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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Switzerland Apologizes to Contract Children

Today the Swiss Government apologized to hundreds of victims of its forced welfare policies. The Swiss Confederation began removing children from single mothers, poor families, and other ‘undesirables’ in the 1800s, only fully discontinuing the practice in 1981. The children, referred to as Verdingkinder or contract children, were often auctioned off and then used as unpaid labor. Since the 1960s many allegations of rape, abuse, and murder have been levied against the families that owned the contract children. Today in a speech to 700 former Verdingkinder, Swiss Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga said, “we could not continue to look away, that is exactly what we already did for far too long.” Sommaruga is looking into possible legal and financial reparations for the victims. She said, “Today should be a day of confession… and a call against suppression and forgetting.”

Automakers Recall Vehicles Over Shrapnel Concerns

Automakers have recalled several models of vehicles today over concerns regarding a defective airbag piece. In the event of a crash, a common component of the airbag could cause an explosion, sending small bits of metal into the passenger cabin. The problem with Takata Corporation’s part was reported late last night, but automakers Honda, Nissan, Toyota, Mazda, & GM, that all source the same part, have already recalled more than three million affected vehicles. More recalls are likely, as Ford has yet to determine if their vehicles are affected. Michelle Krebs, an analyst with auto information company Edmunds.com, suggested automakers acted quickly in order avoid the fallout Toyota experienced in 2009 when it recalled ten million cars and was fined by U.S. regulators for not making the moves rapidly enough. Since then a number of recalls have been announced by automakers. “I am concerned that within the flood of recalls consumers won’t pay attention to the important ones,” Krebs said. “This is an important issue, consumers should get the repair made.”

Dozens Killed in Southern Syrian Fighting

Dozens were killed in the southern Syrian towns of Sanamin and Ghabagheb today as Bashar al-Assad’s forces searched the area for recently defected troops. “At least six children, seven women, 16 rebel fighters, 16 other unidentified men and 12 army troops were killed on Wednesday, in fighting, shelling and summary executions,” said the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). According to Lebanese officials, the Syrian air force also crossed into their air space today to attack the rural town of Arsal in northeastern Lebanon. Human Rights Watch condemned these attacks in a report it released today saying, “Individuals who commit serious violations of the laws of war willfully, that is intentionally or recklessly, are responsible for war crimes.”

Cypriot Bailout Cost Nearly Doubles

The cost of Cyprus’ bailout has risen from an estimated €17.5 billion ($23bn) to €23 billion ($30bn). In briefing today government spokesman Christos Stylianides said, “it’s a fact the memorandum of November talked about 17.5bn in financing needs. And it has emerged this figure has become 23bn.” He blamed government indecision and hesitation for the increase. The government of Cyprus has already raised €10.6 billion by seizing significant sums from uninsured deposits at the Bank of Cyprus and other banks and is considering selling off large chunks of its gold reserves. The entire Cypriot economy is only worth about €18billion, representing a mere .2 percent of the eurozone total, which has lead some to wonder if Cyprus might leave the euro. European Union finance ministers and Eurozone officials will meet in Dublin tomorrow to finalize the Cypriot bailout.

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