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10.09.08 Brown will punish 'irresponsible' fat cats

October 9 - Bankers and financiers who take irresponsible risks should be “punished” for their actions, Gordon Brown said today. Following yesterday's massive Government bailout for the banks, the Prime Minister spoke of his anger at the way some in the City had behaved. "I am angry at irresponsible behavior," he told GMTV. "Our economy is built around people who work hard, who show effort, who take responsible decisions, and whether there is excessive and irresponsible risk-taking, that has got to be punished." Mr. Brown said the banks who signed up to the rescue plan, thereby accepting the partial nationalization of their companies, would have to accept that there could be no more huge bonus pay-outs for top executives. “The days of big bonuses are over. One of the conditions of us helping the banks is that we will have to reach an agreement about their executive remuneration,” he said. [More>>timesonline.co.uk]

10.09.08 Administration is considering cash injections into banks

WASHINGTON, October 9 - Having tried without success to unlock frozen credit markets, the Treasury Department is considering taking ownership stakes in many United States banks to try to restore confidence in the financial system, the White House said on Thursday. Acknowledging that such steps would not seem to fit into President Bush's free-market philosophy, the president's chief spokeswoman, Dana Perino, said taking partial ownership of banks and other moves associated with the financial rescue plan would not be "part of his natural instincts."

"But when presented with the evidence that the financial crisis about to hit the United States would affect every single American up and down the economic food chain, this president decided that it was important that the government take robust action. That's why we worked with Congress to establish the rescue package." Ms. Perino said the "capital injections" into the banks would involve "an equity stake" for the federal government but would not amount to a takeover. "Secretary Paulson is looking at all the different tools to figure out which ones should be used at what time and how robustly and how much money to put into each," Ms. Perino said, referring to Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. [More>>nytimes.com]

10.09.08 Wall Street's dizzy session

NEW YORK, October 9 - Stocks slipped Thursday afternoon in volatile trading as investors welcomed IBM's earnings and reports that the government is looking to invest in struggling banks, but remained wary about the economy. Bank lending remained tight as nervous institutions continued to hoard cash. Treasury prices fell, raising their corresponding yields. The dollar was flat versus the euro and rose versus the yen. Oil and gold prices fell.

With under two hours left in the session, the Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) had lost 1.7% and the Standard & Poor's 500 (SPX) index lost 2%. The Nasdaq composite (COMP) lost 0.6%. All three major gauges had seesawed through the morning. The mixed session was something of a breather for the stock market after last week, in which the Dow plunged 1,600 points. [More>>cnn.com; See update:

cnn.com, October 9, "Dow tumbles 7%"
: Dow falls below 8,700 for first time since 2003 on the 1-year anniversary of its all-time high. Stocks tanked Thursday — with the Dow falling nearly 700 points during the session — as panicked investors dumped stocks across the board. Bank lending remained tight as nervous institutions continued to hoard cash. Treasury prices fell, raising their corresponding yields. The dollar gained versus the euro and the yen. Oil, gas and gold prices fell.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) lost 679 points, or 7.3%, closing at its lowest point since May 21, 2003. It was the Dow's third biggest one-day point-loss ever. The Standard & Poor's 500 (SPX) index lost 7.6% and closed at its lowest point since April 28, 2003. The Nasdaq composite (COMP) lost 5.5% and closed at its lowest point since June 30, 2003. A key measure of investor fear hit an all-time high: The CBOE Volatility (VIX) index, or the VIX, hit nearly 64. Over the last seven sessions, the Dow has lost 2,271 points, or 20.1%. Since hitting an all-time high of 14,164.53 one year ago today, the Dow has lost 39.4%...

Editorial note: There are a lot of similarities between the year 1992 and 2008 that are recorded in the following links found in a google search:

Dow Jones largest daily loss
net change
% change
1 10/19/1987 1738.74 -508.00 -22.61
2 10/28/1929 260.64 -38.33 -12.82
5 12/18/1899 58.27 -5.57 -8.72
6 08/12/1932 63.11 -5.79 -8.40
7 03/14/1907 76.23 -6.89 -8.29
8 10/26/1987 1793.93 -156.83 -8.04
9 07/21/1933 88.71 -7.55 -7.84
10 10/18/1937 125.73 -10.57 -7.75
11 10/09/2008 8579.19 -678.91 -7.33
12 02/01/1917 88.52 -6.91 -7.24
13 10/27/1997 7161.15 -554.26 -7.18
14 10/05/1932 66.07 -5.09 -7.15
15 09/17/2001 8920.70 -684.81 -7.13
16 09/24/1931 107.79 -8.20 -7.07
17 07/20/1933 96.26 -7.32 -707
18 09/29/2008 10,365.45 -777.68 -6.98
19 07/30/1914 71.42 -5.30 -6.91
20 10/13/1989 2569.26 -190.58 -6.91

seattlepi.nwsource.com, September 30, 2008, "Consumer confidence near its lowest level since 1992." NEW YORK - With the holiday shopping season about to start, consumer confidence is hovering near the lowest it's been since President Bush's father was in office. It may dip further as Americans open their 401(k) statements and see how much they've lost in the past few weeks...

seekingalpha.com, blog entry by Grace Cheng, August 29, 2008, "British pound: Largest monthly fall since 1992" : ...If you measure the difference between the high of the first week of decline to the low of this week, it’s an enormous drop of 1850+ pip
s, or 9.2%, all in less than two months. In just the month of August, the British pound had its biggest monthly fall of 1660 pips against the US dollar since 1992 when George Soros “broke” the Bank of England! Talk of substantial rate cuts by BOE’s Blanchflower only served to exacerbate the bearishness of the Pound...

If you compare the largest percentage loss for a day in the Dow, the Dow Jones index (djindexes.com) shows some interesting data with 2008 holding so far two positions in the table, as is the case with 1932!

Mel Copeland

10.09.08 Iceland seizes nation's largest bank, suspends trading on stock market

REYKJAVIK, Iceland, October 9 - The government of Iceland on Thursday seized control of the country's largest bank — the third bank takeover this week — and suspended trading on the stock market, as the North Atlantic island nation grapples with an unprecedented financial meltdown that has made it the first national casualty of the global economic crisis. The takeover Thursday of Kaupthing bank now leaves the government in control of Iceland's three major banks, following the seizure earlier this week of Landsbanki, the second largest, and Glitnir, the third biggest bank. The government said domestic depositors would have their money guaranteed and that bank operations, including ATM machines, would continue to operate normally.

But there was nothing normal about this fiscal crisis,which in a few days has wiped out much of the wealth that had been accumulating here for the last decade. The financial crisis has also caused an unusual public dispute within Europe, as hundreds of thousands of Europeans have money deposited in Icelandic banks, mainly through an online bank called IceSave, a Web-only bank operated by Landsbanki. [More>>washingtonpost.com; See related story:

independent.co.uk, October 9, "Brown threatens Iceland ovder crisis" : Gordon Brown tonight described the behavior of the Icelandic government over its bank collapses as "totally unacceptable" and said the Government is considering legal action. His statement came after the Government and the Local Government Association said tonight in a joint statement that councils facing "severe" difficulties after investing in collapsed Icelandic banks will receive "appropriate" assistance. Mr. Brown made his comments as he visited business chiefs in Birmingham to talk about the Government's massive bail-out package that could effectively part-nationalize eight UK financial institutions. He said: "This is a real problem because we have guaranteed the retail deposits of even Icelandic branches in Britain...

10.09.08 Indonesia to plant 100 million trees in a month time

October 9 - The Indonesian government plans to plant about 100 million trees within about a month's time starting Nov. 28 as part of its program to mark 100 years of National Awakening, a cabinet minister said Thursday. "President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will declare Nov. 28 as Indonesia's Planting Day. As part of the 100 years of National Awakening celebration about 100 million trees will be planted across the country," Forestry Minister M.S. Kaban told Antara.

Kaban said the Planting Day would be launched in ceremony in Banten, where 100,000 trees would be planted on 250 hectares of land. Each province, he said, would also plant trees on at least 100,000 hectares of land. About 60 percent of the total trees would be hard wood trees. The government has prepares Rp280 billion (about US$29 million) funds to procure 100 million tree seedlings.

