Monday Morning Business Update

Old News


1 Bank execs vow to work with Obama on recovery plan

By DARLENE SUPERVILLE, Associated Press Writer

Sat Mar 28, 1:42 am ET

WASHINGTON – Top executives of the nation’s biggest banks said Friday after meeting with President Barack Obama that they will work with the administration on its economic recovery plans, but want more specifics from the White House. In an interview with CBS News, Obama said his overarching message was this: “Show some restraint. Show that you get that this is a crisis and everybody has to make sacrifices. They agreed and they recognized it. Now, the proof in the pudding is in the eating.”

Bankers said an administration proposal to jump-start lending, a problem at the heart of the industry’s crisis, is encouraging.

“People are looking at that. It’s positive,” Morgan Stanley’s John Mack told The Associated Press in an interview. “We think it’s the right thing to do and now we just need to get the details.”

2 Most summer camps filling up despite recession

By DAVID CRARY, AP National Writer

1 hr 19 mins ago (Saturday)

A single mom with three sons, Maureen Wrinn knew she faced tough financial choices after losing her job last fall. But one decision was clear all along, despite its price tag: Her oldest son, Corey, would go back to camp in New Hampshire this summer.

“The decision wasn’t difficult at all, even though we’re struggling,” said Wrinn, of Rockport, Mass. “Camp Glen Brook has offered him a sense of place where he’s developed into his own self, in a way that only a summer camp can do.”

Parents like Wrinn are helping keep America’s vast summer camp industry in a relatively upbeat mood as the recession takes a toll on many other sectors. Many camps were booked up weeks or even months ago, and the American Camp Association says overall enrollment for its 2,400 accredited camps is on track to match the past two summers.

3 Bankers told keep low profile as public anger rises

By Olesya Dmitracova, Reuters

Fri Mar 27, 3:14 pm ET

LONDON (Reuters) – Leave the flash car at home, spend the night in a hotel, hire a bodyguard. This is the kind of advice security experts are giving bank executives who fear attacks from people angered by the financial crisis.

In London, where leaders of the world’s largest economies will gather for a G20 summit next Thursday, the discontent may spill out into protests starting with a rally on Saturday that police expect will draw 40,000 demonstrators.

In France there have been cases of workers holding bosses hostage over layoffs and shut downs, while in Scotland a prominent banker’s home was attacked. With these incidents in mind, police and security providers are getting ready for busy times.

4 Bosnia’s jobless rate at 43 percent and rising

By WILLIAM J. KOLE, Associated Press Writer

1 hr 39 mins ago

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina – If anyone ever stood a chance of escaping the global financial crisis, it might have been Almija Muminovic.

Ask her how much she’s got stashed in one of those teetering banks, and she looks puzzled, then breaks into a toothless grin. “That’s so far away from me,” says Muminovic, whose life savings – a few notes and coins – are stuffed beneath a mattress.

The 54-year-old widow, haggard after a life of hardship, ekes out an existence on a wind-swept hill overlooking Sarajevo. She had a milking cow, but had to sell it last month to make rent. Now she survives on a meager patch of vegetables and a $190 monthly pension.

5 Leeches: Fresh Blood for Russia’s Economy


Sat Mar 28, 2:30 am ET

Udelnaya is a sleepy town southeast of Moscow, full of muddy roads lined with brightly painted wooden houses. Behind a frozen stream there is one large brick building that looks a little out of place. Inside are hundreds of rows of jars exuding an unpleasant smell. They are full of Hirudo medicinalis, more commonly known as leeches. But few locals are turning up their noses at the presence of so many blood-sucking annelids. Leeches are the flourishing industry in Udelnaya, a bright spot in a Russian economy hurtling into recession.


6 Tax havens eye uncertain future after concessions

By FRANK JORDANS, Associated Press Writer

Sun Mar 29, 6:20 am ET

VADUZ, Liechtenstein – “Who pays?” asks a neon artwork in wealthy Liechtenstein’s elegant black granite cube of a museum.

That question is of more than artistic interest to the family that rules the tiny principality and their 35,000 subjects. Prince Alois agreed earlier this month to start following the rules set down by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Europe aimed at curbing tax havens – like his scenic patch of mountain valley between Switzerland and Austria, which owes much of its prosperity to its role as a place to put money.

