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Archive for May 4, 2006

Politics this week: 29th April – 5th May 2006

Politics this week

May 4th 2006
From The Economist print edition

Zacarias Moussaoui escaped a death sentence and was sent to jail for life for his part in al-Qaeda’s September 11th plot. He had told a court in Virginia that he felt no remorse. On being led from the dock he shouted: “America, you lost.” See articleE+

More mass protests and rallies in support of citizenship rights for illegal immigrants took place across the United States. Demonstrations in Chicago and Los Angeles attracted at least 400,000 in each city. However, some supporters worried whether a concurrent “Day Without Immigrants”, a boycott of work and business by many Latino workers, may have been counterproductive. See articleE+

The American army brought indictments against Lieutenant-Colonel Steven Jordan for mistreating prisoners at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib jail. He is the highest-ranking officer to face charges in the scandal.

Ken Blackwell won the Republican primary for governor of Ohio, becoming the first-ever black candidate to run for the office. The state party has had a bad run recently (the current governor became embroiled in a lobbying scandal) and will have a tough time defending the seat in November.

In California’s race for governor, Phil Angelides, the state treasurer, won the formal endorsement of the Democratic Party, despite the lead in the polls of his main opponent, Steve Westly, ahead of the primary election on June 6th. Either man will face the Republican incumbent, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in November’s election.

France’s prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, insisted that he would not resign because of the Clearstream scandal, a murky affair involving bribes, spies and his centre-right rival, Nicolas Sarkozy. Yet Mr de Villepin’s ratings continue to slump, threatening Edith Cresson’s title as the fifth republic’s least popular prime minister. See article

Silvio Berlusconi stepped down as Italy’s prime minister, three weeks after losing the election. He decided to quit after votes for speakers of the two parliamentary chambers were won by his centre-left opponent, Romano Prodi. But he promised to offer Mr Prodi aggressive opposition. See articleE+

The European Union called off talks with Serbia, which is hoping to become a candidate for entry, after the Serbian government missed a deadline of April 30th to hand over Ratko Mladic, an indicted Bosnian Serb general, to a war-crimes tribunal in The Hague. Serbia’s deputy prime minister and chief EU negotiator, Miroljub Labus, resigned. See articleE+

Four European Union countries, Finland, Greece, Portugal and Spain, decided to lift restrictions on the movement of labour from new EU members in central Europe. They will join Britain, Ireland and Sweden. But France, Germany and Italy have all decided to prolong their restrictions.

AP
AP

Bolivia’s recently elected socialist president, Evo Morales, led troops into a Brazilian-run gasfield and unveiled a decree nationalising his country’s oil and gas industry. Earlier, in Havana, he had signed up to the “Bolivarian Alternative”, a political alliance involving Cuba and Venezuela. See articleE+

In a sudden about-turn, Mexico’s president, Vicente Fox, refused to promulgate a bill that would have legalised the possession of small quantities of drugs, both hard and soft. His spokesman had earlier praised the measure, which was criticised by American officials. See articleE+

Official results of Peru’s presidential election confirmed that a run-off ballot in June will involve Ollanta Humala, a nationalist former army officer (who won 30.6% of the vote), and Alan García, a populist former president (24.3%).

The deputy leader of Honduras’s governing Liberal party was shot dead at his home in what police believed was an attack by a drug gang. He was the first legislator to be killed in the country since democracy was restored in 1982.

In its first budget since winning an election in January, Canada’s Conservative minority government unveiled 29 tax breaks together with measures to reduce the public debt. Meanwhile, the Canadian dollar edged over 90 American cents, its highest level for 28 years. See article

In two co-ordinated and grisly attacks, suspected Islamic militants killed 35 Hindus in the mainly-Muslim Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir. Talks between Kashmiri separatists and the Indian prime minister made little progress. See articleE+

Pramod Mahajan, an up-and-coming senior official of India’s main opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, died, 11 days after being shot by his own brother. See articleE+

Nepal’s government declared a ceasefire with rebel Maoists and said it would drop terrorism charges (the rebels had earlier offered a three-month ceasefire). A new government is now in place; but the Nepalese king’s future is uncertain.

Murder, and the discovery of murder, continued in Iraq. Separate suicide-bomb attacks killed 15 people in Falluja, and nine outside a courthouse in Baghdad. Meanwhile, scores of corpses, which had been shot and handcuffed, were unearthed in the capital.

AFP
AFP

Ehud Olmert, Israel‘s prime minister, announced a government dominated by his Kadima party. Tzipi Livni will be his deputy as well as foreign minister. Amir Peretz, the Labour leader, will be defence minister. The coalition consists of Kadima (29 seats), Labour (19), Shas (12) and the Pensioners’ party (7).