10.09.08 Doctors 'plotted to kill hundreds in terror attack'

October 9 - Two doctors plotted to kill hundreds in a wave of car bombings across Britain, a court was told today. Iraqi Bilal Abdulla, 28, and Jordanian Mohammed Asha, 29, were respected doctors at hospitals in Glasgow and Staffordshire. But prosecutors said the pair were secretly members of a small cell of Islamic terrorists. They turned their attention from treating illnesses to planning "indiscriminate and wholesale" murder, London's Woolwich Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw QC said only "good fortune" saved people from attacks on London's West End and Glasgow Airport. He said the men wanted people to be "gripped by fear" as they were in the wake of attacks on the London transport network in July 2005. Mr. Laidlaw said the plotters had access to extra bomb materials and at least two more vehicles for further attacks. It was claimed they conspired with a third man, Kafeel Ahmed, 28, who died in the suicide attack on Glasgow Airport. [More>>independent.co.uk]

10.09.08 US missile strike kills nine in North Waziristan

NORTH WAZIRISTAN, Pakistan, October 9 - A suspected US missile strike on a house in tribal area-bordering Afghanistan killed nine people including six foreign militants on Thursday, security officials said. Two missiles hit the building in Tati, a village in troubled North Waziristan district, an official based in the region told a foreign news agency on condition of anonymity. The attack targeted the house of a local Taliban commander named Hafiz Sahar Gul, another security official based in Islamabad said. "The missile attack killed three of Gul's family members and six foreign guests." [More>>thenews.com.pk]

10.09.08 US military chief gives grim view of Afghanistan

WASHINGTON, October 9 - With security and economic conditions in Afghanistan already in dire straits, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Thursday that the situation there would probably only worsen next year. "The trends across the board are not going in the right direction," the chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, told reporters. "And I would anticipate next year would be a tougher year." Admiral Mullen said Afghanistan was likely to continue what a new intelligence assessment calls “a downward spiral” barring rapid, major improvements to curb Afghanistan's booming heroin trade, bolster district and tribal leaders to offset a weak central government in Kabul, breathe life into a flagging economy, and stem the flow of militants who are carrying out increasingly sophisticated attacks from safe havens in Pakistan. [More>>nytimes.com]

10.09.08 10 killed in Pakistan bombing attacks

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AFP) October 9 - A suicide attack struck a police complex in Islamabad and a roadside bomb killed 10 people in Pakistan's northwest today, underscoring the growing threat posed by Islamic militants. The blasts happened as intelligence chiefs held a rare briefing for parliamentarians in Islamabad on the fight against al-Qaeda and Taliban extremists who are launching attacks from hideouts near the Afghan border. In Islamabad, seven people were injured when a suspected militant blew up a car bomb outside an anti-terrorist squad building. The blast ripped off the facade of the red-brick building. [More>>news.com.au]

10.09.08 Holy war strikes India

October 9 - 35 Christians killed and 50,000 forced from their homes by Hindu mobs enraged at Swami's murder. As she recalled her awful story, Puspanjali Panda made no attempt to halt the tears flooding down her face. Holding her daughter close, she told how a baying Hindu mob dragged her husband – a Christian pastor – from his bed, beat him to death with stones and iron rods and then threw him into a river. She found his corpse two days later, washed up on the bank. When she went to the police, they told her to go away.

Mrs. Panda and thousands of others like her are victims of the worst communal violence between Hindus and Christians that India has seen for decades. For a country that boasts of its mutual religious tolerance, the long-simmering tension that has erupted in the Kandhamal district of the state of Orissa – a nun being raped, churches being burned, at least 35 people killed and thousands forced from their villages – is both a belated wake-up call and a mounting embarrassment. The Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, called it a "national disgrace."

But for Mrs. Panda, sheltering in a wretched relief camp in the state capital, Bhubaneswar, it is much worse than that. The 38-year-old said she had no idea what would now happen to her and her bewildered-looking child, Mona Lisa. "I do not want to go back. They have destroyed my home," she wailed.

The journey to the heart of the violence follows a bone-shaking road east from Bhubaneswar to the district capital, Phulbani. It was here in late August that thousands of Hindus armed with swords, sticks and primitive guns began taking matters into their own hands after the murder of an elderly religious leader, Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati. The swami, a senior member of a right-wing Hindu organization known as the Vishswa Hindu Parishad (VHP), had reportedly been working to prevent low-caste Hindus converting to Christianity. [More>>independent.co.uk]

10.09.08 More than 100 prisoners executed in Iraqi prison

DUBAI, October 9 - An Iraqi official confirmed Wednesday the execution of more than 100 prisoners in a prison in a Shiite district of Baghdad, the same where Saddam Hussein was hanged, but denied an earlier report that the executions were illegal and clandestine. An article in London's The Independent Tuesday reported that there have been hundreds of executions, including hangings, at Baghdad's "high-security detention facility" under the supervision of the democratically elected government of Nouri al-Maliki. "All the executions were carried out by court orders, and their cases have gone through all the appeals granted by the Iraqi constitution," Hamza Kamel, official spokesman of the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights told AlArabiya.net. [More>>alarabiya.net]

10.09.08 North Korea said deploying missiles, bars UN monitors

VIENNA / SEOUL (Reuters) October 9 - North Korea deployed more than 10 missiles on its west coast apparently for an imminent test launch, a South Korean newspaper said on Thursday, and Pyongyang halted U.N. monitoring of its nuclear complex. The potentially destabilizing moves followed reports that the United States had offered to remove North Korea from its terrorism blacklist this month in an effort to keep a nuclear disarmament pact from falling apart. It would be an unprecedented test if North Korea fired all 10 of the surface-to-ship and ship-to-ship missiles. Intelligence sources quoted by the Chosun Ilbo paper said they thought the North may launch five to seven of them...

"The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) has today informed IAEA inspectors that effective immediately, access to facilities at Yongbyon would no longer be permitted," IAEA spokesman Marc Vidricaire said in a statement. "The DPRK also stated that has stopped its disablement work, which was initially agreed upon within the Six-Party Talks," he said. "Since it is preparing to restart the facilities at Yongbyon, the DPRK has informed the IAEA that our monitoring activities would no longer be appropriate. IAEA inspectors will remain in Yongbyon pending further information by the DPRK." [Full story>>thestar.com.my]

10.08.08 Central banks coordinate cut in rates

October 8 - Central banks around the world cut short-term interest rates by up to half a percent on Wednesday after investors across Asia and Europe unleashed waves of sell orders onto already depressed stock exchanges. The Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank and other central banks from Britain and Switzerland to Canada and China announced rate reductions within seconds of one another. The British government separately announced a plan to pump billions of pounds into the country's leading banks as part of a plan that would result in considerably greater government influence over the financial sector there. The Fed said in a statement that, because of weakening economic activity, it had cut the Federal funds target rate by half a percentage point, to 1.5 percent. It also cut its discount rate by the same amount. The vote was unanimous. [More>>nytimes.com; See related stories:

cnn.com, October 8, "Stocks churn in choppy trade":
Stocks roiled Wednesday afternoon as the Federal Reserve's emergency rate cut failed to make a dent in investor pessimism about the state of financial markets. The pessimism wasn't confined to equities. Credit markets remained tight following the news, with banks continuing to hoard cash. Treasury bond prices tumbled, erasing morning gains, pushing the corresponding yields higher. The dollar plunged versus the euro and yen. Oil prices slipped and gold prices rose.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) added 0.2%, with Alcoa and Bank of America dragging the most after the two companies reported weak results in the past two days. The Standard & Poor's 500 (SPX) index edged up 0.3% and the Nasdaq composite (COMP)rose 0.8%. The major gauges seesawed throughout the session, with the Dow down as much as 252 points and up as much as 180 points. Investors welcomed the Fed's emergency rate cut, coordinated with banks around the world, but remained gloomy about the outlook for the economy.

lefigaro.fr, October 8, "Malgré la baisse de taux, la Bourse de Paris plonge": Le CAC 40 a perdu plus de 6%. L'action concertée des banques centrales n'a pas convaincu les investisseurs. L'indice des plus grosses capitalisations parisiennes fini la séance en forte baisse de 6.31% à 3 496.89 points. La Bourse de Paris avait pourtant massivement réduit ses pertes, suite à l'action commune des banques centrales. En zone euro, les taux passent de 4,25% à 3,75%.

