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Chart showing National Debt & Annual Deficits with Presidents. Democrat administrations are blue, Republican in Red. Green reflects projected Bush debt. Click chart for larger image.

2008 update (10.14.08)

The Chart Showing the National Debt above is far more than projected, of about $11.3 trillion. See "The debt to the penny," publicdebt.treas.gov.
The Deficit for 2006 was $423 Billion; 2007 was $354 billion; 2008 is $451 billion
OMB Budget FY2005>>
Interest on Debt 2008
Federal Debt 2003-09 (estimated in 2004)
Fed. Budget Summary 2003-2009, as estimated

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News Headlines & Trends

11.14.08 Brown cloud 'costs lives and crops'

November 14 - A brown cloud of soot and pollutants floating over Asia is killing thousands of people and damaging crops, the UN says. The environment programme (UNEP) reports that contamination from factories, fires, cars and deforestation contains particles that reflect sunlight away from the Earth, cutting its ability to heat the planet. Achim Steiner, head of the UNEP, said on Thursday: "One of the impacts of this atmospheric brown cloud has been to mask the true nature of global warming." The amount of sunlight reaching Earth has fallen by up to a quarter in the worst-affected areas.

If the cloud, now three-kilometres deep, disperses, global temperatures could rise by up to two degrees. Christian Teriete from the World Wildlife Fund's Global Climate Change programme told Al Jazeera that the cloud is highly toxic...There are similar brown clouds over parts of Europe, North America, Africa and the Amazon Basin, though research so far has been focused on the Asian cloud which stretches from the Arabian Peninsula to the Pacific Ocean.
[Full story>>aljazeera.net]

11.14.08 Eurozone tumbles into first-ever recession

November 14 - The eurozone has fallen into recession for the first time since the single currency was introduced in 1999, official figures show this morning. Eurostat, the European Union statistics agency, said third quarter GDP across the 15-nation eurozone shrank 0.2 per cent, following a 0.2 per cent fall in the previous quarter. A recession is defined as two quarters of negative growth. Yesterday, Germany, Europe's largest country, fell into recession for the first time in four years but it emerged today that GDP in France is still growing, up 0.14%. However, Spain admitted today that growth shrank by 0.2 per cent.

Germany slump into recession follows Ireland, which announced in September that its economy had suffered a 1 per cent contraction in the first half of the year, bringing to an end the rapid growth of the Celtic Tiger years. However, France has reported positive growth for the third quarter of this year. In August it emerged that French GDP shrank 0.3 per cent in the second quarter, but figures released this morning show the country's economy grew 0.14 per cent in the three months to the end of September. [More>>timesonline.co.uk; See related stories:

independent.co.uk, November 14, "UK Housing market 'far worse' than figures suggest" :
House prices across the UK have already fallen far further than official data and market indicators suggest, Rightmove, the online estate agent warned yesterday, as it revealed that up to 300 estate agents were quitting its service every month. While the latest figures from leading mortgage lenders such as Halifax suggest that prices are down by 15 per cent from their peak, Rightmove said the falls were up to two-thirds higher. Miles Shipside, the commercial director of Rightmove, said: "Estate agents tell us that the actual prices that are being achieved [initially between buyers and sellers] for property are down by about 20 to 25 per cent beneath peak asking prices. That has not come out in the national indices."

nytimes.com, November 14, "A record decline in October's retail sales"
: Dragged down by plummeting automobile sales, retail sales fell by a record amount in October, the Commerce Department reported on Friday. Sales were down 2.8 percent in October from September, and 4.1 percent from October 2007 as consumers pared their spending in the face of plunging stocks, rising unemployment and growing worries that the United States was headed into a recession. "It's just brutal," said Eric Beder, retail analyst at Brean Murray and Company. “It's a very bleak time for the consumer. Unless it's something super-compelling or really necessary, they’re not going to the mall, they’re not spending."

October's decline was the fourth consecutive monthly drop, and was worse than Wall Street's expectations of a 2.1 percent decline. The government also revised September retail sales downward by 0.1 percent. The October decline topped the 2.65 percent drop in November 2001, which came after the terrorist attacks. Also on Friday, the Commerce Department reported that business inventories declined 0.2 percent in September, the first drop since March 2007. The drop followed a 0.2 percent rise in August. Economists had expected inventories to be flat.

But as bad as the reports were, analysts said they are only likely to get worse if unemployment continues to swell and more workers find their hours cut back or holiday bonuses clipped. Unemployment reached 6.5 percent last month and many economists think that it could hit 8 percent by the middle of next year...

washingtonpost.com, November 14, "Freddie Mac seeks government aid after $25.3 billion loss" ; Freddie Mac has asked the federal government for the first $14 billion due under a federal bailout program after reporting massive losses today, as concern mounted that government efforts to stabilize the mortgage giant and its sister company Fannie Mae are likely to grow far more expensive than originally suggested. The McLean-based company said that it lost $25 billion from July through September, and that as a result it was, in essence, broke -- with its liabilities exceeding its assets by $13.8 billion...

thejakartapost.com (AP) November 14, "World stock markets gain ahead of global summit" : Asian and European markets gained in the wake of Wall Street's overnight surge as investors bought up beaten-down shares and world leaders gathered in Washington to discuss ways to tackle the global financial crisis. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average rose 223.75 points, or 2.7 percent, to 8,462.39, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 321.31, or 2.4 percent, to 13,542.66.

Mainland China's key index rose 3.1 percent, while markets in Australia and Singapore rose above 1 percent. South Korea's Kospi ended flat after giving up an early rise. The advance across most of Asia followed a volatile Thursday on Wall Street with an abrupt turnaround muscling the Dow Jones industrial average up more than 550 points, or 6.7 percent, to 8,835.25 after a stream of negative economic and corporate news drove the index to its lows for he year...

cnn.com, November 14, "Dismal end to stocks' week" :
Volatile markets finish lower, with Dow down 338, as investors abandon recovery attempt. NEW YORK - Stocks slumped Friday, with investors abandoning a recovery attempt, as the worst retail sales on record ignited fears of a long recession. The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) fell 338 points, or 3.8%. Earlier, the blue-chip indicator had lost as much as 363 points and gained as much as 88 points. The Standard & Poor's 500 (SPX) index skidded 4.1% and the Nasdaq composite (COMP) shed 5%.

All three major gauges slid on the week as well, with the Dow losing 5%, the S&P down 6.2% and the Nasdaq down 7.9%. Stocks crumbled through the early afternoon as investors considered the bleak outlook for consumer spending amid the weak retail sales report. Selling pressure eased up in the middle of the afternoon and then returned near the close. "The recession has been mild up to this point, but I think we're in for a much uglier one in the fourth quarter," said Scott Anderson, senior economist at Wells Fargo. "The retail sales report demonstrates that."

US sales in October posted the worst monthly decline since the Commerce Department initiated the current measurement standard in 1992. The corporate news Friday was just as bad. Freddie Mac posted a big quarterly loss. Sun Microsystems announced massive job cuts and Citigroup is reportedly getting ready to announce layoffs...

