1 | Washington
Wall Street on Capitol Hill
The Senate held another hearing on the financial crisis, this time turning the spotlight on Goldman Sachs. A Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) lawsuit has accused the Wall Street firm of fraudulently misrepresenting one of its mortgage-related products, but during hours of televised questioning, executives resolutely denied any wrongdoing. Trader Fabrice Tourre--who, along with the deal he structured, Abacus 2007-ac1, is at the center of the SEC's allegations--was among those testifying, as was Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein. Elsewhere on the Hill, after repeatedly blocking debate of the Democrats' financial-reform bill, Senate Republicans tentatively agreed to move forward.
2 | Greece
Credit Rating Downgraded
In a move that has deepened fears that Europe's debt crisis could soon spiral out of control, Standard & Poor's lowered Greece's credit rating to junk status on April 27 and warned investors against buying Greek bonds. The move comes days after Greece activated a $60 billion rescue package offered up by the euro-zone countries and the International Monetary Fund. Both Spain and Portugal also had their credit ratings downgraded (to AA), and many analysts fear the struggling Iberian nations may soon face a similar junk fate. Standard & Poor's has warned that further European downgrades are possible.
3 | Israel
A lull in the authorization of new Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem has led to speculation about a shift in policy on the issue. Though some Israeli legislators have pointed to U.S. opposition to the settlements as the reason behind the suspension, others have dismissed the matter as a bureaucratic holdup. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted that preauthorized building will continue on schedule. Palestinians have claimed Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem as the location for the capital of a future state.
4 | Brussels
History is repeating itself in Belgium: on April 26, King Albert II accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Yves Leterme's government, marking the collapse of the country's fourth government since 2007. Elections that year produced a political stalemate between the country's long-divided Flemish- and French-speaking populations, prompting speculation that the country could split into two. At issue in the latest crisis are language rights in a bilingual voting district. The collapse comes just two months before Belgium is scheduled to take over the European Union's rotating presidency.
5 | France
Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, 76, was extradited from Miami to Paris on April 27 to stand trial for laundering drug money. In 1990, Noriega began serving a 30-year U.S. prison term for drug trafficking and racketeering. Though that sentence ended early, in 2007 (for good behavior), he remained incarcerated as competing extradition requests from Panama and France were reviewed. Noriega's attorneys planned to argue that because the U.S. declared Noriega a prisoner of war following his surrender, the former despot falls outside French jurisdiction.
6 | Ukraine
WHERE THERE'S SMOKE