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More Trouble on Russia’s Rivers: World View
By Jeffrey Tayler Aug 4, 2011 4:06 PM GMT+0000 Comments
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A new transport tragedy has struck the heart of Russia's capital. On Sunday just after midnight, a pleasure craft navigating the Moscow River struck a barge and sank, reported Itar-Tass in a brief communiqué.
Disturbing details of the accident soon began to emerge. The “overloaded motorboat” – later identified as the Lastochka, or Swallow – “apparently carrying a group of partyers [sic], rammed into a moored barge . . . sinking on the spot and killing nine people," reported The Moscow Times. "The Moscow River accident is the second of its kind in less than a month after the Bulgaria riverboat sank in the Volga River, killing 122.”
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India's Frustration With Corruption Boils Over: Choudhury
By Chandrahas Choudhury Aug 3, 2011 2:10 PM GMT+0000 Comments
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It's possible that, in the long view, 2011 will be seen as Indian democracy's summer of discontent. It's hard to escape the sense of simmering mass unrest bred by the cynicism and cupidity of the political class.
In the capital, the UPA coalition government, led by the Indian National Congress, has been rocked by corruption scandals and forced to deal with huge protests organized by groups in civil society. In Mumbai, a series of bomb blasts on July 13 led to a backlash against the state government's inability to protect its citizens. The dominant issue in Parliament and among the public is the Lokpal Bill, seen by its proponents as a radical anti-corruption measure. The latest episode in this year's extended drama of political distrust and dishonor occurred July 31, when the chief minister of the south Indian state of Karnataka, BS Yeddyurappa​, reluctantly handed in his resignation after being implicated in a mining scam.
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Debating a UN Debate on a Palestinian State: Noe and Raad
By Nicholas Noe and Walid Raad Aug 1, 2011 1:11 PM GMT+0000 Comments
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August 1 (Bloomberg) -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s plan to take a statehood bid to the United Nations in September has triggered a robust media debate over the wisdom of the move.
After a meeting of several Palestinian parties last week, Abbas said that he would aggressively court votes in the UN General Assembly even though the U.S. would likely veto the recognition of a Palestinian state in the UN Security Council, effectively undermining the move. Abbas called on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to peacefully demonstrate ahead of the September session, leading to criticism in Israel that his approach was cutting off the possibility of a bilateral solution negotiated in accordance with the 1993 Israeli-Palestinian Oslo agreements.
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Train Crash Proves Debacle for China’s Propaganda Machine: Adam Minter
By Adam Minter Jul 28, 2011 6:07 PM GMT+0000 Comments
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On the evening of July 23, news broke on China’s microblogs that a collision and derailment occurred on high-speed rail tracks between the boomtowns of Taizhou and Wenzhou, killing at least 39 people.
Less than 48 hours later, Chinese internet users were horrified and infuriated by images of the damaged train cars being chopped up and buried. For a Chinese public that had, even before the accident, become fed up with the corruption related to the country’s outrageously expensive high-speed rail lines, the burial suggested a cover-up of defects in the rail system’s infrastructure.
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Russians Search for Answers Amid Man-Made Disasters
By Jeffrey Tayler Jul 28, 2011 12:31 PM GMT+0000 Comments
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The awful fate of the cruise liner Bulgaria, which sank earlier this month during a storm on the Volga River, in the Republic of Tatarstan, still haunts Russia. On Friday, the Emergency Situations Ministry raised the wreck and released new information about the tragedy.
“The captain of the Bulgaria riverboat, whose sinking killed at least 120 people, tried desperately to steer toward shallow waters in a bid to save lives as the vessel went down, a senior emergency official said Sunday,” according to The Moscow Times’ Andrew McChesney. Nevertheless, “An initial inspection of the 79-meter boat provided no clue to why it sank.” McChesney explained that negligence may have contributed to the disaster: “The 56-year-old Bulgaria had suffered engine trouble when it embarked on its last voyage with more passengers than it was supposed to carry.” Criminal charges have been filed against the director of the tour company that chartered the Bulgaria and the federal inspector who certified the craft as fit to sail.
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20 Years Later, India's Transformation Is Incomplete: World View
By Chandrahas Choudhury Jul 26, 2011 3:24 PM GMT+0000 Comments
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(Corrects name of New Indian Express newspaper in seventh paragraph.)
