century", as if he had never done such a thing. Cheney says that the invasion has "damaged Russia's standing in the world", as if Cheney gave a damn.

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N.Y. Plans to Monitor Every Car in Manhattan

The New York City Police Department is working on a plan to photograph the license plates of every vehicle entering Manhattan in an effort to guard against a terrorist attack.

The plan, called Operation Sentinel, calls for photographing and scanning the license plates of cars and trucks at all bridges and tunnels, and using sensors to detect the presence of radioactivity, The New York Times reports.

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