The Financial Bailout Funds
Being Put To Excellent Use
Salaries And Bonus’s For Wall Street Bankers and Investors
Obama’s Ad Effort Swamps McCain and Nears Record
By JIM RUTENBERG
Published: October 17, 2008
PHILADELPHIA – Senator Barack Obama is days away from breaking the advertising spending record set by President Bush in the general election four years ago, having unleashed an advertising campaign of a scale and complexity unrivaled in the television era.
With advertisements running repeatedly day and night, on local stations and on the major broadcast networks, on niche cable networks and even on video games and his own dedicated satellite channels, Mr. Obama is now outadvertising Senator John McCain nationwide by a ratio of at least four to one, according to CMAG, a service that monitors political advertising. That difference is even larger in several closely contested states.
Wall Street banks in $70bn staff payout
Pay and bonus deals equivalent to 10% of US government bail-out package
The Guardian, Saturday October 18 2008
Financial workers at Wall Street’s top banks are to receive pay deals worth more than $70bn (£40bn), a substantial proportion of which is expected to be paid in discretionary bonuses, for their work so far this year – despite plunging the global financial system into its worst crisis since the 1929 stock market crash, the Guardian has learned.
Staff at six banks including Goldman Sachs and Citigroup are in line to pick up the payouts despite being the beneficiaries of a $700bn bail-out from the US government that has already prompted criticism. The government’s cash has been poured in on the condition that excessive executive pay would be curbed.
Pay plans for bankers have been disclosed in recent corporate statements.
Thousands Face Mix-Ups In Voter Registrations
In New Databases, Many Are Wrongly Flagged as?Ineligible
By Mary Pat Flaherty
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 18, 2008; Page A01
Thousands of voters across the country must reestablish their eligibility in the next three weeks in order for their votes to count on Nov. 4, a result of new state registration systems that are incorrectly rejecting them.
The challenges have led to a dozen lawsuits, testy arguments among state officials and escalating partisan battles. Because many voters may not know that their names have been flagged, eligibility questions could cause added confusion on Election Day, beyond the delays that may come with a huge turnout.
Coping with financial crisis in the heartland
?Nightly News series finds bumper crop of concern in nation’s breadbasket
How is America’s heartland weathering the financial crisis? NBC Nightly News digital correspondent Mara Schiavocampo and producer Al Henkel took a first-hand look in a five-part series this week, “Your Country, Your Money.” They found that while the concerns differ from place to place, no one is immune.
In Pryor, Okla., population 8,500, faith and a collective determination to make it through the tough times are helping residents in a town where two manufacturing plants recently shut down, eliminating 700 jobs. Now residents are sharing and caring for their less fortunate neighbors. “We all help each other, it’s just what we do,” says Mayor Jimmy Tramel.
100ft down, the capital’s cold war warren gives up its final secrets
Workers shed light on maze of tunnels that housed MI6 and the transatlantic hotline
The Guardian, Saturday October 18 2008
A door designed to withstand an atom bomb swung open yesterday, and as a scruffy industrial lift rattled downwards, a hidden world under the heart of London finally gave up its secrets.
There is nothing hidden any longer about the mile of tunnels 100 feet below High Holborn and Chancery Lane, which BT, the most recent owner has just put up for sale.
But old habits die hard: this has been a twilight zone for over half a century – through the end of the war when MI6 moved in, in the years after when the Public Records Office stored 400 tonnes of classified documents here, and through the cold war, when the hotline linking presidents Eisenhower and Khrushchev ran through the most secure telephone exchange in Britain.
Paris mega-rich raise barricades against urban poor neighbours
From The Times
October 18, 2008
Adam Sage in Paris
When Céline Dion was reported to have paid €47 million (£36 million) for a house in Villa Montmorency last week, the industrialists and showbiz stars who live in the most exclusive district of Paris were delighted.
The Canadian singer will be a welcome addition to a gated community that includes Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, the President’s wife, and Dominique Desseigne, Mr Sarkozy’s billionaire friend.
But soon its 120 or so homeowners are likely to be confronted by some new neighbours they would rather keep at a distance – the urban poor.
In a move that has ignited furious protests, Bertrand Delanoë, the Mayor of Paris, has approved plans for 180 council flats in Porte d’Auteuil, across the road from Villa Montmorency in well-heeled west Paris.
China extends influence into Central Asia
China has begun a multi-billion-pound scheme in the far-Western province of Xinjiang to build roads and railways that will open up Central Asia.
By Malcolm Moore in Shanghai
Last Updated: 9:09AM BST 18 Oct 2008
By the end of this year, nine railway lines will be under construction, including a railway from China to Pakistan and a rail link through Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, at a total cost of over £50 billion.
Lines will also run east from Xinjiang into Mongolia and onto the Qinghai plateau. Currently, the only line linking Xinjiang with central Asia is a 285-mile line to the Alataw Pass which connects to Kazakhstan’s rail system.
More than 1,300 miles of track will be laid in the next decade, almost doubling the infrastructure in the area, according to Wu Jian, the deputy head of the railway bureau in Urumqi, the capital of the restive Xinjiang province.
