Monday, 31 March 2008

Sunday, 30th March 2008


AREZU, Afghanistan

When the convoy stops, a crowd of boys and old men swells around Dr. Ramey Wilson, an Army battalion surgeon.
"What do you folks need around here? Children immunized? Any problems with eye diseases? Need good schools? Schools for the girls?" Wilson calls out. No, we have all that, the crowd answers back.
One by one, a chorus of the older voices builds, as the men press forward.
"What we need is electricity," they say, through Wilson's Afghan translator. "To power computers. For our children. To connect to the Internet."



Unable to gain access to gas from Qatar or Iran, the northern emirates of Ras al Khaymah and Al Fujayrah have been obliged to import diesel and coal to meet their power generation needs, said Simon Williams, a senior economist with HSBC in Dubai.
"Demand has accelerated more quickly than anticipated and additions to supply have fallen behind," he said. "They've had little option but to look to alternative sources of energy supply. The irony of the Gulf importing hydrocarbon energy is not lost on anyone."



Oil and natural gas now account for 50 percent of central government budget revenue and 65 percent of export receipts, according to a Bank of Finland report in February.

There is in fact no shift in strategy, said a Russian oil industry analyst with an international organization in Paris, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the authorities in Russia to criticism. In the absence of new thinking, "the only strategy is accumulation of assets in state hands and appropriation of the largest possible share of the oil and gas rent," he said.

Combining state ownership with an authoritarian government has resulted in self-censorship, favor-based promotions rather than competence-based promotions, and power struggles between competing clans that are holding back progress on a range of projects in exploration, production, transportation and refining, the analyst said.
Reflecting that, only one new gas field - the Zapolyarnoye field, which came on stream in 2001 - has entered production since the 1980s, while various energy transportation projects are behind schedule, including the East Siberia-Pacific oil pipeline - now set to open a year later than planned, at the end of 2009.

This paralysis coincides with rising doubts about the sustainability of Russian production - running at close to 10 million barrels a day of oil and 850 billion cubic meters, or 30 trillion cubic feet, of gas in 2007, compared with 6 million barrels a day and less than 600 billion cubic meters in the 1990s.


Worldwide, there are about 440 nuclear reactors in operation.

Leaving aside the unresolved issue of disposing of the 12,000 tons of radioactive waste that are produced annually and remain dangerous for millions of years, nuclear power presents other drawbacks: Atomic power plants routinely release radioactivity into the air and into the water used in their cooling and waste treatment systems.

"Scientific evidence does not indicate any cancer risk or immediate effects at doses below 100 millisieverts per year," according to the Web site of the World Nuclear Association, an industry group.

One issue in judging the danger of radiation from nuclear plants is the lack of reliable data, said Rosalie Bertell, a specialist in biometrics and environmental epidemiology.

Most information about the effects of low-dose radiation is extrapolated from flawed studies of Japanese atomic bombs victims, said Bertell, who has studied radiation effects for over 50 years. Bertell said the studies focused on survivors of high-dose radiation, using lower-dose survivors mainly as a control group.
These studies, in assessing the reproductive effects, looked only at live births, ignoring miscarriages and stillbirths despite their own findings that the most vulnerable to radiation are children and fetuses. A further flaw of thresholds set by regulatory bodies, Bertell said, is that they are determined in relation to healthy, young males rather than for the most vulnerable, pregnant women.

Beyond the potential health hazard of low-level radiation exposure looms the ever-present fear of cataclysmic accidents.

In the 22 years since Chernobyl, there have been 22 significant accidents at nuclear power plants worldwide, including 15 that caused abnormal radioactive releases, according to a French antinuclear organization, Sortir du Nucléaire.

Yet the industry plays down the possibility of another serious accident. "No mistakes are allowed - the consequences in terms of public confidence are too great," said Jeremy Gordon, an analyst for the World Nuclear Association.

But insurance companies are unconvinced.

