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Been knee-deep in swine flu research? The Discussion Divas will keep you up to date on the rest of the news you might have missed this month.
THE STRESS TEST
You’re going to be hearing a lot about “the stress tests” during the next week, so we’re explaining why.
First off, the stress tests are an analysis conducted by the government on how healthy the nation’s 19 largest banks would be if the economy worsened. The banks under review received TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) funds last year, in some cases up to $45 billion.
On Friday the government will release details of the test methods used, and will reveal preliminary findings to each bank privately. Final, public results are expected on May 4.
Why are the stress tests so important?
The government says the stress tests will help determine: 1) if it’s ok for the banks to pay back the TARP money, or, 2) which banks may need more money to stay afloat. The banks will have until Tuesday to dispute the results.
The test results are important to the banks, some of whom would like to unload their TARP funds. Holding on to government money subjects them to potential restrictions on compensation and bonuses—something most banks want control of themselves. If the results reveal weakness, some worry that the government, which has shown a willingness to take shares in the banks, could require management changes like they did at General Motors.
The results will also likely be important to the markets, which are looking for signs of recovery in the financial sector.
For the rest of this article, including the big picture, click here.
WOMEN AT RISK
Like President Obama, we've been minding domestic affairs at the WeeklyDIVA while checking in on different parts of the world. Of course outside of the new dog Bo at the White House, the big domestic news was again mainly focused on the economy.
Otherwise, much of Obama's focus lately has been on international affairs, to include handling the recent hostage situation with modern-day pirates on the seas off of Somalia, while also making appearances around the world.
This week he traveled to Mexico where he urged the U.S. Senate to pass a stalled gun-trafficking treatythat could help stem border violence, and then headed to the Summit of the Americas, where 34 Western states (largely in North and South America) will meet to talk about global and economic issues on the tiny island of Trinidad and Tobago off the coast of Venezuela. U.S.-Cuba relations are expected to be a center focus at this meeting. (Keep up with the meeting here.)
Staying on foreign affairs, there are a number of recent happenings affecting women in the Middle East, and that's where we're focusing this DIVA.
“We want our rights!”
We'll start in Afghanistan, where women marched this week demanding their rights and denouncing a new law that was signed recently by President Hamid Karzai that made it illegal for Shiite women to deny sex to her husband at least once every four days, or leave the house without his permission, among other things. The UN called it legalized rape and after much international pressures, good news: Karzai says thelaw will be repealed.
Meanwhile, in neighboring Pakistan, the video of apublic flogging of a 17-year-old girl by the Taliban has brought to light the horrific treatment women often face there and ignited public outrage over the situation. The Supreme Court there is investigating the incident, which took place in a region where the nation's president recently agreed to allow Sharia law, or traditional Islamic law, to exist in an effort to bring peace with the Taliban—a decision he’s been criticized for.
You can read more about Sharia law here, but it is essentially a strict legal code that provides for harsh repercussions for breaking the law (i.e., adultery), and women must be accompanied by a male relative at all times, fully covered, and aren't treated equally to men in many ways.
For the rest of this article, click here.
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