American and European diplomats tabled a draft resolution for the UN Security Council calling on Iran to end uranium enrichment and threatening future measures to enforce compliance. Russia and China have so far opposed sanctions. See articleE+

Presidential elections took place in Chad as planned on May 3rd, despite calls from opposition parties for a boycott and a rebel attack on the capital last month that came close to toppling the incumbent, Idriss Déby.

Negotiators from the Sudanese government and rebel groups missed several deadlines in their attempts to clinch a peace deal to end the conflict in Darfur. Officials from America and Britain joined the talks in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, to put pressure on both sides to make the necessary concessions. See articleE+

Categories: Uncategorized

Politics this week: 29th April – 5th May 2006

Politics this week

May 4th 2006
From The Economist print edition

Zacarias Moussaoui escaped a death sentence and was sent to jail for life for his part in al-Qaeda’s September 11th plot. He had told a court in Virginia that he felt no remorse. On being led from the dock he shouted: “America, you lost.” See articleE+

More mass protests and rallies in support of citizenship rights for illegal immigrants took place across the United States. Demonstrations in Chicago and Los Angeles attracted at least 400,000 in each city. However, some supporters worried whether a concurrent “Day Without Immigrants”, a boycott of work and business by many Latino workers, may have been counterproductive. See articleE+

The American army brought indictments against Lieutenant-Colonel Steven Jordan for mistreating prisoners at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib jail. He is the highest-ranking officer to face charges in the scandal.

Ken Blackwell won the Republican primary for governor of Ohio, becoming the first-ever black candidate to run for the office. The state party has had a bad run recently (the current governor became embroiled in a lobbying scandal) and will have a tough time defending the seat in November.

In California’s race for governor, Phil Angelides, the state treasurer, won the formal endorsement of the Democratic Party, despite the lead in the polls of his main opponent, Steve Westly, ahead of the primary election on June 6th. Either man will face the Republican incumbent, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in November’s election.

France’s prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, insisted that he would not resign because of the Clearstream scandal, a murky affair involving bribes, spies and his centre-right rival, Nicolas Sarkozy. Yet Mr de Villepin’s ratings continue to slump, threatening Edith Cresson’s title as the fifth republic’s least popular prime minister. See article

Silvio Berlusconi stepped down as Italy’s prime minister, three weeks after losing the election. He decided to quit after votes for speakers of the two parliamentary chambers were won by his centre-left opponent, Romano Prodi. But he promised to offer Mr Prodi aggressive opposition. See articleE+

The European Union called off talks with Serbia, which is hoping to become a candidate for entry, after the Serbian government missed a deadline of April 30th to hand over Ratko Mladic, an indicted Bosnian Serb general, to a war-crimes tribunal in The Hague. Serbia’s deputy prime minister and chief EU negotiator, Miroljub Labus, resigned. See articleE+

Four European Union countries, Finland, Greece, Portugal and Spain, decided to lift restrictions on the movement of labour from new EU members in central Europe. They will join Britain, Ireland and Sweden. But France, Germany and Italy have all decided to prolong their restrictions.

AP
AP

Bolivia’s recently elected socialist president, Evo Morales, led troops into a Brazilian-run gasfield and unveiled a decree nationalising his country’s oil and gas industry. Earlier, in Havana, he had signed up to the “Bolivarian Alternative”, a political alliance involving Cuba and Venezuela. See articleE+

In a sudden about-turn, Mexico’s president, Vicente Fox, refused to promulgate a bill that would have legalised the possession of small quantities of drugs, both hard and soft. His spokesman had earlier praised the measure, which was criticised by American officials. See articleE+

Official results of Peru’s presidential election confirmed that a run-off ballot in June will involve Ollanta Humala, a nationalist former army officer (who won 30.6% of the vote), and Alan García, a populist former president (24.3%).

The deputy leader of Honduras’s governing Liberal party was shot dead at his home in what police believed was an attack by a drug gang. He was the first legislator to be killed in the country since democracy was restored in 1982.

In its first budget since winning an election in January, Canada’s Conservative minority government unveiled 29 tax breaks together with measures to reduce the public debt. Meanwhile, the Canadian dollar edged over 90 American cents, its highest level for 28 years. See article

In two co-ordinated and grisly attacks, suspected Islamic militants killed 35 Hindus in the mainly-Muslim Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir. Talks between Kashmiri separatists and the Indian prime minister made little progress. See articleE+

Pramod Mahajan, an up-and-coming senior official of India’s main opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, died, 11 days after being shot by his own brother. See articleE+

Nepal’s government declared a ceasefire with rebel Maoists and said it would drop terrorism charges (the rebels had earlier offered a three-month ceasefire). A new government is now in place; but the Nepalese king’s future is uncertain.

