Those Oil Companies Are So Warm And Fuzzy
Just Like A Python
Central Banks Slashing Rates As Investors Flee
Global Pullback Could Affect Currency Markets
By Anthony Faiola and Neil Irwin
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, October 28, 2008; Page A01
Central banks around the world are moving to further slash interest rates as they seek to contain the damage from the bursting of the biggest credit bubble in history.
The Federal Reserve is poised to cut its benchmark rate for the second time in two weeks at a pivotal meeting in Washington on Wednesday, and the European Central Bank yesterday suggested that it would do the same next week. South Korea announced a dramatic rate cut yesterday, by three-fourths of a percentage point.
Governments worldwide have already approved massive bailouts and stimulus packages to halt financial meltdowns.
Kirkuk dispute threatens to plunge Iraq into Kurdish-Arab war
Study warns dispute over territories and revenues in oil region could lead to violence greater than Sunni-Shia conflict
Julian Borger, diplomatic editor
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday October 28 2008 00.05 GMT
Iraq’s relative calm is threatened by a festering Kurdish-Arab conflict over the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and other disputed territories, that could explode into the worst sectarian war the country has suffered since the 2003 invasion, a new report says today.
The report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) says the territorial dispute is blocking political progress in Iraq, contributing to the delay in passing a law on sharing oil revenue, and threatening to put off critical provincial elections.
Pointing out that the Arab-Kurdish dispute dates back to Britain’s creation of modern Iraq after the first world war, the ICG report warns: “In its ethnically-driven intensity, ability to drag in regional players such as Turkey and Iran, and potentially devastating impact on efforts to rebuild a fragmented state, it matches and arguably exceeds the Sunni-Shia divide that spawned the 2005 – 2007 sectarian war.”
White House Explores Aid for Auto Deal
By EDMUND L. ANDREWS and BILL VLASIC
Published: October 27, 2008
WASHINGTON – The Bush administration is examining a range of options for providing emergency financial help to spur a merger between General Motors and Chrysler, according to government officials.
People familiar with the discussions said the administration wanted to provide financial assistance to the deeply troubled Big Three Detroit automakers, possibly by using the Treasury Department’s wide-ranging authority under the $700 billion bailout program that Congress approved this month.
Oil companies pour on charm before posting fat profits
?Ads tout their people-friendly efforts. But spending data show the focus remains the bottom line.
By Elizabeth Douglass
9:54 PM PDT, October 27, 2008
African children smile for the camera, a youngster sips pink medicine from a spoon and a doctor explains his part in a venture to fight malaria, the No. 1 killer on the continent. It’s an effort, he says, that will help save hundreds of thousands of lives.
The images look like something out of a health documentary, but it’s a commercial for oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp., for which the doctor is medical projects director.
Exxon’s other new ads talk about efforts such as its breakthrough technology for hybrid-electric car batteries. Chevron Corp. is showcasing its geothermal operations. Of the energy challenge, one ad says, “This isn’t just about oil companies. This is about you and me.”
We will defend territory against attack, vows Syria
• Damascus accuses Bush of ‘terrorist aggression’
• Crowds gather at funerals chanting anti-US slogans
Ian Black, Martin Chulov in Hilla and Julian Borger
The Guardian, Tuesday October 28 2008
Syria yesterday condemned the US for launching “criminal and terrorist aggression” on its soil, while the Iraqi government defended action against foreign jihadis amid warnings it might complicate plans for a controversial security agreement between Baghdad and Washington.
Walid al-Muallem, Syria’s foreign minister, used a visit to London to lambast the US for its “cowboy politics” and hinted that Sunday’s raid was designed to halt Syria’s gradually improving relations with the EU and Britain. Iran and Russia also condemned the US for aggravating tensions in the region.
Gamble puts Kadima leader Tzipi Livni ahead in polls for first time
From The Times
October 28, 2008
James Hider in Jerusalem
A day after she triggered fresh elections early next year, Tzipi Livni, Israel’s centrist prime minister designate, took a lead in opinion polls for the first time.
Ms Livni, who was elected leader of the governing Kadima party last month after Ehud Olmert resigned as Prime Minister to fight corruption charges, had trailed Binyamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party for months. Her improved poll ratings appeared to be due to her gamble to abandon efforts to hang on to Mr Olmert’s coalition, many of whose members she accused of “blackmailing” her for their own political gains.
The elections, due in a little over three months, are shaping up to be a contest between the moderates who want to negotiate the establishment of a Palestinian state, and who are prepared to relinquish control of parts of Jerusalem, and right-wingers who say that Israel’s security would be compromised by giving up control of the West Bank to the Palestinians.
Financial trouble grows for oligarch with friends in high places
By Mathieu Robbins and Vesna Peric Zimonjic
Tuesday, 28 October 2008
Oleg Deripaska, the cash-strapped Russian industrial tycoon, is facing problems with his investments in the Balkan republic of Montenegro and is suing the government of the country for €300m (£240m).
