Global News (03/12/09)

Police baton-charge lawyers as thousands march against President in Pakistan (Times Online):
Riot police clashed with lawyers and opposition activists across Pakistan today as thousands of people defied the government to launch a mass protest that threatens to plunge the country once again into chaos.

Iraqi shoe-thrower sentenced to three years in jail (Guardian):
The Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at George Bush, gaining instant hero status in much of the Arab world, has today been sentenced to three years in prison.

Chinese police pretend to be journalists to catch out protestors (Telegraph):
With the great boondoggle of the Olympics now fading into a distant memory, it is becoming clear that not much has changed in China. Or if things have changed, it’s because the Communist Party is more adept at propaganda and control.

Memo that told Blair aides Saddam Hussein posed no imminent threat (This is London):
Intelligence experts explicitly warned Tony Blair’s aides that Britain was not in “imminent danger of attack” from Saddam Hussein, a confidential memo revealed today. The row over claims that the Government “spun” its way into war with Iraq is likely to be reignited after the release of the document by the Cabinet Office.

45 percent of world’s wealth destroyed: Blackstone CEO (Reuters):
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Private equity company Blackstone Group LP (BX.N) CEO Stephen Schwarzman said on Tuesday that up to 45 percent of the world’s wealth has been destroyed by the global credit crisis. (The world’s wealth has not been destroyed, instead it has been reallocated.)

American Eagle Gold Uncirculated Coins (U.S. Mint):
Production of United States Mint American Eagle Gold Proof and Uncirculated Coins has been temporarily suspended because of unprecedented demand for American Eagle Gold Bullion Coins. Currently, all available 22-karat gold blanks are being allocated to the American Eagle Gold Bullion Coin Program, as the United States Mint is required by Public Law 99-185 to produce these coins “in quantities sufficient to meet public demand . . . .”

The United States Mint will resume the American Eagle Gold Proof and Uncirculated Coin Programs once sufficient inventories of gold bullion blanks can be acquired to meet market demand for all three American Eagle Gold Coin products. Additionally, as a result of the recent numismatic product portfolio analysis, fractional sizes of American Eagle Gold Uncirculated Coins will no longer be produced.

Swiss action sparks talk of ‘currency war’ (Financial Times):
The Swiss National Bank moved to weaken the Swiss franc on Thursday, the first time a big central bank has intervened in the foreign exchange markets since Japan sought to weaken the yen in 2004. “Let the currency wars begin,” said Chris Turner at ING Financial Markets.

Bank ‘prints’ £2bn more cash – but has it all gone abroad? (Daily Mail)

Senate GOP to Obama: ‘It’s the Economy, Stupid!’ (FOX News):
(The Bush administration was spending like there is no tomorrow and the spending of the Obama administration makes sure that there is no tomorrow for the U.S. The only solution to this problem is ‘Ron Paulpolitics and economics.)

Democrats draw up plan for second stimulus bill (Telegraph):
Democrats in the US Congress are drawing up plans for a second stimulus bill amid fears the first $787 billion package was not big enough to kick start the US economy. (… but almost good enough to stall the economy.)

US Household Net Worth Had Record Drop Last Quarter (Bloomberg):
March 12 (Bloomberg) — U.S. household wealth fell by a record $5.1 trillion from October to December, almost twice the decrease in the previous quarter, as home values and stock prices plunged, Federal Reserve figures showed.

EDITORIAL: Obama’s reliance on teleprompters (Washington Times):
Some have noted that Mr. Obama’s stumbling speeches have occurred when teleprompters have malfunctioned. While the teleprompter might let Mr. Obama blame someone else whenever the answer turns out to be wrong, we would like to have a president who occasionally comes across as more than a TV anchor reading a script. (Obama is just a well paid puppet like Bush.)

Senators slam plan for wounded vets to use private insurance (CNN):
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki confirmed Tuesday that the Obama administration is considering a controversial plan to make veterans pay for treatment of service-related injuries with private insurance. (More change!)

Half of Americans Are Two Paychecks Away from Hardship (U.S. News)

Cabinet chief: Obama team ‘unreachable’ (Independent):
Yesterday, Sir Gus O’Donnell, Britain’s most senior civil servant, exposed transatlantic tension when he protested that Downing Street was finding it “unbelievably difficult” to plan for next month’s G20 summit in London because of problems tracking down senior figures in the US administration. “There is nobody there. You cannot believe how difficult it is,” the Cabinet Secretary told a civil service conference in Gateshead.