Liechtenstein is hardly alone.

7 Geithner won’t say if more bailout money needed

By Glenn Somerville, Reuters

1 hr 51 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said on Sunday the government will have about $135 billion left after banks give back some bailout money and declined to say whether he will ask Congress for more.

Treasury expects the banks this year to return about $25 billion of money that they received from the government, because they were able to replace it with private capital or decided that they do not want money with strings attached.

“We have roughly $135 billion left of uncommitted resources. The rest is out the door,” Geithner said on ABC-TV’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” program. That means some $565 billion out of $700 billion approved by lawmakers last October already has been deployed and Geithner said banks still need help.

8 Britain says G20 summit won’t demand spending pledges

By Peter Griffiths, Reuters

Sun Mar 29, 8:08 am ET

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain and the United States will not push G20 leaders to announce specific spending pledges to help fix the worst economic crisis in decades when they meet in London next week, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said on Sunday.

Speaking to the BBC, he played down talk of a deep rift between countries that support further stimulus, such as Britain and the United States, and those that have urged caution, including Germany and France.

Countries will not be asked to reveal their public spending plans at the summit, but they should realize that boosting demand will play a key role in any recovery, he said.

9 Obama says GM, Chrysler "not there yet"


2 hrs 45 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama said in an interview broadcast on Sunday that struggling U.S. automakers had not done enough yet to become “lean, mean and competitive” under federal oversight.

Obama is expected to announce additional aid for General Motors Corp and Chrysler LLC on Monday as both automakers run down cash reserves that had been bolstered by $17.4 billion in emergency loans from the U.S. government.

Obama, who appeared in a taped interview on the CBS-TV news program “Face the Nation,” did not specify what steps he would announce, but said the automakers had more work to do to reduce costs in the face of slumping demand.

10 Germany to buy stake in HRE: bank


Sat Mar 28, 4:45 pm ET

BERLIN (AFP) – Germany’s government will take an 8.7 stake in the troubled bank Hypo Real Estate which it is seeking to nationalise, the lender said Saturday, reporting a net loss of 5.46 billion euros for 2008.

Germany’s national banking sector stabilisation fund SoFFin would acquire the stake as a first step and “intends to gain full control over Hypo Real Estate Group” (HRE), said a statement from the bank.

“(SoFFin) intends to take action to stabilise Hypo Real Estate Group, in the interest of stabilising the financial markets,” it said.

11 Talks with Canadian auto union still deadlocked: Chrysler


Sat Mar 28, 3:59 pm ET

DETROIT, Michigan (AFP) – The Canadian branch of ailing US automaker Chrysler and the Canadian Auto Workers union have not yet reached an agreement to reduce costs, Chrysler’s chief negotiator said in a statement Saturday.

“After several days of bargaining in good faith, Chrysler and the CAW have not reached an agreement that closes the competitive gap with other automobile manufacturers in Canada, to ensure Chrysler’s immediate viability,” said Al Iacobelli, Chrysler’s chief bargainer.

If both sides fail to reach an agreement, Chrysler has vowed to permanently shutter its Canadian operations, putting some 8,000 Canadians out of work.

12 As Americans tighten belts, shopping malls cut hours

by Virginie Montet, AFP

Sat Mar 28, 2:54 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – As Americans tighten their belts to cope in the grim economy, the venerable US shopping mall has begun to suffer and many are quietly cutting back on their opening hours.

Shops in malls which used to stay open until nearly midnight in some states — and 24 hours in others — have begun opening later in the morning and closing earlier at night.

“Generally, we open a half-hour later and close a half-hour earlier, for a net reduction of five to six hours a week,” said Katy Dickey, spokeswoman for Australian group Westfield, which manages 55 malls across the United States.

13 Danish employment model put to test in meltdown

By KARL RITTER, Associated Press Writer

Sun Mar 29, 11:45 am ET

COPENHAGEN – Dennis Harmon lost his job, but that doesn’t mean he’ll lose his livelihood.

