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Oct. 10, 2011 at 12:00 PM
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Two Americans share Nobel economics prize

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Oct. 10 (UPI) -- Two Americans share the 2011 Nobel Prize for Economics for work on the relationship of economic policy and macroeconomics, the Nobel committee said.

Thomas J. Sargent of New York University and Christopher A. Sims of Princeton University were awarded the prize "for their empirical research on cause and effect in the macroeconomy," the committee said in a release issued Monday from Stockholm, Sweden.

"This year's laureates in economic sciences have developed methods for answering ... questions regarding the causal relationship between economic policy and different macroeconomic variables such as GDP [gross domestic product], inflation, employment and investments," the release said.

Sargent demonstrated how structural macroeconometrics can be used to analyze permanent changes in economic policy, which could be applied to study macroeconomic relationships when households and firms adjust their expectations parallel to economic developments, the committee said.

Sims developed a method based on so-called vector auto-regression to analyze how the economy is affected by temporary changes in policy and other factors.

While the two worked independently, their contributions complement each other in several ways, the committee said. Their work in the 1970s and 1980s has been adopted by researchers and policymakers worldwide, and the methods they developed remain essential in macroeconomic analysis.


Markets follow Europe, head higher

NEW YORK, Oct. 10 (UPI) -- U.S. markets rallied early Monday following gains in Europe sparked by comments from the German chancellor and French president concerning bank rescues.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Nicolas Sarkozy met Sunday and announced they were working out plans to recapitalize Europe's banks and restructure Greece's debt.

Details were sparse, indicating the negotiations were far from over, but investors in Europe were encouraged by the news.

On Wall Street, in late morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average added 273.67 points or 2.46 percent to 11,376.79. The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 32.63 points or 2.82 percent to 1,188.09. The Nasdaq composite index gained 75.94 or 3.06 percent to 2,555.29.


Report documents abuses in Afghan prisons

KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 10 (UPI) -- Prisoners in some Afghan-run prisons were systematically tortured, including being suspended and subjected to electrical shock, a U.N. report said Monday.

The report, filed by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, indicated abuse had occurred in 47 facilities in 24 of the country's 34 provinces, but it "is not a de facto institutional policy directed or ordered by the highest levels of [National Directorate of Security] leadership or the government."

The U.N. mission interviewed 379 pre-trial detainees and convicted prisoners, with 324 of the people interviewed detained by NDS or Afghan National Police forces for national security crimes, such as suspicion of being Taliban fighters, suicide attack facilitators or involved in production of improvised explosive devices, among other things. NDS and ANP are the main Afghan security forces that detain and arrest conflict-related detainees. The NDS is responsible for investigating national security crimes and interrogating such detainees.

The report said investigators found "compelling evidence" NDS officials at five facilities tortured detainees to get confessions and information. UNAMA said it was investigating allegations of torture at 15 other facilities.


Research raises questions in anthrax case

WASHINGTON, Oct. 10 (UPI) -- Scientists say chemicals found in anthrax that killed five people and made 17 ill in 2001 raise questions about whether the FBI targeted the right suspect.

The New York Times said the findings, to be published in a coming issue of the Journal of Bioterrorism & Biodefense, suggest that Army biodefense expert Bruce E. Ivins, identified by the FBI as the suspect after he committed suicide, may have been innocent or had help in obtaining the anthrax powder.

Three scientists say in a research paper the chemicals in the anthrax, including the presence of tin, suggest extensive manufacturing skill, in contrast to federal statements that the attack germs were unsophisticated.

A Times review of FBI documents showed bureau scientists had focused on tin early in their eight-year investigation as an "element of interest" and what the newspaper called a "critical clue" in the case. But the FBI later discontinued its investigation and never provided a detailed account of how the powder was made.

The chairwoman of a National Academy of Sciences panel that spent 1 1/2 years reviewing the FBI's work and the director of a new review by the Government Accountability Office said the paper raised important questions, the Times said.


Police re-enact baby's possible kidnapping

KANSAS CITY, Mo., Oct. 10 (UPI) -- Investigators in the case of missing 10-month-old Lisa Irwin said they re-created a possible kidnapping scenario at her parents' home in Kansas City, Mo.

Detectives and FBI agents re-staged a break-in Sunday, climbing through a window to gain access to the home of Jeremy Irwin and Deborah Bradley, ABC News reported Monday.

Lisa disappeared last Monday.

Investigators broke in to test the story told by the infant's parents -- that a kidnapper entered their home and took her while Irwin was at work and Bradley slept.

In the scenario re-created by investigators, the intruder could have entered through a window, walked through the kitchen and a doorway and toward the nursery.

Police have been suspicious of the parents' story, ABC News said.

Bradley said police accused her of having done something to her child and of failing a lie-detector test. Police said they could not comment on Bradley's allegations and that she's "free to say whatever she wants."

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