11.14.08 US missile strike kills 12 in Pakistan's tribal area

MIRANSHAH, Pakistan, November 14 - A missile strike by a suspected U.S. drone on Friday killed at least 12 Islamist militants in a Pakistani tribal region known as a hub of al-Qaeda and Taliban rebels, security officials said Friday. The attack targeted a remote village on the border between North and South Waziristan in an area known as a hotbed of al-Qaeda and Taliban support. "Nine foreigners were among the killed. Missiles destroyed a house in North Waziristan tribal district," a top security official told AFP. Pakistani officials normally use the term "foreigners" to describe al-Qaeda militants. [More>>alarabiya.net; See also,

independent.co.uk, November 14, "US missiles hit Pakistani Taliban"
: ...The explosions were in an area known as a stronghold of Pakistani Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud. Pakistani officials said the attack targeted a house in a remote village on the border between North and South Waziristan, where Mehsud, an al-Qaeda ally, has been bottled up by Pakistani forces since early this year..."We have reports that 12 people were killed, including five foreigners," a paramilitary official told Reuters by telephone from the area. It was unclear if the dead foreigners included Arabs, who usually signify an al-Qaeda presence.

...Mehsud, who was accused of being behind the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto last December, married a second wife in a ceremony held earlier this week in the Makeen area of South Waziristan. "Around 50 guests attended the marriage. They were all his close friends. It was a simple ceremony," close aide Mufti Wali-ur-Rehman told Reuters. His new wife is a madrasa-schooled daughter of a cleric from his own Mehsud tribe. Mehsud has no children by his first wife. Under Islamic custom a man can take up to four wives.

CIA Director Michael Hayden told a Washington think tank yesterday that US pressure in Pakistan's borderlands aimed to put al-Qaeda "off balance," and said the region represented the greatest terrorism threat to the United States. Hayden said several al-Qaeda veterans had been eliminated "by violence or natural causes" in the past year and the hunt for Osama bin Laden was "at the top of CIA's priority list."..

thenews.com.pk, November 14, "Shabqadr: 20 militants killed in fresh offensive" : SHABQADR: Twenty militants were killed and another 15 wounded when security forces carried out fresh strikes against the suspected militants in Shabqadr area on Friday. Meanwhile, three militants’ hideouts were also destroyed in the bombing. According to police sources, security forces launched fresh raids against militants in Badikorona, Shanoghandi, Zareefkorona and other parts of Shabqadr, killing at least 20 militants and injuring 15 others. Security forces have taken control at the home of a key militant commander Rahil, the sources said. On the other hand, security forces demolished three houses of militants in Jumakhan Korona. [end]

indianexpress.com, November 14, " 'Pakistan girls being trained in militant camps in PoK' " : Jammu, Pakistan - Over 100 Pakistani girls are being trained in terrorist camps financed by ISI in PoK to carry out militant activities in Jammu and Kashmir, a woman arrested by the BSF along the LoC has revealed. 24-year-old Asiya Malik, wife of a Pakistani soldier, was arrested by the Border Security Force (BSF) at Dadil forward post along the Line of Control in Sunderbani belt of Rajouri district on Thursday, intelligence sources said.

During her interrogation, she revealed that Pakistani girls are being trained in handling of weapons, explosives, jungle warfare and sabotage activities in two militant training camps (MTCs) in Bhimber and Kotli areas across LoC in PoK, sources said. While around 80 girls were being trained in Bhimber MTC, another 25 were at Kotli MTC, Asiya, who was also trained in Bhimber camp, revealed...She also told the interrogators that the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI was financing these training camps, where recruits come from various countries including Saudi Arabia...

Editorial note: PoK is "Pakistan occupied Kashmir." (See Google map; you can toggle the map to see the nearby region of Pakistan's Northwest Territories and possibly al-Qaeda's main city, Miranshah.) To communicate among their ranks using cell phones or the internet the Taliban and al-Qaeda probably access them through Miranshah facilities. A Google search on Internet Service Providers (ISP's) for the area produced link.net. Earlier searches of ISP's for the area are also recorded in Maravot News. As Sahab's / al-Qaeda's (continuously changing) internet sites in 2006 are listed in Maravot News 5.27.06 article 5. 24.06 update, 5.23.06 'Bin Laden' denies Moussaoui role.

See also a later article, Maravot News, 8.27.07,
Security forces kill 10 miscreants in fresh Miranshah opration. Our Editorial note relating to this article said: "...It would not be surprising to Maravot News if al-Qaeda's production studio, as-Sahab, is discovered in Miranshah. [Using Google Earth] One can follow the river valley west from Miranshah to Afghanistan. It is common knowledge that the Taliban and al-Qaeda use vehicles and thus need roads. Anyone can see, using Google Earth, which roads they must use to pass between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Al-Qaeda's number 2 leader, al-Zawahiri, bragged in a Spring 2007 as-Sahab broadcast that he had high-speed internet access. August 23, 2006 Stratfor.com, Fred Burton, published an analyses of al-Qaeda's internet production capabilities..We wonder whether US / Pakistani authorities have checked out the users of professional studio production equipment and supplies particularly in the Miranshah area. Which people in Miranshah need studio lights?"

Loc is "Line of control," a boundary setting the divided parts of Kashmir. Trade across the LoC began in October 21, 2008. [thaindian.com]: "The cross-LoC trade was re-started Oct 21 after the first trade convoy in 60 years trundled across the LoC that divides the two Kashmirs between India and Pakistan." LeT is one of the largest and active Islamist terrorist groups in South Asia, "Lashker-e-Tayiba." See related articles:

hinduonet.com,June 8, 2003, "PoK belongs to India: Fernandes" : MYSORE, India June 7. Dismissing Pakistan's claims on Jammu and Kashmir as "irrelevant," the Defence Minister, George Fernandes, today said that Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) belonged to India. He was reacting to Pakistan's recent claim that the whole of Jammu and Kashmir was a disputed territory and that its status was yet to be determined by the UN...

rediff.com, July 26, 2006, " 'Terrorist camps exist in PoK, Pakistan' ": Mudasir Gujri, a top commander of the Lashker-e-Tayiba, arrested by Jammu and Kashmir Police, has confirmed that Pakistani agencies were training terrorists in camps across the border. Mudasir, the mastermind behind the series of blasts in Srinagar, Jammu and fidayeen attack on Congress rally in April, May and July this year, has confessed to the presence of a number of training camps in Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, state Director General of Police Gopal Sharma told reporters in Srinagar on Saturday. He said Mudasir has revealed certain details about the LeT and the direct hand of the Pakistani agencies in training terrorists and organizing subversive activities in Kashmir.

washingtonpost.com, June 24, 2008, "Al-Qaeda's growing online offensive" : (
Article By Craig Whitlock) ...Every three or four days, on average, a new video or audio from one of al-Qaeda's commanders is released online by as-Sahab, the terrorist network's in-house propaganda studio. Even as its masters dodge a global manhunt, as-Sahab produces documentary-quality films, iPod files and cellphone videos. Last year it released 97 original videos, a sixfold increase from 2005. (As-Sahab means "the clouds" in Arabic, a reference to the skyscraping mountain peaks of Afghanistan.) US and European intelligence officials attribute the al-Qaeda propaganda boom in part to the network's ability to establish a secure base in the ungoverned tribal areas of western Pakistan...

