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Fri, 02 Jun 2023
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Stocks: Worst Drop of the Year Amid Libya Turmoil

stock chart
© n/a
Libya's escalating political crisis sparked a sharp sell-off in U.S. stocks Tuesday, with the three major indexes posting their biggest one-day drops of the year, as oil prices continued to skyrocket.

Ongoing weakness in the housing market also added pressure after a report showed that national home prices fell 4.1% during the fourth quarter of 2010.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) sank 178 points, or 1.4%. That was its worst decline since November. Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune 500) was one of the biggest losers on the Dow, with shares down 3% after the retailer reported disappointing U.S. sales figures.

The S&P 500 (SPX) dropped 28 points, or 2.1%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq (COMP) shed 78 points, or 2.7%. Those were the biggest drops since August for both indexes.

The CBOE volatility index (VIX), which is known as the VIX and is used to gauge fear in the market,jumped almost 30% Tuesday.

Heart - Black

Iraq's War Disfigured Babies

© unknown
The scene of malformed newborns has become common for doctors and nurses across Iraq.
Baghdad - In new Iraq, women like Leila Omar Wassin are heart-broken giving birth to babies born malformed because of the deadly substances years of war have sown in their bodies.

"My first baby died after he was born without legs and the second one died few days ago because his spinal cord was exposed and his head was too big," the 36-old woman told IslamOnline.net.

Wassim is one of the victims of the massive bombing of Fallujah in 2004, when the US army admittedly used depleted uranium munitions, which contain low-level radioactive waste.

Doctors told Wassim the restricted weapon sowed her body with lethal material that caused her children's birth defects and the subsequent deaths.

"If I knew my body was sick, I wouldn't have tried to bring a new life to the world."


UK: £1,000 Fine If You Refuse to Answer Census Questions

Britain's biggest Census which will quiz people on who stays overnight and about civil partnerships came under fire from critics of state snooping yesterday.

They attacked organisers of the £482million survey for wasting time and money as an advertising drive was launched in the run-up to Census day on March 27.

For the first time the Census includes questions about civil partnerships, second homes and when migrants arrived and intend to leave.

Householders must also name guests, such as boyfriends and girlfriends who stay the night of March 27, including their age, sex and usual address.


John Wheeler: Life After Death

© Slate
John Wheeler

John Wheeler was found in a Delaware landfill on New Year's Eve. His widow discusses Wheeler's life, his death, and her frustration with the investigation.

The last time Katherine Klyce saw her husband, John Wheeler, she was mad at him. It was the day after Christmas, and she was looking forward to a relaxing few days at home in New York City. "I like the week between Christmas and New Year's because you can lie around and go to the movies," said Klyce. But Wheeler said he had to go to Washington, where he'd held numerous posts in the Reagan and both Bush administrations, and where he currently worked for a defense technology firm. Klyce was upset, but she didn't sense anything wrong. "He seemed just like Jack."

Nor was it a surprise when she didn't hear from him for a few days. Wheeler and Klyce, his second wife, had homes in New York City and New Castle, Del. Wheeler traveled a lot for work, so they weren't always in the same place at the same time. Klyce tried to call Wheeler a couple of times in the days after Christmas, but the calls went straight to voice mail. "That just made me madder," she said. They had plans to attend a cousin's wedding in Cambridge on New Year's Eve. When she couldn't reach her husband, Klyce went to the wedding without him.

Arrow Down

Census Estimates Show 1 in 4 US Counties Are Dying

© Jon C. Hancock/AP Photo
A coal truck drives through an railroad tressel near downtown Welch, W.Va., Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011. Coal brought a large population to the McDowell County in the 1940's. Now the population is shrinking and the county suffers from unemployment and poverty.
Welch, West Virginia - Nestled within America's once-thriving coal country, 87-year-old Ed Shepard laments a prosperous era gone by, when shoppers lined the streets and government lent a helping hand. Now, here as in one-fourth of all U.S. counties, West Virginia's graying residents are slowly dying off.

Hit by an aging population and a poor economy, a near-record number of U.S. counties are experiencing more deaths than births in their communities, a phenomenon demographers call "natural decrease."

Years in the making, the problem is spreading amid a prolonged job slump and a push by Republicans in Congress to downsize government and federal spending.

Local businesses in Welch began to shutter after U.S. Steel departed McDowell County, which sits near Interstate 77, once referred to as the "Hillbilly Highway" because it promised a way to jobs in the South. Young adults who manage to attend college - the high-school dropout rate is 28 percent, compared with about 8 percent nationwide - can't wait to leave. For some reason, the fish in nearby Elkhorn Creek left too.

"There's no reason for you to come to Welch," says Shepard, wearing a Union 76 cap at a makeshift auto shop he still runs after six decades. "This is nothing but a damn ghost town in a welfare county."


Four American Hostages Killed by Somali Pirates

U.S. general expresses 'our deepest condolences for the innocent lives callously lost' aboard the yacht

Four Americans captured by Somali pirates while sailing in the Indian Ocean have been shot and killed, NBC News reported Tuesday.