La diffusion de la cotation de l'indice CAC 40 (Cotation|Analyse technique) a été suspendue deux fois ce mercredi : d'abord pendant près de 30 minutes vers 10h00 suite à un afflux d'ordre de ventes, alors que le CAC 40 cédait 8%, et une nouvelle fois à 13h25. Euronext applique en effet une procédure d'urgence qui prévoit l'interruption du calcul de l'indice, remplacé par un «éclaireur», reflètant le niveau des valeurs du CAC qui ne sont pas suspendues. Les investisseurs restent inquiets sur les conséquences de la crise financière dans l'économie réelle aux Etats-Unis et en Europe...

gulfnews.com, October 8, "Gulf markets lose $50 billion in latest rout": Dubai: Arab stock markets came crashing down for the fourth day on Wednesday over fears about the impact of global financial crisis. The seven stock markets in the Gulf lost more than 50 billion dollars of capitalisation on Wednesday, bringing their total fall in value this week to around 200 billion dollars. Their value now stands at 750 billion dollars. Most regional markets closed before the announcement by the world's major central banks of coordinated interest rate cuts. Stocks in Saudi Arabia - the largest bourse in the Middle East - slumped by more than eight per cent, trading below the 6,000-point mark for the first time in more than 52 months...

koreaherald.co.kr, October 8, "Korea: Currency hits 10-year low" :
The won dropped to a decade low as fears rapidly spread among market participants that Korea is being severely hit by the global credit crisis, analysts said yesterday. The local currency fell for a fourth straight day to go down to 1,395 won to the dollar at the market closing. It is the lowest level since September 1998, when the nation was suffering from the Asian financial crisis...

thestar.com.my, October 8, "Japan's Nikkei plunges 9,4%, biggest drop in 21 years": TOKYO: Japan's stock market plummeted 9.4 percent, Its biggest one-day drop in 21 years, on Wednesday as investors rushed for the exits on deepening fears over the global financial crisis. The benchmark Nikkei 225 index nose-dived 952.58 points to 9,203.32, a five-year low. That was its third-biggest drop in percentage terms and largest plunge since October 1987. The massive sell-off in Tokyo follows a plunge on Wall Street Tuesday, when the Dow Jones industrial average lost more than 5 percent despite steps by the Federal Reserve to reinvigorate dormant credit markets...

10.08.08 UN adopts new Somalia anti-piracy resolution

UNITED NATIONS, October 8 - The UN Security Council on Tuesday urged states — with naval ships deployed around the Horn of Africa — to commit naval and air assets to the fight against rampant piracy off lawless Somalia, with France saying this meant that force can be used against the pirates. The 15-member Council unanimously adopted the resolution under Chapter Seven of the UN Charter, which is invoked in cases of threats to international peace and security. Resolution 1838 "calls upon all states interested in the security of maritime activities to take part actively in the fight against piracy on the high seas off the coast of Somalia, in particular by deploying naval vessels and military aircraft." [More>>alarabiya.net]

10.08.08 Gates asks Europe to send more troops to Afghanistan

OHRID, Macedoina, October 8 - US Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Wednesday asked defense ministers from southeastern Europe to send more troops to Afghanistan, a message that he is likely to forcefully echo at a NATO summit this week.

"As the situation on the ground in Iraq continues to improve, I urge you to consider sending your military forces to Afghanistan, where there is an urgent need for trainers as they expand their army," Gates said at a meeting of the South-Eastern Europe Defense Ministerial (SEDM), a 12-member organization composed of both NATO members and countries such as Macedonia that want to join the military alliance. "Your assistance will not only help Afghanistan better protect and care for its citizens, but will also reinforce your important role in ensuring peace and stability around the globe."

The US commander in Afghanistan has said he needs three more brigades — 10,000 to 12,000 more troops — to confront a resurgent Taliban and a general deterioration in the security situation. The US currently has 33,000 troops in Afghanistan, with 22,000 of them part of a NATO force of 48,000 soldiers. The rest of the US contingent operates under its own military command. There are more than 5,000 troops in Afghanistan from the countries attending the meeting here, including NATO members such as Italy. [More>>washingtonpost.com]

10.08.08 Woman suicide bomber kills nine outside Iraq court

BAQUBA, Iraq (AFP) October 8 - A woman bomber blew herself up outside a courthouse north of the Iraqi capital, killing nine people and wounding 21 in the worst al-Qaeda-style suicide bombing by a female in three weeks. Two Iraqi army majors were among five soldiers killed while a policeman also died in the attack in the heart of Baquba, the capital of the restive province of Diyala, a security official said.

The director of the main regional hospital, Ahmed Fuad, said a total of 21 people were being treated for injuries, including a woman and a child, and that nine people were killed. The attack occurred in front of the city courthouse, some 60 kilometres (37 miles) north of Baghdad. Lawyer Mohammed Timimi said a woman dressed in traditional Arabic dress that covered her from head to toe, carried out the attack. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

10.08.08 Iraq ready to replace US troops in Baghdad

BAGHDAD (AFP) October 8 - Iraq said on Wednesday it was ready to take over security responsibilities from US security forces in Baghdad as both countries say they are nearing a deal on a contested military pact. Interior ministry spokesman Major General Abdel Karim Khalaf said Iraqi police are capable of handling security duties across the capital, a responsibility now held by US troops. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

10.07.08 Russia completes troop pullout from S. Ossetia buffer zone

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) October 8 - Russia completed the withdrawal of its peacekeepers from a buffer zone near South Ossetia on Wednesday, two days ahead of the agreed deadline, the commander of the Russian peacekeepers in the region said. "The last convoy of arms and military equipment crossed the border at 8:30pm Moscow time [16:30 GMT]. The convoy was escorted by OSCE representatives," Gen. Marat Kulakhmetov said.

The Russian and French presidents, Dmitry Medvedev and Nicolas Sarkozy, agreed in September that Russia's full withdrawal from undisputed parts of Georgia would come not more than 10 days after the European Union deployed at least 200 observers in the buffer zones near South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The EU teams were deployed October 1. [More>>en.rian.ru]

10.07.08 Fed announces plan to buy short-term debt

WASHINGTON, October 7 - The Federal Reserve announced a radical new plan on Tuesday to jump-start the engine of the financial system. The Fed said in a statement that it would begin to buy large amounts of short-term debt in an effort to stimulate the credit markets, which have all but dried up.

Under the program, the Fed said that it would buy the unsecured short-term debt that companies rely on to finance their day-to-day activities. “This facility should encourage investors to once again engage in term lending in the commercial paper market,” the Fed said Tuesday in a statement. “An improved commercial paper market will enhance the ability of financial intermediaries to accommodate the credit needs of businesses and households.”

While the move will put more taxpayer dollars at risk, it underscores the growing sense of urgency felt by policy makers in a climate where lending has virtually dried up. The Commercial Paper Funding Facility, “will complement the Federal Reserve's existing credit facilities to help provide liquidity to term funding markets,” the Fed statement said. [More>>nytimes.com]

10.07.08 Exhausted markets slide again

NEW YORK, October 7 - Dow drops as much as 279 points as Fed credit plan fails to reassure investors. Bernanke comments add more worries. Stock declines accelerated Tuesday afternoon as investor enthusiasm about the Fed's plan to unfreeze credit markets faded and Chairman Bernanke sounded the alarm on the economy. With 2-1/2 hours left in the session, the Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) had lost 225 points or 2.3%. The blue-chip average ended below 10,000 Monday for the first time in almost 4 years. The Standard & Poor's 500 (SPX) index fell 2.6% and the Nasdaq composite (COMP) lost 2.8%. Both ended at multi-year lows Monday.

Credit markets remained stressed, but showed some improvement after the Fed move. Treasury prices tumbled, pushing the corresponding yields higher as investors shifted to stocks. Stocks plunged 369.88 points on Monday, with the Dow losing as much as 800 points during the session, as the $700 billion bank bailout plan and European government attempts to prop up faltering banks failed to comfort panicky investors. [More>>cnn.com]

10.07.08 After bailout, AIG execs head to California resort

October 7 - Rescued by Taxpayers, $440,000 for Retreat Including "Pedicures, Manicures." Less than a week after the federal government committed $85 billion to bail out AIG, executives of the giant AIG insurance company headed for a week-long retreat at a luxury resort and spa, the St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, California, Congressional investigators revealed today. "Rooms at this resort can cost over $1,000 a night," Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) said this morning as his committee continued its investigation of Wall Street and its CEOs.

AIG documents obtained by Waxman's investigators show the company paid more than $440,000 for the retreat, including nearly $200,000 for rooms, $150,000 for meals and $23,000 in spa charges. "Their getting their pedicures and their manicures and the American people are paying for that," said Cong. Elijah Cummings (D-MD). "This unbridled greed," said Cong. Mark Souder (R-IN), "it's an insensitivity to how people are spending our dollars." [More>>abcnews.go.com; See related story, cbsnews.com, October 7, "AIG hid risky practices, documents show."

10.07.08 Cure for common cause of blindness a step closer

October 7 - A treatment to prevent the West's commonest cause of blindness moved a step closer yesterday with the discovery of a mutant gene that sharply increases the risk of sight loss. The discovery by scientists at Southampton University is the latest to show that the condition, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is an inherited disease which may be preventable with the right drugs. About 25,000 people a year are diagnosed with wet macular degeneration in the UK, 30 million globally, which occurs when the blood vessels in the retina begin leaking, damaging retinal cells and destroying central vision.