"The market," Schwartz said [Julia Schwartz, head of legal affairs at the Nuclear Energy Agency, which is based in Paris and advises industrialized countries on nuclear power], "doesn't have the capacity or refuses to cover these risks because, in the case of environmental risks, these are unquantifiable and they don't know how to assess the risk."






Navigating a badly informed world of information

I've got a soft spot for abracadabra design stories, the ones where the hero or heroine hits upon a design solution to a problem that's been troubling the rest of us. Many of my favorites are about information design: how designers have dreamt up ingenious ways of helping us to navigate the world, by making sense of the whirlwind of information with which we're bombarded every day.
There's the tale of the 16th-century Welsh mathematician, Robert Recorde, who grew so bored with writing the words "is equal to" that he invented a sign to symbolize them: a pair of parallel lines of the same length "because no two things can be more equal."



The Bush administration is proposing the broadest overhaul of Wall Street regulation since the Great Depression. But the plan, to be unveiled on Monday, has its genesis in a yearlong effort to limit Washington’s role in the market.

And that DNA is unmistakably evident in the fine print.

The regulatory umbrella created in the 1930s would grow wider, with power concentrated in fewer agencies. But that authority would be limited, doing virtually nothing to regulate the many new financial products whose unwise use has been a culprit in the current financial crisis.



Turkey's Constitutional Court will consider Monday whether to accept a case aimed at closing down the governing party for Islamist activities.

"We won 47 percent of the vote," Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan told supporters Sunday. "Everyone must respect the nation's will."
"We will continue our struggle within democracy," Erdogan continued, his voice almost hoarse after a weekend of speech-making.

"This episode has revealed a system error in Turkey's constitutional framework that may need to be addressed through a constitutional amendment," EU enlargement commissioner, Olli Rehn said at a news conference after EU foreign ministers met with Turkey's foreign minister, Ali Babacan.



Islam has overtaken Roman Catholicism as the biggest single religious denomination in the world, the Vatican said on Sunday.
Monsignor Vittorio Formenti, who compiled the Vatican's 2008 yearbook of statistics, said Muslims made up 19.2 percent of the world's population and Catholics 17.4 percent.
"For the first time in history we are no longer at the top: the Muslims have overtaken us," Formenti told the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, saying the data referred to 2006.

He said that if all Christian groups were considered, including Orthodox, Anglicans and Protestants, Christians made up 33 percent of the world's population, or about two billion people. The Vatican recently put the number of Catholics in the world at 1.13 billion. It did not provide a figure for Muslims, generally estimated to be around 1.3 billion.
Formenti said that while the percentage of Catholics in the the world's population was fairly stable, the percentage of Muslims was growing because of higher birth rates. He said the data on Muslim populations had been compiled by individual countries and reported by the United Nations. The Vatican, he said, could only vouch for its own statistics.



"The image of Benedict XVI is not only not well known, but it is badly known," said Archbishop Pietro Sambi, who as apostolic nuncio is the Vatican's top diplomat in the United States.
"He is known as an intransigent man, almost an inhuman man," the archbishop said of Benedict in an interview at the Vatican Embassy in Washington. "It will be enough to listen to him to change completely the idea of this tough, this inhuman person."

"He is not a man of blah, blah, blah," Archbishop Sambi said. "He's a thinker, and before speaking, he thinks. And he prays a lot."



The film "Fitna" -- an Arabic term sometimes translated as "strife" -- intersperses images of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and Islamist bombings with quotations from the Koran, Islam's holy book.

British-based, the first Web site to post the Wilders film, said it had removed the film after threats to its staff "of a very serious nature."