11.14.08 UN conference rejects religious terrorism

UNITED NATIONS (AP) November 14 - Countries attending a U.N. interfaith conference on Thursday rejected the use of religion to justify acts of terrorism, the killing of innocent civilians, violence and coercion. A declaration agreed by participants from 80 nations at the high-level meeting expressed concern at "serious instances of intolerance, discrimination, expressions of hatred and harassment of minority religious communities of all faiths." The participants "underlined the importance of promoting dialogue, understanding and tolerance among human beings, as well as respect for all their diverse religions, cultures and beliefs."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon read the declaration near the end of the two-day meeting which was initiated by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and brought 14 world leaders to New York including the U.S., Pakistani, Afghan and Israeli presidents. "King Abdullah's initiative has come at a time when the need for dialogue among religions, cultures and civilizations has never been greater," Ban told a news conference...

Saudi Arabia has been criticized by Human Rights Watch and others for refusing to allow the public practice of any religion other than Islam and restricting those who do not follow the strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam. In light of its sponsorship of the conference, Saud was asked whether Saudi Arabia would now allow the freedom of religion and tolerance called for in the final declaration. The Saudi minister said this was "an important question" for his country but indicated that the process must be gradual.."But to say from the beginning you have to transform yourself into something which you aren't now or nothing else can be achieved is, I think, carrying the argument too far." [Full story>>khaleejtimes.com]

11.14.08 Chandrayaan-1 Impact Proble lands on moon

BANGALORE, India (PTI) November 14 - India marked its presence on Moon on Friday night to be only the fourth nation to sale this historic milestone after a Moon Impact Probe with the national tri-color painted successfully landed on the lunar surface after being detached from unmanned spacecraft Chandrayaan-1. Joining the US, the erstwhile Soviet Union and the European Union, the 35-kg Moon Impact Probe (MIP) hit the moon exactly at 8.31 PM, about 25 minutes after the instrument descended from the satellite in what ISRO described as a "perfect operation." Miniature Indian flags painted on four sides of the MIP signalled the country's symbolic entry into moon to coincide with the birth anniversary of the country's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, observed as Children's Day. [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]

11.13.08 Germany enters recession, China output growth hit

LONDON / TOKYO (Reuters) November 13 - Germany has fallen into recession and China's industry output growth waned to its weakest in seven years, data showed on Thursday, reinforcing evidence the financial crisis is plunging the world into a painful downturn. Seeking to limit the fallout from a crisis that began when the US housing market collapsed more than a year ago, Japan said it would offer up to $100billion to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for emerging economies.

The impact of the worst financial conditions in 80 years was felt sharply in Germany, Europe's largest economy, where the economy contracted by 0.5 per cent in the third quarter, putting it in recession for the first time in five years. The decline — much sharper than the 0.2 per cent forecast — was accentuated by German export growth grinding to a halt.
[More>>timesofindia.india times.com; See also dw-world.de, November 13, "German economy slumps into recession" and related stories:

timesonline.co.uk, November 13, "BT slash 10,000 jobs after profits plunge":
BT today revealed plans to cut 10,000 jobs by the end of the year after pre-tax profits slumped by 11 per cent in the first six months of the year. Today's surprise cut by the former state-owned telecoms operator means almost 15,000 British jobs have been lost within the past three days, after Virgin Media, Yell and GlaxoSmithKline took the axe to staff. Yesterday, it emerged that British unemployment hit an 11-year high of 1.82 million during the three months to September and is forecast to peak at 3.3 million by 2011.

Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, finally acknowledged this week that the UK was heading for a full-blown recession, and signalled further interest rate cuts on top of the 1.5 per cent reduction last Thursday. BT said today that most of the job losses would be among contract, agency and offshore workers. Sub-contractors and other indirect employees would also lose their jobs, the group said. About 4,000 jobs have already been lost. The job losses, from BT's global workforce of 160,000 would be complete by the end of its current financial year in March, the telecoms group said...

xinhuanet.com, November 13, "China announces multi-billion-dollar infrastructure projects, higher export rebates to stimulate economy":
BEIJING - China's government on Wednesday announced a slew of measures, including approval of infrastructure projects and a further rise in export rebates, in a wide-ranging attempt to stimulate the economy and stave off the effects of the global financial crisis. The State Council, or cabinet, approved projects with a combined investment of more than 200 billion yuan (29 billion US dollars), designed to help boost domestic demand and offset slowing exports. At executive meeting presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao, State Councilors agreed to raise export rebates on more than 3,700 items mainly labor-intensive, mechanical and electrical products and other items vulnerable to weakening overseas demand from next month, the third such move in the second half....

koreaherald.co.kr, November 13, "Stocks tumble on US bailout shift":
Korean stocks and won tumbled on renewed fears of a global recession, particularly sparked by the US Treasury Department's shift in its bailout intentions to consumer credit from the financial system, analysts said yesterday. The benchmark KOSPI plunged 3.14 percent, or 35.42 points, to 1,088.44, extending losses for a third consecutive day. The tech-heavy Kosdaq shed 3.61 percent, or 11.69 points, to 311.55.

The Korea Exchange had to halt program trading of KOSPI shares for five minutes early in the morning, as futures plummeted more than 5 percent in just over a minute. Program trading of Kosdaq shares was also temporarily suspended due to a steep fall of more than 6 percent in futures. The local currency lost 2.35 percent, or 32 won, to 1,391.5 won against the dollar, as foreign investors dumped Korean shares. Foreign investors net sold more than 300 billion won ($214.8 million) in the main bourse. "The global recession fears are growing, and the Treasury Department's bailout shift played as a new factor to renew the recession fears," said Lee Jae-mahn, an analyst at Tong Yang Securities...

nytimes.com, November 13, "Tough times seen for big economies" : PARIS - The world's major industrial nations are headed for a major slowdown, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development forecast on Thursday. The leading economies are all likely to contract in the fourth quarter, and many will slip into recession, the group said, as overall economic activity in its 30 member states shrinks in 2009.

middle-east-online.com, November 13, "Trading halted at Kuwait bourse after court" : Kuwaiti court orders suspension of bourse trading to halt market's slide, massive losses of small investors. KUWAIT CITY - Trading at the Kuwait Stock Exchange was halted on Thursday following a court order aimed at halting the market's slide and preventing massive losses among small investors. The bourse management said it decided to halt trade until Monday after receiving the court order, a move unprecedented in the history of the market which was established in the mid-1970s and is now the second largest in the Arab world...

cnn.com, November 13, ".Stocks snap 3-day losing streak" : Dow rallies 552 points, an 870-point rebound from lows. Nasdaq and S&P 500 bounce from near 5-1/2 year lows. NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Stocks surged Thursday, with the Dow posting its third best single-session point gain ever, as the major stock gauges bounced back from levels not seen since 2003. The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) added 552 points, after falling to within 81 points of its 5-1/2 year low earlier in the session. Between the close and the low, the Dow's swing was 870 points; it was 911 points between's the day's high and the day's low.