In the latest advance, published in The Lancet, researchers led by Professor Andrew Lotery identified a gene called Serping1 which was present in the patients affected by the condition and which produces proteins that help ward off infection. Professor Lotery said the finding, with the discovery of previous genes linked with AMD, amounted to a "paradigm shift" in thinking about the disease. [More>>independent.co.uk]

10.07.08 Deepest living fish caught on film

October 7 - Cameras were sent down nearly five miles for the first time into one of the world's deepest ocean trenches in the Pacific to film groups of the rare hadal snailfish. But unlike the name suggests, scientists found sociable and active fish in the dark, freezing environment swarming over their bait. Professor Monty Priede is director of the University of Aberdeen's Oceanlab, that is working with the University of Tokyo to investigate life in the ocean below three and a half miles.

He said: "These videos vastly exceed all our expectations from this research. We thought the deepest fishes would be motionless, solitary, fragile individuals eking out an existence in a food-sparse environment. But these fish aren't loners. The images show groups that are sociable and active, possibly even families, feeding on little shrimp, yet living in one of the most extreme environments on Earth..." [More>>telegraph.co.uk]

10.07.08 Mercury, up close and personal: Photos revealed

October 7 - A US spacecraft beamed hundreds of photos of Mercury back to Earth on Tuesday after a close encounter with the planet closest to the sun. The images show scientists never-before-seen landscapes on the planet's surface. Four of the high-resolution images were made public at 10 a.m. ET Tuesday, posted by NASA on its MESSENGER Web site. Taken during a three-hour span before and after the spacecraft's closest approach to Mercury, the photos offer detailed new glimpses of the barren planet.

One shows the bright Kuiper crater just south of the center of the planet. Most of the terrain east of Kuiper had never before been photographed. A close-up of Mercury's surface, the highest-resolution color image ever taken of the planet, shows a round basin about 83 miles in diameter and named Polygnotus, after a Greek painter.

Another close-up captures a region between the sunlit day side and dark night side of the planet, where shadows are long and prominent. Two long, jagged scarps -- visible fault lines -- appear to crosscut each other on the planet's surface. The easternmost scarp also cuts through a crater, meaning it formed after the impact that created the crater...The MESSENGER spacecraft, launched in 2004, buzzed 124 miles (200 km) above Mercury's surface Monday at almost 15,000 mph. [Full story>>cnn.com; See also nasa.gov]

10.07.08 Pakistan to deport Afghan refugees

October 7 - Pakistan has ordered the deportation of about 50,000 Afghan refugees from a troubled tribal region amid a major military offensive against al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters. The government said it was expelling all Afghan refugees in the Bajaur tribal region, alleging many of them have links to armed groups. Police in the town of Khar in Bajaur arrested 25 Afghans and said they would soon be deported. "The orders have been issued to the tribal police to push all of them [refugees] out," Abdul Haseeb, a local government official, said on Monday, adding that their homes would be bulldozed to keep them from returning. [More>>aljazeera.net]

10.07.08 43 militants killed in southern Afghanistan

KABUL, October 7 - US and Afghan troops clashed and called air strikes on a group of insurgents in southern Afghanistan, killing 43 militants, the US military said Tuesday. The militants ambushed the US-Afghan force with sniper fire and rocket-propelled grenades in Qalat district of Zabul province, a statement from the US military said. [More>>thenews.com.pk]

10.06.08 Global panic on markets as US bailout fails to stem credit crisis

LONDON, October 6 - A global tsunami of panic wiped nearly 8 per cent off the value of the FTSE 100 index today and hit other markets equally hard as investors decided that Friday's $700 billion bank bailout would not be enough to ease the credit crisis. The benchmark index on the London Stock Exchange closed at 4589.19, down 391.06, or a 7.85 per cent fall, led by miners and banks. It was the third-worst percentage fall since the FTSE 100 was created in 1984.

Shares also plunged on Wall Street — the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which dropped below 10,000 for the first time in four years, was about 4 per cent down when trading closed in London — and across Western Europe. In the emerging markets, however, it was nothing short of carnage. Russia's RTS exchange suspended trading twice as prices dropped 19.10 per cent, the market's worst one-day fall. Trading was also halted twice on Sao Paulo’s Ibovespa index after stocks sank 10 per cent and then another 5 per cent. "There is all-out panic," said Adrian van Tiggelen, a senior strategist with ING bank in The Hague.

For policymakers and central bankers, it was a nightmare start to the week — little helped by the failure of EU leaders to agree on a European banking rescue scheme or even, it appeared, on a common strategy. There was continued confusion as to the detail of Germany's decision to guarantee all private bank deposits as Austria and Denmark broke ranks to follow suit and Spain threatening to do so if the EU did not take action.
[More>>timesonline.co.uk; See related stories:

abcnews.go.com, October 6, "Dow plunges 700 points amid global sell-off" : NEW YORK:
The Dow Jones industrials skidded more than 700 points and fell below 10,000 for the first time in four years, while the credit markets remained under strain. Financial markets took a despairing view of the future Monday, seeing contagion in a credit crisis that threatens to cascade through economies globally despite government efforts to provide relief.

Investors around the world have come to the sobering realization that the Bush administration's $700 billion rescue plan won't work quickly to unfreeze the credit markets. Global banks, hobbled by wrong-way bets on mortgage securities, remain starved for cash as credit has dried up. That has sent stocks spiraling downward in the US, Europe and Asia, and driven investors to sink money into the relative safety of US government debt. Fears about a global recession also caused oil to drop below $90 a barrel; and the benchmark index that gauges fear in the market jumped to the highest level in its 18-year history.

news.com.au, October 6, "Deepening financial crisis fears rock markets": The 50 billion euro ($89 billion) bailout of German bank Hypo Real Estate (HRE) and the takeover of Dutch-Belgian bank Fortis by French giant BNP Paribas did little to ease the turmoil. "There is all-out panic,"' said Adrian van Tiggelen, ING senior strategist in The Hague. The London, Frankfurt and Paris stock markets were all more than five percent down while Tokyo closed at a new four-year low on doubts about efforts to ease the crisis. Wall Street's Dow Jones industrials index fell 2.7 per cent in first trades.

In a round-the-world rout, trade on Russia's stock market was suspended after its main index nose-dived more than 15 per cent. Indonesia fell 10 per cent, Brazil 9.5 per cent and Oslo 9.0 per cent. Germany's move to guarantee all savings deposits on Sunday was followed by Denmark, adding pressure on other European governments following the lead already taken by Ireland and Greece last week. The German finance ministry said the value of its guarantee was "significantly more than one trillion euros." British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called a meeting of his "economic war cabinet" to reportedly consider shoring up ailing banks with billions of pounds in return for shares...

independent.co.uk, October 6, "Black Monday II: the worst in decades" : More than £93 billion was wiped from the value of the UK's biggest companies today as London's FTSE 100 suffered its biggest fall since Black Monday. As fear swept through global markets and governments rushed to prop up banks across Europe the Footsie slumped 7.8 per cent - its largest one-day percentage decline since the aftermath of Black Monday in October 1987. The index closed 391.1 points lower at 4589.2 - its lowest close total since October 2004 - as investors were rocked by the latest turmoil in the European banking sector. But Chancellor Alistair Darling - reportedly considering moves to shore up UK banks with taxpayers' cash - did little to restore shattered confidence with firm commitments...

dw-world.de, October 6, "German government under pressure to deliver on crisis promise" :
The German government has come under pressure to deliver as it races to reassure investors and individual savers that it will protect Europe's biggest economy from falling victim to the global financial crisis. The stock exchange may not have got the message however as shares tumbled seven percent Monday in line with heavy losses elsewhere in Europe and Asia as Wall Street plunged too.