LETTERS: A controversial film

The four points of view expressed in your articles "Hate speech, free speech" (March 26), by writers from different parts of the world, rightfully focuses on the important subject of the freedom of speech.
I am afraid, however, that in Europe where the latest problem originated, for a simple citizen like me, the reaction to the publication of the Muhammad cartoons and to the release of the short film by a right-wing Dutch politician, disturb the common perception about Islam as one of the world's major religions. As a result, the dialogue called for by the writers becomes less attainable.
Isabelle le Millour Saumur, France

Defending the right for people to say things that everyone may not like is something that Muslims all around the world will have to learn to accept, and interestingly enough, many in the Netherlands actually do. But nowhere in the Dutch law does it say that taxpayers are responsible for offering a platform for any expression that a citizen or elected official would like to utter. It would be shameful if the media and Internet providers shun Geert Wilders' 15-minute film out of fear for reprisals, economic or otherwise. But that, too, is their free choice.
Theodore Poland, The Hague

Hospitals in Mogadishu overflowed with the wounded on Sunday and the death toll from mortar strikes on the city's sprawling main market reached at least 17.

A federal prison in Texas erupted in violence early Friday when two gang-related fights broke out almost simultaneously in facing housing units.

The prison, the Federal Correctional Institution in Three Rivers, was locked down as F.B.I. agents began an inquiry, the Bureau of Prisons announced. The prison, between San Antonio and Corpus Christi, houses 1,160 men.

The fights, which broke out about 6:20 a.m., were quelled with the help of 10 nonguards — plumbers, electricians, secretaries and other workers — who happened to be reporting early, said Richard Wechsler, local president of the American Federation of Government Employees, a supervisor and a former guard at the prison.

The dead inmate was identified as Servando Rodríguez, 38, an illegal immigrant serving 54 months for marijuana and parole violations. Investigators said he was stabbed and bludgeoned and died at the scene, but they gave no other details. Fifteen inmates, with two listed in critical condition, went to hospitals; three were returned to the prison. Seven others with minor injuries were treated at the prison.



(Picture of beautiful woman gazing at one)


(Picture of a roulette table)

Hotels - Casinos


MUSIC: Top ten selling albums March 17 - 22

1. Danity Kane: Welcome to the Dollhouse

When a bid is 'fair' but 'inadequate'

In some ways, an inadequacy opinion the opposite of a fairness opinion. It is the investment bank’s opinion that the price being offered is inadequate from a financial point of view.
No definition of inadequacy is ever given, and there is no judicial meaning assigned. But the presumption is that inadequate means not reflective of the full takeover value of the company. Thus, the price can be considered fair, but still inadequate.
Inadequacy opinions have the same problems as fairness opinions. Since financial valuation is a subjective exercise and there are no set, agreed guidelines or practices for it, there is substantial leeway for investment banks to arrive at their client’s desired conclusion. This is particularly true in light of the typical contingency-based fee arrangement for investment banks.


Ford Chief Executive Alan Mulally said he was amazed by the number of variations Ford offered when he arrived at the No. 2 U.S. automaker from Boeing Co in 2006.
"I was looking at the (Lincoln) Navigator console," Mulally said. "We have 128 different options you could choose on the console. That's just the console."
With so many variations, a customer inevitably will want a vehicle that is not in stock, leading to a frustrated customer and pressure on the dealer to offer a discount, Mulally said.
"They're unhappy and we're losing money," he said of Ford, which posted losses of $2.7 billion in 2007 and $12.6 billion in 2006.
Ford's chief of marketing, Jim Farley, who was hired away from Toyota Motor Co last year, said he was stunned to find that Ford was offering 100,000 combinations of options on its entry-level Focus sedan. Some 80 percent of Ford's sales came from just 4,000 of those combinations, he said.



By Stefan Merrill Block

313 pages. $25. Random House

Nothing about Mr. Block’s narrative is predictable or even suitably bleak, given the nature of the illness he addresses. Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, made grimmer by the new scientific certitude of genetic testing, is at the heart of this emotional roller coaster of a novel.

His book’s most enchanting detour is to a parallel universe called Isidora, which provides the kind of solace once found on Kurt Vonnegut’s Planet Tralfamadore. Isidora is a place where memory doesn’t matter and therefore anything is possible: people can fall in love over and over without realizing they have done it before. And Isidora provides escape from the painful realities that sear “The Story of Forgetting.” Courting but avoiding excess whimsy, Mr. Block even gives his book a slogan about Isidora: “Alongside this world there’s another. There are places you can cross.”