The Standard & Poor's 500 (SPX) index gained 6.9% and the Nasdaq composite (COMP) rose 6.5%. Both hit 5-1/2 year lows during the session before bouncing back. Stocks had tumbled each day this week and through early Thursday afternoon. But the selloff left the major gauges at levels that many market pros think could represent a bear market bottom, at least in the near term...

washingtonpost.com, November 13, "October budget deficit hits record of $237.2 billion" WASHINGTON - The federal government began the new budget year with a record deficit of $237.2 billion, reflecting the billions of dollars the government has started to pay out to rescue the financial system. The Treasury Department said Thursday that the deficit for the first month in the new budget year was the highest monthly imbalance on record. It was far bigger than analysts expected, over four times larger than the October 2007 deficit of $56.8 billion, and more than half the total for all of last year.

The big surge reflected the government spending $115 billion to buy stock in the nation's largest banks. Those were the first payments made from the $700 billion government rescue program passed by Congress to deal with the most severe financial crisis to hit the country since the 1930s. The October deficit began a period in which economists are forecasting the red ink for the entire year could well hit $1 trillion, reflecting what many expect to be a severe recession, which will depress tax revenue, and the heavy costs of the financial system bailout.

cnn.com, November 13, "Banks must start lending: Senate panel" : Committee grills bankers over $700 billion bailout. Dodd: ''We want to see more progress.' NEW YORK - Lawmakers pressed bank executives on Thursday to explain how they were using the billions of dollars they've received from the federal government as part of the $700 billion bailout. Banks are failing to use public funds to make credit more available and to help troubled homeowners, said Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. Congress did not pass the bailout plan so banks could hoard the money or use it to scoop up faltering rivals, he said...

Editorial note: Both the news media and the US government avoid speaking about the deficits in relation to the interest accruing against the public debt. The current US public debt (national debt) as of November 11, is $10.622 trillion. Interest has been accruing against the public debt (which is financed through treasury bonds and other financial instruments) at about 5% per year. Interest reported by the treasury department for October 2008 was: $18.984 billion. Interest paid out against the [then] public debt of $9.8 trillion for fy2008 was $451.154 billion. When President-elect Barak Obama takes office next January 20, 2009 the public debt could be $11.6 trillion and interest on the public debt then will be ~$580 billion.

When US government outlays are discussed, such as the $237 billion noted above, reporters should list the interest, of $18.9 billion, along with the institutions receiving the rest of the outlays. For details on the relationship of interest contribution to US deficits and the public debt see Maravot News 10.17.08, article
10.14.08 Highest budget deficit ever and our editorial note: containing the following table and another table listing the nations receiving our interest outlays.

National Debt reported by Dept. Treasury * = estimated
Interest outlay ($ billions)
($ billions) * = estimated
National Debt reported ($ trillions)

Mel Copeland

11.13.08 British navy kills two pirates in Gulf of Aden

LONDON (DPA) November 13 - Two suspected Somali pirates were shot and killed by the crew of a British navy frigate in the Gulf of Aden, the Ministry of Defence in London said. A firefight occurred Tuesday when crew of the Royal Navy ship HMS Cumberland dispatched sailors on boats to surround and board a pirate dhow that had attempted earlier to seize a Danish vessel, the ministry said in a statement late Wednesday, stressing that the killings had been in self-defence. An injured Yemeni national was also found on board one of the Yemeni-flagged dhow, a traditional wooden vessel.

The man later died despite being treated by the HMS Cumberland's physician. It remained unclear whether his wounds were a result of the firefight or a previous incident, the ministry said, adding that an investigation of the shooting was being carried out. The firefight occurred about 100 kilometers south of the Yemeni coast. The pirates had fired at the Danish vessel and twice attempted to board her, the reports said. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

11.13.08 Iranian envoy abducted in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, November 13 - Gunmen abducted an Iranian diplomat in the chaotic city of Peshawar in Pakistan's northwest on Thursday, a day after the assassination of an American aid official there. The diplomat, Hesmatollah Atharzadeh, who was the commercial counselor at the Iranian Consulate, was leaving his house in the suburb of Hayatabad when the gunmen attacked, the police said. His driver also was killed. The kidnapping of the Iranian comes after a series of suicide bombings by Taliban militants in Peshawar in the last few months. The police said they suspected Islamic militants were involved in the killing of the American aid worker, Stephen D. Vance. [More>>nytimes.com]

11.13.08 Afghans die in attack on US convoy

November 13 - At least 20 people have been killed in an attack on a US convoy passing through a busy Afghan market. More than 55 other civilians were hurt in the attack in the eastern province of Nangarhar on Thursday morning, officials said. One 13-year-old child died in hospital from his injuries and the toll is expected to rise. A US military spokesman said that a US soldier also died.

According to Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, a spokesman for the provincial governor, a bomber rammed his vehicle into the convoy as it travelled through the Bati Kot district. Ghafoor Khan, a spokesman for the provincial police chief, said that the market was crowded with people buying and selling sheep, cows, goats and other animals at the time.

11.13.08 17 treated in Makassar for suspected bird flu

November 13 - Wahidin Sudirohusodo Hospital in Makassar, South Sulawesi, has been treating 17 patients since Wednesday for suspected bird flu. The suspects, 13 of them children, are residents of Sudiang subdistrict. Seven were admitted to the hospital Wednesday, the rest arrived Thursday. Hospital spokesperson Andi Kurnia Bintang said the patients were suffering from high fever, coughing and breathing difficulty, all symptoms closely associated with bird flu.

"Rapid tests showed they may be infected with the H5N1 avian influenza virus, but we are waiting for blood test results to come back from the Hasanuddin University lab," Kurnia said. Kurnia said 31 chickens had died in the subdistrict in the past week before three toddlers started to show symptoms Monday. Separately, head of Makassar's husbandry office, Sulistiawati, said that his office had found several chickens which tested positive in the bird-flu quick test. She said she had sent officers to cull 20 birds and spray disinfectant at chicken farms in the area.
[>thejakartapost.com; See related story, straitstimes.com, November 14, "Thailand confirms bird flu" :

11.13.08 Early church found in desert city

DAMASCUS (AFP) November 13 - Polish and Syrian archaeologists have uncovered a 1500-year-old Christian church in the famed Roman-era desert city of Palmyra, the director of the Palmyra museum said today. The discovery was made during a dig at the site 220km north-east of the capital Damascus, Walid Assaad said. "Christianity came to Palmyra in the year 312, at a time when Christians had begun to build churches," he said. "And this one is huge - the biggest ever found in Syria. It dates to the fourth or fifth centuries after Jesus Christ."

The rectangular building measures 12 metres by 24 metres and had columns six metres tall, Mr. Assaad said. It had a large courtyard flanked by six columns, and the archaeologists also found two rooms on one side of the building that may have been used for ceremonies such as baptisms. A small amphitheater was also uncovered to one side of the sanctuary. Syria's official Tishrin newspaper cited Polish archaeologist Michel Kaplikovski as saying the building may have been used as a convent or monastery, as it was much larger than other such finds. Palmyra was for a long time a caravan stop on the silk road from the east, its richest era being under the rule of Queen Zenobia in the third century AD. She defied Roman might, even sending forces into Egypt and Asia Minor, before being defeated by the Emperor Aurelian when Palymra was pillaged and much of it destroyed.