Mr Deripaska, who owns the country’s biggest aluminium plant, has become embroiled in a dispute with the newly independent state where investors including Nathaniel Rothschild are also investing in real estate and developing exclusive tourist spots.
The artificial heart: a complex organ that is within science’s grasp
From The Times
October 28, 2008
Commentary: David Rose
The Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz yearned for one, but a mechanical heart has also been the dream of surgeons for many years. With the increasing burden of heart disease and a chronic shortage of donor organs, it is cheering to think that science could design a prosthetic organ capable of reproducing the essential functions of the body’s main pump.
The latest device is an exciting fusion of titanium, animal tissue and aeronautical technology, which has proved capable of adapting its rhythm to the body’s changing demands, while avoiding the risk of rejection and blood clots associated with other devices in trials on calves and sheep. But we are a long way from cheap, spare parts that could make us as good as new.
Existing pneumatic hearts are intended only to be used as a stop-gap during transplant operations or while patients await a scarce donor organ.
Kim Jong Il may be severely ill says Japan Prime Minister
Kim Jong Il, the enigmatic “Dear Leader” of North Korea, may be severely ill in hospital but probably remains in charge of decision-making within the reclusive Stalinist state, Japan’s Prime Minister told parliament earlier today.
?From Times Online
October 28, 2008
Leo Lewis in Tokyo
With the issue of Kim’s health now the subject of uncomfortable international speculation, Pyongyang responded to the “confrontational racket” with an unusually fierce warning that it would unleash an attack which would reduce Seoul “to rubble” if the rumour-mongering did not cease.
The comments by Taro Aso follow more than a month of speculation that Mr Kim – the focus of a the all-consuming personality cult that controls North Korea – may have suffered a stroke or otherwise lost his grip on power.
Pakistan wary of IMF demands>
By Syed Fazl-e-Haider
QUETTA, Pakistan – Pakistan officials in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a rescue package aimed at helping the country resolve balance of payments difficulties will face harsh demands rather than negotiating points, according to local analysts.
The United States is using the Washington-based and largely US-financed IMF as a tool to impose its own terms and conditions related to the “war on terror”, in which Pakistan has been declared by the US as a major theater of war, the analysts said.
An IMF-assisted program is seen as essential before Islamabad, which failed last week to win financial support from China, can
secure assistance from other donor countries and international financial institutions.
Islamabad has come out strongly against the US launching air strikes and ground operations against Taliban militants in Pakistani territory
Warships begin patrol off Somalia
NATO flotilla aims to keep pirates at bay in Horn of Africa waters.
The Associated Press
October 28, 2008
Reporting from Nairobi, Kenya — NATO warships safely escorted a cargo vessel through pirate- infested waters off Somalia for the first time Monday, and hijackers holding an arms-laden Ukrainian vessel said its operators do not want to negotiate for the weapons.
One of the seven North Atlantic Treaty Organization ships that arrived in the region over the weekend guarded a vessel carrying African Union peacekeeping troops to Somalia. The NATO flotilla’s mission is to conduct anti-piracy patrols and guard World Food Program aid shipments.
“The operation is moving well,” NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said in Brussels.
Somalia, caught up in an Islamic insurgency, has not had a functioning government since 1991. It has no navy or coast guard and cannot patrol its coastline, which includes the Gulf of Aden, one of the world’s busiest and most dangerous shipping lanes.
Rwandans Say Adieu to Français
Leaders Promote English as the Language of Learning, Governance and Trade
By Stephanie McCrummen
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, October 28, 2008; Page A10
KIGALI, Rwanda — C’est la vie.
In another blow to the language of love, the Rwandan government has decided to change instruction in schools from French to English.
All government employees are now required to learn English, and everyone here from lawmakers to taxi drivers to students to businesspeople seems to believe that the usefulness of French, introduced by Belgian colonizers, is coming to an end.
Bolivians worry spat with US could kill jobs
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice suspended a trade deal with Bolivia last week for failure to rein in coca growing. Some 20,000 jobs could be lost.
By Eliza Barclay | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
from the October 28, 2008 edition
LA PAZ, BOLIVIA – To Marga Targui, an indigenous woman who irons T-shirts for American firms like Ralph Lauren and Abercrombie & Fitch, the increasingly bitter diplomatic spat between the United States and Bolivia is a menace that cloaks her boisterous factory with tension.
Here among the concrete slums perched over Bolivia’s capital, La Paz, any job is precious, especially one with benefits and paid vacation like Ms. Targui’s.
“We want to work and we want job protection,” says Targui between rhythmic hisses of the iron. “There may be something going on at the embassy, but we want Bolivia and the US to be united. As enemies you don’t gain anything.”
Targui’s straightlaced factory is seemingly a world away from the muggy rainforest of the Chapare where ragtag coca farmers – egged on by their champion, leftist President Evo Morales, himself a former coca grower – cultivate the leaf that causes so much international consternation. But now, a trade agreement with the US is pitting the two interests against each other.