It’s Time To Stop
Making Workers Pay
For The Mistakes Of
For U.S. and Carmakers, a Path Strewn With Pitfalls
By DAVID E. SANGER
Published: March 30, 2009
As an assertion of government control over a huge swath of the industrial landscape, President Obama’s decision to reshape the automobile industry has few precedents.
In essentially taking command of General Motors and telling Chrysler to merge with a foreign competitor or cease to exist, Mr. Obama was saying that economic conditions were sufficiently dire to justify a new level of government involvement in the management of corporate America.
His message amounted to an inversion of the relationship that had helped define the rise of American manufacturing might in the 20th century; now, Mr. Obama seemed to be saying, what is good for America will have to be good enough for General Motors.
Sarkozy and Merkel Try to Shape European Unity
?By STEVEN ERLANGER and NICHOLAS KULISH
Published: March 30, 2009
PARIS – They are an extremely odd couple – he is short and hyperactive, she is dour and shy. He believes in the power of the state and big interventions; she believes in a softer role for the state, guiding and prodding the market. Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel don’t even get along very well, aides to both leaders say. He has made fun of her accent in private meetings, the aides say, and she says he is self-centered and impetuous.
But the French president and the German chancellor find themselves in a forced marriage in these days of economic crisis. Responsible for the two largest economies among nations that use the euro, known as the euro zone, they are trying to shape European unity in the days before the Group of 20 economic summit meeting this week.
They also are bearing the brunt of criticism, especially from the left and from Washington, that they are not responding forcefully enough to the recession and the collapse of world trade.
For This Health System, Less Is More
Program That Guarantees Doing Things Right the First Time, for Flat Fee, Pays Off
By Ceci Connolly
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 31, 2009; Page A01
In an industry that makes its money by selling more — more tests, more surgeries, more drugs — Geisinger Health System officials gambled three years ago that they could succeed by doing less, but doing it better.
Mimicking the appliance company that advertised its products’ reliability, the health system devised a 90-day warranty on elective heart surgery, promising to get it right the first time, for a flat fee. If complications arise or the patient returns to the hospital, Geisinger bears the additional cost.
The venture has paid off. Heart patients have fared measurably better, and the health system has cut its bypass surgery costs by 15 percent.
Life in Mendota, Calif., where the jobless rate is 41 percent
By Chris Collins | Fresno Bee
MENDOTA, Calif. – The customer seemed interested in a black blouse offered for $1 at the thrift store. But instead of buying it, she set it on the front counter.
Maybe tomorrow, she told the cashier, she would have the money. Or the next day. But not now.
“That is the way people are now,” said the cashier, Alicia Reyes, as she watched the middle-aged woman walk out of the store. “They just come in here and look. They just come in here to kill the time. And then they take off.”
Welcome to life in Mendota – the unemployment capital of California. With a 41 percent jobless rate, the town’s social fabric is tearing at the seams. Alcoholism and crime are on the rise.
Alexander Lebedev to sue Forbes for detailing losses
Russian tycoon plans to go to court to claim compensation from American magazine
Tom Parfitt in Moscow
The Guardian, Tuesday 31 March 2009
Alexander Lebedev, the Russian businessman and media owner, has said he will sue Forbes magazine for reporting that he lost $2.5bn (£1.8bn) in the global financial crisis.
Lebedev, who bought the Evening Standard in January, said he planned to go to court to claim compensation from the American magazine, which publishes annual “rich lists” estimating the fortunes of billionaires.
“Forbes magazine claimed that I lost $2.5bn in the global financial crisis,” he told the Russian news agency, Interfax. “That’s absurd. I will demand compensation of material and moral damage caused by this defamation.”
Lebedev said the article had compromised his bid to become the mayor of Sochi, the Russian Black Sea resort which will host the 2014 winter Olympics. Opponents had used claims of his alleged financial losses to insinuate that he only wanted the post in order to claw back some money through embezzling funds assigned to the games, he said.
After 650 years, the wisdom of the Alhambra is revealed
Granada’s fortress-palace built by Spain’s medieval Moorish rulers, has always fascinated visitors. But what messages do its intricately carved walls hold – poetry, philosophy or piety? Elizabeth Nash reports
Tuesday, 31 March 2009
Visitors to the Alhambra fortress-palace in Granada have for centuries fallen into a reverie before its intricately carved medieval walls, wondering at the meaning of the Arabic inscriptions that adorn them from floor to ceiling. The script that winds round the filigree arches and pillared courtyards is so stylised that it’s often difficult to disentangle words from images, and few can decipher the classical Arabic in which they are written.