11.13.08 Exoplanets finally come into view

November 13 - The list of more than 300 exoplanets now includes actual pictures, two groups report in the journal Science. The first visible-light images of an exoplanet have been taken of a planet 25 light-years away. The planet is believed to be the coolest, lowest-mass object ever seen outside our own galactic neighbourhood. In a separate study, an exoplanetary system, comprising three planets, has been directly imaged, circling a star in the constellation Pegasus.

While several claims have been made to such direct detection before, they have later been proven wrong. The search for exoplanets has up to now depended on detecting either the wobble they induce on their parent star or, if their orbits are side-on to telescopes, watching them dim the star's light as they pass in front of it. Being able to directly detect the light from these planets will allow astronomers to study their composition and atmospheres in detail.

11.12.08 Paulson says treasury is shifting focus of bailout

WASHINGTON, November 12 - Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. announced a major shift in the thrust of the $700 billion financial-rescue program on Wednesday, at the same time joining several agencies in prodding banks to speed up the thaw in the country's credit system. Mr. Paulson said the $700 billion would not be used to buy up troubled mortgage-related securities, as the rescue effort was originally conceived, but will instead be used in a broader campaign to bolster the financial markets and, in turn, make loans more accessible for creditworthy borrowers seeking car loans, student loans and other kinds of borrowing. [More>>nytimes.com; See related stories:

foxbusiness.com, November 12, "Wall Street bonuses expected to come this season despite bailout" :
With the financial industry on the receiving end of a massive bailout by the government, one would assume Wall Street wouldn’t be paying out bonuses this year. Well think again. While bonuses are expected to be down between 40% and 70%, the financial industry’s foot soldiers are expected to get their bonuses, which in some cases make up 80% of their yearly compensation. "Even if you have tough times you’ve got a lot of people that contribute a lot," said Allan Johnson, managing director of Johnson Associates, a New York-based compensation consulting firm. The Wall Street companies don’t want to lose or devastate the morale at the companies, he said. News reports have surfaced that Goldman Sachs (GS: 68.33, -6.35, -8.50%) and Morgan Stanley (MS: 12.99, -1.09, -7.74%) are among the Wall Street companies that have set aside billions for bonuses.  Officials at Goldman Sachs  weren’t immediately available to comment. A spokesman at Morgan Stanley said the company hasn't made a final decision on bonuses yet...

[Editorial note: (Maravot News) Treasury Secretary Paulson was head of Goldman Sachs. He was reported by ABC news to have made $140 million with them just prior to taking the job of Treasury Secretary (Wikipedia.org says, "His compensation package, according to reports, was $37 million in 2005, and $16.4 million projected for 2006.").]

cnn.com, November 12, "Stocks in 3-day selloff" ::NEW YORK - Stocks fell Wednesday, for the third session in a row, as investors remained focused on the weak economy and bet that a long and deep recession is on the horizon. The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) was down about 300 points, or 3.5%, and the Nasdaq composite index (COMP) was off by about 3.7%. The Standard & Poor's 500 (SPX) index fell 3.9% at 863 points, the small-cap index is approaching last month's low of 849 points. "The concern is that the economy will turn out worse than the current forecast [and] the recession will be longer and more severe,"said Hugh Johnson, chief strategist at ThomasLloyd Global Asset Management...The selloff gained momentum after Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said late Wednesday morning that the government will no longer use the $700 billion bailout fund to buy illiquid assets from banks, which was its original intent...

thejakartapost.com, November 12, "Russia may have to tap reserves fund in crisis" : Russia may have to tap into rainy-day reserves of billions of dollars to help state finances through the economic crisis and declining oil profits, the country's finance minister said Wednesday. Alexei Kudrin's comments came as the ruble and Russian stocks continued to fall as the country struggles through its worst economic crisis in a decade and as the Central Bank said it would scale back its defense of the national currency. In remarks before the Russian upper house of parliament, Kudrin forecast oil prices to average $50 a barrel next year and $55 in 2010, but said "it would not affect the spending plans in any way." ...

japantoday.com, November 12, "Japan stocks fall; investors awaiting G20 meeting" : TOKYO - Japanese stocks fell Wednesday in restrained trading as caution prevailed amid ongoing concerns about the US economy and ahead of the upcoming G20 summit of financial leaders. The benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average fell 113.79 points, or 1.29%, to 8,695.51. The broader Topix index lost 1.59% to 875.23...

khaleejtimes.com (AFP) November 12, "Gulf stocks continue to slide on huge sell-off" : KUWAIT CITY - Stock markets in the Gulf states tumbled on Wednesday for the fourth day running as a sell-off continued on concerns over the global economy. The United Arab Emirates bourses of Dubai and Abu Dhabi shed more than five percent, dragged down by blue chips, some of which sank the maximum allowed level. There were big losses in the remaining five markets...

ft.com (Financial Times) November 12, "Earnings gloom drives Wall Street lower" :

11.12.08 Baghdad shaken by series of bombs

November 12 - At least 21 people have been killed and more than 85 injured in a series of bombs throughout Baghdad, police said. In the most serious attack, at least 12 people were killed and 60 injured when almost simultaneous car and roadside bombs detonated in eastern Baghdad. Earlier a car bomb killed four people and injured 14 during the morning rush hour in a busy central shopping area.

Police also said five people were killed and 12 wounded in an explosion in the north of the capital. It is the third consecutive day of bombing Baghdad. More than 30 were killed on Monday and Tuesday in blasts with struck during the morning rush-hour. The attacks come as Iraqi and US officials try to reach a final deal on a long-term security pact.
[More>>bbc.co.uk; See related stories:

news.com.au, November 12, "Soldiers capture 'number one butcher' "
: IRAQI and US forces have arrested the "number one butcher" responsible for beheadings in the volatile Diyala province north of Baghdad. "Iraqi forces received intelligence on a very dangerous terrorist known as the number one butcher who was responsible for a beheading squad that slaughtered innocent people," Major General Mohammed al-Askari said. The suspect, Riyad Wahab Hassan Falih, "also supervised the training of terrorists specializing in beheading Iraqis," he said.

The arrest came amid a series of operations across the province in which Iraqi army troops backed by local tribes apprehended 65 people in 72 hours. In an operation early today, troops arrested nine local al-Qaeda leaders who had been hiding in an underground bunker used for torturing and beheading captives. In another raid in the north of Diyala, Iraqi security forces shot dead five fighters when they raided a weapons cache, the ministry said. [end]

timesonline.co.uk, November 12, "Iraqi soldier shoots dead two US soldiers after being slapped in the face" : An Iraqi soldier on foot patrol with US forces in the northern city of Mosul shot and killed two American soldiers and wounded six more, the worst such case yet of US-trained local troops turning their guns on their allies. The Iraqi soldier, identified as Barzan al-Hadidi, was part of a joint daytime patrol on the streets of the dangerous city, considered to be one of the last strongholds of al-Qaeda and its local allies in Iraq. He was quickly gunned down by other members of the patrol, officials said. The Iraqi Interior Ministry said the soldier opened fire after he had been publicly slapped by an American colleague. Many Iraqi men, especially in the military, are intensely proud and conscious of any perceived slight to their honour...

