The decision, at the close of a two-day summit meeting of European Union leaders, reflected growing concern about the economic impact of the EU's landmark agreement a year ago to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by one-fifth from 1990 levels by 2020.
Instead, they backed a European Commission plan to review the situation in 2010 or 2011 when it becomes clear whether international agreements for the period after 2013 have been reached.
Hopes are high, as are the hurdles, for alternative fuel
Among the factors contributing to its comeback are soaring oil prices, climate concerns and government anxiety over dwindling oil reserves. The combination has led more than 40 governments to enact biofuel consumption mandates that not only set annual targets for adoption but also provide tax incentives and subsidies to the companies supporting this emerging technology.
To varying degrees, it is working. As of 2007, WorldBioPlant.Com, a database service created to track biofuel development, reports that there were 954 biofuel plants - 386 biodiesel and 565 bioethanol - in 56 countries with a cumulative output capacity in excess of 43 billion gallons, or 163 billion liters.
This process can be almost magical in its effects: A committee in Washington gives some technical instructions to a trading desk in New York, and just like that, the economy creates millions of jobs.
But sometimes the magic doesn't work. And this is one of those times.
Officially, the Fed won't be buying mortgage-backed securities outright: it's only accepting them as collateral in return for loans. But it's definitely taking on some mortgage risk. Is this, to some extent, a bailout for banks? Yes.
Still, that's not what has me worried. I'm more concerned that despite the extraordinary scale of Bernanke's action - to my knowledge, no advanced country's central bank has ever exposed itself to this much market risk - the Fed still won't manage to get a grip on the economy. You see, $400 billion sounds like a lot, but it's still small compared with the problem.
“I believe there ought to be action,” Mr. Bush added, “but I’m deeply concerned about law and regulation that will make it harder for the markets to recover.”
Shortly after Mr. Bush spoke, Ben S. Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, issued fresh warnings about the gathering wave of home foreclosures while pledging new regulations to limit the impact and crack down on predatory mortgage lending.
“Foreclosure rates have increased substantially,” Mr. Bernanke said during a speech in Washington before a meeting of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.
“Behind these disturbing statistics are families facing personal and financial hardship and neighborhoods that may be destabilized by clusters of foreclosures,” Mr. Bernanke said. “These realities challenge us to find ways to prevent preventable foreclosures” and “ensure a regulatory environment that promotes responsible lending.”
Vikram Pandit was paid more than that for taking over as chief executive of the embattled bank. Pandit received about $165.2 million in connection with the sale of Old Lane Partners, the investment firm that Citigroup bought last April for as much as $800 million to lure him to the company.
He received an additional $2.7 million in annual pay in the roughly six months he led Citigroup's investment bank and alternative investments group.
And in January, Pandit was given a sign-on grant of stock and performance-based options worth more than $48 million, though the options have no cash value. That brings the total to at least $216 million.
The lawsuit, filed in the Constitutional Court, the highest in the country, seeks closure because of what it said were anti-secular activities of the party, Justice and Development. The prosecutor who filed the case, Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya, also asked for 71 party members, including Erdogan, to be banned from politics for five years.
"The AK Party has become a hotbed of activities against secularism," the state-run Anatolian News Agency quoted the lawsuit as saying, referring to the party's initials in Turkish.
The new legislation would replace a 1993 law that granted gays the right to enter civil unions similar to marriage but did not give them other benefits enjoyed by married couples.
"This new marriage law is a step forward along the lines of voting rights for all and equality laws," said Minister of Children and Equality Anniken Huitfeldt.
The measure gives gays the right to a church wedding but does not require any minister or religious organization to perform the ceremony. The proposal also grants the right to assisted pregnancies to lesbians and allows gays to be considered as adoptive parents.
The genesis of his book lay in the attacks of Sept. 11, 1991. Thinking about what could trigger such terror, he decided that the issue was history - that interpretations of the past were hindering the future. He wants his faith to be adaptive, inclusive and progressive, drawing on principles established in the past but made relevant to the present.
