The Morning News

The Morning News is an Open Thread.

Surprise! Once again I’m filling in for ek this morning. Here’s a few stories from home and around the globe. What else is happening?


  1. Bloomberg – Americans Oppose Bailouts, Favor Obama to Handle Market Crisis

    Americans oppose government rescues of ailing financial companies by a decisive margin, and blame Wall Street and President George W. Bush for the credit crisis.

    By a margin of 55 percent to 31 percent, Americans say it’s not the government’s responsibility to bail out private companies with taxpayer dollars, even if their collapse could damage the economy, according to the latest Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll.

    Poll respondents say Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama would do a better job handling the financial crisis than Republican John McCain, by a margin of 45 percent to 33 percent. Almost half of voters say the Democrat has better ideas to strengthen the economy than his Republican opponent.

    Six weeks before the presidential election, almost 80 percent of Americans say the U.S. is going in the wrong direction, the biggest percentage since the poll began asking that question in 1991.

  2. NYT – McCain Aide’s Firm Was Paid by Freddie Mac

    One of the giant mortgage companies at the heart of the credit crisis paid $15,000 a month from the end of 2005 through last month to a firm owned by Senator John McCain’s campaign manager, according to two people with direct knowledge of the arrangement.

    The disclosure undercuts a statement by Mr. McCain on Sunday night that the campaign manager, Rick Davis, had had no involvement with the company for the last several years.

    Mr. Davis’s firm received the payments from the company, Freddie Mac, until it was taken over by the government this month along with Fannie Mae, the other big mortgage lender whose deteriorating finances helped precipitate the cascading problems on Wall Street, the people said.

  1. NYT – Investigation Widens Into Unusual Oil Price Rise

    Federal regulators have subpoenaed recent trading records from several Nymex traders as part of a widening investigation into the sharp rise in oil prices on Monday.

    The subpoenas are part of an examination announced by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission on Monday, soon after the price for an expiring futures contract on the Nymex surged in the last hour of trading, according to people briefed on the continuing investigation.

  2. Seattle Times – Democrats sue over Rossi’s “GOP Party” identification

    The state Democratic Party filed suit today, asking that Secretary of State Sam Reed list Dino Rossi’s party preference as “Republican Party” on the general election ballot. When Rossi filed for office, he listed his party preference as “GOP Party.”

    Rossi has said he’s always used the term GOP to identify his party and isn’t trying to confuse voters about his party affiliation.

    But the Democrats, who argue the Republican Party has become a damaged brand, say that’s exactly what Rossi is doing.


  1. Spiegel – ‘The World Shouldn’t Have to Bear the Burden for America’s Lapses’

    It’s not a call for assistance; it’s a scream for help. US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is asking other countries to help buy up bad US debt. The US government is putting up $700 billion in taxpayer money in the hopes that the measure might restore stability in the financial system. Some countries are planning to help. But the German government has answered this call quickly and clearly: no.

    Economics experts think that’s the right response. As they see it, in the long run, those responsible for the crisis — who have been cashed out with high salaries and bonuses for years — will not be penalized for billions “but will be let off the hook like everyone else,” says Carsten Meier of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW). According to Meier, by injecting capital into the market, the US government is putting everyone who speculated and lost back on their feet and thereby standing in the way of a market cleanup.

    Paulson has stated that the US government will pay a fair price for the bad debt, which Meier sees as sending “precisely the wrong signal,” adding that “people shouldn’t be rewarded for taking such high risks.”

  2. Guardian – Wealthy countries ‘allowing corruption to go unchecked’

    Wealthy industrialised countries including the UK are allowing overseas bribery to go unchecked through insufficient regulation of their private sectors, an anti-corruption group warned today.

    The latest Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index said the poorest countries still had the highest levels of corruption.

    However, it added that the data casts a “critical light on government commitment [in wealthy countries] to rein in the questionable methods of their companies in acquiring and managing overseas business, in addition to domestic concerns about issues such as the role of money in politics”.

  3. LA Times – Italy deploys troops after Mafia violence near Naples

    The Italian government Tuesday ordered the deployment of a military task force to fight a wave of violence by the Neapolitan Mafia, which culminated last week in the slayings of six African immigrants in a suspected feud over drug turf.

    The decision to send the military to the province of Caserta, north of Naples, shows that the ruthless clans of the Camorra, as the Mafia in Naples is known, pose a formidable challenge to the government. The last time soldiers were used to combat organized crime was in 1992 in southern Italy after Sicilian gangsters assassinated two top anti-Mafia judges.