The two couples, Phyllis Macay, 59, and Robert Riggle, 67, of Seattle, and the yacht's owners, Jean and Scott Adam of Marina del Rey, California, were on an around-the-world sailing trip when they were captured by pirates Friday.

Military officials told NBC News that about 1 a.m. ET shots were heard aboard the yacht, called Quest. Negotiations had been under way with the pirates at the time.

The officials said U.S. military personnel boarded the yacht and discovered all four hostages had been shot by their captors.

Heart - Black

USA: FDA knew of problems with Triad's tainted alcohol wipes

© Shawn Poynter/MSNBC.com
Joe and Jan Postich stand on the front porch of their home in Madisonville, Tenn. The pair have filed a $30 million lawsuit against Triad Group Inc. and Genentech Inc., claiming the firms manufactured and distributed contaminated alcohol prep pads that sickened Joe Postich. The 55-year-old ironwoker had to have open-heart surgery after contracting an infection from the same rare bacteria that led to the recall of millions of Triad alcohol prep products.
The death of a 2-year-old Houston boy from a rare infection blamed on contaminated alcohol wipes may be only the first casualty tied to allegedly shoddy sterilization practices by a Wisconsin medical products firm.

Since msnbc.com reported Feb. 15 about the death of Harrison Kothari , who was infected with the same type of rare bacteria that sparked the recall of tens of millions of pads and swabs, dozens of people have stepped forward to say they may have been sickened, too.

At the same time, government documents obtained by msnbc.com showed that federal Food and Drug Administration inspectors knew about problems with contamination and sterilization at a plant run by the Triad Group of Hartland, Wis., as early as July 2009.

"Procedures designed to prevent microbiological contamination of drug products purporting to be sterile are not followed," officials wrote in inspection reports. But there's no record that the FDA sent warning letters typically used to force firms to comply.

Perdue said he is hearing from at least 15 people a day who are reporting infections tied to Triad alcohol prep products. Other cases are likely to go unreported because doctors are unlikely to test for the type of bacteria behind many infections.

"Unless it's cultured, they never know it's this Bacillus cereus," he said.


Hondurans face big fines for smoking at home

© Edgard Garrido / Reuters
A "No Smoking" sign at a shopping center in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
Lighting up a cigarette at home could bring a visit from Honduran police if a family member or even a visitor complains about secondhand smoke.

A new law that took effect Monday banning smoking in most public and private spaces doesn't actually outlaw cigarettes inside homes, but it does have a provision allowing people to file complaints about secondhand smoke in homes.

Violations would bring a verbal warning on the first offense. After that could come arrest and a $311 fine - the equivalent of the monthly minimum wage in this Central American country.

Even some anti-smoking advocates suspect that part of the law may not work.

"It seems its intention is to educate by way of complaints, a move that I do not find very feasible," said Armando Peruga, a program manager at the World Health Organization's Tobacco-Free Initiative.

He did praise Honduras for adopting a broad anti-smoking law, noting it is only the 29th nation to adopt such a law out of WHO's 193 member states.

But Peruga said the clause allowing family members to call police on their smoker relatives is confusing. The clause "does not make much sense since the law clearly does not prohibit smoking at homes."

Che Guevara

Ivory Coast crisis intensifies as international banksters pull plug on economy

© Emanuel Ekra/AP
Cocoa growers protest against the export ban imposed on Ivory Coast following the disputed election
Banks with half of civil servants' accounts close down and cocoa farmers burn crop in protest against Laurent Gbagbo

Ivory Coast's largest bank has shut down, joining other international banks pulling out as the country faces an international embargo over incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo's refusal to concede that Alassane Ouattara won elections in November.

Hundreds of growers in what is the world's largest cocoa exporting country burned some sacks of their beans in symbolic protest, saying that the embargo was denying them their livelihood.

Together, the banks halting operations this week control more than half of Ivorian civil servants' accounts, and will prevent many receiving salaries. French bank Société Générale announced it was shutting its subsidiary SGBCI, after Britain's Standard Chartered, France's BNP-Paribas and America's Citibank said they were suspending operations, prompting lines of people outside branches trying to withdraw savings.

Che Guevara

Ivory Coast protesters killed as they call for president Laurent Gbagbo to step down

© Stefan Meisel
Laurent Gbagbo (center)
Security forces react violently in support of loser of last election who will not cede power, as African leaders form a panel to try to broker peace

Ivorian troops have killed at least six protesters who were calling on Laurent Gbagbo to step down as leader, witnesses say, as African presidents charged with resolving Ivory Coast's crisis arrived in Abidjan.

A dispute over the presidential election in November paralysed the country and led to the deaths of about 300 people.

The election, meant to bring stability after a decade of economic and political stagnation in the world's biggest cocoa-producing country, instead left it as divided as ever and its economy in disarray.

Alassane Ouattara is recognised internationally as the victor, but Gbagbo has refused to cede power.