"That's why actually I created this character - the clone of the Prophet. In my story I put him in a community. Biologically he has all the traits of the Prophet but the question is, could historical man be repeated? I try to portray this person using experience from the past and trying to adapt to the current situation," Isa said.
The detainee, Muhammad Rahim, helped prepare the Tora Bora caves used as a hide-out for bin Laden in Afghanistan in 2001, and helped him escape during the U.S.-led invasion that followed the September 11, 2001, attacks, officials said.
He also tried to procure chemicals for a plan to attack U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan and to recruit people with access to U.S. military facilities, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.
"He is a close associate of Osama bin Laden and had close ties to al Qaeda organizations throughout the Middle East," Whitman said.
Leadership theorists suggest we should pay less attention to leaders' policy promises than to their emotional intelligence - mastery of the self and outreach to others.
Contrary to the view that emotions always interfere with thinking, the ability to understand and regulate emotions can make overall thinking more effective. As Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously quipped after meeting Franklin D. Roosevelt: "a second-class intellect but a first-class temperament."
How low you have sunk in publishing an editorial on Eliot Spitzer ("Governor Spitzer and his 'private matter,' " March 12). The United States is at war, the economy is on the verge of bankruptcy, confidence in the government and private sectors has evaporated and respect for America is at an all time low.
The news media, which has the responsibility to inform the public on matters of concern, distracts its audience by focusing on this subject.
If Spitzer caused public harm then he can be nailed on those grounds, but investigating and judging his private life according to ancient sexual concepts pulls down the strongest democratic nation to the level of theocratic, authoritarian regimes that stone women to death for alleged adultery and permit honor crimes.
H. Meyerhoff, Geneva
Meanwhile, a distinguished sailor, Admiral William Fallon, the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, may have been fired for doing his job ("Under fire, U.S. chief in Mideast is retiring," March 13). And let's not forget that the president lied to take the United States into an unnecessary war for reasons that have still not been declared.
What hypocrisy. What a reversal of real ethical standards.
Joe Roeber, London
Perhaps they grow up in homes with an intense success ethos and get fed into the Achievatron, the complex social machine that takes young children and molds them into Ivy League valedictorians.
They go through the oboe practice, soccer camp, homework marathon childhood. Their parent-teacher conferences are like mini-Hall of Fame enshrinements as all gather to worship at the flame of their incipient success. In high school, they enter their Alpha Geekdom. They rack up great grades and develop that coating of arrogance that forms on those who know that in the long run they will be more successful than the beauties and jocks who get dates.
Then they go into one of those fields like law, medicine or politics, where a person's identity is defined by career rank. They develop the specific social skills that are useful on the climb up the greasy pole: the capacity to imply false intimacy; the ability to remember first names; the subtle skills of effective deference; the willingness to stand too close to other men while talking and touching them in a manly way.
They treat their conversational partners the way the Nazis treated Poland. They crush initial resistance, and the onslaught of accumulated narcissism is finally too much to bear.
But then, gradually, some cruel cosmic joke gets played on them.
They realize in middle age that their grandeur is not enough and that they are lonely. The ordinariness of their intimate lives is made more painful by the exhilaration of their public success. If they were used to limits in public life, maybe it would be easier to accept the everydayness of middle-aged passion. But, of course, they are not.
And so the crisis comes. Perhaps alpha male gorillas don't wake up in the middle of the night feeling sorry for themselves because "nobody knows the real me." But those of us in the business of covering the great and the powerful know that human leaders have an almost limitless capacity for self-pity.
They seek to heal the hurt. Maybe they frequent prostitutes because transactional relationships are something they understand. Or they just act like complete idiots.
I don't know if you've seen a successful politician or business tycoon get drunk and make a pass at a woman. It's like watching a St. Bernard try to French kiss. It's all overbearing, slobbering, desperate wanting. There's no self-control, no dignity.