11.12.08 Tanker bomb kills six

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AFP) November 13 - A bomb-filled tanker exploded outside the office of the provincial council in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar today, killing six people and wounding 42, a governor said. Wali Karzai, brother of President Hamid Karzai and head of the council, was in the building at the time but was unharmed. "I am fine and safe," he said later. The insurgent Taliban claimed responsibility for the blast. A spokesman, Yousuf Ahmadi, said by telephone the target was the provincial council. The explosives-filled tanker dug a crater about four metres deep and eight metres wide into the road just outside the council building, an AFP reporter said. [More>.news.com.au]

11.12.08 American aid worker slain in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, November 12 - An American aid worker involved in a United States government program to bring development to a lawless tribal region of Pakistan was assassinated in his car Wednesday morning as he went to work in the provincial capital, Peshawar. The American, Steve Vance, and his Pakistani driver were shot as their car approached the house in Peshawar where Mr. Vance ran a program to bring small-scale projects and jobs to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, a stronghold of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, his associates said. The United States Embassy in Islamabad confirmed that an American citizen and his driver were killed in an attack in Peshawar. The embassy was coordinating with local law enforcement agencies to determine what happened, a spokesman, Wes Robertson, said. [More>>nytimes.com]

11.12.08 Iran 'successfully' tests new missile

November 12 - Iran has successfully test-fired a new generation of its longer range surface-to-surface missile using solid fuel, making them more accurate than its predecessors, the defense minister announced Wednesday. Mostafa Mohammed Najjar said on state television that the Sajjil was a high-speed missile manufactured at the Iranian Aerospace department of the Defense Ministry. He said it had a range of about 1,200 miles. At that range it could reach Greece and Bulgaria in southeastern Europe, as well as easily strike arch-foe Israel. Solid fuel missiles are more accurate than the liquid fuel missiles of similar range currently possessed by Iran. [More>>jpost.com; See related story:

thenews.com.pk, November 12, "Any aggression against Iran to receive crushing response: Ahmadinejad" :
TEHRAN: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday that any act of aggression against Iran would receive a crushing response. Addressing a crowd in the northern city of Sari in Mazandaran Province, Ahmadinejad cautioned the enemies of Iran to avoid using the language of force against Iran. "Whoever talks with the great people of Iran with the language of force or in a rude, selfish and impolite tone would receive a clear response from [the] Iranian nation," he said. "Superficial changes in governments and administrations will have no effect on us," Ahmadinejad said, referring implicitly to the recent results of US presidential election. [end]

11.12.08 Taliban urges Obama to end Bush's foreign policies

NEW YORK (DPA) November 12 - Taliban insurgents battling the US-backed Afghan government urged President-elect Barack Obama to change course in US foreign policy and withdraw American troops from both Afghanistan and Iraq, an Internet monitoring service said on Tuesday. The message posted on a Web site used by the Taliban claimed Obama's victory reveals the collective willingness of American people not to continue the current despicable and anti-human wars in Afghanistan and Iraq," SITE Intelligence Group said.

The authors claimed that Obama had promised to end Bush's policies pledging to recover the dwindling American economy and find a niche in the comity of nations. But while Obama has said he intends to draw down US troops levels in Iraq, he has repeatedly called for an increase in troops in Afghanistan to combat a resurgence of the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
[More>>khaleejtimes.com; See related stories, thestar.com.my, November 12, "Obama's pick for White House chief unsettles Arabs." and

cnn.com, November 12, "Obama administration to ratchet up hunt for bin Laden."

11.12.08 Russian, British navies prevent Danish ship seizure by pirates

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) November 12 - The Russian frigate Neustrashimy (Fearless) and Britain's HMS Cumberland frigate have prevented the seizure of a Danish merchant vessel by pirates off Somalia's coast, a Russian Navy spokesman said on Wednesday. "Pirates tried shooting at the vessel and made two attempts to capture it. Their actions were prevented by the joint efforts of the Russian and British warships. A Ka-27 helicopter took off from the Neustrashimy and a Lynx helicopter took off from the HMS Cumberland," Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo said. The Neustrashimy entered waters off the Somali coast in late October. Somali pirates have attacked around 60 ships so far this year, resulting in the seizure of around 30 vessels. The East African nation has been without a functioning government since 1991 and has no navy to police its coastline. [More>>en.rian.ru; See related story,

washingtonpost.com, November 12, "Somali islamists seize port as insurgency gains."
: NAIROBI, Kenya - An increasingly powerful Islamic insurgency is advancing toward Somalia's seaside capital, capturing town after town and seizing territory from the weak UN-backed government often without firing a shot. But analysts say the hardline militants cannot achieve their ultimate goal of laying siege to Mogadishu, the capital, while powerful Ethiopian troops remain stationed in the once-beautiful city on the shore of the Indian Ocean...

11.11.08 Is Iran's Ahmadinejad losing chance for vote win?

TEHRAN (Reuters) November 11 - Hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's failure to share out Iran's oil income more fairly has raised doubts over his chance of securing a second-term in next year's election. Instead of ushering in the era of "economic prosperity" he promised in 2005, Ahmadinejad presides over an Iran which may struggle to balance its books despite enjoying windfall oil earnings for much of his first term, analysts say.

...But, with most Iranians grumbling about inflation of more than 29 percent and unemployment, the economy is likely to be the main battleground in the June 2009 race when Ahmadinejad is expected to run for another four-year term. "Iran's oil revenue since Ahmadinejad was elected is equal to one-third of the country's income since the (1979) Islamic revolution," said Habib Shakurzadeh, a university lecturer. "But the country is on the verge of economic collapse."

...An International Monetary Fund (IMF) report in August said under current policies, if Iranian crude fell to $75 a barrel the country would face current account deficits in the medium term, unsustainable for a country isolated from global finance. Oil prices were trading around $60 a barrel on Tuesday.
[Full story>>thestar.com.my]

11.11.08 Abbas: In talks, Israel has proposed concessions regarding Jerusalem

(DPA) November 11 - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday that during peace talks over the past year, Israel had proposed concessions to him regarding Jerusalem, but he rejected them because they were partial. Abbas told tens of thousands of Palestinians who gathered at his Ramallah headquarters to mark four years since the death of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat that he wants a full peace deal and will accept no partial one. "We rejected Israeli proposals that stipulated making concessions including on Jerusalem and the refugees," he said. "We either get all six points — Jerusalem, settlements, borders, refugees, water and security — or nothing at all," Abbas said.[More>>haaretz.com; See related stories,

metimes.com, November 11, "Blockade busting Europeans get peace commitment from Hamas" :
GAZA CITY, Gaza -- Following intensive negotiations with Hamas, the de facto leadership of Gaza, a group of European parliamentarians has been told by the organization that it will accept a Palestinian state within the internationally recognized 1967 borders as well as offer Israel a long-term ceasefire. The delegation of 11 from Britain, Ireland, Switzerland and Italy, managed to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza on Saturday morning after their boat, the Dignity, sailed from Cyprus to Gaza, shadowed part of the way by an Israeli naval vessel...This was the third successful boat trip made by the Dignity into Palestinian coastal waters despite warnings by Israel that action would be taken to stop the vessel. On board was a ton of medical aid and desperately needed medical equipment...

bbc.co.uk, November 11, "UN warns over Gaza food blockade" : The UN has described as "shameful and unacceptable" Israel's blockade of Gaza, saying it will run out of food in two days unless deliveries are allowed. The UN refugee agency Unwra, which distributes food to half of Gaza's 1,5m people, called the blockade "a physical as well as a mental punishment." Israel is now allowing a limited amount of fuel across the border, but it is still blocking food deliveries. It says it tightened sanctions because of rocket attacks by militants. The Islamist group Hamas, which controls Gaza, said the rockets were a response to an Israeli raid that killed six gunmen on 4 November...

alarabiya.net, November 11, "Israel FM slams Olmert's land concession remark" : JERUSALEM - Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni distanced herself on Tuesday from comments by outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert calling for Israel to give up most of the Arab territories it has occupied since 1967, including east Jerusalem, if it wants peace. In an interview with army radio, Livni, who will lead Olmert's centrist Kadima party into a snap February election, said she was not bound by his policies...

