Why Is That Rick Wagner
Is Forced To Resign
But Not A Single Wall Street Executive
GM Chief to Resign at White House’s Behest
Obama Pushes General Motors and Chrysler to Slim Down, Make More Concessions
By Peter Whoriskey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 30, 2009; Page A01
The Obama administration has forced the longtime head of General Motors to resign and said yesterday that it would withhold additional federal aid to the auto industry unless the ailing companies undertake changes they so far have been unwilling or unable to make.
The administration effectively rejected as untenable the business plans that GM and Chrysler had submitted to restructure their companies, saying that neither had fulfilled the terms of the federal loans the companies received in December.
The president is expected to announce today that both companies may still win additional federal aid but under stricter terms.
Gunmen storm Pakistan police academy
• At least 10 police officers killed at Lahore training centre
• Gunmen hold hundreds of officers and cadets hostage
?Saeed Shah in Islamabad and James Sturcke
guardian.co.uk, Monday 30 March 2009 08.49 BST
At least 10 police officers were killed when gunmen stormed a police training facility in Lahore this morning, the second major terrorist attack in the Pakistani city within a month.
Hundreds of police officers and cadets were being held hostage by at least 10 attackers, according to reports, as exchanges of gunfire took place with troops and police surrounding the Manawan police centre.
The interior ministry chief, Rehman Malik, said 52 officers were wounded in the attack but gave no word on the number killed, while Geo News television channel said the toll was 20.
Armoured personnel carriers were manoeuvring into place around the site, in an apparent attempt to seal the exits. Army marksmen took up position on surrounding rooftops and surveillance helicopters hovered above the complex.
AIG crisis could be the tip of an insurance iceberg
The company’s situation reflects problems throughout the life insurance industry as investments suffer. Further strain could bring about a second financial crisis.
By Ralph Vartabedian and Tom Hamburger
March 30, 2009
Reporting from Washington and Los Angeles — When insurance giant American International Group Inc. imploded last fall, the firm’s problems were quickly blamed not on its core insurance business but on an obscure operation that traded exotic mortgage securities.
But as the economic crisis deepens, it has become clear that AIG’s problems extend across most of its business lines, including its massive life insurance and retirement services operations, which reported a staggering $18-billion quarterly loss this month.
The company’s situation is emblematic of problems across the life insurance industry, which is suffering deep losses on investments that underlie policies for millions of American families.
So far, some of the biggest companies have suffered sharp drops in their stock prices, and many of them are asking for federal assistance.
Industry conditions last year were the worst in memory and are expected to grow deeper this year amid credit rating downgrades, declining revenue and investment losses, according to credit rating firm A.M. Best Co.
Obama’s Nobel Headache
COVER STORY: THE ECONOMY
By Evan Thomas | NEWSWEEK
Paul Krugman has emerged as Obama’s toughest liberal critic. He’s deeply skeptical of the bank bailout and pessimistic about the economy. Why the establishment worries he may be right.
Traditionally, punditry in Washington has been a cozy business. To get the inside scoop, big-time columnists sometimes befriend top policymakers and offer informal advice over lunch or drinks. Naturally, lines can blur. The most noted pundit of mid-20th-century Washington, Walter Lippmann, was known to help a president write a speech-and then to write a newspaper column praising the speech.
Paul Krugman has all the credentials of a ranking member of the East Coast liberal establishment: a column in The New York Times, a professorship at Princeton, a Nobel Prize in economics.
Afghanistan: soldiers’ reports tell of undue optimism, chaos, and policy made on the hoof
• British military chief says aims in south were naive
• Account in book tells of crude tactics and old kit
The Guardian, Monday 30 March 2009
Britain’s top diplomat in Afghanistan has admitted to “misplaced optimism”, and a senior commander has said that military policy is being made up as they go along, according to an account by UK soldiers fighting the Taliban, which will be published this week.
Operaton Snakebite, by Stephen Grey, a journalist, describes behind-the-scenes tension between British troops and officials in Afghanistan and London, the poor state of the army’s equipment, and the political and military chaos that occurred in 2007 as British and US troops retook from the Taliban the district of Musa Qala, a place regarded as a key objective in the province of Helmand.
Chinese cyber spy network hacks into 103 nations
China accused of running ‘GhostNet’ after Dalai Lama’s office raise alarm
By Andrew Buncombe in delhi
Monday, 30 March 2009
The Chinese government is under pressure to answer allegations that it is operating a huge cyber spy network that has hacked into classified files in computers in 103 countries and monitored secret correspondence sent by the office of the Dalai Lama.