These Type A men are just not equipped to have normal relationships. All their lives they've been a walking Asperger's Convention, the kings of the emotionally avoidant. Because of disuse, their sensitivity synapses are still performing at preschool levels.
So when they decide that they do in fact have an inner soul and it's time to take it out for a romp. . . Well, let's just say they've just bought a ticket on the self-immolation express. Some desperate lunge toward intimacy is sure to follow, some sad attempt at bonding. Welcome to the land of the wide stance.
Maybe they'd be OK if somewhere along the way they'd had true friends, defined as a group of people who share a mutual inability to take each other seriously. Maybe they'd be prepared for what is about to happen if they'd subordinated their quest for immortality to the joys of domestic ridicule.
But they are completely unprepared. And in the middle of some perfectly enjoyable dinner party, a woman will suddenly find a tongue in her ear.
I once visited a home in which the host had photos of himself delivering commencement addresses lining the stairway wall. I've heard countless presidential candidates say they are running on behalf of their families even though their entire lives have been spent on the campaign trail away from their families.
These are rank-link tragedies waiting to happen. The reputation recovery interview on "Larry King" is but a few steps away.
When asked by George - his leg smashed, his hands tied, his eyes wide with terror - "Why are you doing this?," Pitt's character responds with answers that parody the kind of facile back story usually applied in cases like this: unhappy childhood; sexual instability; class resentment; bad education. All of it is facetious, and none of it explains anything.
"Why don't you just kill us and get it over with?" George whimpers. His would-be killer's reply - "What about entertainment?" - carries beyond the screen, where the voyeuristic masses are implicated in the gruesome spectacle of senseless cruelty. Are we, though? What if the guilt trip never takes off? Or, even worse, what if the American audience were to embrace Haneke's vision not for its moral stringency but for the thrill of, say, watching Watts, bound at the ankles and wrists, hop around in her underwear? Who will be implicated then? I started out by calling Haneke a sadist, but it seems to me that he may be too naive, too delicate, to merit that designation, which should be reserved only for the greatest filmmakers.
Another sign that times are changing is "Predictably Irrational," a book that both exemplifies and explains this shift in the cultural winds. Here, Dan Ariely, an economist at M.I.T., tells us that "life with fewer market norms and more social norms would be more satisfying, creative, fulfilling and fun." Obviously, this sly and lucid book is not about your grandfather's dismal science. Ariely's trade is behavioral economics, which is the study, by experiments, of what people actually do when they buy, sell, change jobs, marry and make other real-life decisions. What the past few decades of work in psychology, sociology and economics has shown, as Ariely describes, is that all three of these assumptions are false. Yes, you have a rational self, but it's not your only one, nor is it often in charge. A more accurate picture is that there are a bunch of different versions of you, who come to the fore under different conditions. We aren't cool calculators of self-interest who sometimes go crazy; we're crazies who are, under special circumstances, sometimes rational.
Stuart Vyse, a psychology professor at Connecticut College and the author of a new book on the psychology of credit cards, said that “immediate choices are extremely powerful and difficult to resist” and that credit cards play into that desire for immediate gratification. He believes that they have played a big role in the fact that the United States now has a negative savings rate.
Sure enough, it was right about then that credit card debt began climbing. In 2004, for instance, credit card debt grew at a rate of $6.25 billion a quarter. In just the fourth quarter of 2007, it grew by $20 billion. Total credit card debt stands today at about $950 billion. That is still not close to the $11 trillion in mortgages, but it’s within spitting distance of auto loans.
It is that rapid rise in credit card debt that has the bears worried. “Never in history has the American family skidded into recession with so much debt,” Ms. Warren said.
“It is unsecured debt,” said Daniel Alpert of Westwood Capital. “Eventually people are going to hit the wall.”
