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U.S. to make antitrust policy tougher: report
Mon May 11, 2009 3:10am EDT

(Reuters) – The U.S. government plans to reverse its antitrust policy and put more pressure on companies eyeing bigger market share through their dominance, the New York Times reported on its website.

The changed policy will be a reversal from that of the Bush administration, during which not a single case against a dominant firm was lodged for violating the antimonopoly law, the paper said.




Antitrust policy has rich history

Sunday, May 17, 2009

WASHINGTON — From busting up John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Trust in 1911 to going after Microsoft’s use of its Windows monopoly, antitrust policy has been an important element of the U.S. regulatory landscape.

Now, in tough times, the Obama administration is swinging back the pendulum, maintaining that lax enforcement in the past decade has worsened economic woes and hurt consumers by failing to protect business competition.




Antitrust’s next frontier?
Fri May 15, 2009 4:10pm EDT

By Cecile Kohrs Lindell

Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney, who heads the merger review operation at the Justice Department, gave notice to corporations May 11 that the government will vigorously use antitrust law to restore balance in “distorted” markets.

[ . . . ]

Varney, however, may be stepping into a minefield if she makes a serious effort to invigorate antitrust oversight of the banking industry. Banking has generally enjoyed a hands-off relationship with antitrust regulators. Although the Department of Justice conducts obligatory merger reviews, the agency typically accedes to federal banking regulators regarding bank mergers.



TARP rescues insurers as markets fall
Published May 15, 2009 at 5:20 PM

Six insurers have been given the green light to receive money from the Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program. But not all of those insurers are sure they’ll take the money. One insurer that will is Hartford Financial Services Corp. (NYSE:HIG), which initially shot up on the news but finished in the red following the market’s negative close on Friday. Overall, the Dow dropped 62.68, or 0.75%, to 8,268.64, while the Nasdaq fell 9.07, or 0.54%, to 1,680.14

Hartford closed down 15 cents, or 1.02%, to $14.60 as it expects to receive $3.4 billion in capital from the government. Meanwhile, fellow insurer Ameriprise Financial Inc. (NYSE:AMP) said Friday afternoon that it is declining the TARP money. Ameriprise shares end up 11 cents, or 0.44%, to $25.17. And Prudential Financial Inc. (NYSE:PRU) is still uncertain whether it will accept the government funds, according to The Washington Post. Prudential closed down $1.62, or 4.11%, at $37.75. The other three insurers that have been given the OK to receive TARP money are Prudential Financial, Allstate Corp. (NYSE:ALL) and Principal Financial Group Inc. (NYSE:PFG).




Excerpt from another important Reuters article  – May 11, 2009

The financial safety net, especially those parts that were more implicit and perceived than explicit and written into the laws, played a significant role in the accumulation of risks that ultimately led to the turmoil we are still experiencing,  said Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey Lacker.


Fed’s Lacker: Government safety net encouraged financial risk
Mon May 11, 2009 12:40am EDT


Statue of Liberty’s crown to re-open July 4

* Access to the crown will be limited to 10 people at a time, guided by a ranger


The Statue of Liberty will be open for the next two years, then closed again for  work on a long-term solution that will improve safety and security permanently,  according to the U.S. Department of the Interior.

A gift from France to the United States, the Statue of Liberty was dedicated in 1886, designated as a National Monument in 1924 and restored for its centennial on July 4, 1986.



World swine flu cases pass 5,000 mark

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

THE number of worldwide swine flu cases passed 5,000, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), as the virus spread to three more countries in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

And swine flu is likely to spread around the world in the next few months and infect one-third of the global population, according to the first detailed analysis of the spread of the virus published by British scientists yesterday.

[ . . . ]

The highest number of cases has been reported in the United States with 2,600 infections, including three deaths, and Mexico with 2,059 cases, including 56 deaths.

The global total stood at 5,251, the latest data posted on the WHO website showed.


This story appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Wednesday, May 13, 2009



Expenses Scandal in UK catches nearly all political leaders padding their pockets – (follow the money)

Expenses row: Worst offenders are exposed

Published Date: 14 May 2009
A FORMER Labour minister was last night accused of the most serious abuse of MPs’ expenses to date when it emerged that he claimed almost £16,000 for a non-existent mortgage.
In what the newspaper which leaked the details claimed was “the most serious” expenses disclosure so far, it was reported that Elliot Morley, now a senior backbencher in charge of a Commons select committee, claimed £800 a month in mortgage interest repayments for 18 months after paying off the original loan.