The veteran bricklayer is entitled to the maximum jobless benefits in Denmark: $594 a week. After taxes, that’s enough to cover rent for his two-room apartment outside Copenhagen, utilities and payments on his 1996 Opel Vectra.

“There’s not much left for fun,” mutters Harmon, a 40-year-old Dane whose surname is tattooed on his right forearm.

14 US banks on ‘sustainable’ recovery from recession

by P. Parameswaran, AFP

2 hrs 30 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Sunday that any recovery of the world’s largest economy from prolonged recession has to be sustainable and not based on an “artificial boom.”

Speaking ahead of a London G20 summit where the global economic crisis will take center stage, he said most private economists believed the US economy would hit “a more durable bottom” in the second half of 2009 to set the stage for resumption of growth.

“We want to have a stronger, more sustainable recovery, not a recovery based on an artificial boom that is not going to be sustainable,” he said in an interview with the NBC broadcast network.

15 Mobile clinic brings healthcare to America’s poor

by Erika Berenstein, AFP

Sat Mar 28, 6:12 am ET

FREDERICK, Maryland (AFP) – Patients at the Mission of Mercy free mobile medical clinic in the state of Maryland usually begin lining up before dawn just to get a shot at seeing the dentist or doctor.

Most haven’t seen any kind of medical professional in months, many have run out of vital medicines for chronic conditions, and all have few other options to access any kind of healthcare.

According to a recent study by the non-profit organization Families USA, one out of three Americans spent a stretch of time last year with no medical coverage. Health insurance is out of reach to many in the United States because it is so expensive.

16 Treasury secretary says market won’t solve problem

By PHILIP ELLIOTT, Associated Press Writer

Sun Mar 29, 3:11 pm ET

WASHINGTON – Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner defended his approach to fixing the country’s economic mess Sunday, saying “the market will not solve this” while disclosing a bailout fund for battered banks has $135 billion left and might need more.

Geithner used his first Sunday talk show appearances to promote President Barack Obama’s massive government spending plan to ease credit, help borrowers and inject billions of dollars into the financial sector. Long kept behind the scenes, the treasury secretary has emerged as the administration’s champion of a plan that fueled an uptick in Wall Street markets.

“We came through a period where people borrowed too much and we let our financial system take on much too much risk,” Geithner said. “And the consequences of those choices, made over years, were a huge boom. And that boom, the air is now coming out of that and that’s causing enormous damage.”

From Yahoo News Business

17 GM CEO Wagoner to step down at White House request

By TOM KRISHER and KEN THOMAS, Associated Press Writers

40 mins ago

DETROIT – General Motors Corp. Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner will step down immediately at the request of the White House, administration officials said Sunday. The news comes as President Obama prepares to unveil additional restructuring efforts designed to save the domestic auto industry.

The officials asked not to be identified because details of the restructuring plan have not yet been made public. On Monday, Obama is to announce measures to restructure GM and Chrysler LLC in exchange for additional government loans. The companies have been living on $17.4 billion in government aid and have requested $21.6 billion more.

Wagoner’s departure indicates that more management changes may be part of the deal, but it is still unclear who will be put in charge of GM. The automaker recently promoted Fritz Henderson, its former chief financial officer, to become president and chief operating officer. Many in the company thought he would eventually succeed Wagoner.

18 Toy, luxury stores eye Christmas 2009 with caution


Sun Mar 29, 12:45 pm ET

NEW YORK – Shoppers may be thinking about spring, but some retailers are reluctantly setting their sights on Christmas.

Still suffering whiplash from the worst holiday selling season in at least four decades, major toy sellers and upscale merchants – who must order Christmas stock earlier than most retailers – are exercising extreme caution as they plan for the rest of the year.

They’re ordering at lower prices, they’re keeping orders small and they’re planning to buy more only if consumer demand picks up, said David Wolfe, creative director of The Doneger Group, which consults with stores on apparel buying.

19 Ethnic press stung by recession, advertising drop

By TERENCE CHEA, Associated Press Writer

Sun Mar 29, 12:25 pm ET

SAN FRANCISCO – The sinking economy is threatening the ethnic publications that immigrant communities rely upon to stay informed and navigate American life.

Although the ethnic press once seemed immune to the forces hurting mainstream newspapers across the country, a growing number of publications that serve immigrant and minority communities are laying off staff, closing print editions or shutting down altogether.

