A Year After a Cataclysm, Little Change on Wall St.
By ALEX BERENSON
Published: September 11, 2009
Wall Street lives on.
One year after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the surprise is not how much has changed in the financial industry, but how little.
Backstopped by huge federal guarantees, the biggest banks have restructured only around the edges. Employment in the industry has fallen just 8 percent since last September. Only a handful of big hedge funds have closed. Pay is already returning to precrash levels, topped by the 30,000 employees of Goldman Sachs, who are on track to earn an average of $700,000 this year. Nor are major pay cuts likely, according to a report last week from J.P. Morgan Securities. Executives at most big banks have kept their jobs. Financial stocks have soared since their winter lows.
US ready for N Korea direct talks
The US says it would hold direct talks with North Korea to persuade it to return to stalled multilateral talks on ending its nuclear programme.
The BBC Saturday, 12 September 2009
A spokesman for the US state department said that there had been no decision on when such talks might take place.
Philip Crowley insisted the move was not a policy shift and talks would take place within “the six-party process”.
North Korea pulled out of multilateral talks in April after international criticism following a rocket launch.
“It’s a bi-lateral discussion that (is) hopefully…within the six-party context, and it’s designed to convince North Korea to come back to the six-party process and to take affirmative steps towards de-nuclearisation,” Mr Crowley said from Washington.
Attacks Were Defining Moment for Obama
Many Decisions Now Rooted in Threat of That Day, but Critics Question Focus
By Scott Wilson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 11, 2009
In marking his first Sept. 11 anniversary as commander in chief, President Obama told a solemn audience at the Pentagon on Friday, including relatives of those who died there eight years ago, that “no passage of time and no dark skies can ever dull the meaning of this moment.”
It was not hollow rhetoric. The attacks and the steps that the Bush administration took to prevent another one have defined the way Obama views the world and have influenced, more than any other event, his understanding of national security.
That assessment comes from senior Obama advisers, including Bush-era veterans, and from a review of his past remarks about the terrorist strikes and the way the country responded to them.
Dick Armey still has a seat in Washington
Six years after retiring from Congress, the Texas Republican helps lead a rally Saturday opposing President Obama’s healthcare overhaul.
By Mark Z. Barabak
September 12, 2009
Reporting from Washington – When President Obama delivered this week’s big healthcare speech, Dick Armey watched in his apartment near Capitol Hill. Or, rather, he watched until he “couldn’t take it anymore” and went off to work on his wife’s balky computer.
It’s no surprise that Armey tuned out a president he holds in less than high regard. What voter mandate? “He got lucky,” the former Republican House leader said. “Anybody with the Democratic nomination was going to win.”
Nothing Obama said was going to sway him. “He has no understanding nor appreciation for the way a private economy works,” said Armey, a free-marketer to set Adam Smith’s heart aflutter.
Victims’ families tell their stories following Nato airstrike in Afghanistan
‘I took some flesh home and called it my son.’ The Guardian interviews 11 villagers
Ghaith Abdul-Ahad in Kunduz
guardian.co.uk, Friday 11 September 2009 20.05 BST
At first light last Friday, in the Chardarah district of Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan, the villagers gathered around the twisted wreckage of two fuel tankers that had been hit by a Nato airstrike. They picked their way through a heap of almost a hundred charred bodies and mangled limbs which were mixed with ash, mud and the melted plastic of jerry cans, looking for their brothers, sons and cousins. They called out their names but received no answers. By this time, everyone was dead.
What followed is one of the more macabre scenes of this or any war. The grief-stricken relatives began to argue and fight over the remains of the men and boys who a few hours earlier had greedily sought the tanker’s fuel. Poor people in one of the world’s poorest countries, they had been trying to hoard as much as they could for the coming winter.
‘I told the US to talk to the Taliban. They jailed me’
The West must start negotiating with Afghanistan’s Islamists, the former foreign minister tells Kim Sengupta
Saturday, 12 September 2009
He was the man they called the mullah with a human face, the internet mullah, or the Rudolph Hess of the Taliban. Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil was the Taliban’s foreign minister. It was he who in October 2001, a month after 9/11 and weeks before the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, broke ranks with the hardline clerical leadership and tried to broker a peace deal with Washington.
Eight years on, as the West struggles to form a coherent policy on Afghanistan amid mounting domestic opposition to the war, Mullah Muttawakil has claimed that the West has repeatedly squandered chances for peace.