Exactly 20 years ago this week, Manmohan Singh, now in his second term as prime minister of India, made, as the greenhorn finance minister of a newly elected Congress government, the most important and far-reaching budget speech in the modern history of his country. In response to an unprecedented balance of payments crisis -- which left India with about two weeks of foreign-exchange reserves -- Singh, with the support of Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, announced a host of reforms in his inaugural budget speech on July 24, 1991. His two-hour oration left no one in doubt that he intended to turn a crisis into an opportunity.
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Arab Uprisings Lose Luster Amid Factional Strife: World View
By Nicholas Noe & Walid Raad Jul 25, 2011 1:05 PM GMT+0000 Comments
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July 25 (Bloomberg) -- Throughout the recent Arab uprisings, one of the most widely expressed fears voiced by regional commentators has been that sectarian conflict might overwhelm the lofty ideals expressed by activists.
Those worries are more than hypothetical now. Media in the region are full of reports of fighting along factional lines as various strands of Islam battle for control alongside tribal and secular elements in Yemen, Sunnis and Christians attack each other in Egypt, and 30 die in a sectarian killing spree in the central city of Homs in Syria. Commentators are debating who is to blame and where it will lead.
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In China, Mortgage Slaves Curse U.S. Debt: World View
By Adam Minter Jul 21, 2011 3:50 PM GMT+0000 Comments
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The list of trending topics on China’s leading, twitter-like microblog, Sina Weibo, is typically dominated by entertainment news, celebrity gossip and the daily grind. So it was unusual when, on July 7, 2011, news of China’s central bank's quarter-point interest hike went to the top of that list.
No, Chinese microbloggers weren’t rushing to discuss the macroeconomic consequences of the bank’s move. Rather, they were venting about how their mortgages, almost all of which are tied to that benchmark interest rate, had suddenly become less affordable. A Sina Weibo user, QingMu2010​, shortly thereafter railed:
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On the Perils of August in Russia: World View
By Jeffrey Tayler Jul 21, 2011 10:00 AM GMT+0000 Comments
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As the days of July tick by, Russians prepare for August – a month they have learned to associate with disasters, both natural and man-made. The 1991 hard-line coup attempt, the 1998 default and devaluation, the 2000 sinking of the submarine Kursk, and last year's choking peat-bog fires all happened in August.
This year, though, "August began in June," wrote Victor Davidoff in an op-ed for The Moscow Times. "On June 20, a Tu-134 plane crashed in Karelia, killing 44 people. On July 13, an An-24 plane made an emergency landing on water in the Tomsk region, killing seven people. And on July 10, the tourist ship Bulgaria sunk not far from Kazan, killing 114 people (15 passengers are still missing and presumed dead).”
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Mumbai Bombs Breed Anger and Resignation: World View
By Chandrahas Choudhury Jul 19, 2011 5:21 PM GMT+0000 Comments
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Another day, another terror attack. As they were going home from work during  rush hour on July 13, Mumbaikars heard chilling news of a familiar kind: Bombs were going off in different parts of the city.
When the dust had settled after three blasts in the busy commercial areas of Opera House and Zaveri Bazaar in south Mumbai and Dadar in the center, 20 people were dead and more than 80 injured. Sophisticated improvised explosive devices were used in the attacks, pointing to the hand of a professional terror group. There was chaos as mobile-phone networks were briefly jammed, people ran for cover, rumors made the rounds, and heavy rain disrupted rescue operations. It was the fourth attack in Mumbai involving serial terrorist strikes in the last eight years, making the vibrant, diverse, politically stable city one of the world's terror capitals.
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WORLD VIEW CONTRIBUTORS
ADAM MINTER, SHANGHAI
Minter is writing the forthcoming "Wasted: Inside the Multi-Billion Dollar Trade in American Trash" and blogs at Shanghaiscrap.com.
SHEENA ROSSITER, SAO PAOLO
Rossiter is a print and video journalist specializing in the Latin American political economy.
CHANDRAHAS CHOUDHURY, MUMBAI
Choudhury is the author of the novel "Arzee the Dwarf and the editor of "India: A Traveler's Literary Companion."
JEFFREY TAYLER
Tayler is the Russia correspondent for the Atlantic and the author, most recently, of "River of No Reprieve," about rafting on the Lena River.
NICOLAS NOE, BEIRUT
Noe is a co-founder of the news media monitoring service Mideastwire.com and the editor of "Voice of Hezbollah: The Statements of Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah."
WALID RAAD, BEIRUT
Raad is an associate professor of international relations at Lebanese International University and a senior translator at Mideastwire.
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