Unlike mainstream newspapers, which have seen circulation decline over the decades, most ethnic publications have been retaining or expanding their print readership base, thanks to the growth of immigrant populations with strong newspaper reading habits.

20 Ethnic press stung by recession, advertising drop

By TERENCE CHEA, Associated Press Writer

Sun Mar 29, 12:25 pm ET

SAN FRANCISCO – The sinking economy is threatening the ethnic publications that immigrant communities rely upon to stay informed and navigate American life.

Although the ethnic press once seemed immune to the forces hurting mainstream newspapers across the country, a growing number of publications that serve immigrant and minority communities are laying off staff, closing print editions or shutting down altogether.

Unlike mainstream newspapers, which have seen circulation decline over the decades, most ethnic publications have been retaining or expanding their print readership base, thanks to the growth of immigrant populations with strong newspaper reading habits.

21 Obama seeks to rein in Wall Street, broaden agenda

By JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press Writer

Sun Mar 29, 3:55 am ET

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats are stepping through an economic minefield and sowing the ground with unprecedented initiatives that capitalize on the recession to rein in Wall Street and broaden government’s reach.

Nothing better illustrated this watershed than the bustle and scope of the past few days.

Obama’s treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, touched off a Wall Street rally with a long-awaited plan to help rid banks of their toxic assets. Geithner rolled out a comprehensive overhaul of financial regulations in hopes of avoiding another meltdown. Congressional Democrats worked to put their own imprint on a budget full of ambition but saddled with deficits.

22 How 4 families try to recover from foreclosure


Sun Mar 29, 12:20 am ET

You’ve heard about the bad mortgages, about sad struggles with insolvency, about the wave of foreclosures that has crashed over America. But what happens next?

Every day, thousands of Americans begin their lives again after they are ejected from their homes.

They rent, live with friends or family, or seek refuge in a shelter. They usually have stacks of overdue bills, empty savings accounts, and a red flag on their credit reports that will take years to fade. They often suffer from feelings of shame, failure and displacement.

23 Hard times mean new opportunities for Big Oil

By JOHN PORRETTO, AP Energy Writer

Sun Mar 29, 12:10 am ET

HOUSTON – Plunging crude prices have begun to play out in favor of Western oil companies in one regard, giving them leverage with oil-rich countries that only months ago had no reason to compromise.

Countries like Venezuela, Libya and Russia have kept a tight grip on their vast oil reserves in recent years as crude prices soared above $100 per barrel, translating into big revenues. Much of that money, rather than going back into the oil industry, was spent on unrelated political and social programs.

At $50 per barrel, these countries are far more constrained and can’t adequately fund some oil and gas projects.

24 Housing slump frays economy of ‘carpet capital’

By SHANNON McCAFFREY, Associated Press Writer

Sun Mar 29, 12:22 am ET

DALTON, Ga. – Inside a cavernous factory, massive machines that churn out carpeting for Home Depot and Lowe’s were idled on a recent Friday as workers took a forced day off without pay.

Across Dalton, the self-proclaimed “Carpet Capital of the World,” storefronts stood vacant, once bustling restaurants were virtually empty and police battled a rising methamphetamine problem.

This city in the foothills of the Appalachians, which makes nearly 75 percent of the country’s floor coverings, has felt a mountain of economic troubles since the country’s real estate boom went bust.

25 Bill Clinton to LatAm bankers: engage the left

By FRANK BAJAK, Associated Press Writer

Sat Mar 28, 11:33 pm ET

MEDELLIN, Colombia – Former U.S. President Bill Clinton urged the people who run Latin America’s biggest development bank on Saturday not to turn their backs on the leftists in the region who parlayed the poor’s discontent into electoral victories.

Clinton didn’t name Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia, whose presidents have all demonized Washington and expelled U.S. diplomats in recent months, referring to them rather as “Colombia’s neighbors.”

He said he doesn’t agree with their politics but “I do understand why poor people who feel powerless turn away from the messy world of democracy.”

