News Wrap: Pakistani Prime Minister Faces Supreme Court Hearings
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Standard & Poor’s has downgraded its credit rating on the Eurozone’s rescue fund by one notch. The ratings agency made that move today. The effect will be to make it harder for the fund to raise bailout money at low interest rates. S&P had cut its rating for France, Austria, Spain and Italy on Friday. So far, other ratings agencies have not followed suit.
Pakistan’s political crisis deepened today as the Supreme Court there began contempt proceedings against the prime minister. Yousuf Raza Gilani was ordered to appear on Thursday. He is charged with failing to pursue a corruption case against President Asif Ali Zardari that goes back to the 1990s. Veteran lawyers in Islamabad said it is clear the high court will not back off.
CHAUDHRY NASEER AHMED BHUTTA, senior lawyer: There’s no way out, that the president, the prime minister cannot escape from this proceeding. He will have to appear before the Supreme Court. He will have to respond to the law and respond to the constitution of Pakistan. Until and unless he doesn’t respond in a lawful manner, I don’t think there is any escape with the prime minister.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The Pakistani regime also faces growing tensions with its military. That conflict stems from a secret government memo that sought U.S. help to prevent a military coup.
In Iraq, separate car bombings killed at least 11 people in the latest attack on the country’s Shiites. The first bomb exploded in the north in a district near the city of Mosul. Several hours later, to the south, a second blast tore through an industrial zone in the town of Hillah. Iraq has seen an uptick in violence since U.S. troops left in December. At least 150 Iraqis have died in bombings since the New Year began.
A crippling nationwide strike in Nigeria has ended after six days of demonstrations. Labor unions suspended the walkout when the government partially restored subsidies to keep gasoline prices low. At the same time, the government deployed soldiers onto the streets of Lagos to stop the demonstrators. Troops haven’t been called into the streets since Nigeria abandoned military rule for democracy in 1999.
The online shoe retailer Zappos warned today that it was hacked this weekend. The company emailed its 24 million customers, saying their names, phone numbers and encrypted passwords may have been accessed. Zappos says the last four digits of customers’ credit cards were also exposed, but not their full credit card information. The company is advising patrons to reset their passwords to the site and any similar passwords to other accounts.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.