“We have seen a lot of fighting since then, a lot of blood has been spilt, all for what?” he asked.
Uganda rocked by power struggle
Nine killed in rioting after President attempts to block visit by Bugandan king
By Daniel Howden, Africa correspondent
Saturday, 12 September 2009
Uganda was braced for further deadly unrest today as a battle of wills between one of the country’s traditional kings and its autocratic President has spilled over into street fighting.
The traditional leader of the Bugandans, one of four ancient kingdoms in modern Uganda, was to appear this morning at a rally in an area outside the capital he has been banned from visiting. The attempt to prevent King Kabaka Ronald Mutebi from travelling has caused two days of rioting that have rocked Kampala: clashes between police and supporters of the traditional leader have left at least nine people dead.
SAS trains Libyan troops
The SAS has been ordered by the Government to train Libyan special forces despite the country having armed the IRA, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.
By Thomas Harding, Defence Correspondent
Published: 10:35PM BST 11 Sep 2009
For the past six months Britain’s elite troops have been schooling soldiers working for Col Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, which for years provided Republican terrorists with the Semtex explosive, machine-guns and anti-aircraft missiles used against British troops during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
Sources within the SAS have expressed distaste at the agreement, which they believe could be connected to the release of the Lockerbie bomber.Britain’s relationship with Libya has been under the spotlight since Abdelbaset al Megrahi was freed from a Scottish jail on compassionate grounds last month after being diagnosed as suffering from terminal prostate cancer and given three months to live.
Vladimir Putin hints that he could return to lead Russia until 2024
From The Times
September 12, 2009
Richard Beeston in Moscow
Vladimir Putin has given his strongest hint yet that he is considering a return to the Kremlin, a move that could allow the combative Russian leader to stay in power until 2024.
Speaking at the Novo-Ogaryovo official residence outside Moscow, Mr Putin insisted that swapping places with Dimitri Medvedev, the President, was no more sinister than the Labour leadership agreement in which Gordon Brown took Tony Blair’s job.
Mr Putin, who turns 57 next month, expounded on a range of domestic and foreign policy issues that left few in doubt that he remains Russia’s paramount leader, even though he officially occupies the number two position as Prime Minister.
Turkish women in ‘fake Big Brother’ were ‘too afraid to leave house’
Nine young Turkish women taking part in an “Big Brother”-style television show were too afraid to leave a villa in Istanbul for fear of facing a $33,000 fine each, one contestant said on Friday.
Turkish military police raided the villa in Riva, a district of Istanbul this week after receiving a complaint that nine women were being held in confinement for the last two months.
Cameras in the villa with a pool had filmed the women 24 hours a day, providing a live stream of images for Internet users who had paid to access the footage.
“One of our girls called her mother to save us from here as we could not get out,” contestant Buse Kazdal told Reuters TV, adding they managed to borrow a phone from a producer.
“We then packed our bags. We did not know who would come (to rescue us). The mother then called the paramilitary police,” said Kazdal.
EU calls for nuclear talks with Iran
The U.S. says it would join in ‘to see if Iran is willing to engage seriously on these issues.’ Earlier, in Tehran, supreme leader Ali Khamenei says Iran will not halt its nuclear program.
By Borzou daragahi and Ramin Mostaghim
September 12, 2009
The European Union’s foreign policy chief on Friday called for a meeting of world powers with Iran “at the earliest possible opportunity” to discuss Tehran’s nuclear intentions, even as the country’s supreme leader insisted Iran would not halt its nuclear development program.
A State Department spokesman said later that the U.S. would participate in such a face-to-face meeting because “ultimately, the only way that we feel we’re going to be able to resolve these issues is to have a meeting.”
Rum and cigars at stake in family’s bid to win compensation from Cuba
• Relatives of executed man seek ruling on trademarks
• Lawyers believe courts can unlock regime’s assets
Richard Luscombe in Miami
guardian.co.uk, Friday 11 September 2009 20.20 BST
They are the quintessential ingredients of a sultry Havana night: cocktails blended from premium rum and hand-rolled cigars so fine that Fidel Castro would smoke no other brand.
But now a court in Miami may hand two of Cuba’s most prized assets – the trademarks for Havana Club rum and Cohiba cigars – to the family of a man executed on the island half a century ago.
Bobby Fuller, a former US marine who owned a sugar plantation in Cuba, was shot by firing squad in October 1960, less than 24 hours after his arrest and trial for alleged disloyalty to Castro’s communist revolution.