Global News (02/24/09)

Green light for a close encounter: ‘Jupiter-sized’ comet to streak past Earth tonight (Mail on Sunday):
We have known of its existence for only two years. But if you raise your eyes heavenwards over the next few nights, you might just catch a glimpse of the comet Lulin. Glowing green, it will come within 38million miles of Earth, the closest it has ever been, and about the same distance away as Mars.

US carbon-tracking satellite crashes (Financial Times):
The US government’s pioneering attempt to map carbon dioxide levels in the Earth’s atmosphere flopped on Tuesday when a satellite plunged into the southern Pacific Ocean near Antarctica. The $278m Orbiting Carbon Observatory… (… flushed down the toilet.)

UK Army may use James Bond-style spy camera (Telegraph):
British soldiers and anti-terrorist police may soon be using a new James Bond-style spy camera hidden in a gadget the size of a cricket ball. The ball can be thrown at enemy suspects and will then send back pictures of their movements using wireless technology, the Daily Mirror said.It was first successfully used by Israeli forces during the Gaza conflict last month.

Defaults by Franchisees Soar as the Recession Deepens (Wall Street Journal):
List of Small Business Administration-Backed Bad Loans at 500 Brands Increased 52% in Most Recent Fiscal Year

Thousands of police to lose jobs as forces feel the pinch (Times):
Large numbers of police forces are planning to cut thousands of officers despite the threat of a recession-driven surge in crime and disorder. Representatives from dozens of police forces contacted by The Times last night gave a grim picture of falling numbers and “significant and painful” cuts.

US home prices fall at record pace, consumers fret (Washington Post):
NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. home prices plunged at a record pace in December and consumer confidence hit a new low in February, …

Obama administration tries to kill e-mail case (AP):
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration, siding with former President George W. Bush, is trying to kill a lawsuit that seeks to recover what could be millions of missing White House e-mails.

Obama flops on secrecy (Houston Chronicle):
A few days ago in a San Francisco courtroom, the Obama administration faced a crucial early test — and, in the view of many liberal supporters, failed miserably.

Soldier questions eligibility, doubts president’s authority (WorldNetDaily)

Stanford Had Links to a Fund Run by Bidens (Wall Street Journal):
A fund of hedge funds run by two members of Vice President Joe Biden’s family was marketed exclusively by companies controlled by Texas financier R. Allen Stanford, who is facing Securities and Exchange Commission accusations of engaging in an $8 billion fraud.

Bank Nationalization Isn’t the Answer (Wall Street Journal):
Trust me. I’ve done this before. Mr. Isaac, chairman of the FDIC from 1981-1985, is chairman of the Washington financial services consulting firm The Secura Group, an LECG company.

High street job losses hit record level in UK (Guardian):
The CBI’s latest distributive trades survey showed that a balance of -49% of retailers said they had cut staff numbers in February, the worst level since the quarterly survey began in August 1983. A similar record rate of job cuts is expected for March.

ECB’s Trichet sounds alarm over Europe’s credit contraction (Telegraph):
The eurozone’s financial system is under “severe strain” and risks setting off a downward spiral as the banking crisis and economic recession feed on each other, according to European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet.

Ritz Camera seeks bankruptcy protection (BusinessWeek):
Ritz Camera Centers, the nation’s largest retail photography chain, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Chapter 11 an option for Chrysler and GM (Financial Times):
Law firms advising the US Treasury are preparing for possible bankruptcy protection for General Motors and Chrysler, US officials acknowledged on Monday.

Latvia debt rating cut to ‘junk’ (Financial Times):
Riga, February 24 – Latvia on Tuesday became the second European Union nation after Romania to receive a “junk” level credit rating after Standard & Poor’s reduced its rating on the crisis-hit nation.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 flirts with 26-year low (Financial Times):
The Nikkei 225 closed for the lunch break down 2.6 per cent at 7,181.20, just shy of its October close of 7,162.90 in October, the lowest level in 26 years.

States agree €13bn HSH bail-out package (Financial Times):
Two German federal states on Tuesday agreed a €13bn ($16.6bn) bail-out of HSH Nordbank, the shipping financier, whose losses on complex structured financial products have crippled the regional lender and blown a hole in government finances.

Home Depot swings to $54 million loss (MarketWatch)

TomTom lost $1.3bn in fourth quarter (Financial Times):
AMSTERDAM, Feb 24 – Dutch navigation device maker TomTom reported a €989m ($1.3bn) net loss on Tuesday, citing a writedown on its Tele Atlas acquisition, and said it was considering renegotiating its debt again.

McDonald’s gets $423.7M loan from Japanese banks (IHT)

Georgia furloughs 25,000 workers (CNN Money):
NEW YORK ( — Georgia regulators confirmed Tuesday that 25,000 state workers at various agencies have been furloughed over the last six months as part of ongoing budget reduction requirements.

Vatican complains to Israel about ‘blasphemous’ TV programme (Telegraph):
In the programme, the host denied Christian traditions – that Mary was a virgin and that Jesus walked on water – saying he would do so as a “lesson” to Christians who deny the Holocaust, a reference to the Vatican’s recent lifting of the excommunication of a bishop who denied 6 million Jews were killed during the Second World War. The rehabilitation sparked outrage among Jews.

China bars foreigners from Tibet (BBC News)

US set to offer ‘substantial’ aid to Gaza (Scotsman)

UK sees diabetes cases rise by three-quarters (Guardian)

Manila to slaughter 6000 pigs to stop Ebola spread (Reuters)

Scientists discover genetic ‘off switch’ for series of cancers (Scotsman):
SCIENTISTS have identified a cancer “master switch” that could open the door to revolutionary new treatments, research published today reveals.

UK blood enquiry finds fault in US practices (Philippines News):
Tainted blood supplies in Britain and other countries were partially responsible for the spread of Hepatitis-C and the HIV virus that causes AIDS.

50 Child prostitutes rescued by FBI (Telegraph):
The FBI has rescued nearly 50 child prostitutes in the United States, some as young as 13, in a nationwide operation against the trafficking of children for sex.

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