Treasury Tries to Spark Investment in Toxic Assets: In a move designed to get troubled assets off bank books and free up lending, the Treasury Department announces a program to use about $100 billion in federal funds to team with private investors to purchase the so-called legacy assets. The Public-Private Investment Program "will generate $500 billion in purchasing power to buy legacy assets—with the potential to expand to $1 trillion over time." As the Treasury Department sees it, the assets "create uncertainty around the balance sheets of these financial institutions, compromising their ability to raise capital and their willingness to increase lending." The program joins a growing list of initiatives announced by Treasury. Those programs include help for homeowners trying to avoid foreclosure, aid for small businesses, and a program for banks to ensure they have the capital they need should the recession worsen.
Firearms Caused Most Violent Deaths in 2006: Of the 15,395 violent deaths tracked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2006, 48.2 percent were caused by firearms, 20.4 percent by poisoning, and 13.3 percent by hanging, strangulation, or suffocation. The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report notes that 16 states were participating in the National Violent Death Reporting System in 2006, a system that began in 2003 with just seven states and that the CDC envisions will eventually include all states and the District of Columbia. Other findings include that suicides accounted for 55.9 percent of the deaths, followed by homicides and deaths involving law enforcement. Suicide rates were highest for males, and males ages 35 to 64 accounted for 55.6 percent of those suicides. Among females, those 35 to 64 accounted for 65.5 percent of suicides of females.
The Future of the U.S.-South Korean Alliance: In order to continue their strong alliance, the United States and South Korea need diplomacy that includes "sustained dialogue, cooperation, and transparency." In "Going Global: The Future of the U.S.-South Korea Alliance," the Center for a New American Security notes that the two countries have "one of the most formidable and durable military alliances in the world" and one that has seen South Korea transform from a war-ravaged dictatorship to a wealthy democracy. The independent, nonpartisan group spent a year compiling the report, which, among other things, warns about taking an "anything but Bush" approach to the relationship. "President Bush [bequeathed] a strong partnership with President Lee, which will be critical to any attempt to transform the alliance. High-level attention is key to allay South Korean fears of American neglect and perceptions of abandonment."
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