Berlin hoped a new 50-billion-euro ($68-billion) rescue plan for the distressed mortgage lender Hypo Real Estate (HRE), a Munich-based company that lends to commercial developers and municipalities to build hotels, offices, roads, airports and the like, and a blanket guarantee on private bank accounts would prevent panic from seizing a nation of savers. Finance minister Peer Steinbrueck said he did not rule out raising state guarantees on HRE credit lines and that there was "a plan B in the drawer" to ensure the banking sector did not collapse.Steinbrueck did not provide details but told a press conference: "We are aware that we will not get very far with case-by-case solutions."...

lemonde.fr, October 6, "Nouvelle journée noire sur les places boursières" : Apres l'effondrement des Bourses européennes, l'indice Dow Jones était en baisse d'environ 7 %, lundi 6 octobre vers 20 h 30 (heure de Paris), en chute de plus de 700 points. Plus tôt, à Paris, le CAC 40 avait terminé en très forte baisse de 9,04 %, son plus fort recul en une séance depuis sa création en 1988. Avant la création de l'indice, le marché parisien avait chuté de 9,64 % le 19 octobre 1987. La banque franco-belge Dexia, partiellement nationalisée la semaine dernière, a vu son titre dégringoler (-20,29 %), victime des incertitudes sur son avenir, après l'annonce de la prise de contrôle par BNP Paribas du bancassureur en difficulté Fortis en Belgique et au Luxembourg. Crédit agricole a perdu 10,04 %, Société générale 11,83 %, Natixis 16,04 % et Axa 13,10 %. BNP Paribas, qui vient de prendre le contrôle de Fortis en Belgique et au Luxembourg, a fait mieux que le marché, ne cédant que 5,39 %...

thejkartapost.com (AP) October 6, "Russian stocks plunge by nearly 20 percent" : Russia's benchmark stock exchange suffered its biggest-ever one-day loss as shares went into free fall on the back of falling oil prices and deepening fears aboutthe global economy despite the passage of a US$700 billion US bank bailout. Trading on MICEX — the country's largest index — was shut down three times, closing down 18.6 percent to 752 points. The benchmark RTS — where trading was halted twice — crashed to its lowest point since August 2005, falling by 19.1 percent to 866.4 points. It is the most the RTS has fallen in one day. "The mood is kind of disbelief. You'd think we would have gotten used to it by now," said Ron Smith, strategist at Moscow-based Alfa Bank. "Traders are just sitting there staring at the screens and going 'wow'."

japantoday.com, October 6, "Nikkei stock index falls to 4-year low" : TOKYO: Japan's stock market has fallen to its lowest level in more than four years on growing worries about a global economic slump caused by the US financial crisis. The benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 465.05 points, or 4.25%, to close Monday at 10,473.09. Worries that the financial crisis is spreading to Europe and around the globe overwhelmed any relief that the US Congress passed a $700 billion bailout package on Friday. Analysts say it's still unclear how quickly the rescue package will unfreeze credit markets and shore up the US economy, a vital export market for Japan. [end]

koreaherald.co.kr, October 6, "[S. Korea] Banks urged to sell assets for liquidity": SEOUL: Finance Minister Kang Man-soo yesterday called on local banks to liquidate their foreign currency-denominated assets as a global dollar drought hits home. "The currency authorities will help out, as promised, injecting liquidity from foreign reserves, but banks must do their part too," Kang said in a meeting with bank CEOs in Seoul. "We urge bank presidents to sell overseas assets, such as foreign currency-denominated securities," he said. The minister even went on to say that banks that are not sincere in doing what they can do to solve cash shortages could face "penalty rates."

Financial Services Commission Chairman Jun Kwang-woo who was present in the meeting said: "We have to up our efforts to increase the inflow of foreign currencies by attracting domestic firms that have their foreign currency deposited overseas and overseas Koreans to deposit foreign currencies at Korean banks." The remarks came as the government is rolling out a spate of liquidity-pumping measures, including the injection of $5 billion in US dollars into the local financial system. The pledged fund will be channeled through state-run Korea Eximbank to small- and medium-sized exporters struggling with temporary dollar shortages...

thestar.com.my, October 6, "Chinese insurer to record US$2.3 billion loss on Fortis": BEIJING: Ping An Insurance Co., one of China's biggest insurers, said Monday it will record a US$2.3 billion loss on its stake in troubled European bank Fortis NV.The writedown was the biggest blow yet for a Chinese financial institution from the Western credit crisis. It was a setback to one of the most ambitious foreign acquisitions to date by China's fast-growing banks and insurers...

xinhaunet.com, October 6, "Chinese shares fall 5.23% after weeklong holiday" : BEIJING:
Chinese shares tumbled 5.23 percent on Monday, the first trading day after the weeklong National Day holiday, dragged down by the losses of the heavyweight banking sector. The Shanghai Composite Index dropped 120.05 points, or 5.23 percent, to close at 2,173.74 points. The Shenzhen Component Index fell 341.95 points, or 4.52 percent, to 7,217.32 points. Aggregate turnover was 68.04 billion yuan (about 10 billion U.S. dollars). Losses outnumbered gains 1,406 to 192, while 110 stocks were unchanged. The mainland stock market last week escaped the impact of a global plunge due to its closure for the seven-day National Day holiday on Sept. 29 through Oct. 5...

timesofindia.indiatimes.com, October 6, "Sensex crashes 751 points to hit two-year low" : MUMBAI: Traders were helplessly gawking at their trading terminals on the Salal Street as equities plunged sharply after funds took exit routes from [the] Indian market.
Secondline stocks were the worst hit under performing the benchmarks. ( Watch ) At 3:30pm, Bombay Stock Exchange's Sensex was down 711.20 points or 5.68 per cent at an intra-day low of 11,815.12. National Stock Exchange's Nifty breached crucial technical support of 3,600 but managed to crawl back at 3,607, down 210.75 points or 5.52 per cent. The index touched a low of 3,597 in trade so far. BSE Midcap Index was down 6.76 per cent at 4361.48 and BSE Smallcap Index plunged 6.34 per cent to 5,118.91. Sterlite Industries (14.45%), Tata Steel (12.42%), Jaiprakash Associates (11.41%), Reliance Infrastructure (11.16%), Reliance Communications (10.71%) and DLF (10.7%) were the worst hit. None of the stocks from the 30-share index managed to brave the tide. Market breadth weakened further with 2341 declines against 255 advances on BSE. [end]

10.06.08 As Lehman collapsed, execs were rewarded

WASHINGTON, October 6 -  Days from becoming the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history, Lehman Brothers steered millions to departing executives even while pleading for a federal rescue, Congress was told Monday. As well, executives who feared for their bonuses in the company's last months were told not to worry, according to documents cited at a congressional hearing. One executive said he was embarrassed when employees suggested that Lehman executives forgo bonuses, and cracked: "I'm not sure what's in the water."

The first hearing into what caused the nation's financial markets to collapse last month, precipitating a $700 billion bailout, opened with finger-pointing and glimpses into internal company documents from Lehman's chaotic last hours. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the giant investment bank was "a company in which there was no accountability for failure." Lehman's collapse set off a panic that within days had President Bush and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson asking Congress to pass the rescue plan for the financial sector.

...Waxman questioned Fuld on whether it was true he took home some $480 million in compensation since 2000, and asked: "Is that fair?" Fuld took off his glasses, held them, and looked uncomfortable. He said his compensation was not quite that much. "We had a compensation committee that spent a tremendous amount of time making sure that the interests of the executives and the employees were aligned with shareholders," he said. Fuld said he took home over $300 million in those years - some $60 million in cash compensation...
[Full story>>cbsnews.com]

10.06.08 Dubai announces 95 billion dir new city development

DUBAI (AFP) October 6 - A Dubai government firm on Monday announced it will build a "new city" in the booming Gulf emirate at a projected cost of 95 billion dollars, shrugging off the global financial turmoil. The mixed-use Jumeirah Gardens development will be "an integrated city within a city," to be built over 12 years, Meraas Development said at the opening of Cityscape 2008, a four-day international real estate exhibition. The announcement came one day after Dubai developers Nakheel said it planned to build a tower which could stand one kilometre tall (3,280 feet), beating the city's own world record. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

10.06.08 Ex-generals misled by pro-Obama video

October 6 - A video released by the Jewish Council for Education & Research, (JCER) which appeared to show several retired senior IDF and Mossad officials supporting Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has proven to be misleading, with a number of officials who appeared in the video saying on Monday that their words were taken out of context. The film's producers have stressed in response that the Obama campaign was not involved during any stage of the production.

"It's not only misleading, it was an interview about what the next president was going to have to deal with," former deputy chief of General Staff Maj.-Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan told The Jerusalem Post. "And to know that they used this interview and took five seconds, and put me in a list of people praising Barack Obama…

"It wasn't about the campaign, it was about the political and security issues of the Middle East that the next president should be involved in," he continued. "Nothing was said about Obama or [Republican presidential candidate John] McCain." "I don't want other people to interfere in my elections, and I must not interfere with the elections in the United States," he said, adding that to do so would be neither "ethical nor smart." [More>>jpost.com]

10.06.08 20 killed, over 50 injured in Bhakkar suicide blast

BHAKKAR, Paksitan, October 6 - Twenty people were killed and over 50 others injured, many of them critically, in a suicide blast that ripped through the residence of MNA Rasheed Akbar Khan Nawani in Bhakkar on Monday. The Interior Ministry has confirmed the deaths of 20 people but put the number of injured at 35.

The MNA was among the injured. Some of the wounded are in serious condition, DSP Bhakkar Khadim Hussain said. He said people were exchanging Eid greetings with the MNA at the time of the blast. "It will be premature to say who is responsible for the attack," the DSP said adding, evidence is being collected from the blast site which was cordoned off by the police. The head of the suicide bomber has been found.

