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Governments across the world are moving to shore up confidence in the global financial system by spending hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out private banks. Britain has announced plans to spend $37 billion to partially nationalize three of the country’s largest banks. In what has been described as the most dramatic extension of state ownership in the British economy since World War II, the government is moving to take control of the Royal Bank of Scotland and the lender HBOS. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said, “Today’s plan is unprecedented but essential for all of us.” Germany is considering a bailout of nearly half-a-trillion dollars for German banks. Spain and Italy have also provided cash to bail out their ailing banking sector. In Washington, the Bush administration continues to discuss the possibility of partially nationalizing US banks with funds from the more $700 billion bailout. The coordinated international response comes following a weekend of emergency talks in Washington.
Reuters financial analyst Nick Edwards: “These measures are the first step really to preventing the financial system from melting down. It’s the globally coordinated action that the markets and investors were looking for last week. The G7 delivered some kind of statement. Europe has really built on that. There’s a sense of confidence building that finally policymakers have a grasp on what’s required.”
Global stock markets rose sharply today in trading in Asia and Europe after news of the European bailouts were revealed. This comes after the worst week for the Dow Jones Industrial Average in its 112-year history. The Dow lost a record 18 percent last week. The Dow’s previous worst week was in 1933. The Wall Street Journal reports US stocks have lost $8.4 trillion in value since the market peaked a year ago.
In campaign news, a bipartisan Alaskan ethics inquiry has found Republican vice-presidential candidate Governor Sarah Palin abused the power of her office by pressuring subordinates to fire her former brother-in-law from his job as an Alaskan state trooper. The report also found that Palin allowed her husband to use the governor’s office and resources to meet and speak to state employees in an effort to find some way to get Michael Wooten fired. Republican Alaska State Senator Lyda Green defended the investigation’s findings.
Lyda Green: “I just think we always have to be very, very, very careful when we’re in a position of power, because that separating ourselves from our personal lives and bringing it into the office is always a temptation. And we need to be very careful that we do not do that.”
The McCain campaign said Palin feels vindicated by the report.
Meghan Stapleton, McCain-Palin campaign spokesperson: “We did take a look at the findings, and the first finding, the original authorization for the hundred thousand bucks, was to see whether this governor abused any power in reassigning Walt Monegan. They said absolutely not, that there is not conclusive that she did not exert unlawful power, that she acted within her authority and within her lawful power to reassign him, and so she feels absolutely vindicated by this report today.”
In other campaign news, longtime civil rights leader and Congressman John Lewis of Georgia accused Senator John McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin of “sowing the seeds of hatred and division.” Lewis said, “What I am seeing reminds me too much of another destructive period in American history. George Wallace never threw a bomb, he never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights.” Over the past week, the mood at many McCain and Palin events has shocked many observers. Crowds have shouted out “terrorist,” “traitor” and “liar” when Obama is mentioned. In Florida, the Secret Service is looking into reports that a crowd member yelled “Kill him!” during a Palin speech last week. At a rally in Minnesota on Friday, McCain was forced to defend Obama after taking hostile questions from supporters.
John McCain Supporter: “I got to ask you a question. I do not believe in — I can’t trust Obama. I have read about him, and he’s not — he’s not —- he’s an Arab. He is not -—”
John McCain: “No, ma’am. No, ma’am. No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues. And that’s what this campaign is all about. He is not. Thank you.”
The inflammatory rhetoric continued over the weekend. On Saturday, a local Christian pastor in Iowa called for God to deliver a victory for the Arizona senator during his invocation at a McCain rally. Pastor Arnold Conrad said, “There are millions of people around this world praying to their god, whether it’s Hindu, Buddha, Allah, that his opponent wins, for a variety of reasons. And Lord, I pray that you will guard your own reputation, because they’re going to think that their god is bigger than you, if that happens.” On Sunday, McCain made headlines when he said he was going to “whip” Obama’s “you know what” in Wednesday’s debate.
Here in New York, lawmakers in Rensselaer County are calling for an investigation into the misspelling of Barack Obama’s name on absentee ballots. 300 absentee ballots were recently sent out that read “Barack Osama.” Election officials say the mistake was a typo.