26 China challenges US global financial leadership


Sat Mar 28, 10:16 am ET

SHANGHAI – The only major economy still growing at a fast clip, China is being unusually forthright in challenging the U.S.-led global order ahead of an April 2 summit on the financial crisis.

In his second rebuke of U.S. leadership this past week, the central bank governor, Zhou Xiaochuan, said China’s rapid response to the downturn – including a 4 trillion yuan ($586 billion) stimulus package – proved the superiority of its authoritarian, one-party political system.

“Facts speak volumes, and demonstrate that compared with other major economies, the Chinese government has taken prompt, decisive and effective policy measures, demonstrating its superior system advantage when it comes to making vital policy decisions,” Zhou said in remarks posted on the People’s Bank of China’s Web site.

27 Double-digit unemployment looms, OECD tells G8

By Francesca Piscioneri, Reuters

1 hr 10 mins ago

ROME (Reuters) – The global economic crisis will hit jobs hard, with unemployment set to reach double digits in many developing and advanced countries, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said on Sunday.

“By the end of 2010 the unemployment rate could be approaching double digit figures in all G8 countries with the sole exception of Japan, as well as in the OECD area as a whole,” the OECD forecast in a background paper to G8 labor and employment ministers gathering in Rome.

In new projections to be issued on Tuesday the OECD will forecast growth in the 30-nation bloc will contract by 4.2 percent this year, the Paris-based body’s general secretary, Angel Gurria, told reporters on Friday.

28 Germany sets limits on Opel aid before Merkel visit

By Maria Sheahan, Reuters

Sun Mar 29, 8:31 am ET

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Germany’s economy minister said on Sunday that there were a host of investors interested in troubled carmaker Opel, but warned they could not expect Berlin to assume all the financial risks linked to the company.

Ahead of a Tuesday visit by Chancellor Angela Merkel to Opel’s headquarters in Ruesselsheim, Economy Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg tempered hopes that the government would stick out its own neck to save the company.

Opel, a unit of struggling U.S. carmaker General Motors (GM.N), employs about 25,000 people in Germany and has said it needs 3.3 billion euros in state aid from European governments to save jobs and keep plants open.

29 Fiat, Chrysler await U.S. government terms to close deal

By Kevin Krolicki and Gilles Castonguay, Reuters

Sat Mar 28, 6:02 pm ET

WASHINGTON/MILAN (Reuters) – The boards of Chrysler LLC and Fiat SpA have given executives approval to complete an alliance deal that now hinges on the terms for additional aid for the struggling Detroit automaker, according to people with knowledge of the discussions.

The development comes two days before U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to make an announcement on auto industry aid and more than two months after teams from Chrysler and Fiat began reviewing the proposed tie-up and developing a business plan for their combined operations.

Final terms of any deal will depend on what terms the U.S. autos task force headed by former investment banker Steve Rattner imposes on Chrysler as a condition for providing additional funding, according to the sources, who asked not to be identified because of the confidential nature of the talks.

30 Fresh writedowns, more job cuts seen at UBS: report


Sun Mar 29, 5:14 am ET

ZURICH (Reuters) – Switzerland’s UBS (UBSN.VX) (UBS.N) is expected to announce more writedowns and job cuts in the coming days, Swiss newspaper Sonntag reported on Sunday.

Shares in UBS, the world’s largest wealth manager in terms of assets, fell 7 percent on Friday as rumors swirled of a profit warning and more writedowns in the first quarter. The bank, one of Europe’s hardest-hit in the crisis, has already written down more than $49 billion since mid-2007.

Sonntag said UBS would write down at least another $2 billion on illiquid assets, including asset categories so far not much in the spotlight such as Credit Linked Obligations (CLOs), the paper said citing people familiar with the matter.

31 Peugeot board sacks boss Streiff

by Simon Boehm, AFP

Sun Mar 29, 5:47 pm ET

PARIS (AFP) – Peugeot on Sunday ousted chief executive Christian Streiff as France’s biggest carmaker struggles in the international economic crisis.

“Given the extraordinary difficulties currently faced by the automotive industry, the supervisory board decided unanimously that a change in the senior leadership position was necessary,” PSA Peugeot-Citroen supervisory board chairman Thierry Peugeot said in a statement.

