Tea Bagged In Tokyo
Wednesday: Green Tea For All
Music By: Glen Beck And The Fearmongers
Showdown Seen Between Banks and Regulators
By STEPHEN LABATON and EDMUND L. ANDREWS
Published: April 10, 2009
WASHINGTON – As the Obama administration completes its examinations of the nation’s largest banks, industry executives are bracing for fights with the government over repayment of bailout money and forced sales of bad mortgages.
President Obama emerged from a meeting with his senior economic advisers on Friday to say “what you’re starting to see is glimmers of hope across the economy.” But there were also signs of growing tensions between the White House and the nation’s banks over the next phase of the financial rescue.
Some of the healthier banks want to pay back their bailout loans to avoid executive pay and other restrictions that come with the money. But the banks are balking at the hefty premium they agreed to pay when they took the money.
Massive Stimulus Packages Add to Japan’s Pile of Debt
Spending Plans Balloon to $270 Billion, Mostly Borrowed
By Blaine Harden
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, April 11, 2009; Page A09
TOKYO, April 10 — Japan, which soothed the pain of its ruptured bubble economy in the 1990s with massive government borrowing, is again swallowing giant doses of deficit medicine.
To recover from a global downtown that has hurt Japan more than any industrialized nation, Prime Minister Taro Aso announced on Friday his third and largest stimulus package since coming to power last September. At a cost of $150 billion, it brings the total amount of new spending to $270 billion, about 5 percent of Japan’s gross domestic product.
America wants to see Ruth Madoff behind bars
The jets and boats have been seized, her jewels may be next and she is ostracised by her high-society friends. But America wants more: to see Ruth Madoff behind bars
By Stephen Foley in New York
Saturday, 11 April 2009
For once, there is no one camped on the corner of Lexington Avenue and 64th Street. No television camera crew. No breathless newspaper reporters. Not even a lone paparazzo. For more than three months, 64th and Lex were the co-ordinates for an extraordinary media scrum, and even for some public protests, while a certain Bernard and Ruth Madoff looked down from their penthouse above.
But Bernard Madoff is in jail now, guilty pleas entered to all 11 of the fraud and perjury charges laid on him. His wife and companion of 50 years? She still has the $7m (£4.8m) apartment – for now – and the services of the security guards she hired to protect it after she and her husband shot to infamy.
Palin and the Wolves
As a VP candidate, Alaska’s governor was attacked for the state’s aerial hunting program. But the partisan bickering belies a complex and longstanding debate.
By Amanda Coyne | Newsweek Web Exclusive
Apr 10, 2009
Deep in Alaska’s interior, Fortymile Country is what you visualize when you think of the nation’s 49th state: rugged, cold and heartbreakingly lonely, a feeling heightened by the occasional howl of a wolf. But there was another sound in the area last weekend: the whir of a helicopter, carrying a steady-handed state employee looking to target those wolves in the sights of his 12-gauge shotgun. This time the hunters came back empty-handed, but last month they killed 84 wolves in the area.
Alaska’s controversial program, designed to cull the state’s wolf population, captured America’s attention last year when detractors gleefully hung it around vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s neck as an example of, well, something. Unsportsmanlike conduct? Unladylike behavior? A taste for blood? No matter-the criticism gave Palin supporters another reason to shout “attagirl” to “give ’em hell” Sarah. What do urban and suburban folks in the lower 48 states know about life in the wilderness, anyway? Michael Goldfarb, Sen. John McCain’s former campaign spokesperson, went so far as to call the program “political gold” for the plucky VP candidate.
At least 128 reported dead in Sri Lanka’s ‘no-fire zone’
Gethin Chamberlain in Colombo
The Guardian, Saturday 11 April 2009
At least 128 civilians have died and more than 700 have been injured in three days of shelling in the last remaining pocket of Tamil Tiger resistance in Sri Lanka, according to reports from inside the “no-fire zone”.
The deaths came as the Sri Lankan military announced that operations to free tens of thousands of trapped civilians had entered their final stage.
Reports of the latest casualties were compiled by Human Rights Watch, which said it had spoken to doctors working inside the coastal strip covering eight square miles (2,000 ha) where the UN estimates about 100,000 civilians are trapped.
Tibetans refuse to sow spring crops in protest against Beijing
From The Times
April 11, 2009
Jane Macartney in Beijing
Tibetan discontent at Chinese rule has taken a new twist, with farmers refusing to till their fields in a show of passive resistance against Beijing.
So anxious are officials at the latest action that they have sent in troops from the People’s Liberation Army to work with farmers – or in their place if need be – to carry out spring planting in mountainous regions able to support only one crop a year.
Local sources said that many farmers in areas of Sichuan province with large ethnic Tibetan populations have decided to down tools and leave their barley fields fallow this year.
“The farmers know that they will be the ones to suffer if they do this,” one source told The Times. “But this is a way for them to show their unhappiness.”
Violence in Congo worsens as international reinforcements fail to show up
Rape and displacement rife but 3,000 promised peacekeeping forces still absent
guardian.co.uk, Friday 10 April 2009 13.54 BST
International promises to beef up the peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo following fighting last year have yet to produce any additional troops on the ground despite a rising tide of renewed violence, rape, looting and further mass displacements of local people, UN and aid agency officials say.
Fighting involving Congolese government troops, Congolese Tutsi rebels and a mainly Rwandan Hutu militia known as the FDLR led to the uprooting of 250,000 people last autumn in North and South Kivu provinces. The crisis provoked an international outcry and calls for European military intervention.
