Estimate of TARP losses falls to $25 billion
The projected cost of the $700-billion financial bailout fund drops sharply, according to a new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
By Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times
November 30, 2010
Reporting from Washington –
The projected cost of the $700-billion financial bailout fund – initially feared to be a huge hit to taxpayers – continues to drop, with the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimating Monday that losses would amount to just $25 billion.
That’s a sharp drop from the CBO’s last estimate, in August, of a $66-billion loss for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, known as TARP. Going back to March, the budget office estimated that the program would cost taxpayers $109 billion.
Rifts mar Cancun climate conference
Mexico’s president urges nations to look beyond their nations’ border and consider all humanity at climate summit.
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2010
Frustrated at past failures, climate negotiators have begun a critical two-week conference with a call from Mexico’s president to think beyond their nations’ borders and consider all humanity as they bargain over an agreement to fight global warming.
“The atmosphere is indifferent to the sovereignty of states,” Felipe Calderon, Mexico’s president, said in the keynote speech opening the conference on Monday.
“It would be a tragedy if our inability to see beyond our personal interests, our group or national interests makes us fail,” Calderon said in a speech to 15,000 delegates, business leaders, activists and journalists.
Three years of talks have been stymied by a sometimes acrimonious divide among industrial and developing countries about their responsibilities in fighting climate change and accepting legal limits on how much they can continue to pollute.
U.S. and South Korea Reject Talks With North
By HELENE COOPER and SHARON LaFRANIERE
Published: November 29, 2010
WASHINGTON – The United States, South Korea and Japan are all balking at China’s request for emergency talks with North Korea over the crisis on the Korean Peninsula, as high-profile military exercises between South Korea and the United States in the Yellow Sea continued on Monday in a show of force.
Obama administration officials said that a return to the table with North Korea, as China sought this weekend, would be rewarding the North for provocative behavior over the past week, including its deadly artillery attack on a South Korean island and its disclosure of a uranium enrichment plant. Beijing called for emergency talks with North Korea, the United States, Japan, South Korea and Russia, participants in the six-party nuclear talks, which have been suspended indefinitely.
NJ must pay $271M to feds for killing tunnel to NY
By ANGELA DELLI SANTI
The Associated Press
TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey owes the federal government more than $271 million after canceling a rail tunnel connecting the state with New York, according to a debt notice obtained Monday by The Associated Press.
The letter from the Federal Transit Administration’s chief financial officer to NJ Transit’s executive director demands payment of $271,101,291 by Dec. 24.
It’s money the government wants New Jersey to repay for work done on the Hudson River tunnel before Republican Gov. Chris Christie terminated the project. The notification follows a warning letter earlier this month estimating the charges.
Bailout fails to calm markets as costs rise in Spain and Portugal
The Irish Times – Tuesday, November 30, 2010
ARTHUR BEESLEY, DEAGLÁN DE BRÉADÚN and HARRY McGEE
A RENEWED wave of volatility swept through European markets as the €85 billion EU-IMF bailout of Ireland failed to dampen anxiety that Portugal and Spain may need external aid.
As the euro fell to its lowest level for two months against the dollar, pressure on heavily indebted counties such as Italy and Belgium was seen as evidence that the Irish rescue has failed to avert contagion in the euro zone.
EU leaders had hoped markets would take comfort from the completion of the Irish rescue deal and their steps to clarify how private investors would shoulder a burden in any sovereign rescues after 2013..
271 Picasso paintings discovered in Paris
As a retired odd job man and electrician, Pierre Le Guennec is the unlikeliest of art collectors to be discovered with a haul of 271 unknown works by Picasso.
By Henry Samuel, Paris
It is perhaps why the French police arrested the 71-year-old when they discovered the cache of sketches and paintings worth £50m at his Riviera home.
Mr Le Guennec claims that he was given the collection by the artist when he carried out odd jobs for him at his Côte d’Azur home 40 years ago.
However, Picasso’s son, Claude, suspects that the works were stolen.
The pieces, dating from 1900 to 1932, include portraits of Picasso’s first wife, Olga, nine highly-prized Cubist collages worth €40 million (£36 million), a watercolour from his “blue” period, studies of his hand on canvas, gouaches, around 30 lithographs and 200 drawings.
Israel accused over ‘cruel’ Gaza blockade
Report calls for end to embargo, saying easing agreed by Israel six months ago has done little to improve plight of Gaza civilians
Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem
The Guardian, Tuesday 30 November 2010
Gaza’s 1.5 million people are still suffering from a shortage of construction materials, a ban on exports and severe restrictions on movement six months after Israel agreed to ease its blockade on the territory, according to a report from 21 international organisations.