  4. National Geographic – Large Hadron Collider Shut Down Until Spring 2009

    Full-power operation of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) won’t happen until early spring 2009, after an electrical glitch sparked a large helium leak inside the machine’s tunnels.

    Although repairs should take just about two months, the collider needs to be shut down in the winter to save costs. Officials with the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) therefore decided not to restart the particle accelerator until next year.


  1. NYT – South African Cabinet Upheaval Was False Alarm

    Panic surged through South Africa’s financial markets early Tuesday when the president’s office, still controlled by the departing Thabo Mbeki, announced that 14 of the government’s top officials had resigned, including Trevor Manuel, the powerful finance minister regarded internationally as the anchor of the nation’s economy.

    But the sense of alarm soon subsided – and the markets largely recovered – when Mr. Manuel’s spokeswoman, Thoraya Pandy, issued a statement that the resignation had simply been a courtesy as the presidency changed hands and that “he was willing to serve the new administration in any capacity.”

    However short the fright, the frenzied sell-off indicates just how jittery this country has become as the Mbeki era ends and the era of Jacob Zuma, his erstwhile ally and deputy, begins.

  2. Guardian – Children abducted from Democratic Republic of Congo by Ugandan rebels

    Ugandan rebels have abducted scores of children from schools in the Democratic Republic of Congo triggering fears they will be forced to fight or become sex slaves, according to the United Nations.

    The Lord’s Resistance Army, which has conducted a 20-year war in northern Uganda supposedly under the guidance of the 10 commandments, took about 50 children from a primary school in Kiliwa and another 40 from a secondary school in Duru, in the north-east of the country near the Sudanese border. Two Italian missionaries and a village chief were also taken, and three civilians killed.

    The UN children’s agency, Unicef, said it is presumed the children have been taken to LRA bases in Congo used for attacks into Uganda, and it is concerned for their safety.

  3. Gulf News – Officials confirm tourists traced in ‘no-man’s land’

    The 19 tourists kidnapped in the Sahara desert have been located in good health but authorities “do not want an operation that harms the hostages”, Egyptian and Sudanese officials said on Tuesday.

    The kidnappers have threatened to kill the hostages if they detect any aerial rescue attempt, an Egyptian official said on Tuesday…

    “They are now in an area of no-man’s land between the Sudanese, Libyan and Egyptian border, in the area of Jebel Uweinat,” Sudanese foreign ministry undersecretary Mutrief Sadiq told journalists in Khartoum.

Middle East

  1. NYT – Friction Infiltrates Sunni Patrols on Safer Iraqi Streets

    In Adhamiya, a neighborhood that only a year ago was among the most dangerous in Baghdad, the violence last week seemed almost negligible. A shootout near a checkpoint left two people dead on Sunday. Another man was killed on Monday by a small bomb placed under a car…

    The deaths quickly drew the attention of the American officers stationed in the neighborhood. Both outbursts involved members of the Awakening Councils, the citizen patrols paid by the United States to fight the insurgency.

    And both were seen as a worrisome sign of the tension and infighting that have rippled through the Sunni-dominated Awakening groups in recent weeks, just as the American military plans to transfer control of about half the councils to the Shiite-led government.

  2. NRC Handelsblad – Iraq and Shell sign natural gas deal

    Iraq and Royal Dutch Shell PLC signed a deal to establish a joint venture that will tap natural gas in southern Iraq, the Iraqi government said Monday…

    The joint venture with the state-run Iraqi South Oil Co. will invest in natural gas in the southern oil-rich province of Basra, Oil Ministry spokesman Assem Jihad said. Work will start early next month. Iraq will hold 51 percent in the venture and Shell 49 percent…

    Iraq says it loses about 40 million dollars (27 million euro) worth of natural gas each day, partly because of a lack of infrastructure to exploit it for consumption or export.

  3. LA Times – Iran president blames Wall Street turmoil on U.S. ‘military engagement’

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared Monday that the turmoil on Wall Street was rooted in part in U.S. military intervention abroad and voiced hope that the next American administration would retreat from what he called President Bush’s “logic of force.” …

    “Problems do not arise suddenly,” he said. “The U.S. government has made a series of mistakes in the past few decades. First, the imposition on the U.S. economy of heavy military engagement and involvement around the world . . . the war in Iraq, for example. . . . These are heavy costs.