Now, the carvings have been logged and translated, finally answering the question that has perplexed generations of visitors to Europe’s jewel of Muslim architecture: “What are these walls telling me?”
Researchers have produced an interactive DVD that decodes, dates and identifies 3,116 of some 10,000 inscriptions carved on the building that symbolises centuries of Muslim rule in Spain and is today the country’s top tourist landmark.
Khmer Rouge leader in dock as Cambodia genocide trial begins
Kaing Guek Eav, chief torturer at Tuol Sleng jail, is accused of presiding over 12,380 deaths at prison or ‘killing fields’
Ian MacKinnon, south-east Asia correspondent
guardian.co.uk, Monday 30 March 2009 14.12 BST
The first trial of a Khmer Rouge leader for genocide got under way in earnest in Cambodia today, more than 30 years after the fall of the brutal ultra-Maoist regime.
Kaing Guek Eav ? better known as Comrade Duch ? took the stand in the United Nations-backed tribunal’s specially built courthouse, which was packed with survivors and the bereaved of the 1.7 million Cambodians killed during Pol Pot’s four-year reign.
Duch, 66, is the first of five senior Khmer Rouge leaders to stand trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity for his part in the regime’s “Year Zero” policy, which disastrously aimed to create an agrarian utopia.
‘Mastermind’ of Lahore massacre captured alive
Commandos storm police academy in eight-hour siege after terrorist gunmen leave eight cadets dead and 90 injured
By Andrew Buncombe in Lahore
Tuesday, 31 March 2009
The parade ground was still sodden from overnight rain but their instructors were in no mind to cancel Monday morning’s drill. So, from 7am, Azhar Abbas and his fellow police cadets had been undergoing inspection, having their names checked off the roster, their uniforms scrutinised. Twenty minutes later, chaos broke out.
“One grenade was thrown by the terrorists and then they were firing their guns indiscriminately across the parade ground,” recalled the shaken young man, sitting afterwards in his barracks hugging fellow cadets. “That was when someone shouted ‘Save your lives’. There was a wall, and we ran to it. We tried to save ourselves.”
Mr Abbas was one of around 800 recruits inside the Manawan police training centre on the outskirts of Lahore when a group of gunmen, armed with automatic weapons and bags of grenades, stormed the lightly defended compound and launched an attack that has upped the stakes once again in Pakistan’s battle with the militants.
300 migrants feared drowned as ships sink in Mediterranean
From Times Online
March 31, 2009
Claire Sweeney and Jenny Booth
As many as 300 migrants heading for Europe are feared to have drowned after between one and three boats capsized off the coast of Libya.
Strong winds have been blamed for tipping over the craft, which were loaded with people trying to cross from North Africa to Italy in search of a better life.
Jean-Philippe Chauzy, a spokesman for the International Organisation for Migration, said that the information on the likely deaths had come from Libyan officials and had been confirmed by diplomatic sources.
“Libyan authorities have confirmed the shipwrecks and our diplomatic sources in Tripoli are talking about 300 people missing,” said Mr Chauzy.
UK troops begin Iraqi withdrawal
British forces are due to begin their official withdrawal from Iraq as the UK’s commander in the south of the country hands over to a US general.
Major General Andy Salmon will transfer authority for what will become Multi-National Division South to US Major General Michael Oates.
Most of Britain’s 4,000 troops will leave by 31 May, the official end-of-combat date.
About 400 will stay after that, either in HQ roles or to train the Iraq Navy.
‘Freedom and stability’
Maj Gen Salmon says much has been achieved over the past six years.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the work of British forces had changed the lives of ordinary Iraqis.
“For those who are old enough to realise, and compare it with the past gloom of Saddam’s era, they look back to 30 years ago and say ‘We’re seeing stability that we haven’t had before; we’re seeing levels of freedom that we haven’t had before’,” he said.
Netanyahu Push for ‘Economic Peace’ Hits Roadblocks
By Gwen Ackerman
March 31 (Bloomberg) — Five minutes from the Israeli border, a planned West Bank industrial park illustrates the challenges of Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu’s call for “economic peace” with the Palestinians.
Once the Jenin park is operational, raw materials going into the zone and finished products coming out may face delays at an Israeli-manned crossing. Even trucks bound for other West Bank cities will have to navigate military checkpoints.
Netanyahu, who will announce his government today following the Feb. 10 elections, is betting that improving the Palestinian economy will create conditions for more favorable negotiations toward a Palestinian state. Critics say that without political progress, his economic initiative faces obstacles as formidable as the 723-kilometer (450-mile) fence Israel is building to keep out potential terrorists.