Bailout Helps Fuel a New Era of Wall Street Wealth
By GRAHAM BOWLEY
Published: October 16, 2009
Even as the economy continues to struggle, much of Wall Street is minting money – and looking forward again to hefty bonuses.
Many Americans wonder how this can possibly be. How can some banks be prospering so soon after a financial collapse, even as legions of people worry about losing their jobs and their homes?
It may come as a surprise that one of the most powerful forces driving the resurgence on Wall Street is not the banks but Washington. Many of the steps that policy makers took last year to stabilize the financial system – reducing interest rates to near zero, bolstering big banks with taxpayer money, guaranteeing billions of dollars of financial institutions’ debts – helped set the stage for this new era of Wall Street wealth.
Frankfurt book fair’s controversial guest of honor: China
Critics said choosing a guest of honor that jails writers is wrong, while others said the German fair’s inclusion of China is a way to break down walls.
By Isabelle de Pommereau | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
from the October 17, 2009 edition
FRANKFURT – The Frankfurt Book Fair is about literature, art, and culture. It’s also a platform for controversy.
Whom the fair chooses as its guest of honor is what gets it in trouble. That was the case with Turkey in 2008, Spain’s Catalonia region in 2007, Korea in 2005, and the members of the Arab League in 2004.
And now, with China.
Why, many say, highlight a country that muzzles writers with strict censorship laws, allows them to languish in prison, and has a poor human rights records, as with Tibet? And when Chinese officials walked out of a pre-fair symposium to protest the presence of two dissident writers, Dai Qing and Bei Ling, many asked: Did China deserve to be invited to the world’s biggest publishing marketplace?
But books build bridges, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at the book fair’s opening ceremony Tuesday. Recalling the thrill of waiting for books to be smuggled from (then) West Germany into (then) East Germany, where she grew up, Mrs. Merkel said that “books played a big role in winning the cold war.”
Record-High Deficit May Dash Big Plans
$1.4 Trillion in Red Ink Means Less to Spend On Obama’s Ambitious Jobs, Stimulus Policies
By Lori Montgomery and Neil Irwin
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, October 17, 2009
The federal budget deficit soared to a record $1.4 trillion in the fiscal year that ended in September, a chasm of red ink unequaled in the postwar era that threatens to complicate the most ambitious goals of the Obama administration, including plans for fresh spending to create jobs and spur economic recovery.
Still, the figure represents a significant improvement over the darkest deficit projections, which had been as much as $400 billion higher earlier this year, when the economy was wallowing in recession.
ICE-local immigration partnership to remain
But federal authorities promise more oversight of the 287(g) program, and less authority for Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona — its most controversial participant.
By Anna Gorman
October 17, 2009
Despite continuing criticism about the program, authorities announced Friday that 67 local and state law enforcement agencies across the country would continue enforcing immigration law under special agreements with the federal government, but that they would be subject to more oversight.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement also limited the authority of the most controversial participant, Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz., who is under investigation by the Department of Justice for possible civil rights violations. Arpaio can still identify illegal immigrants in the jails but can no longer conduct immigration sweeps in his community under the federal program known as 287(g).
ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton said Arpaio’s sweeps were “not consistent” with the agency’s priorities.
Pakistan starts offensive in South Waziristan
By Munir Ahmad, Associated Press
Saturday, 17 October 2009
Pakistan launched a much-awaited ground offensive in the al-Qaida and Taliban stronghold of South Waziristan this morning.
The ground offensive comes on the heels of months of airstrikes that have softened up militant defences and spurred tens of thousands of civilians to flee the region along the Afghan border. The full-scale operation also comes after two weeks of militant attacks that have killed more than 175 people and ramped up the pressure on the army to take on the insurgents.
President Karzai’s share of Afghan vote is slashed by fraud officials
From The Times
October 17, 2009
Jerome Starkey in Kabul
President Karzai could be forced to form a coalition government in Afghanistan or face a second round of voting after electoral fraud officials slashed his share of the vote to below 50 per cent.
After more than eight weeks investigating 2,584 allegations of election fraud, misconduct and vote-rigging, the UN-backed Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) is expected to cut Mr Karzai’s lead to about 47 per cent today. If the figure is upheld as final, it would mean that the President would have a run-off with his closest rival, Dr Abdullah Abdullah.
Mr Karzai insisted that reports of irregularities were fabricated and politically motivated. Diplomats fear that he will reject the commission’s rulings.
Palestinian refugees reject ‘sell-out’ deal
By Mahan Abedin
BEIRUT – The latest tri-lateral Middle East peace talks have been overshadowed by the United Nations report by Richard Goldstone that accuses both Israel and Hamas of war crimes in Gaza and the candid remarks by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to the effect that there is no “solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the region should learn to “live” with the consequences.
But even before Lieberman’s remarks, it was patently obvious that the latest peace drive, like numerous ones before it, was doomed to fail, not least because it made no determined effort to seek a solution to the plight of Palestinian refugees. Putting together arrangements that go some way towards meeting the Palestinian demand for a “right of return” is absolutely essential to unraveling the intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Twist in Iraq’s democracy: anti-American party pushes electoral reform
Ahead of January elections, supporters of the Sadr movement cast ballots for individual candidates – rather than parties – for the first time in a primary poll.