    “The world economy can no longer tolerate the budgetary deficit and the financial pressures occurring from markets here in the United States, and by the U.S. government,” he added.

  4. Gulf News – East-west channel being planned for UAE oil exports

    Oil supplies from the Gulf will not be interrupted even in case the conflict between Iran and the US becomes a full scale confrontation, Dubai Police chief Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan Tamim said on Sunday.

    The UAE is considering a safe route for its oil exports in case the Arabian Gulf becomes too dangerous for tankers, he added.

    The rough details of the project were revealed at an informal Ramadan gathering at Tamim’s majlis, which was attended also by prominent UAE economic expert Mohammad Al Asoomi.

    Tamim said Iran cannot hold the region hostage to its confrontation with the West, and that the authorities in the UAE are seriously considering the expansion of export terminals on the east coast with a possibility of creating a channel between the east and west coasts to divert shipping away from the Straits of Hormuz.

South Asia

  1. AP – Pakistanis say suspected US drone shot down

    Pakistani soldiers and tribesman shot down a suspected U.S. military drone close to the Afghan border Tuesday night, three intelligence officials said.

    If verified, it apparently would be the first time a pilotless aircraft was brought down over Pakistan and likely would add to tensions between Washington and Islamabad over recent American cross-border incursions into the country’s lawless tribal regions.

    The three officials said the aircraft was hit at the village of Jalal Khel in South Waziristan after circling the area for several hours.

  2. Independent – Pakistan blames US raids for hotel bombing

    The Pakistani President, Asif Ali Zardari, will plead with President George Bush today to change a policy which is being blamed for one of his country’s worst terrorist atrocities.

    “We hope the US will change policy because this is what is needed,” said Pakistan’s ambassador to the UK, Wajid Shamsul Hassan, after 53 people were killed and more than 250 injured in the bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad. He argued that the Bush administration’s decision to allow cross-border incursions from Afghanistan into Pakistan, including by ground forces on at least one occasion, had been counterproductive “because they are not killing high-value targets, they are killing civilians”.

  3. Reuters – India says Pakistan helping Kashmir militants cross border

    India on Tuesday accused Pakistani forces of providing fire cover for Muslim militants attempting to sneak into its disputed Kashmir region.

    A senior army official said the Indian army came under fire from the Pakistani side at about the same time a group of militants fighting Indian rule in Kashmir tried to cross the border into the Indian-controlled side of Kashmir.

  4. CS Monitor – Anti-Christian attacks flare in India

    With its glinting high-rises and harried executives in designer suits, Bangalore – Silicon Valley of the subcontinent and capital of Karnataka State – is an icon of the “new India.”

    But the city has shown a less presentable side in recent days, with a rash of attacks by Hindu fanatics on Christians. On Monday, stone-throwing mobs vandalized two churches, bringing the number of church desecrations in Karnataka to more than 20 in a week…

    While Hindu nationalists claim that the unrest is caused by missionaries forcing conversions on Hindus, Christians – and most secular observers – say the violence is politically motivated, designed to win votes for the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.


  1. LA Times – Taro Aso is named Japan’s next prime minister

    Taro Aso, an outspoken nationalist and avid fan of Japanese animation characters, was chosen Monday by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to become Japan’s third prime minister in less than two years…

    A career government official who studied at Stanford and in London, Aso has shrugged off criticism that he is too hawkish. For Japan’s Asian neighbors, his comments as foreign minister brought back uncomfortable memories of the nation’s military expansion more than half a century ago.

    The grandson of a postwar prime minister, Aso emerges from the same nationalist school that urges Japan to be less apologetic about its imperial past and more assertive about its current global role. He criticized the verdicts of the Tokyo war crimes tribunal and had been a regular visitor to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japan’s war dead, including some who are designated as war criminals.

  2. Reuters – China urges ‘flexibility’ on N.Korea nuclear moves

    China urged “flexibility” in the North Korean nuclear dispute Tuesday, avoiding harsh words a day after Pyongyang made fresh moves toward possibly restarting a nuclear complex at the heart of the dispute.

    Monday, North Korea asked the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog to remove seals and cameras from its main atomic facility, Yongbyon.

    The North said Friday it was working to reactivate the plutonium-making Yongbyon complex, the basis of the atomic bomb program it had been dismantling since last November under a disarmament-for-aid deal.

  3. Guardian – Burma activist freed from jail after 19 years vows to fight on

    One of Burma’s most prominent political detainees, U Win Tin, was freed from jail yesterday after 19 years’ imprisonment, and vowed to continue the fight for democracy in the country.