Liechtenstein eases bank secrecy rules (Financial Times)

Japan confirms sharp drop in GDP (Financial Times):
TOKYO, March 12 – Japan’s economy shrank 3.2 per cent in the final three months of last year, revised government data showed on Thursday, confirming the sharpest contraction since the oil crisis in 1974.

G20: US to press G20 for billions more to solve financial crisis (Telegraph)

Citigroup Executives Gain $2.2 Million in Stock Bets (Bloomberg):
March 12 (Bloomberg) — Four Citigroup Inc. executives who bought the bank’s stock last week generated a $2.2 million paper profit within nine days, regulatory filings show.

California hemorrhages jobs, but all states hurting (Reuters):
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – California lost the most jobs of all the states, 79,300, in January, while Michigan registered the highest unemployment rate at 11.6 percent, the Labor Department said on Wednesday.

Officials acknowledge US navy ship was hunting subs when challenged by 5 Chinese vessels (Baltimore Sun):
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Navy ship that got into a scrape with five Chinese vessels last weekend in the South China Sea was looking for threats such as submarines — presumably Chinese — in waters that China claims as its own, defense officials acknowledged Tuesday.

India can’t afford junk rating (Telegraph):
Standard & Poor’s responded to February’s interim budget, which revealed a grim fiscal situation, by putting the country on watch for the loss of its investment grade status. In the middle of the global financial crisis, that’s bad news.

Accused Allen Stanford invokes the Fifth Amendment (Times Online):
Allen Stanford, the Texan billionaire and cricket enthusiast, has refused to co-operate with investigators looking into his alleged $8 billion fraud.

Toyota cuts production as car makers discuss Government bail-out (Telegraph)

VW prepares for quarterly loss with proposal to cut costs and working week (Guardian):
Volkswagen is set to record its first quarterly operating loss for 15 years after seeing its global sales drop 15% in January and February, executives admitted today as they celebrated record revenues and profits last year.

Detroit’s Beautiful, Horrible Decline (Time – Photos)

Dow Chemical to Sell Assets, Cut 3500 Jobs After Rohm Deal (Bloomberg)

Gates is world’s richest as recession shrinks billionaires (France24):
The wealthy few did not escape big shocks this year, with net worth on the list of 793 billionaires — down from 1,125 billionaires in 2008 — plummeting to 2.4 trillion dollars from 4.4 trillion, Forbes said.

Passengers deserve better info on in-flight insecticides: Calgary traveller (CBC)

Excessive Television for Teens Raises Risk of Depression as Adults (Natural News):
(One reason for depression is lack of self expression.)

Marine Ecosystems Severely Threatened by Overfishing: Exclusive (Natural News):
(NaturalNews) Every corner of the Earth’s oceans has been impacted by commercial fishing, and many commercial fisheries are now in a state of collapse, warns Dr. Boris Worm, a prominent marine biologist and primary author of a peer-reviewed paper published in Science entitled, Impacts of Biodiversity Loss on Ocean Ecosystem Services (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/conte…) (Science, November 2006: Vol. 314. no. 5800, pp. 787 – 790).

Bright schoolchildren take back seat to ‘social misfits’, says … (Telegraph):
The most disruptive children are being plied with “indulgence and sentimentality” instead of firm discipline, it was claimed. Steve Patriarca blamed Gordon Brown’s decision to create a new “Orwellian” Government department with dual responsibility for schools and social services.

Ozone pollution amplifies risk of fatal respiratory illnesses (USA Today):
For the first time, a large study shows the deadly effects of chronic exposure to ozone, one of the most widespread pollutants in the world and a key component of smog, according to a study in today’s New England Journal of Medicine.

Wonder drug that stole my memory (Telegraph):
“Did you say Simvastatin?” asked a friend. “Did you know that statins have been linked to memory loss?”
This was news to me. Statins are, I think, among the greatest successes of modern pharmacology. They work by blocking the action of a chemical in the liver which is needed to make cholesterol. By lowering blood-cholesterol levels, they help defend against arterial diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes and strokes.

The Multiple Ways Monsanto is Putting Normal Seeds Out of Reach (Surviving the Middle Class Crash):
People say if farmers don’t want problems from Monsanto, just don’t buy their GMO seeds. Not so simple.

US Sends Elderly Widow Back to Germany (Spiegel Online):
A German woman named Elfriede Rinkel had led a quiet life in America for over 40 years — with her Jewish husband. But now she’s been deported for lying about her job as a dog handler at the Nazi concentration camp at Ravensbrück.

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