[a lot of details are found throughout this article – amazing overview]


More News

The Gospel according to Twitter



Jamaica’s top bauxite and alumina producer closes

Fri May 15, 2009 2:05pm EDT


my note – it says they will close for a year, lay-off 900 workers and get the plant ready for future production. Isn’t that special . . .


Evidence based medicine often delayed
Published: May 11, 2009 at 1:47 AM

HOUSTON, May 11 (UPI) — A great deal of medical research is conducted but it takes an average of 17 years for research to get into practice, two U.S. researchers said.

[ . . . ]

Petersen and Naik write in a Perspective in the current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine on studies in the early 1990s that showed using a balloon technique to open clogged coronary arteries in the heart after a heart attack, worked better than treatment with clot-busting drugs. Yet, 10 years after the first publication of these studies, less than one-third of hospitals were providing the balloon technique.

We expect doctors and healthcare providers to know what is the right thing and then to put it into action. We know that is not happening,  Petersen said.



Germany’s Schott opens new U.S. solar facility
Mon May 11, 2009 2:10am EDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Schott Solar, seeking to capture a big chunk of the U.S. solar market, will unveil a new U.S. facility on Monday that will produce both solar thermal and photovoltaic solar components.

The unit of privately held German glass maker Schott AG said its Albuquerque, New Mexico facility employs 300 workers and will be up to 350 staff by the end of the year.

The plant will produce traditional crystalline-silicon photovoltaic (PV) modules, which transform sunlight into electricity, as well as receivers for solar thermal power plants that convert the sun’s heat into energy.

In a solar thermal power plant, the sun’s rays heat a fluid housed in a long glass tube called a receiver. The hot fluid is then used to generate steam that turns a turbine.




Austria to quit CERN particle physics laboratory
Fri May 8, 2009 7:11am EDT

VIENNA (Reuters) – Austria plans to pull out of the international particle physics laboratory CERN because its share of the high cost is eating up too much of the country’s budget for international research.

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) has created the biggest machine ever — a particle collider under the French-Swiss border outside Geneva which aims to recreate the conditions of the  Big Bang,  the origin of the universe.

It has so far cost some 10 billion Swiss francs ($9 billion) to build, but had to be shut it down in September only nine days after starting up because of technical problems.






To coincide with the launch of the film Angels&Demons CERN has launched a website to explain some of the science behind the plot. Don’t know your antimatter from your God particle? Check out the site: http://angelsanddemons.cern.ch/

Final LHC magnet goes underground

asdGeneva, 30 April 2009. The 53rd and final replacement magnet for CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was lowered into the accelerator’s tunnel today, marking the end of repair work above ground following the incident in September last year that brought LHC operations to a halt.

» Read the press release


UPDATE 4-Venezuela’s Chavez seizes U.S. food giant unit

Wed Mar 4, 2009 11:07pm EST

CARACAS, March 4 (Reuters) – President Hugo Chavez seized a unit of American food giant Cargill on Wednesday and threatened to take over Venezuela’s largest private company, renewing a nationalization drive as the OPEC nation’s oil income plunges.

Chavez’s clash with the food companies, demanding they produce cheaper rice, came less than three weeks after he won a referendum on allowing him to run for reelection and marked his first nationalization in seven months.

[ . . . ]

Chavez, an ally of communist Cuba, recently seized some rice mills belonging to Polar, Venezuela’s largest private business, after accusing the food industry of skirting his price controls and failing to produce enough cheap rice.

[ . . . ]

“Cargill expects the opportunity to clarify the situation with the government and is respectful of the Venezuelan government decision,” Klein said. “The rice mill was designed exclusively to manufacture parboiled rice, which the company has done at this site for the last 7 years and elsewhere in the country for 13 years.”

[ . . . ]

Venezuelan shoppers have faced shortages of white rice sold at a low government-set price in recent weeks, while stores have ample supplies of parboiled rice which is not subject to price controls.

Venezuela’s rice millers association blames the shortages on insufficient supplies of the grain, while the government says the mills are deliberately producing small quantities of white rice to skirt price controls.



With 2009 being declared the Year of Creativity and Innovation by the European Union, the 20th anniversary of the Web serves as a timely reminder of the powerful role that creativity in basic research plays as a driver of innovation. I hope you enjoy the celebration.

Rolf Heuer
CERN Director-General