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UPI NewsTrack TopNews

  |   April 2, 2009 at 8:01 AM
G20 to respond to global economic slump

LONDON, April 2 (UPI) -- World leaders worked through the night to develop guidelines for the global financial market in advance of the opening of the Group of 20 summit Thursday.

Five versions of a communique outlining goals to jump-start the slumping global economy were circulating for approval among delegations before a final document was to be released at the end of the plenary session of leaders of the 20 top industrialized nations, The Times of London reported.

Among rules G20 leaders likely would adopt was a call for international supervision of large hedge funds. Summit participants also were considering whether to impose salary restrictions on bankers. Sources told The Times the summit also will agree to strengthen the International Monetary Fund, possibly tripling it to $750 billion.

While no money would be committed for a global economic stimulus, leaders were expected to pledge to do whatever was necessary to boost their own economies, the BBC reported.

France and Germany threatened to withdraw their support unless new rules to regulate the world's financial markets were tougher, CNN reported.

During a news conference Wednesday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said they weren't satisfied with proposals under consideration.

"Germany and France will speak with one and the same voice," Sarkozy said. "These are our red lines."

However, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told the BBC participants showed a willingness to have "a convergence" at the end of the summit.

"We will have consensus around the two points that sometimes appear as differences: stimulus of the (global) economy and regulation," Barroso said. "We need both, it is a question of credibility."


Police, protesters prepare for G20 opening

LONDON, April 2 (UPI) -- Police prepared for a second day of protests and clashes with demonstrators as the Group of 20 meeting of world leaders opened Thursday in London.

Officials said 90 people were arrested Wednesday during protests marking the summit of world political and financial leaders, The Times of London reported.

Demonstrators were expected to protest at the London Stock Exchange, as well as the heavily guarded Excel Center, site of the summit.

Officials said protesters threw bottles at emergency medical personnel as they tried to resuscitate a man who collapsed near the Bank of England during the protests. The man eventually was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Police chiefs reported officers faced "high levels of violence" in isolated incidents throughout the day, The Times said.

A group of protesters trashed equipment, tagged walls and threw a chair through a window after more than 4,000 mostly peaceful demonstrators gathered near the Bank of England, The Times said.

While the majority of participants were peaceful, Cmdr. Simon O'Brien of the Metropolitan Police said police would track down the people believed responsible for the violent outbreaks. O'Brien said some of the potential ringleaders were followed by helicopter as they left.


Palestinians warned against Jewish trade

JERUSALEM, April 2 (UPI) -- The Palestinian Authority has again warned its people that selling homes and other properties to Jews would be a death-penalty offense.

Those who violate the religious order banning such activity would be accused of "high treason," said Sheik Tayseer Rajab Tamimi, chief judge of the PA, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The latest warning was issued Wednesday after reports that Jewish businessmen from the United States had purchased land from Palestinians on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.

Referring to "suspicious real estate deeds," Tamimi called it a "grave sin" to sell houses and lands to Jews, the newspaper report said. He said that the ban also applies to real estate agents or middlemen involved in such transactions. He also banned renting.

The religious leader warned that anyone who ignores the edict would be punished in accordance with Islamic teachings and would also be ostracized by his community and family, the Post said.


N. Korea deploys jets to protect rocket

PYONGYANG, North Korea, April 2 (UPI) -- North Korea has deployed fighter jets to guard against attempts to intercept its rocket when it launches within days, South Korean officials said Thursday.

Along with the deployment came a warning that North Korea will "mercilessly deal deadly blows" against anyone trying to interfere with the launch of what Pyongyang says is a communications satellite, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported. Western leaders believe the launch is a test-firing of North Korea's missile technology. The launch is scheduled sometime between Saturday and Wednesday.

"We are closely monitoring the movement of the jets," a South Korean air force commander told Yonhap. He didn't disclose how many or when the MiG-23s were deployed near the Musudan-ri launch site on North Korea's coast.

North Korea's official news agency repeated warnings that the country would attack Japan's weapons if Japan attempts to intercepts the satellite, China's state-run news agency Xinhua reported. Japan ordered its military to intercept debris of the rocket in case the firing failed and fell in Japanese territory.

Japan, South Korea and the United States deployed destroyers to the East Sea, stressing they didn't plan to intercept the rocket unless populations are threatened.


Search for copter victims resumes

ABERDEEN, Scotland, April 2 (UPI) -- Searchers went back out early Thursday to comb the North Sea off the Scottish coast to look for eight remaining victims believed killed in a helicopter crash.

Eight bodies had been recovered since the Super Puma helicopter went down about 14 miles from Peterhead Wednesday afternoon while returning from a BP Miller oil-drilling platform with 16 people aboard.

Aberdeen coast guard officials said an extensive search for the others started again at first light Thursday, Sky News reported. Authorities held out little hope there were any survivors.

"It looks like we might be facing the second-worst helicopter support incident in history, in terms of the number of fatalities," Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond said. "Eight bodies have been recovered and I am afraid to say the outlook for the other eight people involved is extremely bleak."

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown expressed his sorrow to the victims' families, calling it "a tragic day in the North Sea."

The cause of the crash had not been determined. The weather was good at the time of the accident. Air traffic controllers received a distress call just before the crash.

Bond Offshore, the company that operated the aircraft, said it had "no plans to ground" its other Super Pumas, despite calls to do so, The Scotsman reported.

When another Super Puma crashed six weeks ago with no fatalities, the company had temporarily grounded the aircraft as a precaution.

"Confidence in the aircraft is going to be irreparably damaged by what's going on," said Jake Molloy of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Union.

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