EUROPE: DECISION DAY — AND WHY THAT MATTER$
-DEAL OR NO DEAL?…No exaggeration to say that every global investor – and most Wall Street traders – woke up this morning wondering what Angela Merkel, Nicholas Sarkozy and the other European Union leaders were coming up with in Brussels. And it isn’t looking pretty, as Simon McGREGOR-WOOD writes. “It was hoped a final plan would be agreed on today – to deal with the Euro debt crisis. A crisis which has been at the heart of global market uncertainty for months. But we are hearing that may not happen.” They’re working on a plan to save Greece from imploding, and to keep other, larger debt-ridden economies (Italy and Spain) from being sucked deeper into catastrophic debt. Simon again: “An eleventh-hour deal can’t be ruled out, but the more likely result is a late-night statement of principles by leaders, and details to be filled in by finance ministers in coming days (hopefully). The question is whether markets will find that sufficient.”
-THE MARKETS…The looming uncertainty surrounding today’s talks has world markets treading water. Asian markets were down less than one percent and European markets largely unchanged as they wait for the meeting. Wall Street is headed for a higher opening, with Dow futures up less than one percent.
-HERE COMES RINA…Hurricane warnings are up for the east coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula as the category 2 Hurricane Rina barrels toward the coast. With winds at 110 mph, the hurricane could strengthen into a category 3 storm at any time. Forecasters predict it will strengthen as it nears the Mexican coast tonight, before rolling over the island of Cozumel, then onto Cancun.
-BANGKOK FLOODS…More than 800 inmates were evacuated from 3 prisons in Bangkok Monday, as the Prime Minister warned floodwaters in the city could run 5 feet deep by this weekend. Elsewhere, thousands of evacuees braced for yet another move this month, as the government’s main emergency operations center at Don Muang airport began to flood. Water has already spilled out onto the main domestic airport, halting flights. The Prime Minister told reporters today, that she expected waters “to remain in Bangkok for two weeks to a month before they go out to sea.” That triggered further panic buying at the city’s grocery stores. Shops in the capital have begun imposing emergency rationing, limiting shoppers to one packet of rice and one tray of eggs. Meanwhile, the economic toll from the disaster continues to grow. Toyota announced earlier this week it would cut output by 10% immediately because of a parts shortage. NHK reports that prices for hard drives have spiked 10 – 20% at Japanese electronics stores in anticipation of a pending shortage. Thailand is the world’s largest manufacturer of hard disk drives.
-ITALY FLASH FLOODS… Strong footage here as at least six people have died after flash flooding hit northern Italy. All the villages within the Vara River’s valley were overwhelmed. Floodwaters rushed through the streets of Monterosso, in the La Spezia province. In Brugnato cars were piled on top of each other.
TURKEY QUAKE: TEEN AND TEACHER PULLED FROM RUBBLE, BUT RESCUE EFFORTS SLOW
Rescue workers pulled an 18-year-old college student, Eyup Erdem, and a 27-year-old teacher, Gozde Bahar, from the rubble early this morning. They’re likely to be some of the last survivors found as rescue efforts turn to recovery three days after the earthquake struck eastern Turkey. As Alex MARQUARDT and Clark BENTSON report, people are picking through the rubble, salvaging anything they can find and in some instances, fighting over what remains. The toll stands at 461 — though expected to be higher.
-A FINAL MASSACRE?…The bodies of 267 people, many of them believed to have been summarily executed, have been found in Sirte, the hometown of slain Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, a Red Cross source told the online Libyan newspaper Qurynaew Wednesday. Officials from the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, now in Sirte, had documented the bodies before they were buried in mass graves, the source told the Libyan paper. Local reports suggest the victims were Gadhafi loyalists;and anti-Gadhafi fighters have been accused of atrocities in the final days of fighting.
-NATO MISSION…NATO has tentatively agreed to end its combat mission in Libya on October 31, but will meet today to make a final decision. In the interim, NATO’s operations will involve intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, although it would retain the capability to conduct air strikes if needed.
-NEW LIBYA ON A GLOBAL STAGE…Libya’s interim leader, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, travels to Doha today to meet with representatives from Gulf states, Western powers and NATO. This is the first international planning conference for Libya since Gadhafi’s death.
OTHER ARAB SPRING NEWS…
-YEMEN: WOMEN BURN VEILS…Hundreds of Yemeni women have set fire to a pile of veils to protest the government’s brutal crackdown against the country’s popular uprising. The act of women burning their clothing is a symbolic Bedouin tribal gesture signifying an appeal for help to tribesmen.
-SYRIA: PRO-ASSAD RALLY AS ARAB OFFICIALS ARRIVE…Thousands gathered in Damascus square today to support President Bashar Assad ahead of a visit by senior Arab officials, the AP reports. Talks today center on the possibility of a national dialogue between the opposition and Assad’s regime. The military crackdown on protestors has already killed 3,000 people, the U.N. says. The NYTimes reports that the Syrian government was reluctant to receive the Arab delegation today and strongly criticized countries that have called for an end to the crackdown, warning them not to interfere.
-NEW SAUDI HEIR…Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah is expected to choose veteran Interior Minister Prince Nayef today as his new heir. King Abdullah must also name a new defense minister and a possible candidate is Prince Khaled bin Sultan, a son of the late crown prince who headed Saudi forces during the 1991 Gulf War and has been a deputy defense minister for 10 years.
