Gold and silver prices dropped today, while the dollar rised. “Other commodities traded mixed, with crude oil rising near $108 a barrel and agriculture futures mostly retreating,” according to the Associated Press.
At the second annual Capital Markets Summit yesterday, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson stated that the Bush administration will move to provide more federal oversight for Wall Street investment houses seeking Federal Reserve emergency funding.
The cost of grain is rising worldwide, according to The Christian Science Monitor, and governments and aid groups are struggling to keep up. “The skyrocketing prices have prompted millers to default on rice supply contracts and bandits to steal rice as they aim to hoard the crop, and sell it later,” reports The Monitor.
Despite skyrocketing global costs of grain, and increasing U.S. debt, “it appears that farmers, at least so far, have succeeded in stopping the strongest effort in years to shrink the government safety net that doles out billions of dollars to them each year,” The Wall Street Journal writes.
The deal for private equity firms Bain Capital and Thomas H Lee to buy Clear Channel for $19 billion fell through yesterday, as the firms "filed suits accusing their banks of reneging on financing commitments," the Financial Times reports.
Oracle tumbled over 8 percent in premarket trading due to a “weaker-than-expected forecast for the current fourth quarter” and the the fact that it fell "short on sales,” reports Investor’s Business Daily.
The New York Times reveals the questionable standards used by America in choosing the weapons provided to the Afghan military and police forces. According to the Times, the company AEY Inc., which was has been the main supplier of arms to the Afghans in their fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban, has provided “ammunition that is more than 40 years old and in decomposing packaging,” a great deal of which was possibly illegally procured from China.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said he would continue fighting the Shiite milita “to the end," amid calls for his resignation and massive demonstrations throughout Iraq, Canada’s National Post reports. Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi army held on to much of Basra and violence has extended throughout southern Iraq and Baghdad. Over 130 people have died during the government’s offensive that began Tuesday.
Fearing that Pakistan’s new government will not be as permissive as President Pervez Musharraf was in allowing U.S. forces to conduct operations on Pakistan’s northern border with Afghanistan, America “has escalated its unilateral strikes against al-Qaeda members and fighters operating in Pakistan's tribal areas,” The Washington Post reports.
China admitted about two dozen journalists into Lhasa for a three-day escorted trip yesterday, after foreign journalists were expelled during the recent violence. But according to the BBC, protesting Tibetan monks “disrupted” the journalists' tour of the Jokhang Temple.
Yesterday, the Justice Department charged that three House Democrats, two of whom are still congressmen, visited Iraq in 2002 on a trip that was financed and organized by “Saddam Hussein's principal foreign intelligence agency and an Iraqi spy living in the United States,” according to the International Herald Tribune. However, Dean Boyd, a Justice Department spokesman, claims there is no information indicating the congressmen were “aware of the involvement of the Iraqi Intelligence Service."
In what will probably be the final meeting between the two, President Vladimir Putin and President Bush will confer next week in Russia. The International Herald Tribune writes that the meeting signals “an effort to avoid a public clash over NATO and missile defenses when Bush travels to Europe next week.”
North Korea expelled all South Korean officials from its country today after new South Korean president Lee Myung-bak said “his government would not expand economic cooperation with North Korea unless it cooperated in dismantling its nuclear weapons programs,” according to The New York Times.
In the first major foreign policy speech of his campaign, John McCain distanced himself from President Bush by saying American strength “does not mean we can do whatever we want, whenever we want." The Los Angeles Times states that McCain needs to appeal to independents and moderates in the upcoming general campaign for the presidency.
According to Census Bureau estimates due to be released today, Americans are continuing to move to the country's Sun Belt. Four Texas metropolitan areas are among the nation's top 10 largest population-gainers. “Experts credit much of the growth in the South to relatively strong local economies and housing prices that are among the most affordable in the U.S.,” according to CBS News.
“An American married man, who used to be a woman before having gender reassignment surgery, has sparked shock and disbelief after claiming to be five months pregnant with a baby girl,” The Guardian reports.
A nationwide study released today by the Girl Scouts of the USA claims that “a majority of children and youths in the United States have little or no interest with achieving leadership roles when they become adults.”
At the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio President Bush ridiculed Congress for calling for troop withdrawals in Iraq. Bush said “some members of Congress decided the best way to encourage progress in Baghdad was to criticize and threaten Iraq's leaders while they're trying to work out their differences," reports the Associated Press.
The Food and Drug Administration today announced that it would investigate a potential link between Merck’s top-selling drug, Singulair, and suicidal behavior in adults and children, Reuters reports. It will take up to nine months to finish the review, according to the FDA.