David Miliband, the foreign secretary, travelled to the region with his French counterpart, Bernard Kouchner, to express concern. But British and EU reluctance to send troops resulted in a UN security council decision to reinforce the existing 20,000-strong UN peacekeeping forces, known as Monuc.
French sailor killed in gun battle as special forces storm hijacked yacht
Four hostages rescued, including three-year-old boy
By John Lichfield and Daniel Howden in Mombasa
Saturday, 11 April 2009
A hostage and two Somali pirates died when French special forces mounted a daring and controversial raid on a hijacked private yacht in the Indian Ocean yesterday.
Four other hostages, including a three-year-old boy, were rescued unharmed after President Nicolas Sarkozy authorised a military attack on the French yacht S/Y Tanit, which pirates seized in the Gulf of Aden last Saturday. Three pirates were captured in the shoot-out.
The dead hostage was named as Florent Lemaçon, the skipper of the yacht and father of the rescued boy. The French military said he died in an exchange of automatic gunfire as marine commandoes stormed the lower decks of the yacht. Also on board were M. Lemaçon’s wife, Chloe, their son Colin, and another French couple as crew.
Italy buries earthquake victims in Good Friday procession of the dead
From The Times
April 11, 2009
Richard Owen in L’Aquila
“Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins, they will raise up the former devastations and they will repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations.” The words of the Prophet Isaiah, spoken by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope’s deputy, rolled across the more than 200 flower-covered coffins lined up on a police barracks square, over the debris of what was once L’Aquila, a jewel of medieval architecture, and on to the snow-capped mountains beyond.
The mass state funeral for the victims of Monday’s massive earthquake in Abruzzo was a mixture of private grief and the pomp of state, with Good Friday turning into a day of national mourning. Italy was represented by President Napolitano and Silvio Berlusconi, the Prime Minister, who has taken charge of the disaster operation over the past few days as rescue workers raced against time to find the last survivors amid continuing powerful aftershocks.
How to escape kidnappers: French business managers urged to defy captors
Last Updated: 8:02AM BST 11 Apr 2009
Business managers who are taken hostage at their companies by disgruntled workers must defy them and refuse to “start negotiations with a gun at the head”, the leader of a French business federation has said.
In recent weeks, workers in France have held managers at five companies – Sony France, 3M, Caterpillar, Faurecia and Scapa. The companies had all been hurt by the global economic crisis, and some had announced layoffs or were planning plant shutdowns.
The hostage-taking tactic, often involving militant union members, has led to a public debate, including the publication of a poll last week suggesting that 45 per cent of French people found such kidnappings acceptable.
Jean-Francois Roubaud, head of the confederation of small and medium-sized businesses, asked all company chiefs “not to cede to these sequestrations or, at least, not to start negotiations with a gun at the head”.
Suicide blast kills 5 US soldiers, 2 Iraqi police
By ROBERT H. REID, Associated Press Write
BAGHDAD – A suicide truck driver detonated a ton of explosives near a police headquarters in the northern city of Mosul on Friday, killing five American soldiers in the deadliest attack against U.S. troops in more than a year.
The U.S. military said Iraqi police were the bomber’s target and that the Americans were caught up as bystanders.
The horrific blast, believed to have been carried out by Sunni extremists, is likely to increase pressure on Iraq’s prime minister to ask American combat troops to stay in Mosul after the June 30 deadline for them to pull out of Iraqi cities.
America’s top commander suggested in an interview this week that even as U.S. troops pull out of other cities, he may have to send reinforcements to Mosul, about 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, and to volatile Diyala province, northeast of the capital.
Arborist Not About to Offer an Olive Branch
By Howard Schneider
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, April 11, 2009; Page A08
JERUSALEM, April 10 — The trees on the Mount of Olives can withstand a lot — heat, drought, insects, even the occasional fire.
But the phenomenon known as the “grazing pilgrim” can raise an arborist’s ire. When tourists trek to the area, linked in tradition to the crucifixion of Jesus, many can’t avoid the temptation to pluck a souvenir.
“The branches, people will just rip them off,” said Hans Mackrodt, the gardener in charge of the olive groves outside Dominus Flevit Church on the Mount of Olives. “I come over and say, ‘Please don’t do it — give me those and leave the grounds.’ And they say, ‘Why?’ “
In Mexico, a distant link in a chain of tragedy
A reporter abroad trusted his colleagues. Now, a murder charge has him wondering how well he really knew them.
By Alan Zarembo
April 11, 2009
They found her on the bathroom floor, one hand clutching a toilet plunger. The handle of a 14-inch kitchen knife protruded from her neck.
Soon, her lifeless face was staring from tabloid covers all over Mexico City. At least that’s what friends told me. I couldn’t bring myself to look.
Alejandra Dehesa had been my assistant in the Mexico City bureau of Newsweek magazine. She worked from my house, and died there.
Sergio Dorantes, a noted news photographer who was once my colleague and friend, was charged with her murder. A crime of passion, investigators called it. After three years as a fugitive in Northern California, he returned to Mexico last fall to face the charges. He is in a Mexican prison, waiting for a court to decide his guilt or innocence.
Sergio insists he is the victim of an “infamous fabrication,” and his cause has been taken up by human rights advocates and one of the country’s most prominent defense attorneys.