Pakistani lawmakers criticize US reward for militant chief
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The Pakistani government and opposition on Thursday united in criticism of a newly announced $10 million U.S. bounty for Hafiz Saeed, a militant leader accused of orchestrating the 2008 Mumbai attacks, during a heated session of Parliament in which lawmakers demanded that Washington provide proof of Saeed’s terrorist credentials.
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani warned that the U.S. reward, which was announced by a senior State Department official in India on Monday, was a “negative message” and would “further widen the trust deficit” between the two countries.
Parliament is in the throes of a contentious debate about ties with the United States, which have been virtually frozen since U.S. warplanes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers during a disputed border clash in November. Now, it seems, Saeed’s fate may present a new hurdle.
Opposition lawmakers said the U.S. offer of $10 million for information leading to the capture or arrest of Saeed, who is accused of leading the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba and who lives openly in the eastern city of Lahore, was “mind boggling” and “ridiculous.”
—Salman Masood, The New York Times
Greece shaken by man’s suicide outside Parliament
ATHENS — The death of a 77-year-old Greek pensioner who shot himself in the head outside Parliament on Wednesday in despair over his financial problems has shaken this austerity-weary country and a crumbling political system struggling to assert its relevance amid an economic and social meltdown.
The pensioner, Dimitris Christoulas, a former pharmacist, took his life in Syntagma Square, a focal point for frequent public demonstrations and protests, as hundreds of commuters passed nearby at a metro station and as lawmakers in Parliament debated last-minute budget amendments before elections, expected on May 6.
In a handwritten note found near the scene, Christoulas, who was divorced, said he could not face the prospect “of scavenging through garbage bins for food and becoming a burden to my child.” He blamed the government’s austerity policies for his decision.
The episode has prompted a public outpouring, with passers-by pinning notes of sympathy and protest to trees in the square. Politicians from across the ideological spectrum have also issued statements. A solidarity rally Wednesday night turned violent when police clashed with demonstrators wearing hoods in scuffles that left at least three people injured.
—Evelyn M. Rusli, The New York Times
British TV reporter hacked into emails to write stories
LONDON — Sky News, a British satellite news broadcaster whose parent company is controlled by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., admitted Thursday that one of its reporters had hacked into emails on two occasions while pursuing news stories, the first time that Britain’s hacking scandal has spilled into television news.
The acknowledgment came just two days after Murdoch’s son James resigned as chairman of Sky’s parent company, British Sky Broadcasting, or BSkyB. Company officials said there was no link between the resignation and the hacking revelations, which were made public only as a result of a recent inquiry by the newspaper The Guardian.
Sky said the hacking, while illegal, had been authorized by its executives for journalistic reasons — in pursuit of a story that benefited the public interest — and in one instance had helped a police investigation. And the company said that a continuing review of its email records and accounts had so far turned up no evidence of impropriety in Sky’s reporting practices.
“We stand by these actions as editorially justified and in the public interest,” the head of Sky News, John Ryley, said in a statement. “We do not take such decisions lightly or frequently.”
The admission came after months of overlapping police, parliamentary and judicial inquiries into phone hacking, email hacking and paying bribes to public officials at two Murdoch-owned tabloids, The Sun and the now-defunct News of the World.
—Sarah Lyall and Ravi Somaiya, The New York Times
Facebook is said to pick Nasdaq for its stock listing
Facebook, which is preparing for its highly anticipated initial public offering, has picked a home.
The social network will list its shares under the ticker symbol FB on Nasdaq, according to people with knowledge of the matter who requested anonymity because the discussions were private.
It is a significant coup for the exchange, which has been embroiled in a battle with the New York Stock Exchange for the darlings of Silicon Valley. While big technology companies, like Apple and Google, have traditionally flocked to Nasdaq, the New York Exchange has aggressively courted the new crop of Internet companies over the last year, grabbing notable offerings like LinkedIn and Pandora Media.
“It’s a high-profile win for their listings business,” said Michael Adams, an analyst at Sandler O’Neill. “In terms of earnings, the impact won’t be dramatic, but it’s something to be proud of.”
Shares of the Nasdaq OMX Group rose 1 percent Thursday to close at $25.52. Shares of NYSE Euronext fell about the same to close at $28.31.
For Nasdaq, Facebook is not just any listing.
With more than 800 million users and $3.7 billion in revenue, Facebook has come to dominate the social media industry. The company is widely expected to go public next month and is on track to be the largest offering since Google’s debut in 2004. The IPO could value the sprawling social network as high as $100 billion, people familiar with the matter have said, putting it on par with some of the world’s largest corporations, like McDonald’s and Citigroup.
—Evelyn M. Rusli, The New York Times