Aleem AGHA reports that the Afghan government has laid out a suggested transition of security from NATO troops to Afghan forces in 17 provinces. The first phase of transition started in July with seven of 34 provinces. The transition to full responsibility for security across Afghanistan should be completed by the end of 2014. With the completion of the second phase of transition in 2011 Afghan security forces will take charge of security for nearly half of Afghanistan.
SECRETARY OF STATE CLINTON SPEAKS TO IRAN — ON JON STEWART-LIKE SHOW
Kirit RADIA reports: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will appear for the first time today on Persian-language television programs. This morning she tapes interviews with Voice Of America’s Parazit, which is modeled on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show and BBC’s “Your Turn (Nowbateh Shoma)” – and watched by millions of young Iranians.
PEACE THROUGH YOGA?
The WSJournal has an interesting read on a former male supermodel’s quest to have Afghan militants and Western troops unite in meditation and yoga. While this may seem like a flight of fancy, it has sparked interest among senior coalition officers, Afghan ministers and even an insurgent leader. The model, Cameron Alborzian, was once “Madonna’s smoldering music-video love interest.”
PANETTA IN SOUTH KOREA
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is consulting with the South Korean military today on how to deal with North Korea. Panetta calls North Korea a “serious threat” in an opinion article of Chosun Ilbo, the largest South Korean newspaper. Panetta writes that it’s important for the United States and South Korea to remain committed to a strategic alliance and eradicate the security threats posed by North Korea.
YET ANOTHER FUEL EXPLOSION – AS VILLAGERS RUSH TO COLLECT
In what’s becoming an increasingly common tragedy, Aleem AGHA reports 12 people were killed and 40 injured after a tanker explosion today in the Parwan province. A small explosion in the tanker resulted in fuel leaking from the vehicle. People gathered to collect the fuel and suddenly there was another big explosion which killed and injured many people.
OLYMPUS CHAIRMAN STEPS DOWN
Olympus chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa is leaving the well-known camera company after coming under fire over undisclosed payments made in acquisitions while he was chief executive. Akiko FUJITA reports that the FBI had begun investigating the growing corporate scandal at Olympus, revolving around a nearly $700 million advisory fee Olympus allegedly paid during its takeover of British medical equipment firm Gyrus. Shares fell an additional 7.6 percent today and the stocks have lost more than half their value since the former CEO stepped down.
LANDING OF THE YEAR? IRANIAN PLANE LANDS WITHOUT NOSE GEAR
Some incredible video of an Iranian 727 landing safely…without nose gear.
“DREAMLINER” MAKES ITS FIRST COMMERCIAL FLIGHT
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner made its inaugural flight today. The jet took off from Tokyo’s Narita airport and landed in Hong Kong. The new jet is the first commercial airliner built using carbon fibre, which is stronger and lightweight using high-tech plastic.
JAPAN CYBER ATTACKS
From Akiko FUJITA: The Foreign Ministry and Japanese embassies abroad have become the latest victims of cyber attacks, in a string of cyber break-ins that have placed the country’s defensive and nuclear secrets at risk. The Foreign ministry says their computers came under attack in June, though they insist the most confidential data was not leaked. Reports of the latest break-in comes just a day after news that a hacker stole the user names and passwords of lawmakers. The cyber-attack reportedly came from a server computer in China. Major Japanese defense contractors including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has also come under attack.
HOW AMY WINEHOUSE DIED
From the BBC: A verdict of “misadventure” was recorded today at an inquest into Amy Winehouse’s death after a coroner heard she was at more than five times the legal drink-drive limit. The inquest, in London, was told she hit the bottle after being dry for three weeks and was poisoned by alcohol. St Pancras coroner Suzanne Greenway said: “She had consumed sufficient alcohol at 416mg per decilitre (of blood) and the unintended consequence of such potentially fatal levels was her sudden and unexpected death.”
PRINCE WILLIAM, KATE TO UNICEF CENTER IN DENMARK
As Carolyn DURAND reports, Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge will travel to Denmark next week to visit a UN center that distributes emergency supplies to East Africa. The trip, the couple’s first foreign trip since their trip to the U.S. and Canada over the summer, is designed to draw attention to the worsening food crisis in East Africa.
AMERICAN KILLED IN SHARK ATTACK REVIVES DEBATE SURROUNDING SHARK HUNTS
After last weekend’s attack in Australia, the Washington Post tackles the difficult relationship between humans and their most feared aquatic predator. While more humans are dying from their ferocious jaws – 13 shark-related deaths this year alone – sharks as a species are endangered and activists are fighting to stave off hunting the beasts.
BLACKBEARD’S CANNON TO BE RAISED TODAY
Blackbeard’s anchor was brought up over the summer, but today researchers hope to bring the pirate’s one-ton cannon ashore today. The Queen Anne’s Revenge Project is working to salvage the wreck of Blackbeard’s ship, which has been on the ocean floor off the North Carolina coast for nearly 300 years.
STOLEN PICASSOS RECOVERED IN SERBIA
Two stolen Pablo Picassos were recovered in Serbia. The works — “Tete de Cheval” (“Head of Horse”) from 1962 and “Verre et Pichet” (“Glass and Pitcher”) from 1944 — were stolen from an exhibition in the small Swiss town of Pfaeffikon, near Zurich, in February 2008. They belong to the Sprengel Museum in Hannover, Germany.