It is a short but laborious book, and it begins: "Ours are ominous times. Each nervous glance portends some potential disaster. Paranoia most mornings shocks us to wakefulness, and we totter out under the ghostly sun. At night fear agitates the darkness."
It's a hilarious opening, and you smell parody here as the author ticks off the ominous things that shock him awake in the morning - the holes in the ozone , the extinction of animal species, global warming , nuclear arms, the threat of human extinction - and then you come through a dark thicket and over a field of jagged rocks and you find his thesis: American obsession with happiness, typified by the widespread use of antidepressants, is eliminating melancholia, the wellspring of creativity, the source of so much great art and poetry and music. Kafka, Hart Crane, Jackson Pollock, Tennessee Williams, Mark Rothko, melancholics all, so why shouldn't we accept our own bleakness and take long walks in the winter woods and look at the gnarled limbs of trees and struggle with the inscrutable and accept the beauty of permanent turmoil?
It's a good old-fashioned broadside against American optimism - the mass of men lead lives of shallow happiness, the superior man exults in his gloom.
The "categorical imperative" means something quite different, but it does sound like the right term for the self-protective psychological urge that drove Peter Mark Roget (1779-1869), creator of the Thesaurus, to classify and categorize all manner of things over a long lifetime. Madness did not just run in his family; it galloped, sped, sprinted, dashed and made haste. If the title of Joshua Kendall's fine new biography of Roget has a clinical Oliver Sacks feel, the material pretty much justifies it.
"The Man Who Made Lists" outlines the "chronic mental instability" of Roget's maternal grandmother; the "psychotic trance" in which his mother spent her last days after a life of neurotic "neediness"; the breakdowns undergone by Roget's sister and daughter (he married late and was widowed early); and the grief-driven, throat-slashing suicide of his uncle, the great British civil libertarian Samuel Romilly, who expired in Roget's blood-soaked arms.
Roget himself turned out humorless and judgmental, beset with a "paranoid streak" as well as melancholy and shyness, not to mention a horror of "dirt and disorder" - the Thesaurus entry for "uncleanness" is a lollapalooza. So one can scarcely be surprised by the refuge he seems to have taken in workaholism and an assortment of small compulsions, including his "obsession with counting." ("I every day go up at least 320 steps.") He took particular pleasure in an ability to control the movements of the iris in his own eye.
So the former British prime minister is seeking to replay the original music. The way forward, he argues, is not to try to cut a deal on an agreement first: "For the Palestinian state to succeed, you need to start getting the reality of that state on the ground before political negotiations can be meaningful. The state is not about an agreement, but about Palestinian capabilities in handling security and their economy."
The United Malays National Organization members were demanding that the newly installed Penang government retain affirmative action policies for the majority Malays, a police officer said on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to make public statements.
The Ramoche monks intended to protest the rough treatment of monks who had marched earlier in the week, according to a Tibetan activist in the United States who has communicated with people in Lhasa.
When police officers began beating the monks, ordinary Tibetans rioted in the Barkhor area, the activist said. Angry mobs set fire to a police car and a store owned by a Chinese shopkeeper, the activist said.
But a Chinese travel agent in Lhasa, reached by telephone, said Tibetans had instigated the violence and set fire to an empty tour bus parked outside the Ramoche Temple. Another Chinese resident described 50 or 60 young Tibetans burning stores owned by Chinese merchants as well as two fire trucks and two police cars.
"I saw someone who was dead and covered in a sheet," the Chinese resident said in a telephone interview. "The Tromsikhang market was destroyed, except for the shops owned by Tibetans. I heard a soldier shouting, 'Please go home and stop fighting!' "
BAA, the airport operator, promised speedier check-in and rapid passage through security controls, but one feature of the gleaming new steel-and-glass terminal seemed unchanged from its predecessors: With 112 retail outlets, including Fortnum & Mason and Cartier, Terminal Five will be as much a temple of consumption as a place to board airplanes.