Photo courtesy of The Wall Street Journal. IAEA candidates Yukiya Amano (left) and Abdul Minty (right) are deadlocked in a close race.
On this Thursday, March 26 the DOW closed up 174.74 points, the NASDAQ up 58.05, and the S&P up 18.98 .
The Senate Budget Committee is now debating amendments for next years budget. Senate Democrats are proposing a plan that calls for narrower deficits than proposed by the White House. Differences within the Democratic party are also emerging on hot button issues such as healthcare and the environment.
The debate is back dropped by an increasingly contracting national economy. According to government data, U.S. corporate profits have shrunk by $120 billion in the fourth quarter, and jobless claims expanded by 625,000 last week.
As the United States commences on its costly withdrawal from Iraq, insurgents view this as an opportunity to expose the vulnerabilities of the Iraqi government. Recently, Iraq has experienced a series of strikes, including a car bomb today killing 16 in a market in northern Baghdad.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is apparently split on its choice for Mohammad El-Baradei’s successor. The U.S. and its allies support the Japanese Yukiya Amano, while non-aligned states support the South African abdul Minty According to this Wall Street Journal article, Iran is likely to exploit this riff to gain more support for its nuclear program.
The Christian Science Monitor is reporting that the Obama administration is overhauling the Afghanistan operation with similar tactics that saved Iraq. The strategy is planked with not a only a troop surge, but with the emphasis on securing populations and establishing rule of law and good government as a deterrent to the Taliban who have used and brutalized the population to stage terror attacks, cultivate and control a lucrative opium trade, and exercise their base of political power.
But with the intensive use of newly introduced counterinsurgency tactics, the administration is continuing its use of predator drone attacks against militants on the Afpak border.
President Obama telephoned the Afghan President (Hamid Karzai) to share his new policy.
U.S. , Japanese, and South Korean envoys are expected to have urgent talks about the North Korean nuclear program. Pyongyang has moved a missile to a launch site in the eastern part of the country for testing.
Elsewhere on the Asian military front, China is telling Washington to tone down the rhetoric about the country’s ambitions. An annual report from the Pentagon suggests that China is insulating its offshore areas in order to improve its nuclear, space, and cyber warfare technology.
Somalian pirates are at it again, siezing a 23,000 ton Norwegian chemical tanker within the same 24 hour period they siezed a Greek owned chemical tanker.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is also continuing his persistence in defying a warrant from the International Criminal Court. A day after visiting ally Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, he was welcomed warmly Sirtre, east of Tripoli, home to Lybia’s dictator Muammar Ghadhafi.
The United Kingdom will start investigating allegations of overseas torture of terror suspects. The investigation stems from charges that suspected terrorist Binyam Mohamed, a British citizen captured in Pakistan, was brought to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and tortured by American interrogators. Mohamed claims that the interrogators were supplied questions by British intelligence officials.
The Word Bank’s private arm, the International Financial group, will lend $450 to Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador for short term financing as the developing Latin American nations continue to deal with the global financial crisis.
Ecuador’s response to the crisis has been notably protectionist, imposing tariffs on imports in order subsidize domestic markets.