10.06.08 Turkish jets hit terrorist PKK targets in North Iraq

ANKARA, Turkey, October 6 - Turkish military said that its warplanes hit targets of the terrorist organization PKK early on Monday morning in northern Iraq. The terrorist group was hit in the Avashin-Basyan area, and two other terrorist targets were shelled late Sunday in what the Turkish General Staff said was "a continuing pursuit of the terrorists" who killed 15 Turkish troops in an attack last Friday on a military outpost on the border with Iraq. [>turkishpress.com]

10.06.08 Deadly earthquake hits Kyrgyzstan

October 6 - A major earthquake has hit Kyrgyzstan, killing at least 65 people, officials in the Central Asian nation say. The 6.6-magnitude quake struck at 2152 local time (1552 GMT) on Sunday, destroying more than 100 buildings in the southern province of Osh. Rescue workers are still searching for survivors under the rubble, the emergencies ministry said. Destruction was concentrated in Nura, a village in the mountains close to the border with China. Health officials said the remote location of the village was hampering rescue efforts. [More>>bbc.co.uk; See related stories:

aljazeera.net, October 6, "Many dead in Tibet earthquake" :
At least 30 people are said to have been killed in two earthquakes that struck Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, and surrounding areas, Chinese state media reports. According to the US Geological Survey, the first earthquake on Monday measured 6.6 on the Richter Scale and struck at 4.30pm (0830 GMT), 80km west of Lhasa...

independent.co.uk, October 6, "Quakes hit China's remote west" :Strong earthquakes hit China's remote western regions of Tibet and Xinjiang today but both appear to have struck sparsely populated, mountainous areas and caused only limited damage. The more powerful quake shook Tibet in the late afternoon, from an epicentre around 80 kilometres west of the regional capital Lhasa. It was a magnitude 6.6 tremor, the US Geological Survey said on its website...It came the day after a quake in neighboring Kyrgyzstan killed 70 and flattened a village, and the same day as another strong quake in Afghanistan...

straitstimes.com, October 6, "Indonesian volcano erupts" : A volcano in central Indonesia erupted on Monday, shooting clouds of smoke and flames into the night sky. Indonesia's volcanology centre said Mount Soputan, roughly 2,160 kilometers north-east of capital Jakarta on Sulawesi island, billowed smoke plumes as high as one kilometre. The nearest villages are eight kilometres from the crater's mouth, well out of the danger zone, the agency said on its website. Although no evacuations were ordered, people were warned to stay at a safe distance because it might spew lava. Indonesia, a tropical archipelago straddling a major fault line known as the "Pacific Ring of Fire," has more active volcanoes than any other nation. The 1,780-meter Mount Soputan has been one of the most active. [end]

10.04.08 Carrying charges on the $700 + $120 billion in pork bailout: a test for fifth-graders

SAN FRANCISCO, October 4 - Will the cost to service the new US public debt in 2009 and forward exceed outlays in defense? (Defense is budgeted at $670 billion.) The current public debt outstanding is $9.7 trillion ($9,664,631,803,259.07— See treasurydirect.gov — it's now pushing $9.9 trillion). If the interest outlay for fy 2008 against the $9.7 trillion debt was $431 billion, how much will the interest cost be to service an $11.3 trillion debt? (tip: use 5%) Answer: about $565 billion. If interest rates approach 7% the next administration will have a built in 2009 deficit in excess of the $700 billion bailout. What will be the effect if the presidential candidates intend to borrow in 2009 at least the equivalent of the carrying charges on the public debt ($565-$791 billion)? A summary of interest outlays against the National Debt since 1988 is at Maravot News 9.24.08: 9.20.08 Administration is seeking $700 billion for Wall Street bailout.

Mel Copeland

10.04.08 27 bodies found after drug attacks

October 4 - Mexican police found eight bodies, two of them decapitated, in the northwestern border city of Tijuana overnight, and 19 other bodies after separate attacks further east in the border state of Chihuahua in the past 24 hours. Border areas where rival drug cartels are battling for control of key routes into the United States are among the worst hit in escalating violence across Mexico this year in which almost 3500 have died, according to local media. Attacks have increased despite a government crackdown on drug-related violence including the deployment of 36,000 troops across the country.

Police in Tijuana found five bodies with their hands and feet tied and heads wrapped in tape overnight, as well as two headless bodies and one other body, making a total of 42 dead in one week. Gangland-style murders have escalated this week in the city across the border from San Diego, including the discovery of eight bodies Thursday, and a pile of 12 bodies found in a nearby area on Monday, local officials said. In Chihuahua state a former district attorney and four local police were killed, including a woman, out of a total of 19 dead, officials said Friday...
[More>>news.com.au; See related story, banderasnews.com, October 4, "Guns funneled through US fueling Mexico drug wars."]

10.04.08 Columbian defense chief warns against Russian military presence

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (RIA Novosti) October 4 - Colombia's defense minister said Saturday that Russia's increasing military presence in Latin America would lead to a return to the time of the Cold War. "Russia, with its 16,000 nuclear bombs, has a great desire to be a key player in the world. But its presence in the region will promote a return to the Cold War," Juan Manuel Santos said on Colombian radio Caracol. Speaking ahead of an official visit to Russia, he said the plans for Russian naval exercises in the Caribbean in November could "affect the balance of power in the region and its stability."

"Russia has already shown its strength, sending two strategic bombers capable of carrying 16 nuclear warheads to our neighbor Venezuela," Santos said, adding that the region had not seen anything similar since the Cuban missile crisis four decades ago. "Who would have thought a couple of years ago that there would be a new center of the Cold War near us?" he asked.

Two Russian strategic bombers recently carried out patrols along the coast of South America during a visit to Russia's chief ally on the continent, Venezuela, and a naval task force led by the nuclear-powered missile cruiser Pyotr Velikiy is on its way to the country for joint exercises in the Caribbean. Santos said he hoped his visit to Russia, the first by a Colombian defense minister, would improve relations between the two countries, particularly with regard to Colombia's struggle against terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime. [>en.rian.ru]

10.04.08 China denounces US proposed armes sale to Taiwan

BEIJING, October 4 - China on Saturday denounced the U.S. government's decision to sell arms worth of about 6.5 billion US dollars to Taiwan. Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said the Chinese government and people firmly opposed this action which seriously damaged China's interests and the Sino-US relations. The US government, in spite of China's repeated solemn representations, on Friday notified the Congress about its plan to sell arms to Taiwan, including Patriot III anti-missile system, E-2T airborne early warning aircraft upgrade system, Apache helicopters and other equipment.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei has summoned the charge d'affaires of the US Embassy to China to raise strong protest against the US move, according to spokesman. China firmly opposes to arms sales by the United States to Taiwan, said Liu, noting that this has been a consistent and clear stance of China. The US government's agreement on arms sale to Taiwan severely violated the principles set in the three joint communiques between China and the United States...

10.04.08 US troops kill al-Qaeda mastermind in Iraq

BAGHDAD (AP) October 4 - The US military says it has killed a senior al-Qaeda leader suspected of masterminding deadly bombings in Baghdad. The military says US troops acting in self-defence also killed his wife in Friday's firefight. Saturday's statement identifies the man killed as Mahir Ahmad Mahmud Judu' al-Zubaydi, also known as Abu Assad or Abu Rami. It says he directed the insurgent cell that was believed to be responsible for nearly simultaneous car bomb and suicide attacks that killed at least eight people on Thursday. The military says he was suspected in several other attacks against Iraqis and US forces in past years. It also says he is seen in the videotaped execution of one of four Russian diplomats in June 2006. [>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]

10.04.08 Six houses of militants set on fire in various areas of Bajaur

KHAR, Pakistan, October 4 - Salarzai Lashkar set ablaze six houses of militants in deferent parts of the Bajuar Agency on Saturday. According to sources, a strong Lashkar of Salarzai tribes in Bajaur Agency set on fire six houses of militants in different parts of the agency. The writ of the government has been restored in 90 percent [of the] areas of Tehsil Khar as a result of the operation by security forces. Meanwhile, after the announcement by the administration to impose a ban on Afghan refugees as well as asking them to leave the area within three days, they have started vacating the area. The Levies, while foiling a bid of sabotage in the area of Teli in the Tehsil, defused four bombs and two missiles. [>thenews.com.pk]

10.04.08 New suspect case of bird flu found in S. Korea

SEOUL, October 4 - A new suspected case of bird flu was found at a duck farm in South Korea, the South Korean Agriculture Ministry said Saturday. Routine tests showed that some ducks at a farm in Yesan, 134 km south of Seoul, have been infected with avian influenza, the ministry said in a statement. The ministry said detailed tests were underway to confirm whether the suspected outbreak of bird flu is a highly virulent strain of avian influenza. All ducks at the farm were culled in case of further spreading of the fatal disease, the ministry said. [>xinhuanet.com]

10.04.08 The long march of the penguins

October 4 - Exhausted birds are washing up on Brazil's tropical beaches, thrown off course by changing currents. Claire Soares reports. In between the bronzed bodies in skimpy thongs soaking up the rays on Copacabana beach, a tiny black and white bundle of feathers struggles to emerge from the surf. Exhausted and emaciated, its bones poking through the blubber, the young penguin finally collapses on the sand. It has strayed thousands of miles from home, one of more than 1,000 penguins to have washed up on the Brazilian coast this year.