Murder, and the discovery of murder, continued in Iraq. Separate suicide-bomb attacks killed 15 people in Falluja, and nine outside a courthouse in Baghdad. Meanwhile, scores of corpses, which had been shot and handcuffed, were unearthed in the capital.

AFP
AFP

Ehud Olmert, Israel‘s prime minister, announced a government dominated by his Kadima party. Tzipi Livni will be his deputy as well as foreign minister. Amir Peretz, the Labour leader, will be defence minister. The coalition consists of Kadima (29 seats), Labour (19), Shas (12) and the Pensioners’ party (7).

American and European diplomats tabled a draft resolution for the UN Security Council calling on Iran to end uranium enrichment and threatening future measures to enforce compliance. Russia and China have so far opposed sanctions. See articleE+

Presidential elections took place in Chad as planned on May 3rd, despite calls from opposition parties for a boycott and a rebel attack on the capital last month that came close to toppling the incumbent, Idriss Déby.

Negotiators from the Sudanese government and rebel groups missed several deadlines in their attempts to clinch a peace deal to end the conflict in Darfur. Officials from America and Britain joined the talks in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, to put pressure on both sides to make the necessary concessions. See articleE+

Categories: Uncategorized

Business this week: 29th April – 5th May 2006

Business this week

May 4th 2006
From The Economist print edition

Austria’s government and leading financial institutions agreed to a euro1.35 billion ($1.7 billion) rescue package for BAWAG, which is owned by trade unions and is one of Austria’s biggest banks. The bail-out settles claims by creditors for Refco, which sued BAWAG alleging involvement in the broker’s spectacular bankruptcy. BAWAG‘s dented reputation has seen customers rushing to withdraw deposits. See articleE+

Bank of America agreed to swap its BankBoston operations in Brazil (which it acquired when it bought Fleet Bank in 2004) for a 5.8% stake in Banco Itau, the country’s second-biggest private bank. BOA‘s move is preparation for a buoyant market for bank loans in Brazil on the back of falling interest-rates.

NASDAQ has increased its holding in the London Stock Exchange to 18.7% from the 15% stake it bought two weeks after its bid was rebuffed by the LSE‘s board in late March.

Microsoft’s share price fell by 11%, its biggest daily fall for five years, after the software giant said it would increase investment in its internet-services unit in an effort to fend off growing competition from Google. Microsoft’s market value plunged by $32 billion. Meanwhile, Google complained that Microsoft’s new browser for the web favours its own search service over those of its rivals. See article

In a deal that shows the rapid development of Africa’s mobile-phone market, South Africa’s MTN agreed to buy Investcom (which is based in Dubai) for $5.5 billion. MTN will now rival Egypt’s Orascom Telecom as the biggest mobile operator in Africa and the Middle East.

Research In Motion, which narrowly averted the shutdown of its BlackBerry e-mail service two months ago, now faces another lawsuit, this time from Visto, a firm that specialises in technology for mobile e-mailing. Visto, in which RIM‘s previous sparring partner NTP acquired an equity stake last December, claims that RIM infringed four of its patents.

EMI confirmed it had made a $4.2 billion takeover approach to Warner Music, which was promptly rejected. The two rivals have previously explored ways of joining up to compete with Universal Music and Sony BMG, the world’s biggest music companies.

Sirius, a subscription-only satellite radio network, said its first-quarter loss had more than doubled from a year ago, to $458.5m. A large chunk of the loss was related to stock-compensation expenses for Howard Stern, America’s most popular radio host, who was nabbed from CBS Radio. Both Sirius and XM, America’s biggest pay-radio network, are locked in fierce competition for subscribers���one reason why Bob Dylan this week made his debut as a DJ on XM.

Shortly after agreeing to a euro25 billion ($31 billion) merger with Spain’s Abertis, Autostrade, an Italian toll-road company, removed Vito Gamberale as its chief executive over disagreements about the deal. Some politicians in Italy have voiced opposition to the merger, citing the importance of Autostrade’s road network to the country’s infrastructure.

Volkswagen’s supervisory board agreed to extend the contract of Bernd Pischetsrieder as chief executive for another five years. His future came into question after the German carmarker’s chairman, Ferdinand Pi��ch, claimed he had lost the support of union members (who make up half the board). Mr Pi��ch in turn faced sharp criticism from investors at VW‘s annual meeting this week for hindering a restructuring plan that is expected to cost thousands of jobs.

EasyJet’s pre-tax loss for the six months ending March 31st almost doubled, to ��40m ($70m), compared with a year ago. The biggest factor was the cost of fuel, which increased by 68%. However, the budget carrier, which normally posts a loss for the October-March season, predicted a summery outlook for the rest of its year and said annual profits should increase by up to 15%.