The company said Streiff will be replaced by Philippe Varin, 56, current chief executive of the Anglo-Dutch steel group Corus, who will take over as Peugeot chief on June 1.

32 Spain makes first crisis bank takeover

by Fabien Zamora, AFP

Sun Mar 29, 5:10 pm ET

MADRID (AFP) – Spain’s central bank took over a struggling savings bank on Sunday and prepared to pour in emergency cash, its first rescue in the financial crisis.

The central bank said in a statement that it placed the Caja de Ahorros Castilla La Mancha (CCM) under special administration, and the government met to discuss a cash injection of up to nine billion euros (12 billion euros).

CCM “faces problems of liquidity that can only be resolved through financing from the Bank of Spain,” Economy Minister Pedro Solbes told reporters after an urgent government meeting.

33 Germany’s Hypo Real Estate will survive: CEO

by Richard Carter, AFP

Sun Mar 29, 10:32 am ET

BERLIN (AFP) – Germany’s stricken Hypo Real Estate bank will survive, its head insisted Sunday, after the government said it would take an 8.7 percent stake in the lender as the first step towards full nationalisation.

Speaking a day after unveiling a net 2008 loss of 5.46 billion euros (7.26 billion dollars), chief executive Axel Wieandt hailed the state’s decision to buy 20 million HRE shares for 60 million euros as “good news.”

“With the proposed long-term liquidity and capital support, the Federal Republic … has put in place the necessary requirements for HRE to continue,” Wieandt said in a conference call.

34 G8 labour ministers kick off ‘social summit’

by Gina Doggett, AFP

Sun Mar 29, 3:42 pm ET

ROME (AFP) – Labour ministers from the Group of Eight wealthy nations on Sunday launched a meeting to examine the human cost of the financial crisis, as an OECD report forecasts rising unemployment in its bloc.

The three-day meeting comes after protests in several European capitals on Saturday ahead of a much-anticipated summit of the Group of 20 developed and developing nations Thursday in London on the financial crisis.

The Rome meeting will aim to “get a seat at the table” at the G20 for labour concerns, said John Evans, the chief trade unions adviser to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

35 Crisis spawns loan defaults in once boomtown Dubai

by Ola Galal, AFP

2 hrs 48 mins ago

DUBAI (AFP) – The unthinkable is happening in once-booming Dubai where credit not many months ago was as easy as the lifestyle — the world financial crisis is spawning a rising number of loan defaulters.

And as jobs are slashed and liquidity dries up in the Gulf emirate, borrowing has become almost impossible, especially for items such as luxury cars, financial experts and traders say.

Thousands of job cuts have been announced in the emirate as companies pare staffing levels, while according to reports salaries of some highly paid executives have been slashed in half, reversing a six-year upward trend that had lured foreigners to the city in droves.

36 Financial storm hits leisure boat sales in Mideast

by Miret El Naggar, AFP

Sat Mar 28, 11:43 pm ET

DUBAI (AFP) – Sales of luxury and leisure vessels are on the rocks in the Middle East, where owning a boat for cruising, entertaining or fishing is seen as a status symbol, industry officials say.

Marine consultant Mike Derrett estimates that boat sales in the Middle East will halve in the next one to two years, down from 1,200 boats sold last year and 1,500 sold in 2007, due to the global economic downturn.

Despite the market hitting the doldrums, however, the effects of the credit crunch will be gentler in the Middle East than in the United States or Europe, where sales are expected to plunge by 75 percent, he predicts.

37 British gov’t to salvage Scotland’s biggest building society


Sat Mar 28, 7:38 pm ET

LONDON (AFP) – The British government said Saturday it would step in to save Scotland’s biggest building society, the latest lender crippled by the credit crunch.

The Dunfermline Building Society is expected to announce losses of 26 million pounds (37 million dollars, 28 million euros) next week and Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy said the government was stepping in to protect depositors.

The BBC reported that the regulators — the Bank of England, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and the British government — decided the Dunfermline was no longer viable and forced its sale.

38 Corruption cases mushroom as Dubai bubble bursts

by Ali Khalil, AFP

Sat Mar 28, 11:25 pm ET

DUBAI (AFP) – Faced with a sudden economic slowdown, Dubai is trying to combat the fraud cases that surged during the past years of rapid economic growth in a bid to boost its status as a regional business hub.

