The following are the day's top general news stories:
1. Egypt Bans Demonstrations After Tunisia-Inspired Rallies Leave Three Dead 2. Thailand's Abhisit Signals Early Election, Testing Support for Protesters 3. Financial Crisis Panel Blames Wall Street Investors, Washington Regulators 4. Clinton Urges Egypt to Allow Peaceful Rallies, Not Block Twitter, Facebook 5. Nadal's Bid to Sweep Tennis Majors Hamstrung by Injury at Australian Open
1. Egypt Bans Demonstrations After Tunisia-Inspired Rallies Leave Three Dead
Egyptian authorities banned protests and tightened security overnight to prevent demonstrators from repeating the rally of Jan. 25, when thousands took to the streets of Cairo and major cities to denounce President Hosni Mubarak, inspired by the revolt that toppled Tunisia´s leader. Truckloads of riot police were deployed yesterday in central Cairo after demonstrations in which at least three people were killed, sending Egypt´s benchmark EGX30 index tumbling the most since November 2009. Security forces clashed with several hundred protesters outside the country´s lawyers´ association and restricted access to Tahrir Square, the scene of the largest protests the previous day. "Free speech has its rules," Magdy Rady, Cabinet spokesman, told reporters in the capital yesterday. "The police respected the citizens´ rights to protest and went out to protect them. Some political activists took advantage of the demonstrations to promote their own interests." Protests have erupted in the past month in several Arab countries including Algeria, Morocco and Yemen, which all face high unemployment rates and rising living costs, factors which fueled the uprising that ousted Tunisian leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on Jan. 14.
2. Thailand's Abhisit Signals Early Election, Testing Support for Protesters
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva signaled he may call an election as early as April, undercutting street protests that have limited gains in the country´s stocks and currency as he seeks to remain in office. Lawmakers may approve constitutional changes next month that Abhisit set as a condition for calling the contest, he told reporters yesterday in Bangkok. Asked whether he will dissolve the House of Representatives in April to trigger a vote, he said: "It´s possible, it´s possible." "The political risks provide a discount, while the country´s economic fundamentals are solid," said Masahiko Ejiri, a Tokyo-based senior fund manager at Mizuho Asset Management Co., which oversees the equivalent of $41 billion. "It´s not a market we want to sell," he said, adding that Thai banks and energy firms, such as PTT Plc and Banpu Pcl, looked attractive. An election would test public support for yellow-shirted protesters currently blocking a Bangkok street, who backed Abhisit´s rise to power in 2008 and now say the government is ceding territory to Cambodia. It would also meet a demand of rival red-clad supporters of ex-leader Thaksin Shinawatra, whose occupation of downtown Bangkok to press for an immediate election last year led to at least 95 deaths.
3. Financial Crisis Panel Blames Wall Street Investors, Washington Regulators
The congressionally appointed panel assigned to probe the origins of the 2008 credit crisis heaped blame on "reckless" Wall Street firms and "weak" federal regulators, concluding the meltdown could have been avoided. "The captains of finance and the public stewards of our financial system ignored warnings and failed to question, understand and manage evolving risks within a system essential to the well-being of the American public," the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission wrote in a 545-page book outlining its conclusions. "Theirs was a big miss, not a stumble." A copy of the book obtained by Bloomberg News, a paperback emblazoned with a U.S. seal, faults the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Reserve for failing to clamp down on the banks they supervised. It singles out former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan for backing "30 years of deregulation." The findings, scheduled to be officially released tomorrow, were endorsed only by the commission´s Democratic majority. The four Republican members issued two separate dissents that accused Democrats of writing a long narrative account of what happened in the crisis while failing to uncover what caused it.
4. Clinton Urges Egypt to Allow Peaceful Rallies, Not Block Twitter, Facebook
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today urged the Egyptian government to allow peaceful protests to continue and not to block social media sites like Twitter Inc. and Facebook used by anti-government demonstrators. "We call on all parties to exercise restraint and refrain from violence," she told reporters in Washington. "We urge the Egyptian authorities not to prevent peaceful protests nor block communications, including on social media sites." Egyptian authorities banned protests and tightened security after thousands of people took to the streets of Cairo and major cities yesterday to denounce President Hosni Mubarak, inspired by the revolt that toppled Tunisia´s leader, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. The U.S. today urged the Egyptian authorities to release journalists detained during a crackdown on protests. "We are aware that certain reporters have been detained, a couple of AP reporters," said Philip J. Crowley, the State Department spokesman, referring to the Associated Press. "We have raised this issue already with the ministry of foreign affairs. We are calling for the release of journalists."
5. Nadal's Bid to Sweep Tennis Majors Hamstrung by Injury at Australian Open
David Ferrer could see Rafael Nadal struggling just to run down shots, the chance of making tennis history slipping away from the world´s No. 1 player with every painful step. Ferrer said he tried to ignore the troubles of his friend and opponent in the Australian Open quarterfinals. In the end, Ferrer had a place in the semifinals, and Nadal was gone from the season´s first major with an injury for the second straight year. "I was just focused on my game," Ferrer, 28, said. "I was playing a good game, so I played the same tactics." Nadal, 24, said this one hurt more than last year´s exit because he was trying to win four Grand Slam titles in a row. The Spaniard had his upper left leg taped after taking a medical timeout three games into last night´s match against Ferrer, who won 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 to reach his second major semifinal.
-0- Jan/27/2011 00:35 GMT