America’s markets responded skittishly to comments by Ben Bernanke, rallying after the chairman of the Federal Reserve signalled that the policy of raising interest rates was over and falling in response to a later report that he thought his comments had been misunderstood. Pundits made inevitable comparisons with Mr Bernanke’s predecessor, Alan Greenspan, who made a point of never being understood. See articleE+

America’s GDP grew at an annualised rate of 4.8% in the first quarter, the fastest rate of growth for more than two years. But, with the price of oil trading steadily over $70, some economists expressed concern that consumers might rein in their spending in response to higher petrol prices.

Categories: Uncategorized

Business this week: 29th April – 5th May 2006

Business this week

May 4th 2006
From The Economist print edition

Austria’s government and leading financial institutions agreed to a euro1.35 billion ($1.7 billion) rescue package for BAWAG, which is owned by trade unions and is one of Austria’s biggest banks. The bail-out settles claims by creditors for Refco, which sued BAWAG alleging involvement in the broker’s spectacular bankruptcy. BAWAG‘s dented reputation has seen customers rushing to withdraw deposits. See articleE+

Bank of America agreed to swap its BankBoston operations in Brazil (which it acquired when it bought Fleet Bank in 2004) for a 5.8% stake in Banco Itau, the country’s second-biggest private bank. BOA‘s move is preparation for a buoyant market for bank loans in Brazil on the back of falling interest-rates.

NASDAQ has increased its holding in the London Stock Exchange to 18.7% from the 15% stake it bought two weeks after its bid was rebuffed by the LSE‘s board in late March.

Microsoft’s share price fell by 11%, its biggest daily fall for five years, after the software giant said it would increase investment in its internet-services unit in an effort to fend off growing competition from Google. Microsoft’s market value plunged by $32 billion. Meanwhile, Google complained that Microsoft’s new browser for the web favours its own search service over those of its rivals. See article

In a deal that shows the rapid development of Africa’s mobile-phone market, South Africa’s MTN agreed to buy Investcom (which is based in Dubai) for $5.5 billion. MTN will now rival Egypt’s Orascom Telecom as the biggest mobile operator in Africa and the Middle East.

Research In Motion, which narrowly averted the shutdown of its BlackBerry e-mail service two months ago, now faces another lawsuit, this time from Visto, a firm that specialises in technology for mobile e-mailing. Visto, in which RIM‘s previous sparring partner NTP acquired an equity stake last December, claims that RIM infringed four of its patents.

EMI confirmed it had made a $4.2 billion takeover approach to Warner Music, which was promptly rejected. The two rivals have previously explored ways of joining up to compete with Universal Music and Sony BMG, the world’s biggest music companies.

Sirius, a subscription-only satellite radio network, said its first-quarter loss had more than doubled from a year ago, to $458.5m. A large chunk of the loss was related to stock-compensation expenses for Howard Stern, America’s most popular radio host, who was nabbed from CBS Radio. Both Sirius and XM, America’s biggest pay-radio network, are locked in fierce competition for subscribers���one reason why Bob Dylan this week made his debut as a DJ on XM.

Shortly after agreeing to a euro25 billion ($31 billion) merger with Spain’s Abertis, Autostrade, an Italian toll-road company, removed Vito Gamberale as its chief executive over disagreements about the deal. Some politicians in Italy have voiced opposition to the merger, citing the importance of Autostrade’s road network to the country’s infrastructure.

Volkswagen’s supervisory board agreed to extend the contract of Bernd Pischetsrieder as chief executive for another five years. His future came into question after the German carmarker’s chairman, Ferdinand Pi��ch, claimed he had lost the support of union members (who make up half the board). Mr Pi��ch in turn faced sharp criticism from investors at VW‘s annual meeting this week for hindering a restructuring plan that is expected to cost thousands of jobs.

EasyJet’s pre-tax loss for the six months ending March 31st almost doubled, to ��40m ($70m), compared with a year ago. The biggest factor was the cost of fuel, which increased by 68%. However, the budget carrier, which normally posts a loss for the October-March season, predicted a summery outlook for the rest of its year and said annual profits should increase by up to 15%.

America’s markets responded skittishly to comments by Ben Bernanke, rallying after the chairman of the Federal Reserve signalled that the policy of raising interest rates was over and falling in response to a later report that he thought his comments had been misunderstood. Pundits made inevitable comparisons with Mr Bernanke’s predecessor, Alan Greenspan, who made a point of never being understood. See articleE+

America’s GDP grew at an annualised rate of 4.8% in the first quarter, the fastest rate of growth for more than two years. But, with the price of oil trading steadily over $70, some economists expressed concern that consumers might rein in their spending in response to higher petrol prices.

Categories: Uncategorized

Ajax Explained

May 4, 2006 3 comments
Categories: Uncategorized

Ajax Explained

May 4, 2006 3 comments
Categories: Uncategorized