But the clean-up drive has stirred controversy as several former executives of major firms, suspected of embezzling sums which total hundreds of millions of dollars, have been held for months without charge.

The economic boom of the past several years appears to be the main culprit.

Late Breaking News

39 Cambodia to resume KRouge prison chief trial

by Patrick Falby, AFP

1 hr 1 min ago

PHNOM PENH (AFP) – Cambodia’s UN-backed genocide tribunal resumes its first trial of a Khmer Rouge leader Monday, bringing the regime’s chief torturer to justice for the “Killing Fields” atrocities 30 years ago.

Former maths teacher Kaing Guek Eav — better known as Duch — will be read charges that he ran the main prison for the hardline communist regime which killed up to two million people, and is expected to apologise later this week.

“It’s certain that he will use the opportunity given to him to speak to the judges, to the victims and, beyond that, with the Cambodian population,” Duch’s French lawyer Francois Roux told AFP.

40 AK Party wins Turkish vote but reforms less clear

By Selcuk Gokoluk and Ibon Villelabeitia, Reuters

Sun Mar 29, 6:59 pm ET

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey’s ruling AK Party won local elections on Sunday but Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, hurt by a weak economy, fell short of a sweeping victory that would have smoothed the way for reforms in the EU candidate.

The AK Party was unable to win the city of Diyarbakir, the largest in the Kurdish southeast, and several other key cities, including Izmir. The secularist opposition also made inroads in Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, and in the capital Ankara.

The vote, the first time the Islamist-rooted AK Party had suffered a slide in support since it swept to power in 2002, took place against a backdrop of record unemployment and a worsening economy. Turkey’s once booming economy has been severely hit by the global economic crisis.

41 Montenegro PM claims landslide re-election

by Olivera Nikolic, AFP

Sun Mar 29, 5:07 pm ET

PODGORICA (AFP) – Montenegro’s veteran Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic claimed a landslide victory in general elections held Sunday amid a looming economic crisis for the EU and NATO hopeful nation.

“We are announcing the victory of the Democratic Party of Socialists,” DPS political director Predrag Sekulic told cheering supporters at its campaign headquarters in the capital Podgorica.

“This victory is even more important because it comes at a time of the speeding up of European integration and the maturing of democracy in Montenegro,” Sekulic said.

42 Arrest of Sunni leaders raises fears of broader clashes

By Leila Fadel, McClatchy Newspapers

Sun Mar 29, 7:21 pm ET

BAGHDAD_The arrest of two Sunni paramilitary leaders in Baghdad and the violent clashes that followed this weekend have cast a harsh light on a U.S. program on which Iraq’s future stability may depend – the integration of U.S.-backed militias into Iraq’s security forces and government ministries.

The latest violence, coupled with a pattern of arrests of Sunni leaders in other parts of Iraq , raises fears that the integration plan could collapse, and with it the understandings that led to drastically lower levels of violence throughout the country.

Tensions were high in Baghdad’s Fadhil neighborhood Sunday, where at least 18 people were wounded in hours-long clashes on Saturday and Sunday morning. The Iraqi Army sealed off the district, and helicopters circled in the air, as Iraqi troops surrounded members of the Sons of Iraq and demanded they hand over their arms.

43 Obama flies into protests and discord on first trip to Europe

By Julie Sell, McClatchy Newspapers

Sun Mar 29, 4:40 pm ET

LONDON – It won’t be a love fest when Barack Obama sits down with other world leaders for talks on the world economic crisis at his European debut as president of the United States this week, and meanwhile, on the streets of London , throngs of protesters are planning to vent their outrage at bankers, government bailouts and fat bonuses paid to top financial executives.

The continuing economic crisis has raised the stakes high for Obama, as for every other leader of the so-called G-20 nations, whom he’ll meet at a summit Wednesday night and Thursday, following a State visit to Britain .

Effects of the downturn are rippling around the world, hitting Europe in some ways harder than the United States . Britain’s economic outlook is even bleaker than America’s despite its own massive government stimulus.


  1. Not so highly organized.

  2. i could help someone by sending some stories later, but really booked today.  

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