The move will connect Xinjiang to railway lines as far off as Moscow and Tehran and a direct route is also being planned over through the Hindu Kush into Kabul. The move will open up Central Asia to Chinese goods and companies, and will serve as conduits for oil and petrol to be brought back.
Pakistan does some US dirty work
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
KARACHI – Pakistan’s seven-year association with the United States’ “war on terror” has moved to a new and dangerous level: the US has given it a contract to build 1,000 Humvees for use by troops in Afghanistan against the Taliban-led insurgency.
The fact that Pakistan is now providing the hardware for the “war on terror” is a highly sensitive issue, given the already inflammatory situation that exists in the country over Islamabad siding with Washington in this fight against terrorism.
Asia Times Online has learned that Pakistan’s Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) has been given the order for an undisclosed sum for the Humvees – high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles. HIT, located 35 kilometers to the west of the capital Islamabad, is the leading engineering and manufacturing center for the armed forces in Pakistan, with a workforce of over 6,000.
Zimbabwe rivals appeal for help
The two sides in Zimbabwe’s political crisis have asked for help from the regional grouping, Sadc, after talks on a power-sharing cabinet broke down.
After a fourth day of negotiations in Harare, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said he and President Mugabe had failed to agree on key ministries.
Mr Mugabe said Friday’s talks had gone “very well in the wrong direction”.
But Thabo Mbeki, the former South African president who is mediating the talks said he was optimistic.
He said the outstanding issues were “capable of solving themselves quite easily”, adding that Sadc officials would discuss Zimbabwe at a meeting in Swaziland on Monday.
The US meanwhile said it would consider further sanctions against Mr Mugabe and his government if the deal collapsed.
The BBC’s Jonah Fisher in neighbouring South Africa says the month-old power-sharing agreement between President Mugabe’s Zanu-PF and the two Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) factions now teeters on the brink of total collapse.
Egyptian magnate pleads not guilty to singer’s murder>
By Mahmoud Ali
CAIRO (Reuters) – Egyptian construction magnate Hesham Talaat Moustafa and a former police officer pleaded not guilty to murder and incitement charges Saturday at their trial for the killing of Lebanese singer Suzanne Tamim.
Moustafa, a member of parliament for the ruling National Democratic Party, is charged with paying security man Muhsen el-Sukkari $2 million for stabbing Tamim to death at her house in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on July 28.
The charge sheet said that Moustafa’s motive was revenge but it did not explain their relationship in detail.
In response to the charges, Moustafa told a packed courtroom in central Cairo: “It did not happen and I have presented all the evidence that I am not guilty.”
“God is enough for me and an excellent guardian,” he added, citing a Muslim invocation common in times of distress.
“It did not happen,” said Sukkari. “By Almighty God my blood is innocent of her.”
Iraqis stage mass anti-US rally
Supporters of Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr have staged a mass demonstration in Baghdad in protest against plans to extend the US mandate in Iraq.
An estimated 50,000 protesters chanted slogans such as “Get out occupier!”.
Iraqi and US negotiators drafted the deal after months of talks but it still needs approval from Iraq’s government.
Under the agreement US troops would withdraw by 2011, and Iraq would have the right to prosecute Americans who commit crimes while off-duty.
The UN mandate for US-led coalition forces expires at the end of this year. About 144,000 of the 152,000 foreign troops deployed there are US military personnel.
Muqtada al-Sadr urges rejection of US-Iraqi pact
By HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD – Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Saturday called on Iraq’s parliament to reject a U.S.-Iraqi security pact as tens of thousands of his followers rallied in Baghdad against the deal.
The mass public show of opposition came as U.S. and Iraqi leaders face a Dec. 31 deadline to reach agreement on the deal, which would replace an expiring U.N. mandate authorizing the U.S.-led forces in Iraq.
Al-Sadr’s message was addressed to Iraqi lawmakers and read by his aide Sheik Abdul-Hadi al-Mohammadawi before a huge crowd of mostly young men waving Iraqi and green Shiite flags and chanting slogans including “no, no to the agreement” and “yes to Iraq.”
“The Iraqi government has abandoned its duty before God and its people and referred the agreement to you knowing that ratifying it will stigmatize Iraq and its government for years to come,” he said.
20bn barrel oil discovery puts Cuba in the big league
• Self-reliance beckons for communist state
• Estimate means reserves are on a par with US
Rory Carroll, Latin America correspondent
The Guardian, Saturday October 18 2008
Friends and foes have called Cuba many things – a progressive beacon, a quixotic underdog, an oppressive tyranny – but no one has called it lucky, until now .
Mother nature, it emerged this week, appears to have blessed the island with enough oil reserves to vault it into the ranks of energy powers. The government announced there may be more than 20bn barrels of recoverable oil in offshore fields in Cuba’s share of the Gulf of Mexico, more than twice the previous estimate.
If confirmed, it puts Cuba’s reserves on par with those of the US and into the world’s top 20. Drilling is expected to start next year by Cuba’s state oil company Cubapetroleo, or Cupet.