1. CORRECTED-Hutchison exec rules out sale of 3 Italia-paper

    Telecom Italia Executive Chairman Franco Bernabe said earlier this month the outcome of a tender for fourth- generation mobile frequencies showed there was no room for four operators on the Italian market, which should be rationalised.3 Italia was the only contender that failed to secure the coveted 800 MHz band, feeding speculation this may lead to its exit from the Italian market.”This looks to me more like somebody’s wish than the reality,” Hutchison Managing Director Canning Fok was quoted saying. “We had set a limit above which it was no longer economical for us to bid for the 800 MHz.”He said Italy offered great growth opportunities especially for an operator like 3 Italia that had bet on data traffic long before the others, and could now take advantage of the growing popularity of smartphones and tablet computers.”We have the most competitive offers on data traffic,” he said, pointing to the fact that cash-strapped consumers paid more attention to costs.If a consolidation in the Italian telecoms market were to take place, 3 Italia would not be a target. “If there is one we would be ‘consolidators’ and not ‘consolidated’. In terms of financial resources, Hutchison Whampoa is more than ready,” he said.3 Italia competes in Italy with former monopoly Telecom Italia, the local unit of Britain’s Vodafone and Wind, controlled by Russia’s Vimpelcom .

  2. Russia addresses liquidity crunch with pension fund loans

    MOSCOW Oct 14 (Reuters) - The Russian Finance Ministry will try to help banks struggling with a liquidity crunch by allowing them access loans from the state pension fund, the Ministry said on Friday.A draft document on pension fund regulation, published on the Finance Ministry’s web site, showed that banks will have access to up to 90 billion roubles ($2.88 billion) every three months from social security funds, part of the overall pension fund.”It will be short-term deposits. The maximum duration will likely not exceed six months,” Andrei Vorontsov, deputy director of financial policy department at the finance ministry, told Reuters.The National Welfare Fund, intended to support the pension system and not to exceed 10 percent of annual gross domestic product (GDP), stood at 2.827 trillion roubles as of Oct. 1.The amendment to legislation comes amid liquidity strains in the money market, forcing banks to sell foreign currencies for roubles or use the central bank repo facility to prop up accounts.Pension fund loans will be accessible for banks with capital of not below 5 billion rouble, and with credit ratings of not lower than “BB-” on Fitch and S&P scale or not worse then “Ba3” on Moody’s scale.The new refinancing tool, however, will hardly be sufficient to meet all banks’ needs in case of urgency.”Obviously, this amount of money supply won’t be able to play a crucial role for liquidity levels but it will be an important alternative source of funding,” said Ekaterina Sidorova, an analyst with Troika Dialog.In the week to Oct. 14 the overall amount of daily repo auction with the central bank has totalled nearly 1.56 trillion roubles, pointing at highest demand for liquidity since the crisis of 2008-2009.The Finance Ministry also injects money into the system by carrying out deposit actions where it places temporarily free budget funds at banks’ accounts. ($1 = 31.252 Russian Roubles)

  3. Seattle “superhero” charged with pepper-spray assault

    The costumed defendant, whose real name is Benjamin John Francis Fodor, 23, has become something of a local celebrity since he began patrolling downtown Seattle streets nearly a year ago to break up fights and alert police to petty crimes in progress, such as drunken driving and car burglaries.Disguised by a hooded mask and wearing a molded black-and-yellow suit of body armor, Fodor carries pepper spray, a Taser stun gun and a cell phone as he makes his late-night rounds. He also attends charity events on request.Fodor has been joined on some exploits by any number of fellow freelance crime fighters who assume such alter egos as No Name and Thorn in a collective that bills itself as the “Rain City Superheroes Movement.”His “secret identity” had remained unknown to the public, however, until media reports about his arrest this week exposed the real name of the man behind the mask.Fodor was accused of going too far when he encountered a group of men and women outside a club in the early hours of Sunday morning. According to a police report, the group were walking to their car, “dancing and having a good time,” when Fodor “came up from behind and pepper-sprayed the group.”Two men in the group chased Fodor, and police called to the scene “separated the involved parties,” the report said. Fodor was booked into the King County Jail on four counts of assault and was released on $3,800 bail on Sunday afternoon.Fodor has since sent out Twitter messages saying he was back on patrol and proclaiming himself innocent of wrongdoing.”I WOULD NEVER ASSAULT OR HURT ANOTHER PERSON IF THEY WERE NOT CAUSING HARM TO ANOTHER HUMAN BEING,” he wrote in one tweet.Thirteen minutes of shaky video footage taken by supporters to document Sunday’s incident (vimeo.com/30307440), and posted online, shows Fodor being alerted to a “huge fight,” then rushing on foot to the scene yelling, “call 911.”He wades into a group of people with a can of pepper spray as they scatter, yelling and cursing. Pandemonium ensues with several individuals chasing after Fodor and a masked sidekick. One woman is seen repeatedly beating Fodor with her shoes and screaming at him in the street before police finally arrive.Fodor was charged with four counts of misdemeanor assault and faces up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine if convicted. A court hearing was set for Thursday.

