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As expected, members of parliament in Thailand chose cabinet veteran Samak Sundaravej as prime minister, restoring civilian leadership after 16 months of military-backed rule. Analysts predicted the move would anger many Thais since Samak is a close ally of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, whom the military ousted and who is believed to be planning a return from exile in May. Samak (above, being besieged by reporters after the vote in parliament) also is appealing a two-year prison sentence in a defamation case.Skip to next paragraph
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Sell-offs of stock extended into a second straight week on Asian and European markets because of worry about the US economy. Benchmark indexes in London, Paris, and Frankfurt, Germany, all were down by 1.2 percent or more at midafternoon. In Japan, the Nikkei erased last Friday's brief recovery, closing down by another 4 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 4.3 percent. China's key index closed down by 7.2 percent to its lowest level in six months.
Prosecutors sought fraud, forgery, and breach of trust charges Monday against the young trader who cost banking giant Société Générale more than $7 billion in losses. But rather than being motivated by personal profit, they said Jerome Kerviel hoped to be seen as "exceptional." He surrendered to authorities over the weekend and has been cooperating in the investigation of what's believed to be the largest fraud in history by a single person. Société Générale reportedly conceded that gaps in its security system allowed the fraud to happen.
Most of internationally famous entertainment mogul Simon Cowell's considerable fortune will be left to charity, reports said. The "American Idol" producer/judge and recording industry executive said he has written his will to benefit various children's and animal causes by $180 million at his death – a move that critics said contrasts with his often unsparingly blunt commentary about contestants' talents and even their appearance.