By Jane Arraf | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
from the October 16, 2009 edition
BAGHDAD – In an unexpected twist for Iraq’s nascent democracy, an anti-American party is speeding ahead with electoral reform while the Iraqi parliament is gridlocked over how to run national elections slated for January.
On Friday, supporters of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr voted directly for candidates in a primary poll ahead of national elections, calling it a milestone in the democratic process. The vote is believed by Iraqi officials to be the first time that choosing candidates for any party outside Iraqi Kurdistan has been placed in the hands of ordinary Iraqis.
“I can say that the Sadr movement achieved the highest level of democracy,” says Sheikh Salman al-Furaiji, in charge of the Sadr offices on the Rusafah side of Baghdad, where 53 polling sites were open on Friday. Some 300,000 registered voters were to vote for almost 700 candidates in south and central Iraq.
Austria and Poland to help foot Opel takeover bill
German Economy Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg announced Friday that Austria and Poland had agreed to pump state money into the deal to complete Magna’s takeover of crisis-hit car manufacturer Opel.
The deal to secure the future of German auto giant Opel took an important step to completion on Friday, when both Poland and Austria agreed to foot part of the bill. Speaking in Berlin, German Economy Minister Guttenberg also talked of positive signals from the UK and Spain.
The future of crisis-ridden auto giant Opel has been the subject of intense speculation since US parent company General Motors announced it would sell their subsidiary, which employed 50,000 people across Europe.
After long negotiations, Canadian auto supplier Magna, along with Russian bank Sberbank, agreed to buy Opel on condition there would be a 4.5-billion-euro ($6.7 billion) injection of state cash.
Serbian president charged with hooliganism after opening champagne to celebrate World Cup qualification
Belgrade police charged Serbian President Boris Tadic for allegedly violating anti-hooligan laws by opening a bottle of champagne to celebrate Serbia’s World Cup qualification.
Published: 6:30AM BST 17 Oct 2009
Mr Tadic and a number of other officials uncorked the champagne in a VIP lounge at Red Star Belgrade’s stadium last Saturday after Serbia’s victory over Romania qualified them for the 2010 football World Cup in South Africa.
Police filed charges to a magistrate in Belgrade against Mr Tadic, Serbia’s Football Association chief Tomislav Karadzic, Sports Minister Snezana Markovic-Samardzic and other officials for “violating the law preventing violence and indecent behaviour at sports matches,” the statement said.
The law, aimed at suppressing violence at sports events in Serbia, prohibits the sale or consumption of alcohol in stadiums and arenas.
Mr Tadic has already said he would pay a fine if a magistrate found him guilty of the misdemeanour.
Tsvangirai to boycott unity government over Mugabe’s ‘dishonest’ behaviour
Zimbabwe prime minister says president not co-operating and election may be necessary if crisis is not resolved
Xan Rice in Nairobi
guardian.co.uk, Friday 16 October 2009 16.36 BST
Zimbabwe’s prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, said today that his party was boycotting the unity government over the “dishonest and unreliable” behaviour of President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF allies.
Addressing a news conference in Harare, Tsvangirai stopped short of pulling out of the coalition but said fresh elections might eventually be necessary if the political crisis was not resolved.
Though the decision was sparked by the detention this week of Roy Bennett, a Movement for Democratic Change minister, it reflects months of frustration over the lack of genuine power-sharing.
Darfur: A deadly new chapter
Africa’s most feared rebel army arrives in region, threatening to reignite the conflict
By Daniel Howden, Africa correspondent
Saturday, 17 October 2009
The Lord’s Resistance Army, one of the most feared guerrilla groups in Africa, has moved into Darfur, one of the continent’s most troubled regions, intelligence sources in Sudan say.
The unexpected move by the LRA comes just as the war-weary west of Sudan recedes from world headlines and after the UN mission there had tentatively declared the fighting to be over. The possible arrival of a messianic cult notorious for rape, civilian massacres and the enslavement of child soldiers threatens that fragile peace. The LRA has been terrorising the north of the Democratic Republic of Congo for 18 months but the bulk of its forces have now crossed into southern Darfur, a senior official in the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) told The Independent.
In Mexico, gruesome slayings add to Guerrero’s toll
The mutilated corpses of nine people were found in plastic bags in the bed of a pickup the southern Mexico state of Guerrero, authorities say. The area is known for its drug trafficking.
By Ken Ellingwood
October 17, 2009
Reporting from Mexico City – Mutilated bodies of nine people turned up in the southern state of Guerrero, authorities said Friday, amid an increase in drug-related violence there.
The bodies had been beheaded, hacked to pieces and left in 18 black plastic bags in the bed of a pickup in the town of Tlapehuala, Guerrero’s public safety department said.
Officials said they had not identified the victims, whose remains were found late Thursday in a rural zone, nicknamed Tierra Caliente, or “hot land,” that is known for drug-trafficking activity.
Three other people were found dead Friday in separate locations in the Acapulco beach resort, authorities said. Each of the bodies was accompanied by a threatening note signed “the boss of bosses.