Escalating disagreements between the US and Pakistan have resulted in the holdback of $800 million in US aid to Pakistan. Citing lax security cooperation, US officials have halted payments to Pakistan for reimbursement and military equipment. Special Ops forces have been denied visas for travel into Pakistan according to a New York Times report. Officials in Washington explained that without proper training, the gear would be of marginal use to the Pakistanis. Relations have been strained since this Spring’s bin Laden raid with the US and Pakistan at odds with each other’s actions surrounding the incident.
End of an era
The shuttering of News of the World by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation has brought intense scrutiny to the practice of phone hacking by news organizations. The practice which is used to gain private information from the target’s voicemail account by gaining access through a pin number, has previously been limited to the accounts of celebrities. Recent revelations that murder victims and soldiers’ families were also targeted finally brought down the 168-year-old British tabloid with its last edition published yesterday. “A failure to hold itself accountable” and to the same standards it demanded of the people it covered was the reason cited for the paper’s closure, according to a report in the Economic Times.
Chinese economy hitting the brakes
Recent monetary policy initiatives by China designed to slow growth are apparently having the desired effect, according to BBC reports. Chinese imports slowed by 9.1% from May to June while exports were down a solid 1.3%. Inflation in China, however, was still high: 6.4% in June compared with a year ago. Chinese economic policymakers have implemented a tightening monetary policy this year to slow down the overheated Chinese economy and insure a “soft landing”.
South Africa sees accelerating growth
The newest member of the BRICS, South Africa, is expecting growth in its GDP of 3.6 percent this year and 4.3 percent in 2012, according to a report in the Times Live. China has become the principal destination for South African exports this year, supplanting the US for the first time. As a member of this group of emerging nations, South Africa is expected to make significant investments over the near term in infrastructure to remain competitive as a destination for investment capital.
Fannie Mae relaxes rules
One fallout from the real estate crisis is a time limit on when homes purchased using Fannie Mae funds could be sold or refinanced. A six month limit was put on refinancing to make flipping homes less attractive to investors. Some critics argued that this put undue restrictions on legitimate investors who sought to buy foreclosed homes, fix them up and then either pull equity out of the property or to sell it. Fannie Mae has now relaxed those rules, according to a USAToday report, which may incent them to purchase more of the nation’s backlog of troubled housing.