The First Draft: Down to business
The White House puts its focus back on the economy today, with a day-long conference to talk about how the money from the economic stimulus package is being spent.
President Barack Obama is due to speak at the “Recovery Act Implementation Conference” at 11:00 EDT (1500 GMT). He is expected to talk about the need to make sure all the money spent as part of the stimulus is transparent and used efficiently. Later in the day he will speak and take questios at a business roundtable.
The timing is perfect: a Reuters survey showed U.S. unemployment will approach 10 percent as the country endures its worst recession since World War Two.
Obama will also have to tread into diplomatic waters this afternoong as he meets with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. One topic of conversation is the recent confrontation between Chinese and U.S. naval vessels in the South China Sea.
The two are also expected to talk about the global economic crisis, including the touchy topic of the value of the Chinese yuan against the dollar.
Victims of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi schme, which drew in as much as $65 billion, will have a chance to speak in court today as the 70-year-old former Nasdaq stock market chairman is expected to plead guilty to a massive fraud.
Madoff arrived early at the Manhattan federal courthouse, looking grim as he was escorted past a horde of photographers and TV crews. The plea headring is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT).
In Baghdad, the Iraqi reporter who hurled his shoes at former President George W. Bush was sentenced to three years in prison. A lawyer for Muntazer al-Zaidi, who earned instant worldwide fame when he threw his shoes at the U.S. leader and called him a dog at a news conference, criticized the verdict as being too harsh.
The shoe throwing was called a “barbaric act” by the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maslik, who was standing next to bush at the news conference and tried to block the second shoe from hitting Bush.
-Photo credits: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (Madoff enters federal court house on Thursday;REUTERS/Saba Al-Bazee (Monument of a shoe built for al-Zaidi in Tirkrit, Iraq)