Hugo Claus, one of Belgium's most renowned authors despite his often caustic portrayals of his nation, particularly its ambiguous role in World War II, died on March 19. He was 78.
Claus, who had Alzheimer's disease, died at Middelheim Hospital in Antwerp.

The author of more than 20 novels, more than 60 plays and several thousand poems, Claus was best known for his 1983 novel, "The Sorrow of Belgium."
A long, dense, poetic work, the book views the Nazi occupation of Belgium, starting in May 1940, through the eyes of a teenage boy named Louis Seynaeve. It examines the moral contradictions many Belgians faced and the outright collaboration of others, undermining myths of widespread resistance that took hold after the Nazis were defeated.

There were 90,000 Jews in Belgium when the war started; 40,000 perished, most in the death camps. When the news reaches Louis's father after the war, he utters a glib excuse for his ignorance.
The experiences of young Louis in "The Sorrow of Belgium" resembled those of Claus's own adolescence, he said. Like Louis, he hated going to a Roman Catholic boarding school and rebelled against authority figures, particularly his father. When the German tanks first rolled in, he told The New York Times in 1990, "There was an ecstatic feeling."
"We were close to the French border, and the French soldiers drank our red wine, attacked our women and ate all our food," Claus continued. "The Germans were disciplined, sang marching songs - they were very exotic enemies. Like Louis, I liked them very much.
"I began despising the Germans as soon as they started to lose," he said.


New Zealand won the Hong Kong Sevens tournament Sunday to make it five wins from as many tournaments in the current IRB World Sevens campaign.
The 26-12 win over South Africa in Sunday's final extended the Kiwis' winning streak in the series to 42 games, although this was the first time they had won in Hong Kong since 2001.

New Zealand began the final day by beating Wales 26-7 in the quarterfinals and then trounced traditional sevens power Fiji 34-0 in the semis, with captain D.J.Forbes and Yates both scoring two tries.
South Africa had beaten Australia 19-14 in the quarters and then edged defending Hong Kong tournament champion Samoa 12-10 to book a place in a Hong Kong final for the first time. A drop goal by Lolo Lui looked to have put Samoa into the final again, but South Africa struck with a late try by Stick.
Fiji had beaten Kenya 10-0 to reach the last four, while Samoa downed England 17-12, reversing the result of their pool game on Saturday.
In the plate competition, for those eliminated at the pool stage, France beat Argentina 17-14 in extra time in the final.
It was the first competition win in the current world sevens season for France, which recovered after the ignominy of being held to a draw by hosts Hong Kong on Saturday.
France scored the first two tries of the final, but a second-half try to Gabriel Ascarte saw the match level at full time. In sudden death extra time, Simon Sarthou scored a penalty after only 41 seconds.


Zimbabwe's main opposition party claimed an early lead Sunday in elections, seeking to thwart any possible vote rigging by President Robert Mugabe amid silence from the Electoral Commission and the deployment of security forces.



In the lesser bowl competition, Russia beat Zimbabwe 19-14, defending its Hong Kong title.
Zimbabwe took an early advantage with two tries, but Russia rallied and a try to Aleksandr Gvodzdovskiy gave a single competition point to the Russians.



Although the government is sitting on oil and gas windfall profits of $450 billion in official reserves and $150 billion in its Stabilization Fund, the strategy of state concentration of assets has left Rosneft and Gazprom heavily loaded with debt - leading some Western observers to question their ability to finance the investments needed to maintain Russian production levels, estimated by the International Energy Agency at $328 billion from 2001 to 2030.


