European Union to initiate new stress tests of banks
PARIS — The European Union’s banking regulator said Thursday that it would start a new health check of banks Friday and would publish the results in June.
The tests will be conducted on a “large number” of European banks and “will take several months to run,” the European Banking Authority said in a statement. Such stress tests, measuring banks’ ability to withstand economic shocks, have been carried out twice since the financial crisis struck, but failed to win investor confidence. Since the last round, published in July, further balance sheet problems have emerged, notably at Spanish and Irish lenders.
The tests this year will be run against two hypothetical economic situations: a “baseline” and an “adverse” macroeconomic case to assess the solvency of the banks involved. The adverse case, designed by the European Central Bank, will incorporate a significant deviation from the baseline forecasts and country-specific shocks on real estate prices, interest rates, and sovereign debt prices.
The banking authority said it would provide banks with details by the end of this week, and would then invite feedback.
Pakistani court delays murder charges against American
LAHORE, Pakistan — A criminal court on Thursday agreed to delay pressing murder charges against a CIA operative, Raymond L. Davis, ruling that lawyers for Davis should have more time to prepare for the case.
A Pakistani lawyer appeared on behalf of Davis for the first time in pretrial proceedings held in the Lahore central jail where he has been held since killing two Pakistani motorcyclists in late January. The lawyer, Zahid Bokhari, said after the hearing that he had asked Judge Yousaf Ojla for more time to present arguments on whether Davis enjoys diplomatic immunity. Ojla agreed to postpone the hearing until Tuesday.
In a separate proceeding, the Lahore High Court is scheduled to hear a decision by the Pakistani Foreign Ministry on March 14 on the question of diplomatic immunity. The Obama administration has insisted that Davis, a former special forces soldier who worked as a contractor for the CIA in Pakistan, is a diplomat, and as such is protected by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961, which grants blanket immunity from prosecution to diplomats.
Women killed at Ivory Coast protest, witnesses say
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast — At least six women were shot dead here on Thursday as they protested against the continued rule of Laurent Gbagbo, according to witnesses and the United Nations.
The women were taking part in one of a number of all-women marches that have sprung up here over the past week in response to Gbagbo’s refusal to cede power after losing a presidential election last year. Previously, these marches have been dispersed by troops firing in the air.
But on Thursday, Gbagbo’s forces responded to the demonstration in the tense Abobo neighborhood by shooting into the marching crowd of hundreds of women, two witnesses said. Six were killed instantly in the machine-gun fire, others were wounded, and the marchers dispersed in a panic, according to the witnesses. Amateur video taken on the spot appeared to confirm their account.
Alain Le Roy, the U.N. undersecretary general for peacekeeping, said security forces firing machine guns at the protesters had killed six to eight people, Agence France-Presse reported.
A spokesman for Gbagbo’s government could not immediately be reached for comment.
On Thursday, the members of the U.N. Security Council issued a statement saying they were “deeply concerned about the recent escalation of violence” after “the reported attacks on civilians, including women.”
Optional sex toy lesson draws rebuke at Northwestern
The president of Northwestern University said Thursday that he was “troubled and disappointed” by a psychology professor’s decision to present his students last week with a demonstration outside class that featured a couple engaging in a live sex act using a prop.
The demonstration had been arranged by J. Michael Bailey, whose human sexuality class has an enrollment of nearly 600. On Feb. 21, after concluding a lecture at a university auditorium about sexual arousal, Bailey brought onto the stage a man whom he had invited to participate in a discussion of “kinky people,” according to an e-mail the professor later sent to his students that was reprinted by The Daily Northwestern.
On the way to the stage, Bailey wrote, the man, Ken Melvoin-Berg, the co-owner of a business called Weird Chicago Tours, “asked me whether it would be OK if one of the women with him demonstrated female ejaculation using equipment they had brought with them.”
After receiving what the professor called “explicit” warnings of what they were about to see, about 100 students watched as the woman was penetrated by the device.
Bailey, who has taught at Northwestern for two decades, said in his e-mail that the presentation was part of an informal series of events — each “entirely optional” and “not covered on exams” — that have previously featured “a transsexual performer, two convicted sex offenders” and “a swinging couple.”
In his statement, Morton Schapiro, the university president, said: “I feel it represented extremely poor judgment on the part of our faculty member.”