  4. Finalists unveiled for 2011 National Book Awards

    FICTIONAndrew Krivak, “The Sojourn”Tea Obreht, “The Tiger’s Wife”Julie Otsuka, “The Buddha in the Attic”Edith Pearlman, “Binocular Vision”Jesmyn Ward, “Salvage the Bones”NONFICTION:Deborah Baker, “The Convert: A Tale of Exile and Extremism”Mary Gabriel, “Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution”Stephen Greenblatt, “Swerve: How the World Became Modern”Manning Marable, “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention”Lauren Redniss, “Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout”POETRY:Nikky Finney, “Head Off & Split”Yusef Komunyakaa, “The Chameleon Couch”Carl Phillips, “Double Shadow”Adrienne Rich, “Tonight No Poetry Will Serve: Poems 2007-2010”Bruce Smith, “Devotions”YOUNG PEOPLE’S LITERATURE:Franny Billingsley, “Chime”Debbie Dahl Edwardson, “My Name Is Not Easy”Thanhha Lai, “Inside Out and Back Again”Albert Marrin, “Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy”Lauren Myracle, “Shine”Gary D. Schmidt, “Okay for Now”

  5. Libya fighters capture Gaddafi son in Sirte: NTC

    The capture of the deposed leader’s national security adviser, and the first member of the Gaddafi family, is a big boost to Libya’s new rulers whose forces are still battling pro-Gaddafi fighters in his home town of Sirte.”He was arrested today in Sirte,” Colonel Abdullah Naker told Reuters. Other NTC sources said Mo’tassim was taken to Benghazi where he was questioned at the Boatneh military camp where he is being held. He was uninjured but exhausted.Hundreds of NTC fighters took to the streets in several Libyan cities and fired shots in the air in celebration after Arab television channels broadcast the news of his arrest.Gaddafi loyalists have fought tenaciously for weeks in Sirte, one of just two major towns where they still have footholds, two months after rebels seized the capital Tripoli.But NTC fighters have made significant advances in Sirte in recent days. On Wednesday they said they were fighting pro-Gaddafi fighters in two small areas in the city.Many people who study Libya believe Mo’tassim belongs to a conservative camp — rooted in the military and security forces — which resisted his brother Saif al-Islam’s reform attempts.A senior NTC military official told Reuters that Mo’tassim had cut his usually long hair shorter to disguise himself.Gaddafi and his most politically prominent son, Saif Al-Islam, have been on the run since the fall of Tripoli in August. Gaddafi himself is believed to be hiding somewhere far to the south in the vast Libyan desert.His daughter Aisha, her brothers Hannibal and Mohammed, their mother Safi and several other family members fled to Algeria in August and have lived their since. Another son, Saadi, is in Niger.’80 PERCENT UNDER OUR CONTROL’NTC fighters in Sirte walked up the same battle-scarred streets strewn with empty ammunition cases where they had fought fierce clashes a day before. Other fighters searched damaged houses as a few civilians emerged from their basements.”More than 80 percent of Sirte is now under our control. Gaddafi’s men are still in parts of the Number Two and the ‘Dollar’ neighborhoods,” said NTC commander Mustah Hamza.In the “Number Two” neighborhood, government forces found 25 corpses wrapped in plastic sheets. They accused pro-Gaddafi militias of carrying out execution-style killings.Five corpses shown to a Reuters team wore civilian clothes and had their hands tied behind their backs and gunshot wounds to the head.”There are about 25 innocent people with their hands tied. There is no humanity. It’s sad,” said NTC commander Salem al Fitouri standing besides the corpses, which he said had been there for at least five days.Green flags, the banner of Gaddafi’s 42 years in power, still flew above many of the buildings in the neighborhood, but all appeared quiet.NTC fighters maneuvered a tank into a small side street flooded with sewage from a burst pipe. It fired a few rounds at a large building up ahead, then infantrymen moved in, letting off bursts from their AK-47s as they advanced up the street.At first, there was very little return of fire from the pro-Gaddafi side. But the government fighters had walked into an ambush. Hit by a hail of RPG and small arms fire, the NTC men scrambled back to safety, one nursing a wound to his hand.Medical workers at a hospital outside Sirte said four NTC fighters were killed and 43 others were wounded on Wednesday.The NTC has said it will start the process of rebuilding Libya as a democracy only after the capture of Sirte, a former fishing village transformed by Gaddafi into a showpiece for his rule, replete with lavish conference halls and hotels.NTC chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil said on a visit to Sirte on Tuesday that it would take two more days to take the town.But the remnants of Gaddafi’s forces, surrounded on three sides in Sirte and with their backs to the sea, have so far fought tenaciously, perhaps believing they face mistreatment or worse at the hands of their ill-disciplined foe.Back from the front line, fighters from the National Transitional Council jostled with one another as one man tried to punch a wounded prisoner and others struggled to keep him off. The prisoner repeatedly shouted out that he was a civilian.”But you had a gun,” his captors said.”I never used it,” he said, fear in his eyes.Any male of fighting age still in Sirte was under suspicion.”We were staying in a basement,” one man, Gamal Ammar, said alongside family members. “Some of us were hit. If we had died it would have been better. We had no water and no food. We couldn’t get out.” As NTC fighters drew near, he fell silent.One man held up a passport and said: “I am Sudanese and I was not fighting.” He was put in plastic cuffs and led away.Gaddafi recruited large numbers of black Africans to his forces. NTC fighters often accuse every black man, including migrant workers, of having fought for the former leader.Four other men being taken away on the back of a pick-up truck said they were from Chad and also denied taking part in the conflict.NTC fighters pushed back reporters trying to talk to them. “They are liars, we found guns with them,” one said.