The Bush administration has removed North Korea from its terrorism blacklist after North Korea agreed to a series of verification measures of its nuclear facilities. On Sunday, North Korea announced it would resume the disablement of its nuclear facilities as part of the deal. On the campaign trail, the administration’s decision received a mixed response. Barack Obama said the move highlights the effectiveness of aggressive, sustained and direct diplomacy. John McCain accused the Bush administration of appeasement, but his running mate Sarah Palin said Bush had made a wise decision.
In Iraq, some 3,000 Christians have fled the city of Mosul over the past week after Christians became the target of a campaign of killings and kidnappings. Over the past month, police reported finding the bullet-riddled bodies of seven Christians. On Sunday, a Christian music store owner was shot dead in his store. The Iraqi government has ordered nearly 1,000 Iraqi police to patrol Mosul, where Christians have lived for the past 1,800 years.
In the Iraqi city of Kirkuk, a Kurdish journalist has been assassinated. The twenty-eight-year-old Diyar Abbas Ahmed worked for Iraqiya TV and a television station sponsored by a Kurdish political party.
The Financial Times reports Defense Secretary Robert Gates could ultimately contemplate the idea of negotiating with the Taliban and that a political settlement with the Taliban was conceivable. However, Gates ruled out any possible negotiation with al-Qaeda forces. Meanwhile, the Times of London reports British and Afghan forces repulsed an attempt by hundreds of Taliban fighters to attack the provincial capital of Helmand on Saturday night in the most audacious Taliban attack in the province since 2006.
Military recruiters say the economic crisis should make it easier to find new recruits to join the armed forces. Pentagon official David Chu said, “We do benefit when things look less positive in civil society. That is a situation where more people are willing to give us a chance.” The Pentagon announced last week that all four branches of the armed forces met their respective recruiting goals for the federal fiscal year that ended on September 30.
Connecticut’s Supreme Court has ruled that homosexuals have a constitutional right to marry. In a four-to-three decision, the court struck down the state’s civil-union law, comparing it to Jim Crow era laws that “relegated blacks to separate but supposedly equal public facilities.” Connecticut is now set to become the third state behind Massachusetts and California to legalize gay marriage.
In Maryland, more details have been released about the state police spying on peace groups and anti-death penalty activists. Late last week, two Catholic nuns, Sister Carol Gilbert and Sister Ardeth Platte, learned they were among the fifty-three activists classified as terrorists who had their names entered into a federal terrorism database. The two nuns are longtime peace activists. They recently served time in prison for trespassing onto a military base and pouring blood onto a nuclear missile silo. Sister Carol Gilbert said, “There is no way that we ever want to be identified as terrorists. We are nonviolent. We are faith-based.”
In the West Bank, the annual olive harvest is underway. On Saturday, Jewish settlers attacked Palestinian farmers with stones near Nablus as they began picking the olives. One of the olive pickers, Mustafa Najjar, said the Israeli army supported the settlers.
Mustafa Najjar: “Around twenty to twenty-five settlers attacked from the top of the hill, and worse, the (Israeli) army were supporting the settlers. They started throwing stones at us, so we went up the hill and started pulling the women and children back so they would not get hurt. Six soldiers stood behind the settlers and started firing their rifles at us. We started retreating to the back with the women and children and the rest of the belongings. I was hit with a stone on my head, arm and leg.”
The former Minnesota state senator Allan Spear has died at the age of seventy-one. He was one of the nation’s first openly gay legislators.
And the economist Paul Krugman has won the 2008 Nobel Prize for Economics. Krugman is a a professor at Princeton University and a columnist at the New York Times. He was praised for his “analysis of trade patterns and location of economic activity.” During an interview last month on Democracy Now!, Krugman criticized the Bush administration’s initial plan to bail out Wall Street.
Paul Krugman: “The Bush administration came up with a God awful proposal: basically, you know, give us total authority, no checks and balances, and we’ll do — well, we won’t say what. And Democrats in Congress negotiated to something, which, while it’s not something to cheer, is a lot better, and then it appears that House Republicans have blown it up. And this is not good. This just means that we might be — let’s put it this way, even in my worst imaginings, I never thought that Republican ideology would bring us another Great Depression, and now I’m not so sure.” Listen to whole interview