Sunday, 30 March 2008

Saturday, 29th March 2008


The imported fruits and vegetables found in our shopping carts in winter and early spring are grown with types and amounts of pesticides that would often be illegal in the United States.
In this case, the victims are North American songbirds. Bobolinks, called skunk blackbirds in some places, were once a common sight in the Eastern United States. In mating season, the male in his handsome tuxedo-like suit sings deliriously as he whirrs madly over the hayfields. Bobolink numbers have plummeted almost 50 percent in the last four decades, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey.
The birds are being poisoned on their wintering grounds by highly toxic pesticides. Rosalind Renfrew, a biologist at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, captured bobolinks feeding in rice fields in Bolivia and took samples of their blood to test for pesticide exposure. She found that about half of the birds had drastically reduced levels of cholinesterase, an enzyme that affects brain and nerve cells - a sign of exposure to toxic chemicals.
Since the 1980s, pesticide use has increased fivefold in Latin America as countries have expanded their production of nontraditional crops to fuel the demand for fresh produce during winter in North America and Europe. Rice farmers in the region use monocrotophos, methamidophos and carbofuran, all agricultural chemicals that are rated Class I toxins by the World Health Organization, are highly toxic to birds, and are either restricted or banned in the United States. In countries like Guatemala, Honduras and Ecuador, researchers have found that farmers spray their crops heavily and repeatedly with a chemical cocktail of dangerous pesticides.

Food prices are soaring, a wealthier Asia is demanding better food and farmers cannot keep up. In short, the world faces a food crisis and in some places it is already boiling over.
Around the globe, people are protesting and governments are responding with often counterproductive controls on prices and exports - a new politics of scarcity in which ensuring food supplies is becoming a major challenge for the 21st century.
Damaged by severe weather in producing countries and plundered by a boom in demand from fast-developing nations, global wheat stocks are at 30-year lows. Grain prices have been on the rise for five years, ending decades of inexpensive food.
Drought, a declining dollar, a shift of investment money into commodities and use of farm land to grow biofuel crops have all contributed to food woes. But population growth and the growing wealth of China and other emerging countries are likely to be more enduring factors.
World population is set to hit 9 billion by 2050, and most of the extra 2.5 billion people will live in the developing world. It is in these countries that the population is demanding dairy and meat, which require more land to produce.

"This is an additional setback for the world economy, at a time when we are already going through major turbulence, but the biggest drama is the impact of higher food prices on the poor," Angel Gurría, head of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, said.
In Gurría's native Mexico, tens of thousands took to the streets last year over the cost of tortillas, a national staple whose price rocketed in tandem with the price of corn.
Global food prices, based on United Nations records, rose 35 percent in the year to the end of January, markedly accelerating an upturn that began, gently at first, in 2002. Since then, prices have risen 65 percent.
In 2007 alone, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's world food index, dairy prices rose nearly 80 percent and grain 42 percent.

"The recent rise in global food commodity prices is more than just a short-term blip," the British research group Chatham House said in January.
"Society will have to decide the value to be placed on food," it added, and how "market forces can be reconciled with domestic policy objectives."
Many countries are already facing these choices.

DUBLIN, Ireland
From Rome's Colosseum to the Sydney Opera House, floodlit icons of civilization went dark for Earth Hour, a worldwide campaign to highlight the waste of electricity and the threat of climate change.
The environmental group WWF urged governments, businesses and households to turn back to candle power for at least 60 minutes Saturday starting at 8 p.m. (0000 GMT) wherever they were.

"What's amazing is that it's transcending political boundaries and happening in places like China, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea," said Andy Ridley, executive director of Earth Hour. "It really seems to have resonated with anybody and everybody."
Earth Hour officials said they were hopeful of mobilizing 100 million people to turn off their nonessential lights and electronic goods for the hour. Electricity plants produce greenhouse gases that fuel climate change.


Try this headline: Black Hole Eats Earth
The world's physicists have spent 14 years and $8 billion building the Large Hadron Collider, in which the colliding protons will recreate energies and conditions last seen a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang. Researchers will sift the debris from these primordial recreations for clues to the nature of mass and new forces and symmetries of nature.But Walter Wagner and Luis Sancho contend that scientists at the European Center for Nuclear Research, or CERN, have played down the chances that the collider could produce, among other horrors, a tiny black hole, which, they say, could eat the Earth. Or it could spit out something called a "strangelet" that would convert our planet to a shrunken dense dead lump of something called "strange matter." Their suit also says CERN has failed to provide an environmental impact statement as required under the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act.