11.11.08 US congressman warns of Obama dictatorship

WASHINGTON, November 11 - A Republican congressman from the southern US state of Georgia said Monday he fears that President-elect Barack Obama will establish a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist or fascist dictatorship. "It may sound a bit crazy and off base, but the thing is, he's the one who proposed this national security force," Rep Paul Broun said of Obama in an interview Monday with The Associated Press. “I’m just trying to bring attention to the fact that we may — may not, I hope not — but we may have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism.”

Broun cited a July speech by Obama that has circulated on the Internet in which the then-Democratic presidential candidate called for a civilian force to take some of the national security burden off the military. "That's exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it's exactly what the Soviet Union did," Broun said. "When he's proposing to have a national security force that's answering to him, that is as strong as the US military, he's showing me signs of being Marxist."

Obama's comments about a national security force came during a speech about building a new civil service corps. Among other things, he called for expanding the US foreign service and doubling the size of the Peace Corps "to renew our diplomacy." "We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we've set," Obama said in July. "We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded." Broun said he also believes Obama likely will move to ban gun ownership if he does build a national police force.
[More>>japantoday.com; See related story, cnn.com, November 11, "Gun sales surge after Obama's election."]

11.11.08 Suicide attack kills four in Peshawar

PESHAWAR, Pakistan November 11 - At least four people were killed and several others were wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the main gate of Qayum Stadium after closing ceremony of inter-provincial games here on Tuesday. According to Geo News, relief activities have begun after the blast. The dead and injured were shifted to the hospital where emergency was declared. {More>>thenews.com.pk; See more details, timesofindia.indiatimes.com, November 11, "Suicide attack at Peshawar stadium."]

11.11.08 Somali pirates hijack ship

November 11 - Somali pirates have hijacked a cargo ship off the Gulf of Aden, defying security patrols by several warships in the region, a Kenyan maritime official has said. The Philippine-flagged Stolt Strength, managed by a Panama company, was seized on Monday, Andrew Mwangura who runs the  Kenya chapter of the Seafarers Assistance Programme, said. "The ship was seized on Monday afternoon, but we are now tracking its whereabouts," he said. "We are yet to establish where the ship was heading and what it was carrying," he added.

Stolt Strength, with 21 Filipino crew, was seized nearly two months after its sister freighter, Stolt Valor, was taken in the same region. There have been least 81 pirates attacks in the region this year, including 32 hijackings, according to the International Maritime Bureau's (IMB) piracy reporting centre in Kuala Lumpur. Eleven ships and more than 200 crew members are still being held by Somali pirates.
[More>>aljazeera.net; See related story:

arabtimesonline.com, November 11, "India navy battles pirates in Gulf of Aden"
: NEW DELHI (AFP) - An Indian warship on Tuesday successfully defended a merchant vessel from being hijacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden and escorted the ship to safety, a statement from the navy said. Merchant vessel 'Jag Arnav,' a 38,000 tonne bulk carrier owned by India's Great Eastern Shipping Co. Ltd, had crossed the Suez Canal and was 60 nautical miles east of Aden when it was attacked by pirates, the statement said.

11.11.08 Over 4,000 British jobs face axe

November 11 - UK unemployment is set to climb even further after a range of British businesses today announced over 4,000 job cuts in under 12 hours. This afternoon, Virgin Media announced that it will axe 2,200 jobs between now and 2012 in a major restructuring of the business. The cable, internet and phone company, in which Sir Richard Branson is the biggest shareholder, has not finalized which departments or locations will be affected by the staff cuts. But it played down the economic climate, blaming instead the merger of NTL and Telewest in 2006.

This morning, Yell, the publisher of the Yellow Pages, revealed plans to cut 1,300 jobs, of which 300 will be from the UK, in a drive to save £100 million. It is the second round of redundancies the company has announced in two years. Taylor Wimpey, the house builder, said it had axed 1,000 employees, bringing its toll to almost 2,000 redundancies following the sharp slowdown in the housing market and the slump in demand for new homes. [More>>timesonline.co.uk]

11.11.08 Brown 'concerned' at credit card rate hikes

November 11 - Gordon Brown hit out at huge interest rate hikes by credit card firms today, warning that they must behave "responsibly." The Prime Minister insisted it was unacceptable to saddle British customers with big increases as the recessions bites. The Government would act to establish "clear principles" to make sure companies treated people fairly, he added.

Downing Street said Mr. Brown had been alarmed by recent examples where credit rates had gone up by 10% overnight, and a store card which was charging 200%. The intervention came after a study of 240 credit cards showed that, while the Bank of England had dramatically reduced its official bank rate from 5% in May to 3% this month, the cost of borrowing on cards had gone up. [More>>independent.co.uk]

11.11.08 Irate congressman demands resignation of AIG CEO

WASHINGTON, November 11 - A leading critic of AIG today demanded the company's CEO resign in the wake of the disclosure of yet another "junket" at a resort spa. In a letter to AIG's CEO Edward Liddy, Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said the decision to hold an event for independent financial advisors last week at a luxury Phoenix resort was "outrageous" given an earlier pledge by Liddy to curtail such events. Cummings wrote that AIG can begin to restore its trust with Congress "by accepting your resignation from the positions of chairman and chief executive officer." Reporters for abc15.com (KNXV) caught top AIG executives on hidden camera at a secretive gathering last week at the luxurious Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort in Phoenix. AIG instructed the hotel to make sure no company logos and signs were seen on the property, according to a company spokesman. [More>>abcnews.go.com; See full report, abc15.com, November 11, "Aig execs at posh Phoenix resort after $85 billion bailout." and related story:

cbsnews.com, November 11, "Buddy, can you spare a billion?"
: The government's $700 billion bailout plan, which won Congressional approval in October, was designed to ease the mounting stresses on the nation's economic crisis. But the controversial legislation has invited a chorus of financial rescue pleas from industries nationwide and sparked controversy over which companies, if any, deserve a government lifeline. Most recently, the situation surrounding insurance giant American International Group has underscored the problem. When the government offered an emergency loan to AIG in September, eyebrows shot up at the $85 billion price tag. Now it looks like pocket change.

The size of the AIG lifeline swelled to more than $150 billion on Monday, a record for a private company. But the head of the broader financial rescue package was cool to other companies reaching for a piece of the bailout pie. The new AIG package includes a $40 billion chunk of the $700 billion financial bailout. It's the first time money from the big rescue bill has gone to any company other than a bank.

