This is an Open Thread: Transparency Counts
Fed Chief’s Reassurance Fails to Halt Stock Plunge
WASHINGTON – The stock market plunged again on Thursday on bad economic news, taking little comfort from reassuring words by the chairman of the Federal Reserve or an emerging consensus about a stimulus plan that many worry could be too late.
On a day when stocks were pushed down another 3 percent on reports of more weakness in housing and manufacturing – bringing the decline this year to a stomach-churning 9 percent – all the major players in Washington agreed on the need for putting extra money into people’s hands quickly.
Spokesman: Bobby Fischer Has Died
REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) – Bobby Fischer, the reclusive American chess master who became a Cold War icon when he dethroned the Soviet Union’s Boris Spassky as world champion in 1972, has died. He was 64.
Fischer died Thursday in a Reykjavik hospital, his spokesman, Gardar Sverrisson, said. There was no immediate word on the cause of death.
Born in Chicago and raised in Brooklyn, Robert James Fischer was a U.S. chess champion at 14 and a grand master at 15. He beat Spassky in a series of games in Reykjavik to claim America’s first world chess championship in more than a century.
The event had tremendous symbolic importance, pitting the intensely individualistic young American against a product of the grim and soulless Soviet Union.
White House Study Found 473 Days of E-Mail Gone
The White House possesses no archived e-mail messages for many of its component offices, including the Executive Office of the President and the Office of the Vice President, for hundreds of days between 2003 and 2005, according to the summary of an internal White House study that was disclosed yesterday by a congressional Democrat.
The 2005 study — whose credibility the White House attacked this week — identified 473 separate days in which no electronic messages were stored for one or more White House offices, said House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.)
In Compton, Clinton invokes King’s legacy
The presidential candidate tells a largely African American audience that as a teenager, she heard the civil rights leader urge people to take action to change the world.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton invoked the civil rights legacy of Martin Luther King in an appearance today at a church in Compton — part of an effort to shore up her support in California less than three weeks before the state’s presidential primary.
Clinton was warmly received at the Citizens of Zion Missionary Baptist Church, where she told the largely African American audience that they need a president who will remember them from a distance of 3,000 miles.
Ahmadinejad scorns US and Israel
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has accused US President George W Bush of “sowing the seeds of division” during his recent Middle East visit.
Mr Ahmadinejad said Mr Bush had brought a “message of confrontation” during his tour, during which he warned Arab allies that Iran posed a threat.
In an interview with al-Jazeera TV, the Iranian leader also said Israel “would not dare” attack Iran.
He spoke as Israel announced it had test-fired a ballistic missile.
Reports in the Israeli media said the long-range missile was aimed at intercepting aerial threats against the Jewish state.
George Bush’s visit to the Middle East has failed to loosen a Gordian knot of Hamas, Fatah and Israel
Hussein Agha and Robert Malley
Friday January 18, 2008
President Bush came, he saw, and he went. Barely had he gone that 25 Palestinians were killed and an intensive barrage of rockets were launched from Gaza. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has gone from a violent, intractable, clear-cut duel to a violent, intractable, three-way chess match. Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas each fear that the other two will reach a deal at its expense. And each is determined to prevent that outcome.
Kenya street protests called off after police are accused of killing seven
· Odinga calls for switch to economic boycott
· Tactic would be aimed at Kibaki supporters
Kenya’s main opposition party will call off street protests today in favour of an economic boycott after accusing police of shooting dead at least seven of its supporters during mass action yesterday.
The Orange Democratic Movement, led by Raila Odinga, said that peaceful demonstrations against the disputed re-election of President Mwai Kibaki had been made impossible by a huge security crackdown.
On Wednesday and again yesterday, thousands of ODM supporters were prevented from leaving low-income estates by riot police armed with teargas and live bullets. Several deaths were confirmed and dozens of injuries. The Guardian saw a 52-year-old woman carried out of the Kibera slum after being shot twice by a security officer when she stepped out of her house to look for her son.