The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, adopted in 1992, enjoys almost universal membership. It stands as the only global negotiation framework.
Now, the time has come to implement the ultimate objective of this treaty - the stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous climate change.

It is the obvious case for a global solution agreed within the United Nations. No country can effectively address the problem by itself, yet no agreement will serve its purpose unless every country signs up.
The negative impact of climate change affects all aspects of life and all parts of our societies. Recognizing that access to energy is the key to economic growth and welfare, the challenge is to find a solution that responds adequately to the climate issue in a cost-effective way, not hampering but promoting sustainable economic growth and paving the way for a future low-carbon society.

More than 16,000 disabled people, many in wheelchairs, protested in Paris on Saturday to press for increased government aid.
Up to 100 organizations around France joined together to demand a pension equivalent to the minimum wage, €1,280 (US$2,010). The disabled currently receive less than half that, €628 (US$986).


1. Raphael: Je sais que la Terre est plate.

For a temporary best-friend fix, rent a dog (kibble included) for a day
"There are a lot of people out there looking for companionship," said Chris Haddix, 28, who runs the New York branch of Flexpetz. There are usually five or six dogs available for rent, many of them on display in the Wet Nose storefront window, attracting crowds.
Stevenson explained why she was a customer: "I'm single and moved here from Scotland two years ago, and it's been difficult to meet people because everyone in New York just kind of goes about their business. But when I'm walking around with Oliver, I seem to get into so many conversations about him. It becomes a nice way to meet people."

"When a big crisis happens here, they show their true nature," said Liu Xiaobo, a liberal dissident and government critic. "I am really shocked by the language they used concerning the Dalai Lama. They are talking about a 'People's War.' That is a phrase from the Cultural Revolution."

The newly refurbished Route 3 that cuts through this remote town is an ordinary strip of pavement, the type of two-lane road you might find winding through the backwoods of Vermont or sunflower fields in the French provinces.On Leusa, 70, who lives near the road, calls it "deluxe." As a young woman, she traded opium and tiger bones along the road, which was then nothing more than a horse trail.On Monday, the prime ministers of Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam will officially inaugurate the former opium smuggling route as the final link of what they call the "north-south economic corridor," a network of roads linking the southern Chinese city of Kunming to Bangkok spanning 1,800 kilometers, or 1,100 miles.



Israel on Sunday agreed to remove about 50 roadblocks in the West Bank and promised Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is visiting here, that it would upgrade checkpoints to reduce the waiting time for Palestinians who have been hampered in their efforts to go about their daily lives.

Fair Game
If You Can’t Sell, Good Luck

Where's my bailout?
That’s what thousands of individual investors, stuck with auction-rate securities that brokers had told them were “as good as cash,” might have wondered as they watched the Federal Reserve take on $29 billion of malodorous assets from the balance sheet of Bear Stearns.
Everybody knows, though, that only big guys get bailouts. Long-suffering small investors, unable to sell these supposedly liquid securities, have to look elsewhere for satisfaction.
Unfortunately, satisfaction is elusive for these investors.

Market Maker
What ‘the Bear’ Meant for the Street

Back in the days of ticker tape, when Wall Street firms like Morgan Stanley hired young men with pedigrees from colleges like Princeton and clubs like Piping Rock, Bear Stearns was the kind of place where hardscrabble Brooklynites could get a job.
Bear’s former chairman, Alan Greenberg, known as Ace, even had a name for these hires: P.S.D.’s, as in Poor, Smart, with a deep Desire to become rich.

Maybe some of Bear’s senior managers should have more closely read “Memos from the Chairman,” a collection of Mr. Greenberg’s idiosyncratic notes to employees that was published in 1996.
“We want people at Bear Stearns to cry wolf,” he advised. “Forget the chain of command! That is not the way Bear Stearns was built. If you think somebody is doing something off the wall or his/her decision-making stinks, go around the person, and that includes me.”