The loosening of the embargo has done little to improve the plight of Gaza’s civilians, according to the coalition, which includes Amnesty, Oxfam, Save the Children, Christian Aid and Medical Aid for Palestinians. It calls for fresh international action to persuade Israel to unconditionally lift the blockade.
Now we know. America really doesn’t care about injustice in the Middle East.
Robert Fisk Tuesday, 30 November 2010
I came to the latest uproarious US diplomatic history with the deepest cynicism. And yesterday, in the dust of post-election Cairo – the Egyptian parliamentary poll was as usual a mixture of farce and fraud, which is at least better than shock and awe – I ploughed through so many thousands of American diplomatic reports with something approaching utter hopelessness. After all, they do quote President Hosni Mubarak as saying that “you can forget about democracy,” don’t they?
It’s not that US diplomats don’t understand the Middle East; it’s just that they’ve lost all sight of injustice. Vast amounts of diplomatic literature prove that the mainstay of Washington’s Middle East policy is alignment with Israel, that its principal aim is to encourage the Arabs to join the American-Israeli alliance against Iran, that the compass point of US policy over years and years is the need to tame/bully/crush/oppress/ ultimately destroy the power of Iran.
WikiLeaks: China weary of North Korea behaving like ‘spoiled child’
By Tim Lister, CNN
New documents posted on the websites of the Guardian and The New York Times suggest Chinese officials are losing patience with long-time ally North Korea. Senior figures in Beijing have even described the regime in the North as behaving like a “spoiled child.”
According to cables obtained by WikiLeaks, South Korea’s then vice foreign minister, Chun Yung-woo, said earlier this year that senior Chinese officials (whose names are redacted in the cables) had told him they believed Korea should be reunified under Seoul’s control, and that this view was gaining ground with the leadership in Beijing.
Teetering Asian dominoes test Obama
“You have a row of dominoes set up, you knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly. So you could have a beginning of a disintegration that would have the most profound influences.”
– Dwight Eisenhower, former US president
By Victor Kotsev
TEL AVIV – The domino theory once governed American strategic thinking with respect to communism in Asia. It was one of the main justifications for the disastrous war in Vietnam, and was discredited greatly in the wake of it. However, looking at the situation in Asia today from the point of view of the United States government, it seems that the specter of the falling dominoes is rapidly coming back to haunt President Barack Obama, if not in its classical form, at least as a kind of a ripple effect in an already fragile region.
The crisis between North and South Korea is a good example of that. The tension that soared last week after North Korean shelled an island south of the Northern Limit Line (NLL), killing four, has not subsided yet, and the ripples are being felt throughout the Asian continent.
Mogadishu: Life on the front line in a city laid bare by war
Daniel Howden, in the first of a series of dispatches from Mogadishu, reports on the battle to defeat Islamist militants
The sea breeze carries the sound of Mogadishu’s dawn chorus of munitions as far as the sand dunes high above the Indian Ocean. On the horizon, the grey hull of a foreign warship patrols for pirates; inland, mortars thud out from the African Union (AU) positions around the old harbour and volleys of automatic fire reply from the direction of al-Shabaab’s stronghold at the notorious Bakara Market. The exchanges are interspersed with the sharp crack of sniper fire.
In a seemingly endless war, the battle for the shattered Somali capital has reached another turning point. In among the warren of ruined buildings the African peacekeepers, sent here to protect Somalia’s weak UN-backed government from the onslaught of Islamic extremist militias,are inching forward.
Africa rejects joint stand with EU on climate
A joint declaration on climate change was to have been signed at the conclusion of a two-day Africa-European Union (EU) summit opening in the Libyan capital on Monday. But African diplomats said the idea was rejected by African foreign ministers at a meeting on the eve of the summit.
“The declaration was rejected as it reflected European rather than African priorities,” one African source said.
Asked for comment, an EU diplomat said “it’s not over” and added that further efforts would be made during the summit to find common ground.
Haggling with Allies over New Homes for Detainees
America’s Guantanamo Files
By John Goetz and Frank Hornig
Why was Germany being so intractable? Dan Fried even traveled to Berlin to hand deliver proposals from Washington — and was snubbed. Every attempt by the US special envoy to coerce Germany into taking Guantanamo detainees seemed predestined to fail. German Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schäuble was “very skeptical,” US Ambassador Philip Murphy cabled back home in frustration.
The Americans had similar problems with several countries. In September 2009, US President Barack Obama was keen to finally fulfill his promise to close the Guantanamo detention center on Cuba and send all the remaining prisoners to destinations around the globe. But nobody wanted them — neither his countrymen nor his allies. And least of all the Germans.