Tabo Mbeki flies in as Zimbabwe peacemaker
President Mbeki of South Africa flew into Harare yesterday in an effort to broker a political solution to the crisis in Zimbabwe but dampened speculation that a breakthrough was in sight.
After separate talks with President Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, the leaders of the two factions of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Mr Mbeki said: “We will go back to continue the process. It [the meeting] is really a work in progress. You cannot say it will be finished by lunchtime tomorrow.”
German gangsta rapper ‘faked shooting to boost street cred’
German hip-hop’s attempts to give its image a dose of street credibility have suffered an embarrassing setback after police raised suspicions that an American-style shooting of a Berlin gangsta rapper was simply a publicity stunt to promote his records.
Massiv, a 25-year-old German whose parents are Palestinian refugees from Lebanon, is one of the handful of stars on the German language rap music scene. Shaven-headed, tattooed all over and weighing more than 16 stone, his lyrics include streetwise observations such as: “Here in the ghetto no one is satisfied with ¿300 a month benefit after deductions.”
On Monday, Massiv, whose real name is Wasiem Taha, was reported to have been shot in the shoulder by a masked man as he stood chatting on his mobile phone on a street in Berlin’s run-down Neukölln district. The attacker is said to have fled in a waiting car.
Ridley Scott film faces $50m lawsuit as police claim ‘We’ve been framed’
In Ridley Scott’s hit film American Gangster, corrupt officers raid the home of a notorious New York drug lord played by Denzel Washington. They shoot his dog, beat his wife and steal hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash.
Gregory Korniloff is the retired Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officer who led the real-life raid on the home of Frank Lucas, a drugs kingpin, in a leafy suburb in New Jersey on January 28, 1975.
“It’s a total fabrication,” he told The Times yesterday, from his home in Las Vegas. “I did not shoot his dog, beat his wife or steal his money.
“Mr Lucas greeted me at the front door in a bathrobe. He was not in a tuxedo. At the same time, his wife and maid were climbing out the back window with $26,000 in cash in brown paper bags.
Colombia’s Galeras volcano erupts
BOGOTA, Colombia – A volcano erupted violently in southwestern Colombia Thursday, spewing ash miles into the sky and prompting the evacuation of several thousand people living nearby.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or serious property damage after the 14,110-foot Galeras volcano began erupting about 8 p.m. and cascading lava lit up the night sky.
About 8,000 people live in areas near the volcano where Pasto’s mayor ordered an evacuation but “most of the city is not in danger,” Fernando Gil, director of Colombia’s Seismological Network, told The Associated Press by phone.
“It’s still erupting,” Gil said more than two hours after its initial eruption.
Militants make a claim for talks
KABUL – The capture by militants of a fort in Pakistan near the Afghan border is not just another isolated incident in the volatile region. It represents a concerted fightback by al-Qaeda to derail any peace initiatives unless the group itself is directly engaged, rather than local resistance leaders.
On Wednesday, several hundred insurgents armed with assault rifles and rockets stormed the remote Sararogha Fort in the South Waziristan tribal area and routed its garrison from the Frontier Constabulary (FC), a paramilitary force formed of men from the area.
Americans in the Action as Macao Casinos Soar
HONG KONG – A battle for supremacy in Macao’s gambling market is shaping up between the casino tycoon Stanley Ho and an American newcomer as the Chinese enclave emerges as the biggest gambling territory in the world.
Gambling revenue from casinos in Macao leapt 46.6 percent last year to reach about 83 billion patacas ($10.4 billion), according to industry analysts and officials.
With roaring growth expected to continue this year, Macao is poised to overtake all of Nevada as the biggest gambling jurisdiction, after it surpassed the Las Vegas Strip last year.
The phenomenal growth is also driving rapid changes in an industry that until 2002 was a monopoly controlled by Mr. Ho. In December, Mr. Ho’s SJM Holdings, operator of his flagship Lisboa and Grand Lisboa casinos, was beaten to the top place in revenue for the first time. Las Vegas Sands, which owns the Sands Macao and the newly opened Venetian Macao, took the lead.