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After many years of increasing borrowing and at least thirteen months of evidence of an impending catastrophe, American financial institutions faced the worst credit crisis since the Great Depression. “The world,” explained Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, “no longer has the capacity to absorb fake U.S. dollars.”EconomistThe Wall Street JournalBloombergGlobal stock markets lost $3.1 trillion in four days, and American International Group (AIG), the world’s biggest insurance company and a leader in the $62 trillion credit-default swap market, was nearly bankrupted. “The private market has screwed itself up,” said Representative Barney Frank (D., Mass.), “and they need the government to come help them unscrew it.” The Federal Reserve loaned AIG $85 billion at 11 percent interest and took control of the company, which was founded in China in 1919 and driven out thirty years later by Mao. AIG was replaced in the Dow Jones Industrial Average by Kraft, the makers of Cheez Whiz. Der SpiegelThe New York TimesThe New York TimesDer SpiegelBoston GlobeCNNBloombergCentral banks poured hundreds of billions of dollars into the market, and the Securities and Exchange Commission temporarily banned the short-selling of 799 financial-institution stocks. The Bush Administration announced that it had a plan.BBCDer SpiegelThe Los Angeles TimesBloombergSECThe International Herald TribuneThe Washington Post“My first instinct,” said President George W. Bush, “was to let the market work, until I realized, being briefed by expertsâ?Š It turns out that there’s a lot of interlinks through the financial system.” The Bush Administration’s three-page draft bill would permit the Treasury Department to buy up to $700 billionâ??$2,000 per Americanâ??in bad, mortgage-related debt, and would exempt the Treasury from administrative supervision, from legal challenges by any court, and from rules pertaining to government contracts. BloombergThe Wall Street JournalThe Los Angeles TimesThe Washington PostPoliticoBloombergThe New York TimesFinance industry lobbyists tried to stop lawmakers from limiting executive salaries at bailed-out companies, and fought to get their companies hired to control the assets that the Treasury will oversee.The New York TimesThe Wall Street JournalMorgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, the two remaining major U.S. investment banks, transformed themselves into traditional commercial banks, and a Lehman Brothers Fire Safety Team trucker hat sold on eBay for $84. “Lehman,” said Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, “rest in peace.” The Washington PostReutersBloombergeBayThe Wall Street JournalBloomberg
The Marriott Hotel in Islamabad,Pakistan, was destroyed by a huge truck bomb, killing at least 53 people and wounding at least 266.The Washington PostThe Christian Science MonitorBBCAP via YahooThe New York TimesTwo car bombs near the U.S. embassy in Sana, Yemen, killed 17 people, including Susan Elbaneh, a high school senior from Lackawanna, N.Y., who had a cousin allegedly in Al Qaeda. Elbaneh had recently entered into an arranged marriage with a Yemeni man, who was also killed in the attack. AP via Detroit Free PressAP via Star-TribuneThe Christian Science MonitorThe Los Angeles TimesThe New York TimesWaPoOil facilities and pipelines in Nigeria were attacked by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), which declared that it would “continue to nibble every day at the oil infrastructure in Nigeria until the oil exports reach zero.”The New York TimesThe New York TimesA truck carrying 20 tons of money from the Philadelphia Mint to the U.S. Treasury in Miami crashed, killing one passenger and spilling 3.7 million nickels onto I-95. “It’s shiny,” said Florida Highway Patrol trooper Kim Miller.Philadelphia InquirerWFTVMiami Herald
The presidential candidates scrambled to blame each other for the financial crisis and to clarify their positions on the proposed recovery plan; John McCain said that if he were president, he’d fire the chairman of the SEC, who is not technically under presidential jurisdiction.The New York TimesThe Washington PostThe Washington PostCNNPoliticoThe Wall Street JournalABCThe wife of international banker Sir Evelyn de Rothschild endorsed McCain for president because she finds Barack Obama to be an elitist.CNNReporters traveling on McCain’s Straight Talk Air, who had not had time with the candidate for over a month, staged a protest. “Bring Mac back!” they chanted, in the coach cabin of the plane. “Bring Mac back!”PoliticoAt a Ford factory in Macomb County, Michigan, Senator Joe Biden jumped in a red Mustang convertible and revved the engine. “I like muscle cars,” he said, as factory workers whooped. “I tell you, man, this is nice.” NewsweekThe New York TimesFormer Justice Department terrorism prosecutor Ed Oâ??Callaghan tried to stall a pending ethics inquiry into Alaska Governor Sarah Palin‘s firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan, BloombergBBCABCAnchorage Daily NewsTPMNewsweekAP via Detroit Free Pressand Vice President Dick Cheney watched a reenactment of the Battle of Chickamauga, the second-bloodiest battle of the Civil War, in which his great-great-grandfather fought for the losing Union side. Atlanta Journal-CourierIn parts of Texas hit by Hurricane Ike, an estimated 20,000 cows and horses roamed free. Four thousand cows had been found dead, and officials thought that many more would never be found. “They’re being eaten,” said Texas AgriLife Extension Service spokeswoman Kathleen Phillips, “by alligators.” AP via Star-Telegram
More from Sam Stark:
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in Californiaâs ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as âinvasive,â âexotic,â âalienâ â all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as âindigenously Californianâ elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a âhome without its mother.â Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the âworldâs biggest selfies,â and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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âShelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.â