Sunday, 16 March 2008

Saturday, 15th March 2008


The Conservative prime minister, Sir Robert Peel, without seeking the approval of either cabinet or Parliament, authorized the banker Sir Thomas Baring to secretly buy £100,000 of American maize for shipment to Ireland. But before any official relief program could proceed there was a political obstacle to overcome: Britain's Corn Laws, which imposed exorbitant duties on imported grain to ensure that it could never be cheaper than homegrown produce.
To Peel it was obvious that the Corn Laws would have to go, but his electorate of large landowners was vehemently opposed to their abolition. Peel drew heavily on the news from Ireland as he urged Parliament to vote for abolition:
"Are you to sit in cabinet, and consider and calculate how much diarrhea, and bloody flux, and dysentery, a people can bear before it becomes necessary for you to provide them with food?"
The bill abolishing the Corn Laws was passed in May 1846 in the House of Commons, with two-thirds of Peel's party voting against it and the entire opposition voting in favor. A month later, Peel was out of office.
As it turned out, far from Britain being flooded with cheap wheat, within weeks of the abolition the price of grain had reached heights rarely seen before.


Colin Powell, the secretary of state and a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he was never asked for advice [about an order formally dissolving Iraq's army], and was in Paris when the May 22 meeting was held.
Powell, who views the decree as a major blunder, later asked Condoleezza Rice, who was serving as Bush's national security adviser, for an explanation.
"I talked to Rice and said, 'Condi, what happened?' " he recalled. "And her reaction was: 'I was surprised too, but it is a decision that has been made and the president is standing behind Jerry's decision. Jerry is the guy on the ground.' And there was no further debate about it."


“Modern monetary policy-making puts a lot of weight on rules, but there is no rule book for an economic crisis,” said Douglas W. Elmendorf, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former Fed economist.

  • The firearms-homicide rate of about 3.42 per 100,000 citizens is the highest of any industrialized country. It is about 100-fold the gun-homicide rate in Britain or Japan; only violence-prone developing nations like Colombia have a higher rate.
  • Last year, more children died from gunfire than from cancer and HIV/AIDS combined; the firearms death rate for kids under 15 is 12 times more than the 25 other largest industrialized countries combined, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • The United States has the highest concentration of gun ownership in the world, 283 million guns - a third of them handguns - owned by about a third of the citizenry.


Ava Xi’an sells real estate on Long Island, and turned to selling herself when her father, who lacks health insurance, needed heart surgery. She started with how-to books from, raised her rate upon realizing it might make men treat her better, and is currently on a $45,000 weeklong “date.”
And Sally Anderson, an unapologetic feminist who advertises herself as a dominatrix with a holistic approach to pain, is available evenings after her day job at a graphic design firm, willing to travel to Boston, Baltimore or Los Angeles for the right price.


Muslims ruled much of Spain for centuries, but after they were vanquished in the 1400s, their mosques were either left to ruin or converted into churches. Since then, fewer than a dozen new mosques have been built to serve Spain's Muslim population, which has grown in the past 10 years to about a million from about 50,000 as immigrants have poured into the country.

"A process that took 30 years in Italy or France has taken 10 years in Spain."
Lleida is a case in point: The city, whose 13th-century cathedral looms from a fortified hilltop over plains that produce half of Spain's pears and apples, has drawn a flood of immigrants. They now make up nearly 20 percent of the city's 125,000 residents, compared with 4 percent in 2000. A quarter of them are from Muslim countries.

"People are realizing the world has changed, and they can't look the other way," said Mohammed Chaib, a member of the Catalan parliament and the only Muslim lawmaker in Spain.

KIEV, Ukraine
A Ukrainian court has convicted three former police officers of killing an investigative journalist nearly eight years ago.
Journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, who crusaded against official corruption, was killed in 2000 and his beheaded body was found in a forest outside Kiev. His head has not been found.
Former officer Mykola Protasov was sentenced Saturday to 13 years in jail. Valeriy Kostenko and Oleksandr Popovych each received 12-year sentences.


An explosion at a restaurant frequented by foreigners here in the Pakistani capital on Saturday night killed at least one person and wounded 11 others, including 5 Americans, the police said.
The restaurant, Luna Caprese, in a popular shopping area and one of the few places in the capital that serves alcohol, was packed with foreigners when the bomb exploded shortly after 8:30 p.m. at the peak of the dining hour. The police said the bomb went off in the garden where patrons were dining in warm spring weather.
A Turkish woman was killed, the police said, and the wounded included a Japanese, a Canadian, a Briton and three Pakistanis, according to the hospital where they were taken.
The attack, the first aimed at the international community in Pakistan in more than a year, occurred after more than a dozen suicide bombings against Pakistani government security installations in the last three months.


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