Foreclosure Machine Thrives on Woes
Nobody wins when a home enters foreclosure — neither the borrower, who is evicted, nor the lender, who takes a loss when the home is resold. That’s the conventional wisdom, anyway.

The reality is very different. Behind the scenes in these dramas, a small army of law firms and default servicing companies, who represent mortgage lenders, have been raking in mounting profits. These little-known firms assess legal fees and a host of other charges, calculate what the borrowers owe and draw up the documents required to remove them from their homes.
As the subprime mortgage crisis has spread, the volume of the business has soared, and firms that handle loan defaults have been the primary beneficiaries. Law firms, paid by the number of motions filed in foreclosure cases, have sometimes issued a flurry of claims without regard for the requirements of bankruptcy law, several judges say.



Like so many of the over-the-top birthday parties that typically appear on “My Super Sweet 16” on MTV, Ariel’s celebration took the fairy-tale-princess theme to new heights.

Horse-drawn carriages delivered teenage guests to a faux-castle tent where they were met with dancing jesters and disco lights. The birthday girl, wearing a white dress and tiara, flew in via helicopter. And the evening ended with fireworks and the arrival of Ariel’s gift from her father: a brand new BMW 325i.
As viewers learned, Ariel’s dad was a successful oilman. “I love oil. Oil means shoes and cars and purses,” Ariel exclaimed to the camera as she and her father stomped around oil drilling sites in the muddy hills near her home in Campbellsville, Ky. When her father pointed to one of the sites and told viewers that it produced 120 barrels a day, Ariel asked, “How many Louis Vuittons is that?” Her father’s answer was “a bunch.”
The show typically attracts younger viewers, but this particular episode, shown in February 2007, caught the attention of an entirely different demographic: government regulators.
Ariel’s father was Gary M. Milby, a man regulators now say was bilking hundreds of investors across the country out of millions of dollars by offering fraudulent investments in nearly 30 oil and gas limited partnerships with names like “Black Gold Oil No. 6” and “Fort Knox Oil No. 8.”

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan

The Tajik police have detained two men suspected in the murder of a Russian television reporter who was found stabbed in a Moscow apartment with a belt around his neck, an official said Saturday.

Ilyas Shurpayev, 32, a reporter for Russia's state-run TV network Channel One, was found dead March 21 in a rented Moscow apartment. He was from the southern Russian province of Dagestan. A doorman at his building said Shurpayev had called down to ask that two young men of non-Slavic appearance be allowed in the building.
The police said the killers set the apartment on fire and took 100,000 rubles, or $4,100. On the day of Shurpayev's murder, unidentified gunmen shot and killed the head of Dagestan's state-controlled TV station, but officials said they did not believe the killings were related.
More than a dozen journalists have been slain in contract-style killings in Russia since 2000. Many appear to have been targeted for beatings and killings because of their attempts to dig into allegations of corruption. The killers have rarely been found.



Jeremic stressed that Belgrade realized its role in bringing Balkan war crimes suspects to the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in The Hague was crucial to normalizing relations.

"We shall locate, arrest and hand over Ratko Mladic" and others indicted on war crimes charges, Jeremic told the EU ministers.
Speaking to reporters later, he said Belgrade's commitment to cooperate fully with the war crimes tribunal in would lead "in the very near future" to handing over the last remaining indicted suspects - "first and foremost General Ratko Mladic." He did not elaborate.

Separately, police in southwestern Germany said Saturday they were investigating "in all directions" after a baby carriage was set alight overnight in the entrance of a building inhabited largely by Turks in Backnang, near Stuttgart.
Police said two backward swastikas and the words "now all die" in misspelled German were found sprayed on an outside wall.
A resident extinguished the fire, and two young women were taken to a hospital after inhaling smoke. Police said it appeared that the fire would not have been strong enough to set the entire house ablaze.