Researchers in Britain and Canada revealed over the weekend the existence of the so-called GhostNet network that has been gathering information from governments and private organisations. Some researchers said it could not be proved conclusively that the Chinese government was behind the network but others directly accused the authorities in Beijing.
Experts said the vast scale of the network was unsettling.
Hunt for the Monster of Florence
When two writers tried to look beyond a bizarre murder investigation focused on Masonic rites and a psychic, the police turned on them. Their account is now coming to Hollywood, thanks to Tom Cruise
By Peter Popham
Monday, 30 March 2009
The best-selling true story of how an American crime writer was sucked into the long-running and bizarre police investigation of Italy’s worst serial sex killer is to become a Hollywood film, produced by Tom Cruise.
The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi tells how Mr Preston, a successful writer of crime novels, travelled to Florence and moved into a beautiful old villa on the city’s outskirts.
Mr Preston’s plan was to write a murder mystery set in Florence at the time of the great flood of 1966. It was to be entitled The Christmas Madonna and feature an American art historian who rushes to the city to help dig it out of the mud. In the process he finds a clue to the whereabouts of a celebrated missing work by Masaccio, the painter who launched the Renaissance.
Turkish PM’s party leads in poll
Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party is leading in local elections, but has lost several key towns, after six people died in regional violence.
Mr Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) got less support than when it won a landslide victory in polls two years ago.
At least six people were reportedly killed in mainly Kurdish eastern areas.
The deaths came as supporters of rival candidates for the non-party position of village chief fought armed battles.
Last year, the AKP survived a trial aimed at closing it down as a threat to secularism.
“This is a message from the people and we will take the necessary lessons,” said a sombre Mr Erdogan, as the results became apparent.
“A cabinet reshuffle is possible, though not necessarily related to the election results,” he added.
Ivorian stadium stampede kills 22
At least 22 people have died in a crush at a football stadium during a World Cup qualifier in Ivory Coast.
More than 130 people were injured in the stampede at the Houphouet-Boigny arena in the West African country’s city of Abidjan.
About 36,000 spectators were in the stadium, where hosts Ivory Coast beat Malawi 5-0.
The BBC’s John James says it was packed for the return of Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, who scored twice.
Our correspondent says the authorities tried in vain to control the panicking crowd. One report said the police had fired tear gas to control the stampeding fans.
The ministry of sport and the Ivorian Football Federation have confirmed the number of deaths and say the incident occurred when thousands of fans tried to squeeze into the city’s main stadium.
Iraqis Snap Up Hummers as Icons of Power
By ROD NORDLAND
Published: March 29, 2009
BAGHDAD – Ali al-Hilli is a happy man. He has a wife and three kids, a prosperous business and – this is the important part – a Hummer in his driveway.
In a country with at least 20,000 Humvees and a war-weary population, who would think there would be a market for the civilian version?
Mr. Hilli did. “I just knew there’d be a huge demand for this in Baghdad,” he said. Now Mr. Hilli and his brother Dhafir run a car dealership specializing in Hummers. It is called, in English, “Al Sultan for Trading Cars.”
An American diplomat declared that it was the biggest Hummer dealership outside of the United States, a fact that seemed too good to check. Unfortunately, Mr. Hilli has checked. “It’s the biggest one in Baghdad, though, that’s for sure,” he said.
Is the Arab League relevant?
By Adam Makary
As Arab leaders gather in Qatar to attend the 21st summit of the League of Arab States, there are some in the region who say the organisation may have outlived its usefulness.
From Egypt to Bahrain, many young Arabs say they have seen the League’s influence on regional affairs wane since Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
Al Jazeera interviewed a number of Arab youths who say they are worried the league is unable to address the concerns and aspirations it was founded to safeguard.
It is easier for me to recollect the failures of the Arab League than it is to draw on their achivements over the past few years.
My father’s friend used to work as a diplomat in the league. One time he visited us at our house and I remember him complaining that the league had failed to pay their employees for four months. It led me to question how people can rely on them as an organisation.
In Drug War, Mexico Fights Cartel and Itself
By MARC LACEY
Published: March 29, 2009
REYNOSA, Mexico – An army convoy on the hunt for traffickers rolled out of its base recently in this border town under the control of the Gulf Cartel – and an ominous voice crackled over a two-way radio frequency to announce just that. The voice, belonging to a cartel spy, then broadcast the soldiers’ route through the city, turn by turn, using the same military language as the soldiers.
“They’re following us,” Col. Juan José Gómez, who was monitoring the transmission from the front seat of an olive-green pickup truck, said with a shrug.
The presence of the informers, some of them former soldiers, highlights a central paradox in Mexico’s ambitious and bloody assault on the drug cartels that have ravaged the country.