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Friday, July 20, 2012

Eurozone: It Gets Worse

Sentiment took a dive in Europe today, even after the German parliament approved a bailout package to rescue Spanish banks. It wasn’t enough, as the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy predicted a second year of recession and the country’s Valencia province said it would ask the central government for help. Italian PM Mario Monti then blamed Spain for the rising cost of borrowing, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that she wouldn’t be against Greece leaving the Eurozone. As if this weren’t enough, the European Central Bank told Greece it would not accept its bonds as collateral for cheap loans anymore, at least until its next bailout review. This will force the Greek government to borrow money from its own central bank at higher rates. The euro fell to its lowest in two years against the dollar.

Syria: Rebels Gain Ground

Fighting continued in Damascus today as president Bashar al-Assad’s intelligence chief died of his wounds: he is the fourth victim of Wednesday’s suicide bombing, which already killed three of Assad’s closest aides. Rebels have taken control of some of Damascus’ neighborhoods and other towns, as well as frontier crossings to Turkey and Iraq, dealing the Syrian forces a serious blow. Even still, Assad denied rumors that he may be ready to step down. International leaders strongly condemned the Syrian military’s assaults in speeches that are unlikely to carry much weight without a mechanism to stop the violence. Despite not reaching an understanding on sanctions yesterday, the United Nations agreed to extend Kofi Annan’s mission by 30 days, which will be just enough to prepare for departure. It is estimated that between 8,500 and 30,000 people fled the capital and headed to Lebanon in the past 48 hours.

12 Dead in Colorado Shooting

Twelve people were killed and 59 were injured as a gunman shot at a crowd of movie-goers in a theater near Denver, Colorado last night, while they watched The Dark Knight Rises, the latest installment of the Batman franchise. The suspect, a 24-year-old man, was arrested near his car moments later, dressed in full body armor. He had set up explosive devices in his apartment, which the police later searched, causing his building to be evacuated. The incident rekindled the debate on gun laws as New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg called on president Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to consider tighter control. Obama cut short his campaign trip to Florida and both he and Romney said they’d pull television campaign adverts from Colorado.

Obama Has More Money than Romney

The Federal Election Commission said today President Obama raised more money than U.S. Republican candidate Mitt Romney in June. Obama brought in $45.9 million to Romney’s $33 million, for a total raised so far of $307 million for the president and $156 for his rival. The contestants entered June with $97.5 million and $22.5 million in the bank, respectively. Combining those numbers with those of their parties, however, the trend is reversed: Democrats raised $71 million last month, while Republicans received $106 million, winning the money race for the second consecutive month.

EU May Approve Gene Therapy

The European Medicines Agency recommended that the European Commission approve a gene-therapy drug in the treatment of a rare genetic disorder called lipoprotein lipase deficiency, which prevents people from breaking down fat properly. If this goes through (and it almost always does), it would be the first official approval for gene therapy in the Western world. Gene therapy works by introducing correct versions of a gene in those affected by a disease. This recommendation is a testimony to the progress that has been made in medicine and drug research.

Weekend Read: Krugmenistan vs. Estonia

What Estonia can teach us about economic recovery, and how the country’s leaders got into a fight with New York Times columnist and Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman. In Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

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