They have come ashore not just in the shadow of Christ the Redeemer in Rio but further north than ever before, with some making landfall just 400 miles from the Equator. Brazilian coastguards have abandoned their Baywatch-style posing and found themselves acting as penguin first-aiders, protecting them from an over-enthusiastic public whose first instinct is often to stick the birds in an ice bucket.

The Magellanic penguins hail from southern Argentina, with the biggest colony just off the Valdes Peninsula. During winter, the birds usually head north in search of more fish-rich waters. Rarely, however, do they stray as far north as Rio, and to reach the waters around Natal is pretty much unheard of. "It's an extremely unusual event," said Valeria Ruoppolo, a vet with the International Fund for Animal Welfare, who has being helping rescue the stranded birds. "We have never seen anything on this scale before. It's normal for them to migrate north but this year they just kept going and going." No one is really sure what has caused the Brazilian exodus...[More>>independent.co.uk]

10.04.08 Simpson guilty in robbery trial

LAS VEGAS, Nevada, October 4 - O. J. Simpson was found guilty late Friday on all 12 counts stemming from a confrontation in a hotel room last year, including armed robbery and kidnapping. The verdict, which comes 13 years to the day after Mr. Simpson was acquitted in the highly publicized murders of his ex-wife and her friend, concluded a four-week trial that many have seen as a proxy for those unsatisfied by that 1995 outcome.

Mr. Simpson now faces 15 years to life for the kidnapping charge as well as a minimum of at least an additional 10 years in prison on the other charges. His attorney, Yale Galanter, said he would appeal. After the verdicts were read, the judge revoked the bail for Mr. Simpson, a Heisman Trophy winner and an inductee in the National Football Hall of Fame. As his sister, Carmelita, wept and fainted in the front row, he was led away in handcuffs. Mr. Simpson is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 5. [More>>nytimes.com]

10.03.08 Bush signs rescue bill after House vote

WASHINGTON, October 3 - The House of Representatives gave final approval on Friday to the $700 billion bailout for the financial system, reversing course to authorize what may be the most expensive government intervention in history. At 1:21pm, applause and cheers echoed through the House chamber as the number of “aye” votes crossed the threshold needed for passage with just seconds remaining in the official 15-minute voting period. The vote was 263 to 171.

And in a sign of the urgency surrounding the package, Congressional staff rushed the newly printed legislation into a news conference where Democratic leaders gathered after the vote and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, signed it, at exactly 2pm. Within an hour, the legislation had been conveyed to the White House and signed by President Bush. [More>>nytimes.com]

10.03.08 Analysis: Palin gets back on track, but Biden wins debate

ST. LOUIS, Missouri, October 3 - Sarah Palin stared criticism straight in the face Thursday, telling opponent Joe Biden and moderator Gwen Ifill that she would answer questions and address issues on her own terms during the vice presidential debate. "I may not answer the question the way you want to hear, but I'll talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record," Palin said. Since being picked as Republican presidential nominee John McCain's running mate, Palin has been under fire for not being accessible enough to the media and delivering tightly scripted speeches during campaign appearances.

Palin did not veer off-course during the 90-minute debate, but her stand on principle appeared to hurt her, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. Poll of debate watchers. Only 26 percent of those surveyed said that Palin was more intelligent in the debate, compared with 57 percent who chose Biden, according to the poll of 611 adult Americans who tuned in to watch it. of 611 adult Americans who tuned in to watch it. The poll had a sampling error of 4 percentage points. Overall, 51 percent of the debate watchers said that Biden did the best job in the debate, but 36 percent gave the nod to Palin. [More>>cnn.com; See related stories, thestar.com.my, October 3, "Palin-Biden debate appears to set ratings record." and bbc.co.uk, October 3, "The tale of two debates."]

10.03.08 'US strike' hits Pakistan village

October 3 - A US strike on a Pakistani village near the Afghan border has killed at least nine people including suspected foreign militants, Pakistani sources say.Initial reports said at least 20. people had died when an unmanned aircraft (drone) fired on the village in North Waziristan region. But officials later talked of between nine and 12 deaths.The US military has not confirmed any drone attacks and a Pakistani spokesman said there had been no intrusion.

...North Waziristan is a stronghold of Islamic militants, including the Taleban and al-Qaeda, which US and other international troops are fighting in Afghanistan...The evening targeted a house in the village of Mohammad Khel, 30km west of Miranshah, the main town in the region..."Our reports suggest that around 20 suspected militants were killed..." an unnamed "senior Pakistani security official" was quoted as saying by AFP. "Most were foreigners," the official added. Dawn TV reported that 16 of the dead were foreign. [Full story>>bbc.co.uk; See also thenews.com.pk, October 3, "US missile kills 20 in N. Waziristan."]

10.03.08 'Abbas to meet with Assad in Damascus'

October 3 - Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is planning to visit Damascus in a week and a half, Army Radio reported Friday. According to a senior official in the PA, Abbas is expected to meet with Syrian President Bashar Assad. The two are slated to discuss recent indirect talks between Syrian and Israel, as well as a possible rapprochement with Hamas. The Jerusalem Post could not confirm the report. Meanwhile, MK Ahmed Tibi (UAL) told the Reuters news agency that Abbas is already holding secret talks with Assad, and that the two leaders were working to coordinate policies on diplomatic issues. [More>>jpost.com]

10.03.08 Taliban reject Karzai's offer for talks

SPIN BOLDAK, Afghanistan, October 3 - A senior Taliban commander on Friday rejected reconciliation with what he called the "puppet" Afghan government, the latest in a series of pronouncements from both sides on potential peace talks. While violence has increased to its worst level since 2001, neither side has managed to break the strategic stalemate and gain a clear advantage, leading many to call for talks to end the conflict and bring the Taliban into peaceful politics. Afghan President Hamid Karzai said this week he had asked the king of Saudi Arabia to mediate in talks with the insurgents and called on Taliban leader Mullah Omar to return to his homeland and to make peace. [More>>thenews.com.pk]

10.03.08 Russia says Tskhinvali bomb blast hampering peace plan

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) October 3 - Russia's Defense Ministry has denounced a car bomb blast in Tskhinvali as an act of terror aimed at damaging a peace plan in the region. At least seven Russian peacekeepers were killed and three wounded Friday when a car bomb exploded near the HQ of a peacekeeping battalion in the South Ossetian capital. "The Russian Defense Ministry considers this incident as a carefully planned terrorist act aimed at preventing the implementation of the Medvedev-Sarkozy plan," the ministry said in a statement. [More>>en.rian.ru]

10.02.08 Senate bailout vote puts pressure on House Republicans, aides say

WASHINGToN, October 2 - The strong bipartisan Senate vote for a $700 billion economic bailout package will put more pressure on Republican members to back the measure if it comes up for a vote in the US House, Republican leadership aides said. The Senate approved the modified financial rescue plan in a 74-25 vote Wednesday night. Democratic leadership aides said the House vote could occur at midday Friday. A vote on the bailout package on Monday failed in the House after a majority of Republican members voted against the bill.

"The strong vote is helpful. We believe the House has a better chance to pass this bill than the one it considered on Monday," a Republican leadership aide said after Wednesday night's vote. "Having said that, we're going to need more Democrat and Republican votes to pass this bill in the House." [More>>cnn.com]

10.02.08 Iraq attacks kill 22 as Shias mark Eid

BAGHDAD (Reuters, AFP) October 2 - Twin suicide bombings near Shia mosques in Baghdad on Thursday killed at least 16 people as worshippers celebrated Eid al-Fitr, the festival marking the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, officials said. Another six people were shot dead in an ambush in a restive city north of the capital, they said. Security officials said a suicide bomber blew himself up in Jadida, a Shia district of southern Baghdad, killing 12 people and wounding 30.

