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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Libya Killing Inflames U.S. Presidential Campaign

U.S. Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney today said President Barack Obama “apologizes” for American values in the face of anti-American protests after U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three American staff members died in the attack of the U.S. consulate of Benghazi, in the east of the country. Protests in Libya and Egypt were sparked by “The Innocence of Muslims,” a U.S.-made film that insults Prophet Muhammad, although some U.S. officials say the attack in Benghazi may have been planned. Romney accused the Obama administration of “sympathizing” with those who set fire to the consular building. He was referring to a statement released six hours before the Benghazi attack by the U.S. embassy in Egypt, which said “we firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others,” words White House promptly disavowed. Romney doubled-down on his remarks even after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said “there is no justification for this,” and after Obama condemned the attack, promising that “justice will be done.” Obama fired back at Romney, telling CBS News’ Steve Kroft “it’s important for you to make sure that the statements that you make are backed up by the facts and that you’ve thought through the ramifications before you make them.” It is the first time a U.S. ambassador has died in service since 1988.

Germany’s Top Court Says European Rescue Fund Is Constitutional

Germany’s top constitutional court ruled today that the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), a permanent fund created for the purpose of rescuing Eurozone nations in difficulty, does not infringe the German Constitution. This means Germany will be able to provide its €190-billion contribution, as planned, which constitutes about 27 percent of the fund. Germany is the ESM’s largest contributor, and this decision makes the European Central Bank’s bond-purchasing program viable. Still, the court said, any change will have to be made into law: this gives the German parliament the power to veto any further increase in the nation’s contribution. The German court also cleared the so-called fiscal pact, a treaty designed to control deficits across the European Union and impose budgetary discipline. Meanwhile, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told Spain’s parliament that it’s not clear whether the country will need a bailout as the ECB announcement last week eased its borrowing costs on bond markets. Even still, French President François Hollande insisted that Spain take the rescue package. Rajoy is hesitating as he fears the money will come with conditions that will increase austerity in the country and hinder economic growth even more.

Pakistan: More than 300 People Die in Factory Fires

A fire in a textile factory complex in Karachi, a city in southern Pakistan, killed 289 people, hours after a shoe factory fire in the northern town of Lahore caused at least 25 deaths. The Karachi fire is the most deadly industrial accident on record in Pakistan and it sheds a harsh light on the lack of regulations for Pakistan’s manufacturing sector, which represents 7.4 percent of its gross domestic product and employs 38 percent of its workforce. The origins of the fire were unclear, although many suspect an electrical short-circuit. Safety inspectors have been barred from looking at the conditions of factories in Karachi since 2003, and the reasons for this are unclear. There are also questions regarding shuttered doors that prevented workers from escaping the flames, most likely closed to prevent them from leaving their post early. Factory fires have plagued Pakistan for years, and the incidents have multiplied as the country’s governance has worsened.

Israelis Worry about Consequences of PM Netanyahu’s Rhetoric

As Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu becomes more blunt about his desire to see the U.S. stop Iran’s nuclear program, concerns grow among his constituents that Israel’s special relationship with America will be damaged. Netanyahu has been trying to push U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration into giving Iran an ultimatum on its expanding nuclear capacity, something the White House, the State Department, and the Department of  Defense said they will not do. Some of Netanyahu’s political opponents have accused him of using these arguments to weigh in the U.S. presidential campaign that opposes Obama to Republican Mitt Romney, Netanyahu’s long-time friend. Others believe the Prime Minister is sincere, but the war of words is creating a dangerous situation that Iran could exploit as divisions between Israel and its most powerful ally become evident. While most Israelis believe Iran should be stopped, few support a unilateral strike on the Islamic nation by Israel.

Apple Launches iPhone 5

The shares of Apple rose 1.4 percent after the company announced the new version of its best-selling product, the iPhone. The iPhone 5, as it will be known, will be longer than the iPhone 4, but also thinner and lighter.  It’ll be available for purchase on September 21 and its price will range between $199 and $399, depending on the memory size. Piper Jaffray Cos Analyst Gene Munster said Apple could sell as many as 10 million units by the end of September, and a Bloomberg survey of Apple analysts predicts 48.2 million iPhones will be sold by the end of the year. The company sold over 244 million units since 2007 when it first launched the iPhone line, and it now represents two-thirds of its profit, which contributed to turning it into the most valuable company in the world. Some even suggested that worldwide iPhone sales could boost the U.S.’ gross domestic product this year.

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