General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, burning through cash and bleeding jobs, are prodding the government for more help. The leaders of the House and Senate have urged Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to get some of the $700 billion to the Big Three...In a separate development late Monday, the Fed granted the request of credit card company American Express Co. to become a bank holding company. Although the new status will subject the company to greater regulatory scrutiny, American Express will also gain access to the Fed's emergency lending program...

11.11.08 Retail worries help push markets lower

November 11 - A broad sell-off hit nearly every corner of Wall Street on Tuesday, raking across companies from General Motors to Delta Airlines to Nordstrom amid more signs that the economic slowdown was hurting retailers across the country. The markets opened sharply lower and kept sliding. The Dow Jones industrial average was down about 235 points, or 2.6 percent, and the broader Standard & Poor's 500-stock index was off about 2.9 percent.

Building on declines from Monday, the American markets were off about 4 percent since the start of the week, dragged down as lower corporate earnings foretell more contraction and economic pain. "Everyone agrees that we’re in a recession, so the markets have priced that in," an independent market strategist, Douglas M. Peta, said. "But I don't think they've priced in what appears to be an increasingly sharp and increasingly protracted recession." [More>>nytimes.com]

11.11.08 Government to roll out new program for at-risk mortgages

November 11 - The government and mortgage industry -- including federally run mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — plan to announce today a new streamlined system for modifying the mortgages of hundreds of thousands of borrowers to avoid foreclosure, according to two people familiar with the matter. A news conference involving government officials and industry representatives has been scheduled for 2 p.m. in Washington. Under the program, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and other companies would move to modify mortgages for borrowers who are more than 90 days late on paying their loans and fit within certain formulas. That contrasts with the current system, where modifications are addressed on a case-by-case basis.

The goal of the new program would be for borrowers' annual mortgage payment to equal 38 percent of annual income, the model used successfully by the government with IndyMac in California. The companies would do that by extending the loan term, reducing the interest rate and, if necessary, delaying payment on a part of the principal of the loan. If a borrower is able to meet payments for three months, the change becomes permanent. [More>>washingtonpost.com]

11.11.08 Sources: Obama pressed Bush for auto industry bailout

November 11 - At their private Oval Office meeting on Monday, President-elect Barack Obama urged President Bush to support billions of dollars in aid for the struggling auto industry during the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress, according to three officials briefed on the meeting. The officials said Bush privately expressed skepticism about taxpayer money for automakers on the heels of a string of government bailouts for other industries, and the president also urged Obama to help push through a free trade pact with Colombia — a key legacy item for the outgoing administration that is facing stiff resistance from Democrats on Capitol Hill.

But a senior Bush administration official seemed to downplay suggestions that Bush was offering a quid pro quo by saying the White House still believes the trade deal “deserves to pass on its own merits” without being linked to anything else. The officials familiar with the meeting said Obama made the case that dramatic action needs to be taken this year — rather than after he is sworn into office — because the Big Three US automakers are bleeding cash at an alarming rate. [More>>cnn.com]

11.11.08 Dubai market drops over 7 percent on fears of global financial crisis

DUBAI, November 11 - Markets in Dubai and Abu Dhabi fell sharply on Tuesday with the Dubai index dropping more than 7 per cent, led by banking and property stocks. Incidentally, Dubai is bearing the brunt of the regional and global market weakness.

"Even in days when other regional markets recover, Dubai has consistently underperformed and is also much weaker than its Abu Dhabi peer," says Khaled Masri, executive partner at Rasmala Investments. "The market perception is that Dubai is seen as the 'weakest link' within the GCC in this environment. This is due to the very high percentage of market capitalization being represented by real estate related stocks and a perception within the market that Dubai and its companies have very high levels of leverage."

11.11.08 US charity's terrorism financing case wraps up

DUBAI, November 11 - A jury was expected to begin deliberations Tuesday on whether leaders of the largest Islamic charity in the United States were guilty of financing terrorism or simply provided charity to needy Palestinians under Israeli occupation. The two-month long terrorist financing trial against five former leaders of the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation concluded Monday as lawyers made their closing arguments to jurors, said the Dallas Morning News.

The United States government charged that the foundation, which was shut down in 2001, funneled $12 million to the Palestinian group Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization by the US Since 1995 US law has forbidden providing support in any form to Hamas. "The Holy Land Foundation was created to support Hamas," Prosecutor Barry Jonas was quoted by the paper as saying in his concluding arguments Monday. These defendants "gave fuel that runs the Hamas engine."
[More>>alarabiya.net; See also dallasnews.com, November 11, "Closing arguments delivered in Holy Land trial."]

11.11.08 French police arrest eight over train sabotage

November 11 - French anti-terrorist police have arrested eight people linked to far-left political groups for allegedly sabotaging power cables on high speed TGV train lines, the interior ministry said today. It said the "anarcho-autonomous" movement that the suspects belonged to had been under surveillance for several months by domestic intelligence services and anti-terrorist police. Severe delays were caused at the weekend when power was cut by metal bars hooked onto several overhead electric cables on TGV lines in the area around Paris.

The government and management of France's national rail operator SNCF [SNCF.UL] said on Sunday that the stunts, which did not threaten the safety of passengers, appear to have been coordinated acts of sabotage and could only have been done by someone familiar with working with high tension power cables. The case was formally transferred to anti-terrorist police services. [>independent.co.uk]

11.11.08 Terror trial begins in Australia

SYDNEY (AP) November 11 - Five Muslim men accused of plotting a terrorist attack in Australia stockpiled bomb-making instructions and purchased explosive chemicals as part of their plan, a prosecutor told a court Tuesday. Prosecutor Richard Maidment said the suspects saw Australia's military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq as an act of aggression against Muslims. The men, who prosecutors have said were devotees of a radical cleric sympathetic to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, have pleaded not guilty.

Maidment told the 15-member jury as the trial opened Tuesday in New South Wales state Supreme Court that the men planned to use explosive devices or firearms to commit "extreme violence" in a bid to force Australia's government to change its policy on Middle East conflicts. Khaled Cheikho, 35, Moustafa Cheikho, 31, Mohamed Ali Elomar, 43, Abdul Rakib Hasan, 39, and Mohammed Omar Jamal, 24, were arrested in a series of raids in 2005. They have pleaded not guilty to conspiring to commit acts in preparation for a terrorist attack. Each face a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.

11.11.08 Scores killed in Baghdad market bombings

BAGHDAD, November 10 - Double bomb attack in market in Adhamiyah kills at least 25 people, wounds 48 others. At least 25 people were killed and dozens wounded on Monday in a double bomb attack in a market in a Sunni district of Baghdad, security officials said. The attackers set off a car bomb in Adhamiyah, then a suicide bomber ran into the resulting melee and blew up, according to defence and interior ministry officials. An interior ministry official said 48 were wounded.

The Medical City hospital received 37 wounded people, including several women and children and two Iraqi soldiers, a medic said. Witnesses said the attack took place on a street lined with restaurants as a bus carrying children to a school drove past. Adhamiyah, a Sunni neighbourhood tucked into the mostly Shiite eastern half of the city, saw fierce clashes at the height of Iraq's sectarian violence after the US-led invasion. [More>>middle-east-online.com]


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