In the second attack, a bomber slammed his explosives-filled car into an Iraqi military armored vehicle at a checkpoint near a mosque in the nearby neighbourhood of Zafaraniyah, the officials said. The blast killed four people, including three soldiers, and wounded 10 worshippers. Six people were also killed when gunmen opened fire at a minibus near the city of Baquba, the capital of the restive province of Diyala, a security official said. Diyala is one of the most dangerous provinces of Iraq and insurgents have managed to carry out attacks there despite heavy military crackdowns by security forces. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

10.02.08 Mehsud visits parts of S. Waziristan

WANA, Pakistan, October 2 - Supreme commander of the banned outfit Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, Baitullah Mehsud visited different area of South Waziristan on Thursday. According to Taliban sources, Meshsud visited Makeen, Ladha, Badar, Salay Rogha and other areas. The tribesmen upon seeing the Taliban commander, fired their guns in the air. President Tehreek-i-Insaf South Waziristan, Toofan Burki garlanded Baitullah Mehsud and put [a] traditional Pagri (turban) upon his head. Speaking on the occasion, the speakers said the electronic media is airing news regarding the death of Baitullah Mehsud, causing concern among the tribesmen. Therefore, the tribal elders decided that Mehsud should undertake visit of the tribal areas so that people could see him. [>thenews.com.pk]

10.02.08 Taiwan finds melamine in Nestle milk powders

TAIPEI, Taiwan, October 2 - Tests in Taiwan have found minor doses of the industrial chemical melamine in milk powders produced in China by the European food giant Nestle, and those products are being withdrawn, Taiwan's health minister said Thursday. Minister Yeh Ching-chuan said milk powders produced by Nestle in Heilongjiang Province in northeastern China were found to contain 0.3-0.85 ppm (parts per million) of melamine. Nestle is based in Switzerland. "Such minor doses of melamine will not affect people's health ... but we will take them off shelves according to our recommended procedures," Yeh said. [More>>japantoday.com]

10.01.08 Men overpower cops, steal five planes

October 1 - Armed men stole five small planes from a private airstrip in the northwestern Mexican state of Sinaloa by overpowering a police officer and flying away, security forces said. The group of around 20 men stormed the small airstrip at dawn, seized the officer's gun, tied him up, filled the planes with fuel and flew off, said Emma Quiroz, spokeswoman for the government's anti-organised crime operations in Sinaloa. It was not clear if there was a link to drug gangs who use small aircraft to spirit cocaine through northern Mexico toward the United States. Ms. Quiroz's office said it was investigating whether any authorities had been complicit in the theft...Sinaloa is one of the most violent states in a nearly two-year-old war between rival drug gangs and security forces which has killed some 3000 people so far this year. [Full story>>news.com.au]

10.01.08 Russian warship may free Somali pirates' hostages by force

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) October 1 - The Russian warship Neustrashimy may use force against pirates who seized a Ukrainian ship off the Somali coast last week, a senior Navy official said Wednesday. Earlier Wednesday, Somali Ambassador to Russia Mohamed Handule said his country's President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed had authorized Russia's military to fight pirates off Somalia's coast and on land. "This permission allows the warship to use the whole range of the weapons on board," the Navy official said. "We are not excluding a takeover of the vessel by force to free the crew, which includes Russian citizens."

Ukraine's Foreign Ministry earlier cited the Faina's owner, Tomax Team Inc., as saying there were three Russians, 17 Ukrainians and one Latvian on board the ship when it was seized. However, Nyna Karpachyova, the Ukrainian parliament's human rights ombudsman, said that the real owner of the ship, which was carrying 33 T-72 tanks and other military equipment, was an Israeli citizen, Vadim Alperin. [More>>en.rian.ru; See related story, nytimes.com, October 1, "Somali pirates said to reduce ransom."]

10.01.08 Suspected US missile strike kills 8 militants in Pakistan tribal region

MIRANSHAH, Pakistan (PTI), October 1 - A missile fired by a suspected US drone hit a house in a Pakistani tribal area bordering Afghanistan, killing at least eight Islamist militants, mainly Arabs, officials said on Wednesday. The overnight attack was the latest in a string of incidents on the rugged frontier that have raised tensions between Islamabad and Washington, including a recent clash between Pakistani troops and US-led forces in Afghanistan.

The strike happened shortly after Pashtun tribesmen shot at three drones circling the village of Khusali Toorikhel in North Waziristan, a known haunt of Taliban and al-Qaeda militants, security and administration officials said. "After the drones came under fire a missile hit a house in the village," a local security official said on condition of anonymity. "At least eight militants were killed. They are all foreigners, mostly Arabs," the official said, adding that some of those were initially wounded and died of their injuries overnight. Pakistani officials use the terms "foreign" and "Arab" to describe militants from Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, which took refuge in the tribal belt after the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan.
[More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; See related stories:

aljazeera.net, October 1, "Report: Pakistan Taliban chief dead" :
Beitullah Mehsud, Pakistan's most senior Taliban leader, may have died after falling ill, Al Jazeera's correspondent says quoting Pakistan security sources. A senior Pakistani intelligence official said Mehsud died late on Monday of kidney failure after suffering from diabetes. The official declined to discuss any evidence of Mehsud's death. Mehsud is the head of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, an umbrella organization for groups operating across Pakistan's northwest.

His stronghold is South Waziristan, the scene of intense fighting between pro-Taliban fighters and Pakistani soldiers in recent months. A commander close to Mehsud acknowledged that his boss had kidney problems, but denied that he had passed away. He said he was on his way to Mehsud's headquarters in the town of Makeen to meet him...

alarabiya.net, October 1, "Pakistan TV reports death of militant leader": Taliban says Mehsud is seriously ill. Rumors and contradictory news spread on Wednesday about the fate of Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud. Pakistan TV reported he had died of kidney failure overnight but Taliban spokesmen dismissed the report. Militant commanders close to the al-Qaeda-linked warlord said that Mehsud was seriously ill with diabetes and may even be in a coma.

"I just spoke to a close aide of Baitullah Mehsud and he did not mention any such thing," said militant spokesman Muslim Khan, based in northwest Pakistan's Swat Valley. "It could be government propaganda," Khan said of the Mehsud death report.

10.01.08 Hizbullah orders members out of Syria

October 1 - Hizbullah has ordered its members to refrain from visiting Syria until further notice, a website belonging to the Lebanese opposition wrote on Wednesday. The organization was responding to a recent bombing in Damascus that left 17 people dead. Many Hizbullah members, including senior officials, were recalled to Lebanon after the attack on Saturday.

The website also said that since top Hizbullah operative Imad Mughniyeh's assassination in Damascus in February, the organization's members were warned to take extra precautions while visiting the Syrian capital, and that the call to avoid the city completely was issued following last week's bombing. "Hizbullah considered Syria a safe haven for its people where they didn't have to take serious precautions [but] now it has become dangerous," the statement read.

Hizbullah's concern stemmed from a suspicion that extreme Islamic organizations planned to harm its members. Moreover, Hizbullah was not alone in its procedure to avoid the capital. Hamas too, said the website, was also adopting a renewed policy of caution. According to the statement, Syria's security was threatened on two fronts. The first were populated areas within the country that pose a target to terror organizations arriving from overseas. The second, said the website, rested in the defense echelon itself, which, according to the statement, was influenced by foreign defense factors. [>jpos.com]

10.01.08 Spain: Mass internet child pornography arrests

October 1 - Spanish police have arrested 121 people in nationwide raids as part of the biggest operation against internet child pornography ever carried out in the country. Officers uncovered a network that distributed illegal files across some 75 countries. A police statement said Brazilian police helped with the operation. The statement adds that Unicef, the UN children's agency, recently commended Spain's National Police for its outstanding work in combating child pornography.

Apart from the arrests, 96 others were accused of "possession and distribution of internet child pornography", a police statement said, adding that more than 800 police officials took part in the raid. Police conducted 210 searches that "seized millions of archives of videos and photographs some of which show extremely harsh abuse of minors," police said. Two of the people arrested produced their own pornographic material and the victims included members of their own families.

Police said they have identified 250 residences throughout Spain where the pornographic files were uploaded and then distributed, and 347 computer hard drives, 1,186 CDs and DVDs and 36 laptops were seized. Spain has been cracking down on paedophilia in the past few years, arresting nearly 100 people in operations in April and June this year. Investigators have been helped by a software programme which enables them to detect and gather the names and addresses of internet users who connect to the pornographic sites. [>news.sky.com]

10.01.08 EU deploys monitors in Georgia

MOSCOW, October 1 - The European Union on Wednesday began deploying 200 civilian monitors across parts of Georgia despite earlier threats by the Russian military to bar them from buffer zones surrounding the separatist enclaves of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. A European Union official said that the unarmed monitors had been allowed through Russian checkpoints at several places to enter the buffer zone. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters. Under a ceasefire agreement brokered by France, European monitors expect to replace Russian peacekeeping units that have set up command posts in the buffer zones, while Russian forces are supposed to withdraw fully to South Ossetia and Abkhazia by Oct. 10. [More>>nytimes.com]


09.11.05 When a nation lacks a competent leader it invites disaster – the legacy of Bush
"Using force the George W. Bush way – Bush's crusade"
11.25.04 Why the Crusade & Jihad?


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