It's the end of the era of the white man.
I know your head is spinning. The world can feel like one of those split-screen TVs with images of a suicide bombing in Baghdad flashing, and the latest awful market news coursing along the bottom, and an ad for some stool-loosening wonder drug squeezed into a corner.
The jumble makes no sense. It just goes on, like the mindless clacking of an ice dispenser.
On the globalized treadmill, you drop your eyes again from the screen (now showing ads for gourmet canine cuisine) to the New Yorker or Asahi Shimbun. And another bomb goes off.
There's a lot of noise and not much signal. Everywhere there is flux and the reaction to it: the quest, sometimes violent, for national or religious identity. These alternate faces of globalization - fluidity and tribalism - define our frontier-dissolving world.

But in all the movement back and forth, basic things shift. The world exists in what Paul Saffo, a forecaster at Stanford University, calls "punctuated equilibrium." Every now and again, an ice cap the size of Rhode Island breaks off.
The breaking sound right now is that of the end of the era of the white man.

"It's a matter of survival," said Ashutosh Goel, an analyst with the brokerage firm Edelweiss Capital. "To succeed and thrive you have to be a serious global player and not only focused on the domestic market. You can't remain a purely Indian player."
Nearly all the leading corporations here - including Reliance Industries and the outsourcing company Wipro - are looking overseas, and reports of Indian acquisitions of U.S., European, and Asian brands have become common.
Many see the newfound assertiveness as a reflection of the general feeling in India that the once-stagnant underachiever now belongs among the international elite. "Indian companies have been in the mood for overseas purchases for a few years now and that coincides with the boom in the economy and the general feel-good factor here," said Anjana Menon, an editor at Mint, a leading Indian business newspaper.

When stocks in three big Chinese companies sank below their initial public offering prices last week, investors who bought shares in last year's offers suffered. China's once-roaring IPO market is another casualty.
After spectacular growth last year, when mainland China eclipsed the United States as the world's biggest market for initial public offers of equity, sliding stock prices and concern about oversupply threaten to stifle activity this year.
"The bubble is bursting after rampant speculation pushed prices of newly listed shares to ridiculously high levels at the peak of China's stock bull run late last year," said Zheng Weigang, head of research at Shanghai Securities. "This will slow equity fund-raising in coming months and deter the overpricing of new offers and new listings."
Investors bought a staggering $100 billion of equity in almost 200 newly listing firms from May 2006, when China lifted a yearlong ban on IPOs, to February this year.


NEVER mind brainstorms. These days, Madison Avenue is all about brain waves.
That may be overstated, but it is no exaggeration that agencies and advertisers are growing more interested in neuroscience in their never-ending efforts to improve effectiveness.
The ardor of the ad business to adopt the technical tools of biometrics — measuring brain waves, galvanic skin response, eye movements, pulse rates and the like — is increasing as consumer spending, the engine of the American economy, slows.
In other words, in hard times ads must work harder to move the merchandise.
“Instead of hypotheses about what people think and feel, you actually see what they think and feel,” said Joel Kades, vice president for strategic planning and consumer insight at Virgin Mobile USA in Warren, N.J.



On Tuesday, the Council of Europe plans to introduce guidelines to aid computer crime investigators, building on a cybercrime treaty that has been signed by 43 nations, including the United States. A controversial proposal would require service providers to give the authorities a list of the types of information that they could offer.
On Wednesday, NATO will present a strategy for countering computer attacks at a meeting for heads of state in Bucharest, with a proposal to create a central cyberdefense authority.
"The attacks on Estonia - directed at services on which Estonian citizens rely - could happen anywhere," said James Appathurai, a NATO spokesman. "The only way to defend against them is through multinational, multilateral cooperation."
That kind of military talk concerns privacy advocates and computer experts, who fear that private companies will be pressed into service to police users as part of these strategies.


The IHT, The South China Morning Post and Time Asia, the weekly magazine, each won two top prizes in the Human Rights Press Awards announced Saturday.

The competition, organized by Amnesty International of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Journalists' Association and the Foreign Correspondents Club, cited the IHT's feature reporting on Myanmar and its online article and multimedia coverage of stateless people in Southeast Asia.