    The ailing journalist, one of Burma’s longest-serving political detainees, was one of the founders of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD).

    The 79-year-old, suffering a number of medical problems after long years in Rangoon’s notorious Insein prison, was freed along with six leading political figures, as part of a wider amnesty for 9,002 prisoners – the vast majority of them drug dealers and petty criminals. State-controlled media announced they were being released “so they could participate in the fair elections to be held in 2010”.

    But while exiled dissidents welcomed the release of U Win Tin and the others, they dismissed it as a cynical ploy by the junta to defuse tensions as world leaders gather for the UN summit in New York amid calls for even tougher sanctions.

  4. Guardian – Arctic ‘methane chimneys’ raise fears of runaway climate change

    Scientists claim to have discovered evidence for large releases of methane into the atmosphere from frozen seabed stores off the northern coast of Siberia.

    A large injection of the gas – which is 21 times more potent as an atmospheric heat trap than carbon dioxide – has long been cited by climate scientists as the potential trigger for runaway global warming. The warming caused by the gas could destabilise permafrost further, they fear, leading to yet more methane release.

    But climate experts have expressed caution at the claims, which have yet to be published in a peer reviewed scientific journal.


  1. Miami Herald – Cuba silent on latest U.S. aid offer

    The Cuban government has not officially responded to Washington’s latest no-strings offer to provide $6.3 million in light construction materials to benefit hurricane victims. Havana has rejected three previous offers.

    The U.S. State Department told Cuban diplomats in Washington on Friday that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) was ready to send $6.3 million in corrugated zinc roofs, nails, tools, lumber, sheeting and light shelter kits by ship to benefit some 48,000 people hit by back-to-back devastating hurricanes.

  2. Bloomberg – Lula Says 2.3 Trillion Dollars in Investments Will `Transform’ Brazil

    Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said he expects $2.3 trillion of investments in the country by 2012 will help “transform” Latin America’s largest economy.

    “We need more investors,” Lula told a group of industry executives and diplomats at an Americas Society event in New York last night. “Brazil finally has found its destiny and intends to transform itself into a great nation.”

    Saying recent oil discoveries give Brazil new opportunities it can’t squander, Lula outlined wide-ranging investment needs including $73 billion for energy projects, $70 billion for housing developing, $58 billion for shipbuilding and $25.8 billion for pulp and paper. He also detailed investments needed for improving infrastructure, building refineries and constructing a high-speed train.

  3. FT – Mexico’s parties warned over drug money

    Mexico’s centre-right government on Tuesday admitted that there was a “latent threat” of drug money finding its way into the country’s political campaigns and warned that the country’s police forces had been “infiltrated” by powerful cartels.

    In an address to Congress, Juan Camilo Mouri?o, a government minister, said: “The risk of drug Money in campaigns is, of course, a latent risk.” He added: “The police are infiltrated and as long as they are infiltrated we cannot, fully, guarantee security or secure people’s confidence.”

    Mr Mouri?o’s stark appraisal of the challenges that Mexico faces in its attempts to control rein in organised crime comes amid an escalating wave of drugs-related violence that has claimed more than 3,200 lives so far this year – an increase of nearly 50 per cent compared with the whole of 2007.

  4. Bloomberg – Calderon Says Changing Nafta Could Be ‘Very Bad’ for the U.S.

    Mexican President Felipe Calderon said any renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement that worsens conditions for Mexicans will also be “very bad” for the United States.

    “Everybody is going to lose,” Calderon said during a speech at a Foreign Policy Association event in New York. “The American consumers are going to lose. The Mexican workers are going to lose.”

    Calderon said North America is losing competitiveness to Europe and Asia by not building on the benefits of Nafta since it took effect in 1994.

1 comment

  1. Hank, the King of Risk, Paulson acedes to limiting pay to company executives.  This palliative pacifier has doubtless been planned from the get-go. Will the dems fall for it?

    By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS and DAVID ESPO, Associated Press Writers 1 minute ago (ca: 1030, 9/24/08  via Yahoo news)


    President Bush readied a prime time speech to the nation and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson accepted a major change in legislation for a $700 billion bailout of the financial industry on Wednesday as the administration scrambled to prevent further deterioration in the economy.

    Republican officials said that Paulson had bowed to demands from critics in both parties to limit the pay packages of executives whose companies benefit from the proposed bailout. They spoke on condition of anonymity because Paulson’s decision had not been formally announced.

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